Mary McCarthy

Literary Birthday – 21 June – Mary McCarthy

Mary McCarthy was born 21 June 1912 and died 25 October 1989.


  1. A novelist is an elephant, but an elephant who must pretend to forget.
  2. We all live in suspense from day to day; in other words you are the hero of your own story.
  3. Life is a system of recurrent pairs, the poison and the antidote being eternally packaged together by some considerate heavenly druggist.
  4. Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.
  5. The relation between life and literature – a final antimony – is one of mutual plagiarism.
  6. Luckily, I am writing a memoir and not a work of fiction, and therefore I do not have to account for my grandmother’s unpleasing character and look for the Oedipal fixation or the traumatic experience which would give her that clinical authenticity that is nowadays so desirable in portraiture.
  7. In violence, we forget who we are.
  8. Illiteracy at the poverty level (mainly a matter of bad grammar) does not alarm me nearly as much as the illiteracy of the well-to-do.
  9. For both writer and reader, the novel is a lonely, physically inactive affair. Only the imagination races.
  10. The passion for fact in a raw state is a peculiarity of the novelist.

Mary McCarthy was an American novelist, critic, and political activist. She was the author of more than two dozen books including the 1963 New York Times bestseller, The Group.

Source for image: Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons /

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 21st June 2018