in Primary, Works


“The White Negro (Superficial Reflections on the Hipster).” Dissent 4 (summer), 276-93. Essay. Mailer’s most celebrated and castigated essay is also one of the most anthologized since World War II. It is usually reprinted with “Reflections on Hipsterism” (58.1), a follow-up discussion of the original essay. Rpt: The Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men, edited by Gene Feldman and Max Gartenberg. New York: Citadel Press, 29 May 1958; Voices of Dissent: A Collection of Articles from “Dissent” Magazine. New York: Grove Press, after 15 October, 1958; 59.8a, 59.13, 98.7 (partial), 13.1. See 56.16, 83.12, and James Baldwin’s response, “The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy,” Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (New York: Dial, 1961); 13.2, 219-24.


What makes a novelist great is that he illumines each line of his work with the greatest intensity of experience. One thing about Hip you have to admit is that the Hipster lives in a state of extreme awareness, and so, objects and relations that most people take for granted become terribly charged for him; and, living in a state of self-awareness his time slows up. His page becomes more filled. The quality of his experience becomes more intense. That doesn’t make for less expression; it makes for greater difficulty of expression. (59.2)