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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Is that your clitoris talking to you?

Mary McCarthy was not shy to tell “it” like it is. When “The Group” came out in 1963, the ban on naughty words and sex acts had long since passed. But for a female novelist there was still (in America) a certain standard to uphold. But McCarthy pushed back, forward, and to either side. “The Group” tells the story of a group of Vassar graduates, now grown up and out into the world, working, dating, loving, and looking for themselves. As many a novel had already appeared about guy groups (pre- , during, and post-college), McCarthy took the reigns on this female story at an ideal time in American fiction, and American social change.

august 18, 2010

” ‘ You came, Boston,’ he remarked, with the air of a satisfied instructor. Dottie glanced uncertainly at him; could he mean that thing she had done whtat she did not like to think about? ‘I beg your pardon,’ she murmured. ‘I mean you had an orgasm.’ Dottie made a vague, still-inquiring noise in her throat; she was pretty sure, now, she understood, but the new word discombobulated her. ‘A climax,’ he added, more sharply. ‘Do they teach that word at Vassar?’ ‘Oh,’ said Dottie, almost disappointed that that was all there was to it.”

– Mary McCarthy, “The Group”

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