By J. Michael Lennon

ISBN-10: 1439156204

ISBN-13: 9781439156209

Norman Mailer used to be one of many giants of yankee letters and some of the most celebrated public figures of his time. He was once a novelist, journalist, biographer, and filmmaker; a provocateur and passionate observer of his instances; and a husband, father, and serial philanderer.

Perhaps not anything characterised Mailer greater than his unbounded ambition. He sought after now not purely to be the best author of his iteration, yet a author nice sufficient to be in comparison to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. As Michael Lennon describes, he even had presidential pursuits, even if he settled for operating for mayor of recent York urban. He championed own freedom and civil liberties, calling himself a "left conservative," and but he used to be Enemy number 1 of the Women's stream. He used to be as pugnacious in genuine lifestyles as in print, undertaking well-known feuds and fights. even though he thought of himself at the start a novelist, his maximum literary contribution can have been in journalism, the place he used his novelistic presents in tandem with self-revelation to discover the yankee psyche. In that regard, the subtitle of his Pulitzer Prize– and nationwide publication Award–winning Armies of the evening is telling: "History as a unique, the unconventional as History." He may go back to yes matters obsessively: John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, intercourse, expertise, and the problematic courting of repute and identification. Michael Lennon's definitive biography captures Mailer in all his sharp complexities and indicates us how he self-consciously invented and reinvented himself all through his lifetime.

Michael Lennon knew Mailer for thirty-five years, and in penning this biography, he has had the cooperation of Mailer's overdue widow, Norris Church, his ex-wives, and all of his youngsters, in addition to his sister, Barbara. He additionally had entry to Mailer's tremendous, unpublished correspondence and papers, and he interviewed dozens of people that knew Mailer. Norman Mailer: A Double existence offers us the fellow in complete, a outstanding and designated determine within the context of his instances.

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Extra info for Norman Mailer: A Double Life

Sample text

Why should he want to see God, he wonders, when God appears in “faces of men and women I see” (245)? Having dispatched theology, Section 49 anticipates the objection that, unlike God, the 40 Poetry before the Civil War self is limited by the boundaries of life and death. “And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me” (245). ” The stink of the corpse yields “the white roses sweet-scented and growing” (245). In Sections 50 and 51, Whitman completes the transcendental sweep of the poem, dramatizing the poet at the edge of understanding, the limits of language.

Divine am I inside and out,” he says, building steam toward a litany of admiration for the body’s beauty: “If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it” (211). His egalitarianism extends to the despised or neglected parts of the human body as much to every constituent of the body politic. He portrays the body as both a metaphorical landscape (“shaded ledges”) and the means for cultivating the land (the phallus appearing as a “masculine colter,” that is, the blade of a plough) (211–12).

He tells a family story, how his mother in her youth was visited by a Native American woman whose “wonderful beauty and purity” made the white girl long for another visit, which never happened (547). The swimmer, the general, and the mother in her youth variously represent the experience of personal loss, with the poet giving vent to the elegiac strain that he would powerfully realize in poems published in the 1860s. In “The Sleepers,” the poet is intent on resolving the sense of loss, on rising with the sun at the end of the poem healed and restored by the descent into 44 Poetry before the Civil War darkness and exposure to the fearful side of his fantasies.

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Norman Mailer: A Double Life by J. Michael Lennon

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