Born 14 November 1904, New
Wrote under: Marya Mannes, Sec.
Daughter of David and Clara Damrosch Mannes; married JoMielziner, 1926 (divorced); Richard Blow, 1936 (divorced); Christopher Clarkson, 1948 (divorced); children: one son
Marya Mannes spent her childhood in New York
In her first published novel, Message from a Stranger (1948), Mannes explored the notion that the dead resume their conscious identities when the living remember and think about them. The story is narrated by poetess Olivia Baird, the leading character, who dies on the second page of the novel and yet continues to "live" in the minds of her lover, husband, and children, so that she eventually achieves self-understanding.
Mannes's first book of essays, More in Anger (1958), collected her social criticism previously published in the Reporter. Mannes observes that she is "angry with the progressive blurring of American values, the sapping of American strength, the withering of American courage." Specifically, she attacks the mass media, the advertising establishment, and the "Never-Never Land of the 1950s."
Mannes' next published work was, according to her, a "long deep look at the city I loved and hated," The New York I Know (1959). But Will It Sell? (1964) was another collection of social criticism, exploring the invasion of "the government of money" in every sector of our lives. It contains four essays that outline Mannes' opinions on the proper egalitarian relationship between men and women. She also attacks contemporary violence, pop art, and commercial television.
Mannes' second novel, They (1968), depicts the final days of a group of elderly people ostracized by the new youth-dominated culture. Less a futuristic novel than an opportunity for social criticism, They condemns modern music, art, and literature while celebrating the "lost world—the long-discredited 'values' of humanism." These values, according to the main characters, are "Discipline, Grace, and Responsibility"—all qualities that Mannes felt were missing from modern society.
Mannes's autobiography, Out of My Time (1971), charts the major events in her life as well as her thoughts on woman's role and quest for identity in a male-dominated society. The major theme is the belief in "spiritual hermaphroditism"—the notion that human beings contain both masculine and feminine qualities that must be accepted and balanced in their personalities.
Mannes's last work, Last Rights (1974), expresses her support for euthanasia and her plea for laws to ensure a dignified death for all.
In 1959, Mannes published a collection of politically satirical poems, Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times, originally published in the Reporter under the pseudonym of "Sec." The poems attack the materialism of American society, environmental pollution, television inanities, the medical establishment, politicians, and militaristic imperialism.
Mannes' writings received mixed reviews, and she assessed herself as somewhat of a misfit: "Professionally I appear to fall uneasily between the writers who succeed because they appeal to the mass audience and those who succeed because they appeal to a superior intellectual elite. The big magazines find me too special and controversial to handle, and the critical literary fraternity find me too explicit to be important." This perceptive self-assessment helps explain Mannes' minor stature among 20th-century essayists and novelists.
CA. CB. WA.
Marya Mannes was born November 14, 1904 in New York, NY, and died September 13, 1990 in San Francisco, CA. Mannes was a well-known American author and critic, known for her caustic but insightful observations of American life.
Marya Mannes was an editor at Vogue and later wrote prolifically for the magazines The Reporter and The New Yorker. Mannes published a number of books of essays, sharply and wittily critical of American society, including More in Anger: Some Opinions, Uncensored and Unteleprompted. She was a much-sought-after social commentator on radio and television.She hosted her own television show in 1959, "I speak for myself"
Other books by Mannes included Subverse (1959),a satirical verse,Out of My Time (1971), an autobiography, and two novels, Message From a Stranger (1948), and They (1968).
Married three times, Mannes had one child who survived her.
Marya Mannes, the Writer, Dies; Social Critic and Satirist Was 85
Marya Mannes, an author, journalist and critic, died Thursday at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco. She was 85 years old.
Her son, David R. J. Blow, said she had died after suffering a series of strokes this week at the hospital, a geriatric facility that she entered in March. She had lived in various residences for the elderly, mainly in California, since 1983, after residing most of her earlier life in Manhattan.
The versatile Ms. Mannes was a social critic and a critic of radio, television and theater. She worked as a staff writer for the magazine The Reporter from 1952 to 1963. Her writing there included articles, essays and reviews. She even wrote satirical verse, under the pen name ''Sec.''
She did much writing over the years for The New Yorker and for other publications ranging from McCalls to The New York Times, and was the author of several books.
More Than Outspoken
Ms. Mannes's 1958 collection of essays - largely from The Reporter -was contentiously titled ''More in Anger: Some Opinions, Uncensored and Unteleprompted.'' William du Bois, reviewing it in The New York Times, said that ''to call these pages outspoken is putting things mildly.'' The book, he continued, ''is guaranteed to shock you into awareness of its author as an original thinker.''
''Whether she is writing of the Rheingold girls or the boys in Washington,'' he observed, ''of social-minded mothers and their child victims, of the world of Miltown or the think-room at the United Nations, of the 'half-people' of our automotive age or the heirs of Senator McCarthy, she hews to the line and lets the quips fall where they may.''
For some years, Ms. Mannes was seen often on television, but she was a champion of the written word. In a speech to a gathering of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, she once said, ''No picture on a screen can ever be an adequate substitute for the reporting of a trained observer and an honest writer.''
Marya Mannes was born on Nov. 14, 1904, on the West Side of Manhattan. Her parents were David Mannes and the former Clara Damrosch - founders of the Mannes College of Music.
She grew up in Manhattan, graduating in 1923 from Miss Veltin's School for Girls. Instead of going to college, she went to Europe for two years and studied sculpture, mainly in England.
She went on to do varied writing - including a play, ''Cafe,'' that failed on Broadway in 1930. From 1933 to 1936, she worked for Vogue magazine, as an associate editor and later as feature editor.