Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy, edited by Carol Brightman
The two women first met in 1944, when Mary McCarthy was married to the famous literary critic Edmund Wilson, her second and soon-to-be-ex-husband, and Hannah Arendt was, as they say, only three years off the boat from Nazi Europe. In her final book of memoirs (posthumously published in 1992), McCarthy tells us that from the very first moment of her marriage to Wilson, he was embarked on a campaign to convert her from a critic to a writer of fiction. (She published her first collection of stories, The Company She Keeps, in 1942.) For her part, Hannah Arendt was just beginning to make her way as a refugee scholar and political philosopher into New York intellectual life.
According to Carol Brightman, the editor of this new collection of their correspondence and the author of a more or less authorized biography of McCarthy, the two women admired one another immediately, though there is no record of any letters between them for another five years. But from then on, they corresponded for nearly a quarter of a century, until Hannah Arendt’s death in December 1975.
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