Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Mc-Pa)

McCarthy, Mary

women feminist

(US, 1912–89)

McCarthy was a critic and an intellectual, and there is a satirical objectivity in her fiction, which revealed women's perspectives on previously taboo subjects. Her best-known novel, The Group (1963), observes eight women graduates seeking careers or husbands, taking lovers and (rather graphically) discovering birth control. The characters struggle to make sense of a world organized by men; one is certified insane by her abusive husband. The book predated the ‘new’ feminist writing of the 1960s, and some feminist critics complain that the women are either vacuous or apologetic and that McCarthy merely accepts male standards and women's experiences. However, she allows each woman to tell her own story, and readers to make up their own minds. McCarthy caused a sensation with The Company She Keeps (1942), especially with the unsentimental female view-point on a casual sexual encounter, in the episode ‘The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt’.

Alison Lurie, Flannery O'Connor  FS

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