The Naked and the Dead. New York: Rinehart, 6 May; London: Wingate, 9 May 1949. Novel, 721 pp., $4.
Republished in a signed leather-bound edition with one-page preface, “A Special Message to Subscribers from Norman Mailer.” Franklin Center, Pa.: Franklin Library, 1979 (79.36). Dedication and acknowledgment: “To my Mother and Bea. I would like to thank William Raney, Theodore S. Amussen, and Charles Devlin for the aid and encouragement given me at various times in the writing of this novel.”
The novel received a “Page One Award” from the New York Newspaper Guild (CIO affiliate) on 20 May 1949 and was chosen as one of the four best books of 1948 by Newsweek (13 December).
Several prominent critics nominated the novel for the Pulitzer Prize in the Saturday Review’s annual Pulitzer Prize poll (30 April 1949, 23), and the Associated Press named Mailer “Man of the Year” in Literature, as reported in the 31 December Asbury Park Evening News.
Finally, it was nominated for the Gutenberg Award, given to “the book which most progressively influenced American thought in 1948.” The novel was on the New York Times bestseller list for a total of 63 weeks, until summer 1949. The novel’s title was first used for an unpublished play about an insane asylum based on a one-week job Mailer held at a Boston asylum in the summer of 1942. Rpt: 48.1, 98.6 (new edition, with new introduction), 98.7 (partial). See other 1948 entries, 49.3, 65.21, 68.31, 74.18, 74.20, 76.21, 92.12, 95.53 and, passim, in 59.13; and Mailer’s recollections in 03.7.
I came out of the Army with an idea for a novel about a long patrol, an idea which had been bound in its origins to a mountain which was to serve as both an actual mass of stone and as a symbolic base for the book. The original conception was allegorical. The mountain was a consciously ambiguous symbol, something too complex, too intangible, to be defined by language. (48.4)