McCarthy on McCarthyism
McCarthy's view of intellectual freedom during the years of the red scare, in the late 1940s-early 1950s, The Groves created the new genre of the campus novel, blazing the trail for the likes of David Lodge and Donna Tart, to mention just two.
McCarthy described the novel's starting point in an interview with the Paris Review:
"The Groves of Academe started with the plot. The plot and this figure: there can’t be the plot without this figure of the impossible individual, the unemployable professor and his campaign for justice. Justice, both in quotes, you know, and serious in a way. What isjustice for the unemployable person? That was conceived from the beginning as a plot: the whole idea of the reversal at the end, when Mulcahy is triumphant and the president is about to lose his job or quit, when the worm turns and is triumphant. I didn’t see exactly what would happen in between; the more minute details weren’t worked out. But I did see that there would be his campaign for reinstatement and then his secret would be discovered. In this case that he had not been a communist. "