August 7, 2017

“Sometimes simply a wish to be daring” — Mary McCarthy does not agree that she’s a contrarian


“Your critics have referred to you as ‘Contrary Mary’ — yet you don’t see it as contrariness, do you?”

“Sometimes I do. Sometimes I’m aware of it.”

“And others?”

“Sometimes I don’t think I am. I mean, I think I’m just expressing good sense and reason, which often does seem contrary to a mass of received belief.”

The year is 1985, the place is Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and the contrarian (and Mary) in question is erstwhile Jack Paar Show guest, Lillian Hellman feuder, Handmaid’s Tale non-adorer, sister of body-snatching victim, and—oh yes—Melville House author Mary McCarthy.

The clip, filmed fifty years after McCarthy’s graduation from Vassar, is quick, interesting, entirely worth watching, and highly recommended as jump-start to your week.

That is all.