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Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature$
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Sarah Daw

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474430029

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474430029.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 18 April 2021

Bifurcated Nature in Mary McCarthy’s Birds of America

Bifurcated Nature in Mary McCarthy’s Birds of America

(p.169) Chapter 5 Bifurcated Nature in Mary McCarthy’s Birds of America
Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature

Sarah Daw

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter Five takes the temporal range of the book beyond the publication of Silent Spring, through analysis of the writing of Nature by the critic and novelist Mary McCarthy. The chapter reveals the governing influence of the French philosopher Simone Weil on McCarthy’s presentation of Nature as an ecological system in her fiction and non-fiction writing. The chapter reads McCarthy’s 1971 novel Birds of America alongside her first two Vietnam War reports, Vietnam (1967) and Hanoi (1968), which she interrupted the writing of Birds to research. This approach reveals the continuity of ideas between McCarthy’s fiction and non-fiction writing from this period, as well as the sustained philosophical and rhetorical influence of Weil. Analysis of these non-fiction texts alongside the novel illuminates McCarthy’s literary presentations of an ecological Nature and her particularly nuanced response to her fellow Americans’ growing environmental consciousness in Birds of America.

Keywords:   Mary McCarthy, Simone Weil, Vietnam, Birds of America, Nature

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