The Groves of Academe

The Groves of Academe Henry Mulcahy a literature instructor at progressive Jocelyn College is informed that his appointment will not be continued Convinced he is disliked by the president of Jocelyn because of his abilit

  • Title: The Groves of Academe
  • Author: Mary McCarthy
  • ISBN: 9780156027878
  • Page: 449
  • Format: Paperback
  • Henry Mulcahy, a literature instructor at progressive Jocelyn College, is informed that his appointment will not be continued Convinced he is disliked by the president of Jocelyn because of his abilities as a teacher and his independence of mass opinion, Mulcahy believes he is being made the victim of a witch hunt Plotting vengeance, Mulcahy battles to fight for justiceHenry Mulcahy, a literature instructor at progressive Jocelyn College, is informed that his appointment will not be continued Convinced he is disliked by the president of Jocelyn because of his abilities as a teacher and his independence of mass opinion, Mulcahy believes he is being made the victim of a witch hunt Plotting vengeance, Mulcahy battles to fight for justice and, in the process, reveals his true ethical nature.

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    One thought on “The Groves of Academe”

    1. Interesting to wonder why Mary McCarthy's 'Groves' is so little read, while 'Stoner' is re-released to great acclaim seemingly every five years I hear my wife calling, she says, "Gee, why could this book by a woman that's just like that book by a man be less highly rated even though it's just as good and about the same tings: English department at a small regional school that's a little bit quirky and prone to infighting and incompetence. Gee, I wonder why? WHATEVER COULD IT BE, MISOGYNIST?. Lea [...]

    2. Regarding the faculty:“Everyone felt called to stipulate, like a lawyer, his own degree of interest in the case, and to distinguish his own area of human solidarity from that of his neighbor, carefully set up boundaries and limits, eminent domain.” “These continuous factional disputes and ideological scandals were a form of spiritual luxury that satisfied the higher cravings for polemic, gossip, and backbiting without taking the baser shape, so noticeable in the larger universities, of per [...]

    3. Another campus novel of the several I read this fall. (You Deserve Nothing; The Secret History) I wonder if Donna Tartt read Mary McCarthy. One difference from Tartt's book is that in The Groves of Academe the professors and President of Jocelyn College are the focus of the novel rather than the students. A similarity is that in both books the colleges are small and progressive though the stories are 30 years apart in time.Henry Mulcahy, middle-aged, unsuccessful, overburdened, renegade literatu [...]

    4. *whistles* Goodness, what a scathing literary commentary on liberal arts schools. It says something about McCarthy's ability to discern the archetypes humans tend to inhabit that while reading Chapter IV: 'Ancient History,' I could have sworn I was reading about my own college, now, not a fictional college in 1952. She has nailed the aspirations of liberal arts schools, the petty politics, the process of mellowing (or radicalizing) that comes with age, the physical feel of such a campus - and it [...]

    5. I went great guns with this book for the first 50-60 pages or so as a passenger on a road trip last weekend. Then I put it down and after that it was a real pain to pick back up and continue with the same level of enthusiasm.I thought it would be good to read after finishing Owen Johnson's Stover at Yale - Stover was an undergraduate beginning his first year at Yale, and the protagonist of McCarthy's book was Henry Mulcahey, a professor at a progressive college. Stover spent the majority of his [...]

    6. I might have not appreciated this book as much had I not gone to Film school for five years - or any other Arts/Humanities course for that matter.The description of the minds and quarrels and attitudes and dialogues of scholars is just perfect. It's a very toxic environment established by smart people who were led to think at some point in their lives that they are smarter than the others.There are many interesting discussions concerning all the different branches connected with thought: philoso [...]

    7. I think of Mary McCarthy, perhaps imprecisely, in the same breath with Dawn Powell and Janet Flanner as the quintessence of a certain urbane, New Yorker magazine-centric, Manhattan literary sensibility of the mid-20th century.Whether that appraisal is here or there, I believe this kind of satire is what is called "wickedly funny." Her eye for the material details of clothes and food and furnishings that correlate with every character's social class and beliefs is brilliant and her similes and me [...]

    8. A funny, smart, and insightful book that felt, to me at least, as also marking the end of a certain kind of literature. The book itself includes a certain amount of talk about "Jesuitical" habits of mind, that trained argumentative style that for some of us will always be the ulitmate form of intellectual investigation, and the characters definitely engage in that here, at this peculiar depth of strategy and counter-strategy, investigating morals and motives at a level of psychological depth tha [...]

    9. Begins as a character and social study of a brilliant, arrogant academic at a small progressive private college in the fraught political climate of post-war America trying to save his job while stoking up his sense of misunderstood martyrdom, then veers into an entertaining satirical portrait of academia, the academic tendency to argue oneself into immobility, and the contemporary art scene (with the very funny scenes at a poetry conference held at the college). Insightful, fascinating bits alon [...]

    10. This is an enjoyably brutal romp through the absurdities of academia and academics. McCarthy's prose is deliciously and mercilessly precise as she skewers the foibles of a small liberal arts college community during the heady days of the Red Scare and experimental poetry. Much in the machinations of college administrators, faculty, and students is firmly rooted in this specific cultural context; much, for better and for worse, is instantly recognizable to anyone who has spent time among the grov [...]

    11. A fierce battle for little gain Those argumentative people in your classes who would argue for its own sake, well many of them became academics. After 45 years in academia, I had the bad fortune to see many of them split departments and colleges into factions, with no one the winner.

    12. satire of a 'progressive' private school, circa '50s Red Scare. Shifts characters from chapter to chapter, possibly to show instability of point of view during the plots of scheming, manipulation, and revenge. Caps it off with a 'conference of poets,' which gives ample opportunity for a more removed perspective to provide commentary.

    13. A classic academic novel. McCarthy writes beautiful prose, and can be quite funny, but the novel feels dated and arch. All of the characters are eloquent but self-absorbed, and the pleasure of seeing through the self-interestedness of everyone's motives in each and every scene soon begins to pale. A plot would have been nice, too.

    14. Not my tasteI struggled to interest myself in the problems of the characters. The conflicts were primarily internal and academic and require tedious conversations to unwind. In the end, it was of little interest to me whether the unpleasant protagonist met an unpleasant end of not.

    15. I had to drop this book. After 4 months of trying to get through it I just gave up. The language in the book is dated. The character descriptions are funny and very elaborate but go on and on and eventually lost me. Probably a good book for book on tape when one can't get to sleep. On to the next book - Hurray!

    16. Excellent novel set in a 'progressive' college in the throes of McCarthyism. Rather like if one of the Great American Novellists (TM) actually realised what a repellent human being their self-insert main male characters were.

    17. I generally love campus novels, and this one started out with real promise. But by the second half, I was dragging myself through because I cared just enough (barely) to want to see how things wrapped up. Uneven, to say the least.

    18. An interesting and entertaining book about academic retribution. Not McCarthy's best, but better than SOOOOOO many other books on academia.

    19. McCarthy's take on intellectual freedom during the years of the red scare in the late 1940s-early 1950s. My least favorite of any of her books so far, this book nonetheless transmits the tone and concerns of intellectuals confronted with the question of Communism infiltrating educational systems. Based, in part on McCarthy's experience at Bard and Sarah Lawrence.

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