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Showing posts from June, 2012

Rudyard Kipling: The Old Men

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This is our lot if we live so long and labour unto the end―That we outlive the impatient years and the much too patient friend:And because we know we have breath in our mouth and think we have thoughts in our head,We shall assume that we are alive, whereas we are really dead.
We shall not acknowledge that old stars fade or stronger planets arise(That the sere bush buds or the desert blooms or the ancient well-head dries),Or any new compass wherewith new men adventure ’neath new skies,We shall lift up the ropes that constrained our youth, to bind on our children’s hands;We shall call to the water below the bridges to return and replenish our lands;We shall harness horses (Death’s own pale horses) and scholarly plough the sands.We shall lie down in the eye of the sun for lack of a light on our way―We shall rise up when the day is done and chirrup, "Behold, it is day!"We shall abide till the battle is won ere we amble into the fray.We shall peck out and discuss and dissect, and …

Quite Contrary A reintroduction to Mary McCarthy in her centennial year

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The centenary of Mary McCarthy’s birth falls on this year’s summer solstice, and August is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of her most famous novel, The Group, which sold more than five million copies by the time of McCarthy’s death in 1989, and continues to sell.

Yet it is rarely assigned—or even well regarded—in colleges; and while highly entertaining, The Group is not generally recognized as a classic, is not romantic, and is not a potboiler. Nor does McCarthy have a partisan cheering section any longer, if she ever had one. Although a lifelong leftist, she is adjudged (if she is thought of by bien-pensant intellectuals at all) as a conceited, viperish figure who took delight in attacking such patron saints as Lillian Hellman. Still, there have been at least three full-length biographies of McCarthy, plus a son’s reminiscences, and a Broadway play about her contretemps with Hellman. And there will surely be more accounts of her life both in print and, no doubt, on the sc…