Mary McCarthy

Mary
McCarthy
1912
1989

American Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Critic and Political Activist

Author Quotes

An unrectified case of injustice has a terrible way of lingering, restlessly, in the social atmosphere like an unfinished question

If [she] had come to prefer the company of odd ducks, it was possibly because they had no conception of oddity, or rather, they thought you were odd if you weren't.

The American character looks always as if it had just had a rather bad haircut, which gives it, in our eyes at any rate, a greater humanity than the European, which even among its beggars has an all too professional air.

We will need much better intelligence on this facility before we seriously consider any options.

As happens with sports and hobbies, his enjoyment was solemnized by expertise, the rites of comparing, collating, a half-deliberate parody of scholarship like the recitation of batting averages.

If someone tells you he is going to make "a realistic decision," you immediately understand that he is going to do something bad.

The American, if he has a spark of national feeling, will be humiliated by the very prospect of a foreigner's visit to Congress -- these, for the most part, illiterate hacks whose fancy vests are spotted with gravy, and whose speeches, hypocritical, unctuous, and slovenly, are spotted also with the gravy of political patronage, these persons are a reflection on the democratic process rather than of it; they expose it in its process rather than of it; they expose it in its underwear.

What I really do is take real plums and put them in an imaginary cake. If you?re interested in the cake, you get rather annoyed with people saying what species the real plum was.

Being abroad makes you conscious of the whole imitative side of human behavior. The ape in man.

I'm afraid I'm not sufficiently inhibited about the things that other women are inhibited about for me. They feel that you've given away trade secrets.

The Crucifixion and other historical precedents notwithstanding, many of us still believe that outstanding goodness is a kind of armor, that virtue, seen plain and bare, gives pause to criminality. But perhaps it is the other way around.

What's the use of falling in love if you both remain inertly as you were?

Calling someone a monster does not make him more guilty; it makes him less so by classing him with beasts and devils.

I'm not worried about my ring, or my house, even though it's not insured. I just want to get to my daughter's house in Georgia.

The exile is a singular, whereas refugees tend to be thought of in the mass ... What is implied in these nuances of social standing is the respect we pay to choice. The exile appears to have made a decision, while the refugee is the very image of helplessness.

When an American heiress wants to buy a man, she at once crosses the Atlantic. The only really materialistic people I have ever met have been Europeans.

Congress-these, for the most part, illiterate hacks whose fancy vests are spotted with gravy and whose speeches, hypocritical, unctuous and slovenly, are spotted also with the gravy of political patronage.

In politics, it seems, retreat is honorable if dictated by military considerations and shameful if even suggested for ethical reasons.

The happy ending is our national belief.

When Henry Mulcahy, a middle-aged instructor of literature at Jocelyn College, Jocelyn, Pennsylvania, unfolded the President's letter and became aware of its contents, he gave a sudden sharp cry of impatience and irritation, as if such interruptions could positively be brooked no longer.

Europe is the unfinished negative of which America is the proof.

In verity we are the poor. This humanity we would claim for ourselves is the legacy, not only of the Enlightenment, but of the thousands and thousands of European peasants and poor townspeople who came here bringing their humanity and their sufferings with them. It is the absence of a stable upper class that is responsible for much of the vulgarity of the American scene. Should we blush before the visitor for this deficiency?

The immense popularity of American movies abroad demonstrates that Europe is the unfinished negative of which America is the proof.

You can date the evolving life of a mind, like the age of a tree, by the rings of friendship formed by the expanding central trunk.

Europeans used to say Americans were puritanical. Then they discovered that we were not puritans. So now they say that we are obsessed with sex.

Author Picture
First Name
Mary
Last Name
McCarthy
Birth Date
1912
Death Date
1989
Bio

American Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Critic and Political Activist