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McCarthy, Mary. MARY MCCARTHY'S THEATRE CHRONICLES 1937-1962. New York City, NY: Farrar, Straus & Company, 1963. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 248 pages. Fine/Fine.

Retrospective collection of theatre reviews. One of the most important literary collections of its kind ever published. It also remains one of Mary McCarthy's finest achievements. The First Hardcover Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. There is no ISBN. The First Edition is now scarce. Presents Mary McCarthy's "Theatre Chronicles 1937-1962". Covers the twenty-five year period when serious American theatre came into its own. First published in her celebrated and influential column in Partisan Review, the collection as a whole amounts to a landmark of American critical writing. The classics - Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen, Chekhov, Wilde - are brilliantly juxtaposed with the "moderns" such as Clifford Odets, William Saroyan, Thornton Wilder, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Graham Greene, William Inge, Paddy Chayevsky, and John Osborne, among others. There is no contemporary critic actively writing, aware of the fact or not, who has not been influenced by the "Mary McCarthy critical essay", an acerbic, penetrating, and intelligent piece that sees through rubbish with a laser beam ("cast a cold eye", as one of her novels put it) yet remains hopeful about finding the elusive "Real Thing" (her fundamental, central criterion for great theatre). Mary McCarthy loved the theatre. Her acidic and despairing commentary about certain celebrity-playwrights and their plays (most of which are now period pieces) comes from a deep love of the medium, which she knew faced extinction each passing day with the rise of cinema and then, television. Theatre has somehow survived and even thrived, but as Mary McCarthy predicted, it has been at the exorbitant price of "entertainment", that is, as an extension of Hollywood rather than being self-contained, serious, and abundant. When one thinks of it in the broadest historical sense, that William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English language, wrote exclusively for the theatre (even his sonnets were dramatic private gestures to an unnamed Loved One, who happened to be another man; hence the need to make them private), McCarthy's exclusive devotion to theatre (she hated films) was not so quaint after all. An absolute "must-have" title for Mary McCarthy collectors. This title is a late-modern classic. This is one of few copies of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing still available online and despite its imperfection (browning of paper, rubbing on DJ) is still in fine condition overall: Clean, crisp, and bright. Please note: Copies available online have serious flaws, are subsequent printings, or are remainder-marked. This is surely an accessible and lovely alternative. A scarce copy thus. One of the most important and influential American writers of the 20th century. A fine copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER MARY MCCARTHY TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). $20.00

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