Required Reading for the Art of Memoir & McCarthy Era, October 5, 2000
Reviewer: Debra Di Blasi "fiction writer and artist" (Kansas City, MO United States)
Lillian Hellman was one of the most gifted memoirists in the history of the English language. (I am an published author, produced screenwriter, and creative writing teacher, thus these words do not come as hyperbole.) It is not merely the historical, racial, and personal content of her autobiographical works that elevates them to classics, but her unique, and dexterous command of language. The fact that she was a brilliant playwright has much to do with her gift. There is some question regarding the "truth" in her memoirs, as there should be in any memoir, for memory is fickle and cannot be trusted--as Hellman herself admitted. Read them as works of art, as explorations of the nature of memory, as historical documents.
She writes with skill and grace, recreating the fear and suspicion of the McCarthy era. compelling and wonderful to read.
***** This third volume in Lillian Hellman's memoirs brings to life that dark period in American history, the McCarthy era and the nefarious House Committee on Un-American Activities.
In 1952 writer Lillian Hellman refused to name other people--although whe offered to talk about herself--before the House Un-American Activities Committee. For this singular act of moral courage she paid dearly. Blacklisted, forced to sell her home, she watched as others sacrificed friends to save their careers. Now Lillian Hellman names names as she writes her most intimate, painful and moving memoir--her personal history of an unfortunate era. "Scoundrel Time" is an intensely personal account of a great lady's refusal to compromise herself for personal profit. It is a private record of a public time told by an impressive woman in a powerful way!