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Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals

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From the Depression era of the 1930s through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, a generation of "public intellectuals" thrived in America. They were poets, novelists, critics, and commentators who were also friends, rivals, spouses, and lovers. Their personal relationships were as passionate as their writing. In their poems, novels, and essays they debated one another while producing work that was brilliant and often controversial. Among them are such influential writers as Mary McCarthy, Edmund Wilson, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Hannah Arendt. "We were not gentlemen -- or ladies," observed William Phillips, former editor of the Partisan Review, the house organ of the group. "We had strong egos." While the pages of Partisan Review were a forum for political and intellectual controversy, its offices were a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, back-stabbing, and sex. Possessed of enormous ambition, talent, and appetite, the PR circle was an intense, self-enclosed society where creative energy often gave way to self-destructive impulses, alcoholism, and adultery. For women of talent, beauty, and ambition, this literary circle offered unprecedented professional opportunity but also exacted a terrible emotional price. Mary McCarthy, proudly promiscuous, had an affair with Philip Rahv, then editor of PR, before moving on to a disastrous marriage to Edmund Wilson. Jean Stafford, whose early brilliant stories appeared in PR, succumbed to Robert Lowell's persistent courtship, a decision that would later nearly destroy her. Lowell became a celebrity during his next marriage, to PR insider Elizabeth Hardwick, though Hardwick saw her promising literary career founder under the burden of coping with Lowell's recurrent psychosis. Yet, notes David Laskin, several of these marriages and friendships managed to survive and even flourish, with a lifelong bond forming between McCarthy and Hannah Arendt, and with Hardwick and Lowell presiding over the founding of the vibrantly influential New York Review of Books in the early 1960s. Amidst all the turmoil -- or perhaps because of it -- this brilliant circle continued to produce important work, from McCarthy's scandalous novel The Group to Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, which caused a firestorm of controversy. It was perhaps no coincidence that the women in the group often shone brightest, even though in this prefeminist era they frequently found themselves caught between being writers and being wives or mistresses. They were the first generation of women intellectuals to forge an identity of their own while being attached to equally famous men. But when a new generation emerged to oppose the Vietnam War and then lead the feminist revolution in the late 1960s, they were left behind. Written with keen insight into both the literature and the personalities behind it, Partisans is an illuminating portrait of a time when politics and poetry were all-consuming passions. David Laskin's Partisans is an important contribution to the

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David Laskin is the author of several previous books, including A Common Life: Four Generations of American Literary Friendship and Influence. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Smithsonian, and the Washington Post, among other publications. He lives in Seattle.

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9780226468938: Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals

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ISBN 10: 0226468933 ISBN 13: 9780226468938
Casa editrice: University of Chicago Press, 2001
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Descrizione libro Hardcover. Condizione: New. Condizione sovraccoperta: New. 320 pages. From the Publisher: From the Depression era of the 1930s through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, a generation of "public intellectuals" thrived in America. They were poets, novelists, critics, and commentators who were also friends, rivals, spouses, and lovers. Their personal relationships were as passionate as their writing. In their poems, novels, and essays they debated one another while producing work that was brilliant and often controversial. Among them are such influential writers as Mary McCarthy, Edmund Wilson, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Hannah Arendt. "We were not gentlemen--or ladies, " observed William Phillips, former editor of the Partisan Review, the house organ of the group. "We had strong egos. " While the pages of Partisan Review were a forum for political and intellectual controversy, its offices were a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, back-stabbing, and sex. Possessed of enormous ambition, talent, and appetite, the PR circle was an intense, self-enclosed society where creative energy often gave way to self-destructive impulses, alcoholism, and adultery. For women of talent, beauty, and ambition, this literary circle offered unprecedented professional opportunity but also exacted a terrible emotional price. Mary McCarthy, proudly promiscuous, had an affair with Philip Rahv, then editor of PR, before moving on to a disastrous marriage to Edmund Wilson. Jean Stafford, whose early brilliant stories appeared in PR, succumbed to Robert Lowell's persistent courtship, a decision that would later nearly destroy her. Lowell became a celebrity during his next marriage, to PR insider Elizabeth Hardwick, though Hardwick saw her promising literary career founder under the burden of coping with Lowell's recurrent psychosis. Yet, notes David Laskin, several of these marriages and friendships managed to survive and even flourish, with a lifelong bond forming between McCarthy and Hannah Arendt, and with Hardwick and Lowell presiding over the founding of the vi. Codice articolo 0003094

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