Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Norman Mailer: A Memorial Gesture

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Norman Mailer: A Memorial Gesture

Article excerpt

I FIRST BECAME INTERESTED IN MAILER during the academic year Of 195657, when--as a British student of American Studies--I was spending a year at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, teaching Freshman English, taking a graduate course or two, and finding myself persistently distracted by the combination of an emotionally charged presidential election with such troubling world events as the Suez crisis and the Hungarian uprising. In that fall Of 1956 I enrolled in a course in contemporary American fiction that was being offered by Malcolm Cowley, the distinguished critic, poet, and essayist of distinctly unfashionable (i.e., moderately left-leaning) political views, who was teaching at the university as a single-semester visitor. The friendship I formed with Cowley during and after the course was of great importance to me, and among the many things for which I owe him particular thanks was his assigning early in his course an essay on Mailer's The Deer Park, then only recently published and thus requiring to be addressed without the benefit or distraction of critical books or articles. It was a revelatory experience that took me in directions quite different from the elegant pastiches I had written as an undergraduate at Cambridge.

I went on to read the few other books that Mailer had then written--notably The Naked and the Dead--and kept them actively in mind when, back in England, I began working towards the doctoral thesis of which a revised version was, in 1964, published on both sides of the Atlantic as American Social Fiction. I cannot pretend to be especially proud of the segments of that book devoted to The Deer Park (under the heading of "Hollywood novels") or The Naked and the Dead (under the heading of "Military novels"), but they do at least rank among the earliest academic references to Mailer's work. My subsequent career brought me to Canada even as my studies took me away from Mailer, Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Dos Passos, and other American novelists of society, initially in the direction of William Faulkner and then, altogether away from the United States, in the direction of Thomas Hardy. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.