Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 27, Mary McCarthy

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INTERVIEWER

What about the novel you’re writing while you’re here—have you been working on it a long time? …Is it unfair to ask you what it will be about?

McCARTHY

No, it’s very easy. It’s called The Group, and it’s about eight Vassar girls. It starts with the inauguration of Roosevelt, and—well, at first it was going to carry them up to the present time, but then I decided to stop at the inauguration of Eisenhower. It was conceived as a kind of mock-chronicle novel. It’s a novel about the idea of progress, really. The idea of progress seen in the female sphere, the feminine sphere. You know, home economics, architecture, domestic technology, contraception, childbearing; the study of technology in the home, in the playpen, in the bed. It’s supposed to be the history of the loss of faith in progress, in the idea of progress, during that twenty-year period.

INTERVIEWER

Are these eight Vassar girls patterned more or less after ones you knew when you were there in college?

McCARTHY

Some of them are drawn pretty much from life, and some of them are rather composite. I’ve tried to keep myself out of this book. Oh, and all their mothers are in it. That’s the part I almost like the best.

via Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 27, Mary McCarthy.

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