Sunday, 29 April 2012

Cast a Cold Eye


Cast a cold eye On life, on death. 
Horseman, pass by!

This is the epitaph that Poet William Butler Yeats wrote for himself, and, according to his careful directions ("No marble, no conventional phrase"), it is engraved on his simple tomb in the churchyard of Drumcliff.

The ad left is for McCarthy's fourth book, “Cast a Cold Eye,” a collection of stories, four fictional, three autobiographical, published in 1950, when she was 38. 
Of the first story, The Weeds, McCarthy wrote:
I remember I wrote a story in which [Edmund Wilson] more or less figured as a character--this was when we were married--and it was not really a very favorable picture. But it was not a portrait; it was somebody who 
was in the same position vis-a-vis the heroine as he was to me. I gave it to him to read, and he had no comment on that aspect of it....I sent it to 'The New Yorker,' and they took it, and it came out. And he was really quite mad. I said, 'But I showed it to you before.' And he said, 'But you've improved it!'  
                                                                                            Mary McCarthy, Contemporary Authors,     
                                                                                                                              11/16/1984


From The Weeds:
"She remembered all the times she had thought of leaving him before. But there had always been something-the party Saturday night that she did not want to miss,the grapes blue on the vines waiting to be made into jelly, the new sofa for the living room that Macy's would deliver next week, the man to see about the hot-water heater.
And by the time the sofa had come, the man had gone, the jelly had been made, she would no longer be angry with him, or at any rate her anger would have lost its cutting edge and she would have only the dull stone of discontent to turn over and over in her palm."