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Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal among the New York Intellectuals

Laskin, David

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An illuminating portait of the writers who dominated New York intellectual life from the 1930s through the 1960s and of the complex tangle of literature, politics and passion that drove this group of friends, rivals and lovers.

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For the 25 years following its resurrection in 1937, Partisan Review reigned as New York's most influential intellectual journal, writes David Laskin in his group biography of its founders and core contributors. "The marriage of Marxism and modernism was not always a happy one ... but the magazine seemed to thrive on controversy, tension, upheaval, and dissent. High-toned, fiercely contentious, merciless, brilliant, rough, competitive and exclusive, PR was a world unto itself, both socially and intellectually." In Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals, Laskin focuses on an extraordinary quartet of women: Mary McCarthy, Jean Stafford, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Hannah Arendt. "They knew one another and they knew about one another; they read and reviewed one another; they measured with the exactness of peers and rivals one another's reputations, successes or failures in the marketplace, standing within the narrow yet tremendously significant world they shared." Drawing on their published works, letters, diaries, and recorded conversations to capture and convey the environment in which they lived and worked, the author presents a witty, racy, exhilarating world of passionate idealism, controversial politics, fiercely competitive writing, debate, art, and sex.

Key to understanding these tumultuous lives, Laskin believes, is recognizing that the women of the Partisan Review coterie were the last generation to come of age before the social and ideological revolution unleashed by feminism--and they never accepted the validity of "women's lib." Although they struggled desperately with their duty to protect the creative and thinking time of their Great Men husbands, and at the same time eke out time to work, it never occurred to them to question the justice or logic of the domestic arrangements they inhabited. And success often came at a terrible personal cost. Laskin quotes Delmore Schwartz: "All poets' wives have rotten lives." And, he adds, "when the poets' wives were themselves poets of some sort, their lives became 'rotten' in some truly strange and fascinating ways."

David Laskin writes about the New York intellectuals of the 1930s as if he'd known them--watched them found Partisan Review; drink themselves to blackout night after night; marry, support, divorce, criticize, and betray one another over three decades from a vantage point close enough for clarity but distant enough for fairness and thorough, well-disciplined research. He also definitively proves that gender need raise no barriers to insight and compassion for a writer with the requisite courage and imagination. His sympathy, respect, and admiration for his subjects shine through his book, and make the lives of these four women unforgettable. --Jan Bultmann

From the Inside Flap:

Combining literary biography with astute reporting and moral insight, David Laskin shows how sex, politics, and art affected relationships among the legendary group of New York intellectuals who were the Partisan Review writers. It is the women who steal the show with their groundbreaking work, their harrowing experiences of marriage, abuse, and betrayal, their passion for writing and disdain for feminism, and their struggles and achievements.

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Book Description Simon & Schuster, New York, 2000. Hard Cover in Dust Jacket. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Photos (illustrator). First Edition. 6-1/2 x 10 x 1-1/4". 2000 First Edition Hardcover book in DJ . BRAND NEW from 2000 publisher . Never opened , Never owned . small dot top edge . Jacket protected in New non-stick clear mylar sleeve . Gift Giving quality . 320 pages . illustrated with 8 pages of glossy B&W photographs . Superb evocation of New York intellectual life over 3 decades . From the Depression era of the 1930s through the Vietnam war era of the 1960s . a generation of public intellectuals thrived in America . Poets , novelists, critics, commentators . also friends , rivals, spouses and lovers . people like Mary McCarthy , Edmund Wilson, Robert Lowell , Elizabeth Hardwick , Hannah Arendt , Allen Tate , Carolyn Gordon, Diana Trilling . ' David Laskin writes about the New York intellectuals of the 1930s as if he'd known them--watched them found Partisan Review; drink themselves to blackout night after night; marry, support, divorce, criticize, and betray one another over three decades from a vantage point close enough for clarity but distant enough for fairness and thorough, well-disciplined research. He also definitively proves that gender need raise no barriers to insight and compassion for a writer with the requisite courage and imagination. His sympathy, respect, and admiration for his subjects shine through his book, and make the lives of these four women unforgettable ' . " Partisans - Marriage , Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals " . by David Laskin . published by Simon & Schuster , New York 2000 1st Edition Hardcover in Dustjacket *** Securely packed for Safe delivery ~ Shipping safely Worldwide since 1965 *** 6-1/2 x 10 x 1-1/4". Bookseller Inventory # 2463

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Book Description Simon & Schuster, Riverside, New Jersey, U.S.A., 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 320 pages. From the Publisher: From the Depression era of the 1930s through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, a generation of "public intellectuals" thrived in America. They were poets, novelists, critics, and commentators who were also friends, rivals, spouses, and lovers. Their personal relationships were as passionate as their writing. In their poems, novels, and essays they debated one another while producing work that was brilliant and often controversial. Among them are such influential writers as Mary McCarthy, Edmund Wilson, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Hannah Arendt. "We were not gentlemen--or ladies, " observed William Phillips, former editor of the Partisan Review, the house organ of the group. "We had strong egos. " While the pages of Partisan Review were a forum for political and intellectual controversy, its offices were a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, back-stabbing, and sex. Possessed of enormous ambition, talent, and appetite, the PR circle was an intense, self-enclosed society where creative energy often gave way to self-destructive impulses, alcoholism, and adultery. For women of talent, beauty, and ambition, this literary circle offered unprecedented professional opportunity but also exacted a terrible emotional price. Mary McCarthy, proudly promiscuous, had an affair with Philip Rahv, then editor of PR, before moving on to a disastrous marriage to Edmund Wilson. Jean Stafford, whose early brilliant stories appeared in PR, succumbed to Robert Lowell's persistent courtship, a decision that would later nearly destroy her. Lowell became a celebrity during his next marriage, to PR insider Elizabeth Hardwick, though Hardwick saw her promising literary career founder under the burden of coping with Lowell's recurrent psychosis. Yet, notes David Laskin, several of these marriages and friendships managed to survive and even flourish, with a lifelong bond forming between McCarthy and Hannah Arendt, and with Hardwick and Lowell presiding over the founding of the vi. Bookseller Inventory # 0003094

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