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This chapter offers an explanation of Mailer’s notable contributions to the essay and column form, helping readers better understand his diverse roles in American literary culture. It addresses the biographical and cultural contexts that surrounded Mailer’s most notable early breakthroughs as a writer of nonfiction and public intellectual. In particular, this chapter focuses on the context for Mailer’s contributions to the Village Voice and Esquire.
This chapter provides a brief overview of notable Mailer scholarship, addressing The Mailer Review and the digital hub Project Mailer, as well as the recent authorized biography of Mailer and the publication of his selected letters. The chapter focuses primarily on Lipton’s Journal, Mailer’s personal journal from the 1950s, arguing that this is a key to unlocking many aspects of Mailer’s work, and that it is the way forward in Mailer Studies this century.
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