GOSSIPING ON MOUNT OLYMPUS

HANNAH ARENDT AND MARY MCCARTHY'S LETTERS ARE ELECTRIFYING

MARY MCCARTHY MET HANNAH Arendt at a Manhattan bar in 1944. Wartime New York was jumping, especially for jazz musicians, black marketeers and left-wing intellectuals. McCarthy, then a 32-year-old short-story writer, reviewer and wife of critic Edmund Wilson, was making the most of it. She had come to the red-hot center by way of Seattle and Vassar, class of '33. Arendt, a German Jew, had been an outstanding student at Marburg University, where she was the lover of her mentor, the philosopher Martin Heidegger. She arrived in the U.S. in 1941, escaping probable death in the Holocaust.

McCarthy started the relationship...

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