- Publisher Writer, Mary McCarthy, and philosopher, Hannah Arendt, first met in New York. Engrossing and entertaining, these letters give a fresh and intimate view of the long and unique friendship between these two eminent intellectuals of the 20th century.
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About "Between Friends"
Mary McCarthy, the prominent American writer, and political philosopher Hannah Arendt, who had fled from Nazi Germany, first met in New York. They soon became friends and began a remarkable 25-year exchange of letters, here reproduced in its entirety. Mary McCarthy was an ardent correspondent, whose letters served her autobiographical impulse and her delight in writing as a means of ordering experience. Hannah Arendt's letters bring her tender voice and keen intelligence to life on the page. Even as they traded ideas about politics, literature and morality, they also shared personal advice and delightful gossip.
Writer, Mary McCarthy, and philosopher, Hannah Arendt, first met in New York. Engrossing and entertaining, these letters give a fresh and intimate view of the long and unique friendship between these two eminent intellectuals of the 20th century.
Meet the Authors
Mary McCarthy, 1912 - 1989 Writer and critic Mary McCarthy was born in Seattle, Washington. At the age of six, she was orphaned when both her parents died of influenza. She was brought up in a strict Catholic environment by two sets of wealthy grandparents. She attended Annie Wright Seminary in Tacoma, WA and Vassar College in New York, where she studied literature. She graduated with honors at the age of twenty-one, married her first husband, and moved to New York. McCarthy worked as an editor at Covici Friede Publishers from 1936-37 and Partisan Review from 1937-38. She taught or lectured at Beard College, in Annendale-on-Hudson, New York from 1945-46 and 1986; Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York in 1948; University College, London in 1980; and Vassar College in 1982. She was a theatre critic for the Partisan Review from 1938-62. McCarthy was a member of the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1938, she married critic Edmund Wilson, her second husband, with whom she had her only child. McCarthy's seven novels appeared between 1942 and 1979. McCarthy's best selling novel, "The Group" (1963), was a sexual depiction written about classmates at Vassar and their lives following college. It was made into a movie in 1966. Her first book, "The Company She Keeps" (1972), is a satire about New York intellectuals who search for their identity through psychoanalysis after the failure of marriage. "Birds of America" (1971) focuses on a boy and his mother, who refuses to accept modern conveniences. "Cannibals and Missionaries" (1979) explores the psychology of terrorism. McCarthy has also written critical works, travel books and the autobiographical "Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood" (1957). McCarthy received several awards, which included the Edward MacDowell Medal (1982), the National Medal of Literature (1984) and the first Rochester Literary Award (1985). McCarthy also had honorary degrees from six universities. On October 25, 1989, Mary McCarthy died of cancer in New York.
Born in Hanover, Germany, Hannah Arendt received her doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1928. A victim of naziism, she fled Germany in 1933 for France, where she helped with the resettlement of Jewish children in Palestine. In 1941, she emigrated to the United States. Ten years later she became an American citizen. Arendt held numerous positions in her new country---research director of the Conference on Jewish Relations, chief editor of Schocken Books, and executive director of Jewish Cultural Reconstruction in New York City. A visiting professor at several universities, including the University of California, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, and university professor on the graduate faculty of the New School for Social Research, in 1959 she became the first woman appointed to a full professorship at Princeton. She also won a number of grants and fellowships. In 1967 she received the Sigmund Freud Prize of the German Akademie fur Sprache und Dichtung for her fine scholarly writing. Arendt was well equipped to write her superb The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) which David Riesman called "an achievement in historiography." In his view, "such an experience in understanding our times as this book provides is itself a social force not to be underestimated." Arendt's study of Adolf Eichmann at his trial---Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963)---part of which appeared originally in The New Yorker, was a painfully searching investigation into what made the Nazi persecutor tick. In it, she states that the trial of this Nazi illustrates the "banality of evil." In 1968, she published Men in Dark Times, which includes essays on Hermann Broch, Walter Benjamin, and Bertolt Brecht (see Vol. 2), as well as an interesting characterization of Pope John XXIII.