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Because Mailer often addressed various modes of violence in his fiction and nonfiction, over time many readers have mistakenly believed that Mailer endorsed all forms violence. Yet Mailer was careful to parse the nuances of different forms of violence, and rarely, if ever, does violence go wholly unquestioned in his work. This chapter covers Mailer’s distinctive criticisms of violence, addressing his notions of “creative” violence versus purely destructive violence; his sharp criticisms of the violences enacted in Vietnam; his meditations on structural violence, and the connections he draws between violence, courage, and manhood.
This afterword considers Mailer’s legacy in the context of the recent #MeToo movement, addressing the difficulties of studying a controversial author in this context, as well as the potential intellectual merits of doing so.
Ths introduction provides a brief biography of Norman Mailer, addressing his upbringing, his education, his family life, his marriages, his rise to fame as a writer and cultural critic, his political activism and involvement, his honors and awards, and the controversies that swirled around his public and personal life.
This volume offers new insight into the breadth of contexts that inform Norman Mailer's body of work. It examines important literary, critical, theoretical, cultural, and historical frameworks for Mailer's writing, highlighting the ways his work reflects the concerns of twentieth and twenty-first century America. This book traces Mailer's literary influences; his contributions to a variety of literary genres; his participation in the American political sphere; the philosophical, religious, and gendered contexts that shape his work; and the iconic American figures he profiled. The book concludes with reflections on Mailer's literary and cultural legacy, emphasizing his advocacy for literary freedom and the contemporary resonance of his work.