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Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary Mccarthy, 1949-1975 Hardcover – 26 Jan 1996


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Hardcover, 26 Jan 1996
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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
More loyal to each other than to the whole truth 24 Mar 2011
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is not quite what it is advertised to be. There is far more here of the more glib and voluble Mary McCarthy than there is of Hannah Arendt. She writes twice as often and the letters are two or three times longer. McCarthy writes frequently about the most intimate questions in her life, most importantly her marriages. Arendt is more guarded and does not give much away about her closest relationships. She does indicate her devotion to her husband and a separate unit of the book begins after he dies in 1970. She herself will live only another five years in which she will rely much on her friends of which McCarthy is no doubt one of the closest. They are friends who miss each other when they are apart and greatly enjoy each other's company. They are especially loyal to each other intellectually and each provides high and continuous praise of the work of the other.Each is the defender of the other against many criticisms made against them. But this strong loyalty also would seem to bring with it a certain intellectual dishonesty. When Arendt is under fire for her 'Eichmann in Jerusalem' neither she nor McCarthy show any real understanding of the weighty and , to my mind, valid criticisms of Arendt's work made by Gershom Scholem, and others. When Mailer and a number of other novelists criticize McCarthy's work Arendt sees it as nothing but 'envy'. The mutual praise and encouragement has another weak element. There is an imbalance in the intellectual discussions with Arendt being of course the more profound. But there is too no real critical give and take. Again many of the letters have to do with McCarthy's marriage to her third and last husband the American diplomat Anthony West. There is a great deal exchanged about the previous husband who refuses at first to give a divorce. Arendt plays the role of loyal helper to her friend in pushing for the divorce. Again there is much gossip about mutual friends Dwight Macdonald, Robert Lowell, Nicola Chiaromente ,Natalie Sarraute and intellectual acquaintances they both seem not to like very much i.e. Alfred Kazin, Norman Podhoretz. Arendt is silent about a key relationship the most morally questionable one in her life to her mentor and former lover Heidegger. Arendt was the key person in rehabilitating Heidegger after the War, when it is now well established that he was a full participant in the Nazification of the German universites. The editor also includes an allegation which I have not seen elsewhere of Arendt having had an affair with the Critic Harold Rosenberg. This charge is raised in a note with no confirmation or refutation of it in any of the letters. And this when the notes which come after each letter identifying various people mentioned in them are useful.
I had the sense very much of both of these friends wanting very much to stay friends and to compliment and help each other. They clearly do this throughout the work, and the Letters certainly give strong evidence of value of such a friendship to both of them.
I would only add that I somehow expected them to be more interesting intellectually than I found them to be. Nothing in them comes close to the greatness of writing which is often present in Arendt's best work.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent correspondence between friends and intellectuals 6 Feb 2014
By Kimberly Fujioka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This text is full of detailed letters between two friends and intellectuals. The letters span any years and are very revealing of the true thoughts of Hanna Arendt and Mary McCarthy--both amazing women and deep thinkers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Beautiful Collection of Letters 17 April 2014
By ThePerpetualStudent - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If nothing else, this volume of letters shows just how deep Arendt's and McCarthy's friendship ran. They wrote each other constantly with only a few breaks throughout their adult lives. Truly an invaluable portrait of friendship between two important women.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, charming and so necessary 12 Jun 2013
By Book Babe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a wonderful collection of letters! It's such a privilege to be able to see inside the relationship of these two brilliant women. To read what they were thinking about, how they were thinking about things -- it's truly very exciting. They were so different from one another, yet you can feel how necessary their friendship was to them. It's very inspiring.
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