ON THE CONTRARY by Mary McCarthy
Kirkus Star


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This is a collection of varied pieces -- articles, talks, reviews, travel notes, a short story and a personal reminiscence--written over the past fourteen years. The book is broadly divided into three parts: Politics and the Social Scene, Woman, and Literature and the Arts. The section on Woman contains articles on the nature of the Vassar Girl and a devastating appraisal of the changes in style and assumption of the fashion magazines. Politics includes her celebrated claim that American society is unmaterialistic -- America the Beautiful: The Humanist in the Bathtub; comments on the death of Gandhi, on Simone de Beauvoir's trip here, Communism and anti-Communism, her own involvement with the Stalinists in 1936; and travel pieces from Portugal. The third section contains some of her more recent talks and articles -- on the American Realist Playwrights, the diminishing of ""fact"" in fiction and the consequent loss of interest, in novels and short stories, in the ""social""; literary symbolism; and Charles Dickens. If the collection could be said to have a definable characteristic it is that which has also typified Miss McCarthy's novels and short stories: an interest in things that are of a ""liberal"" and humanist nature -- anti-anti-semitism, congressional investigating committees, the politics of the ""left"", and more directly, a greater interest in her own reactions to certain phenomena than those of the people she deals with.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy