Critical Essays and Books

Adams, Laura. Existential Battles: The Growth of Norman Mailer. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1976. Good discussion of themes and techniques, especially early narrators; includes description of extra-literary activities.

_____, editor. Will the Real Norman Mailer Please Stand Up. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1974. Fourteen essays and reviews and one interview examining Mailer’s protean activities. Includes two essays on Mailer’s cosmology, a long bibliography and Adams’s useful introduction.

Aldridge, John W. Classics and Contemporaries. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1992, 54-58, 186-97. Contains Aldridge’s reviews of Genius and Lust (76.12), The Long Patrol (71.29), and Harlot’s Ghost (91.26).

_____. “Mailer, Burns, and Shaw.” In After the Lost Generation: A Study of the Writers of Two Wars. 1951. Reprint, with an introduction by Norman Mailer, New York: Arbor House, 1985, 133-56. In his introduction Mailer says, “Aldridge was the nearest guideline to absolute truth that the working novelist had in my young days.” See 85.14.

_____. “Norman Mailer: The Energy of New Success.” In Time to Murder and Create: The Contemporary Novel in Crisis, 149-63. New York: David McKay, 1966. Expanded version of Aldridge’s influential review of An American Dream (65.7). See 65.9.

Algren, Nelson. “New York: Rapietta Greensponge, Girl Counselor Comes to My Aid.” In Who Lost An American, 1-29. New York: Macmillan, 1963. Satirical portrait of Mailer (Norman Manlifellow) and James Baldwin (Giovanni Johnson) and other New York literary figures. See 63.10.

Amis, Martin. “The Avenger and the Bitch.” In The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America, 37-43. New York: Viking, 1987. See 86.42.

Anderson, Chris. “Norman Mailer: The Record of a War.” In Style as Argument: Contemporary American Nonfiction, 82-132. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987. Concrete reading of Mailer’s “rhetoric of self-dramatization,” with deft discussion of Mailer’s “Left-conservatism.”

Apple, Max. “Inside Norman Mailer.” In The Oranging of America and Other Stories, 49-60. New York: Grossman, 1976. One of the best comic fantasy struggles with a larger-than-life Mailer.

Arlett, Robert M. “The Veiled Fist of a Master Executioner.” Criticism 29, no. 2 (1987), 215-32. Examination of free indirect speech in The Executioner’s Song (79.14).

Bailey, Jennifer. Norman Mailer: Quick-Change Artist. New York: Harper and Row, 1979. Provides extended summaries of his work from a feminist perspective. Bailey sees Advertisements for Myself (59.13) as the key transitional work.

Balbert, Peter. “From Lady Chatterly’s Lover to The Deer Park [55.4]: Lawrence, Mailer, and the Dialectic of Erotic Risk.” Studies in the Novel 22 (spring 1990), 67-81. Best study of Lawrence’s influence. See 90.2.

Barnes, Hazel. “The Negative Rebels: The Apolitical Left.” In An Existential Ethics, 56-96. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967. Professional philosopher’s sympathetic examination of Mailer’s existential credentials.

Begiebing, Robert J. Acts of Regeneration: Allegory and Archetype in the Works of Norman Mailer. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1980. Close reading of major works from Barbary Shore (51.1) on; fine discussion of Mailer’s “heroic consciousness.”

_____. The Territory Around Us: Collected Literary and Political Journalism, 1982-2015. BookBaby, 2015. Discusses Mailer and other American authors at a transformative moment in his career.

_____. “Norman Mailer: The Magician as Tragic Hero.” In Toward a New Synthesis: John Fowles, John Gardner, Norman Mailer, 87-125. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1989. Demonstration of how Mailer uses metafictional technique but rejects postmodern negativism. Important study of Ancient Evenings (83.18).

Berthoff, Warner. “Witness and Testament: Two Contemporary Classics.” In Aspects of Narrative: Selected Papers from the English Institute, edited by J. Hillis Miller, 173-98. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971. One of the first extended treatments of The Armies of the Night (68.8), which Berthoff places—along with The Autobiography of Malcolm X—in the American tradition of personal witness and “the saving counterforce of personality.”

Bloom, Harold, editor. Norman Mailer: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. Sixteen reviews and essays covering Mailer’s major works and emphasizing the influence of Hemingway, with Bloom’s brief introduction.

_____, ed. Norman Mailer: Critical Views. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003. Thirteen reviews and essays focusing on Mailer’s later works.

Bozung, Justin, ed. The Cinema of Norman Mailer: Film Is Life Death. Bloomsbury Academic: 2017. A collection of mixed contributions: essays and memoirs from critics, collaborators, and Mailer himself (67.21 and 71.25), some reprinted, but mostly original texts including many stills from Mailer’s films.

Booth, Wayne. The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction, 207-10, 327-36. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988. Useful to gauge how Mailer’s public image has alienated an important critic.

Braudy, Leo. “Maidstone: A Mystery by Norman Mailer.” In Native Informant: Essays on Film, Fiction and Popular Culture, 60-63, 145-51. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Rpt: Adams (1974). Informed comment on Mailer’s film and the Mailer-Pynchon dichotomy.

_____, editor. Norman Mailer: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliff, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972. Thirteen essays on Mailer’s work through Of a Fire on the Moon (71.1); includes Steven Marcus interview (64.1) and a thoughtful introduction with useful insights into Miami and the Siege of Chicago (68.25).

Brookeman, Christopher. “Norman Mailer and Mass America.” In American Culture and Society Since the 1930s, by Christopher Brookeman, 150-70. New York: Schocken, 1987. Staid overview of Mailer as “a personal index of American history since the Second World War.”

Bryant, Jerry H. “The Moral Outlook.” In The Open Decision: The Contemporary American Novel and Its Intellectual Background, 369-94. New York: Free Press, 1970. Authenticity, courage and the belief that “self-discovery must precede the establishment of satisfactory societies” in the early novels of Mailer.

Bufithis, Philip M. Norman Mailer. Modern Literature Monographs. New York: Ungar, 1978. Rpt: Partial in Lennon (1986). Perhaps the most readable and reliable study of Mailer’s early work.

Busch, Frederick. “The Whale as Shaggy Dog.” In When People Publish: Essays on Writers and Writing, 65-82. Iowa City: Iowa University Press, 1986. Argues persuasively for the influence of Moby-Dick on “The Man Who Studied Yoga” (56.25). See 51.2.

Cappell, Ezra. “Hemingway’s Jewish Progeny.” The Mailer Review 10.1 (2016): 208–228.

Capote, Truman. Conversations with Capote, edited by Lawrence Grobel, 112-16 and passim. New York: New American Library, 1985. Capote criticizes The Executioner’s Song (79.14).

_____. Preface to Music for Chameleons, xii-xix. New York: Random House, 1980. Capote comments on how Mailer “realized the value of my experiment”: In Cold Blood.

_____. Truman Capote: Conversations, edited by M. Thomas Inge, 108-9, 23233, 288-99 and passim. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1987. Reveals Capote’s shifting opinions of Mailer and his work.

Carson, Tom. “The Time of His Prime Time.” Village Voice Literary Supplement, no. 14 (February 1983), 1, 10-12. Marvelous, personalized overview.

Cleaver, Eldridge. “Notes on a Native Son.” Ramparts, June 1966, 51-56. Negative comment on Baldwin’s Nobody Knows My Name; positive on The White Negro (58.8).

Coale, Samuel Chase. “Melville to Mailer: Manichean Manacles.” In In Hawthorne’s Shadow: American Romance from Melville to Mailer, 22-45. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1985. Extended attack on Melville and Mailer as dualists.

Cooley, John R. Savages and Naturals: Black Portraits by White Writers in Modern American Literature, 137-60. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1982. Argues that Mailer’s images of blacks are stereotypical, excepting Shago in An American Dream (65.7).

Cowan, Michael. “The Quest for Empowering Roots: Mailer and the American Literary Tradition.” In Critical Essays on Norman Mailer, edited by J. Michael Lennon, 156-74. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1986. Revised and expanded version of his essay in Leo Braudy’s 1972 collection. Exhaustive recording of Melville’s influence and transcendental perception in Mailer. Indispensable.

Dienstrefy, Harris. “The Fiction of Norman Mailer.” In On Contemporary Literature, edited by Richard Kostelantz, 422-36. New York: Avon, 1964. Sympathetic study of Mailer’s first three novels and “The Man Who Studied Yoga” (56.25).

Dupee, F.W. “The American, Norman Mailer.” Commentary, February 1960, 128-32. Rpt: Braudy (1972). A fine critic tries to get a fix on a writer changing fast.

Early, Gerald. “The Unquiet Kingdom of Providence: The Patterson-Liston Fight.” In Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, 46-65. Hopewell, N.J.: Ecco Press, 1994. The 1963 fight as interpreted by Mailer and James Baldwin. See 63.3.

Ehrlich, Robert. Norman Mailer: The Radical as Hipster. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978. Focus on Mailer’s work through Marilyn (73.30) as an expression of the hipster philosophy of The White Negro (58.8).

Eisinger, Chester E. Introduction to The Naked and the Dead (48.2), vii-xxv. softcover edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968. One of the best introductions, which notes echoes from Whitman in Mailer.

Ellmann, Mary. Thinking about Women, passim. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968. Early feminist critique of Mailer, Sigmund Freud, Mary McCarthy and others.

Fetterly, Judith. “An American Dream: ‘Hula, Hula,’ Said the Witches.” In The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction, 154-89, 197-98. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978. Rpt: Partial in Lennon (1986). Delineation of “Mailer’s fantasy of female power and male powerlessness” in An American Dream (65.7).

Finholt, Richard. “Mailer’s Cosmology.” In American Visionary Fiction: Mad Metaphysics as Salvation Psychology, 112-27. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1978. Rpt: Adams (1974). First extended treatment of Mailer’s cosmology, which is linked to medieval and Elizabethan systems.

Foster, Richard. “Mailer and the Fitzgerald Tradition.” Novel 1 (spring 1968), 219-30. Rpt: Braudy (1972). Exploration of the striking similarities between the fictional male characters of the two writers.

_____. Norman Mailer. University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American Writers, no. 73. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1968. Rpt: Lucid (1971); partial in Bloom (1986). This monograph, one of the first extended treatments of Mailer’s work, is still one of the best. Excellent on Mailer’s urgent, “forcing style.”

Fuller, Edmund. Man in Modern Fiction: Some Minority Opinions on Contemporary American Writing, 154-62. New York: Random House, 1958. Dreary comment from one of Mailer’s most disapproving critics.

Gerson, Jessica. “Sex, Creativity and God.” Mosaic, 15 (June 1982), 1-16. Rpt: Bloom (1986). Argues that Mailer’s attitudes toward sexuality are based in mystical Judaism.

Gilman, Richard. “Norman Mailer: Art as Life, Life as Art.” In The Confusion of Realms, 81-153. New York: Random House, 1969. Often disparaging, but well-developed essay on Mailer as a “new kind of American Romantic.”

Glenday, Michael K. Norman Mailer. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. Examines Mailer’s novels in a socio-political context. Contains one of the finest discussions of Why Are We in Vietnam (67.15), which he deftly relates to the issues of the day.

Glickman, Susan. “The World as Will and Idea: A Comparative Study of An American Dream [65.7] and Mr. Sammler’s Planet.” Modern Fiction Studies 28 (winter 1982-83), 569-82. Amazing parallels of theme and narrative strategy.

Godden, Richard. Fictions of Capital: The American Novel from James to Mailer, ch. 7-9, pp. 183-250. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Leftist economic history in the service of analyses of Why Are We in Vietnam? (67.15) and The Armies of the Night (68.8).

Goodhart, Eugene. “Lawrence and American Fiction.” In The Legacy of D.H. Lawrence, edited by Jeffrey Meyers, 135-55. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. Focus is on Mailer’s appreciation of Lawrence in The Prisoner of Sex (71.20).

Gordon, Andrew. An American Dreamer: A Psychological Study of the Fiction of Norman Mailer. Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 1980. Thoroughly Freudian study of Mailer’s work through The Armies of the Night (68.8); notable for its cataloging of imagery patterns.

Grace, Matthew. “Norman Mailer at the End of the Decade.” Etudes Anglaises 24 (January-March 1971), 50-58. Rpt: Adams (1974). Mailer and the apocalyptic 1960s.

Graff, Gerald. Literature against Itself: Literary Ideas in Modern Society, 216-20. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979. Sharp leftist attack on Mailer’s “schematism.”

Green, Martin. “Mailer’s Why Are We in Vietnam?” (67.15). In The Great American Adventure, 199-215. Boston: Beacon Press, 1984. Shows the novel’s parallels in the works of Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain and William Faulkner.

Gross, Theodore L. “Norman Mailer: The Quest for Heroism.” In The Heroic Ideal in American Literature, 272–95. New York: Free Press, 1971. The author sees Mailer as a “Quixotic hero.”

Guttman, Allen. “The Apocalyptic Vision of Norman Mailer.” In The Jewish Writer in America, 153–72. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. Guttman sees Mailer as “a non-Jewish Jew.”

Guttman, Stanley T. Mankind in Barbary: The Individual and Society in the Novels of Norman Mailer. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1975. Able discussions of early novels; links to Emersonian tradition explored.

Hamill, Pete. “Norman Mailer.” In American Rebels, 1–6, edited by Jack Newfield. New York: Nation Books, 2003. Sharp portrait by an old friend.

Harap, Louis. “The Jew Manqué: Norman Mailer.” In In the Mainstream: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1950s-1980s, by Louis Harap, 151-60. Although Mailer resides in “a limbo of indifference” regarding his Jewishness, Harap could not leave him out of this study, which includes comment on Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Alfred Kazin, Leslie Fielder, Irving Howe and others.

Harper, Howard M. “Norman Mailer—A Revolution in the Consciousness of Our Time.” In Desperate Faith: A Study of Bellow, Salinger, Mailer, Baldwin and Updike, 96-136. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967. Competent discussion of the novels through An American Dream (65.7).

Hassan, Ihab. “Encounter with Necessity, III.” Radical Innocence: Studies in the Contemporary American Novel, 140-51. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961. Rpt: Lennon (1986). Hassan sees Lt. Hearn in The Naked and the Dead (48.2) as an ironist and scapegoat who both links and opposes Gen. Cummings and Sgt. Croft.

_____. “Focus on Norman Mailer’s Why Are We in Vietnam? (67.15) In American Dreams, American Nightmares, edited by David Madden, 197-203. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1970. Orphic meditation.

Healey, Robert C. “Novelists of the War: A Bunch of Dispossessed.” In Fifty Years of the American Novel, 1900-1950: A Christian Appraisal, edited by Harold C. Gardiner, S.J., 257-71. New York: Scribner’s, 1952. The Naked and the Dead (48.2) makes if difficult, the author says, “to believe that Western civilization ever existed.” Valuable for revealing the doctrinaire in the early 1950s.

Hellman, John. “Journalism as Metafiction: Norman Mailer’s Strategy for Mimesis and Interpretation in a Postmodern World.” In Fables of Fact: The New Journalism as New Fiction, 55-65. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986. Pioneering study of Mailer’s nonfiction.

Hendin, Josephine. “American Rebels are Men of Action.” In Vulnerable People: A View of American Fiction Since 1945, 117-44. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Feminist critique focusing on the “fixed principles” of Mailer’s work: “anger and the adversary relation.”

Hersey, John. “The Legend on the License.” Yale Review 70 (October 1980), 1-25. Attack on the veracity of The Executioner’s Song (79.14).

Hesla, David. “The Two Roles of Norman Mailer.” In Adversity and Grace: Studies in Recent American Literature, edited by Nathan Scott, Jr., 211-38. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. Argues that Mailer fails as a thinker and ignores earlier intellectual leaders.

Hicks, Granville. Literary Horizons: A Quarter Century of American Fiction, 273-90. New York: New York University Press, 1970. Reviews of four Mailer narratives by Saturday Review’s longtime literary reviewer and Mailer misconstruer.

Hollowell, John. “Mailer’s Vision: History as a Novel, The Novel as History.” In Fact and Fiction: The New Journalism and the Nonfiction Novel, 87-125. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977. First major appraisal of Mailer as a New Journalist, with excellent bibliography.

Horn, Bernard. “Ahab and Ishmael at War: The Presence of Moby-Dick in The Naked and the Dead” (48.2). American Quarterly 34 (fall 1982), 37985. Definitive. See 51.2.

Jameson, Fredric R. “The Great American Hunter, or Ideological Content in the Novel.” College English 34 (November 1972), 180-99. Marxist critique which argues that Mailer is dependent on the very diseases and poisons of technology that he condemns.

Johnson, Diane. “Death for Sale: Norman Mailer on Gary Gilmore.” Terrorists and Novelists, 87-96. New York: Knopf, 1982. One of the few commentators to question the truthfulness of The Executioner’s Song (79.14).

Karl, Frederick P. American Fictions, 1940-1980, 12-14, 579-82 and passim. New York: Harper and Row, 1983. Extravagant praise for Why Are We in Vietnam? (67.15) and delineation of Mailer’s concern for a schizophrenic America.

Kaufmann, Donald L. Norman Mailer: Legacy and Literary Americana. Saarbruken, Germany: Scholar’s Press, 2014.

_____. Norman Mailer: The Countdown (The First Twenty Years). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969. Pioneering discussion of the beast-seer conflict in the early work which overlooks Mailer’s political interests.

Kellman, Steven G. “Mailer’s Strains of Fact.” Southwest Review 68 (spring 1983), 126-33. Richly allusive generic discussion of The Executioner’s Song (79.14).

Kernan, Alvin B. “The Taking of the Moon: The Struggle of the Poetic and Scientific Myth in Norman Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon [71.1].” In The Imaginary Library: An Essay on Literature and Society, 130-61. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Rpt: Bloom (1986). Perhaps the best thing written on Mailer’s narrative of the Apollo 11 mission.

Kuberski, Philip. “The Metaphysics of Postmodern Death: Mailer’s Ancient Evenings [83.18] and Merrill’s The Changing Light at Sandover.” English Literary History 56 (spring 1989), 229-54. Mailer and Merrill against Cartesian mechanism and postmodern despair.

Landow, George P. Elegant Jeremiahs: The Sage from Caryle to Mailer, 101-4, 128-29, 144-50. Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986. Careful tracing of the pattern of definition, revilement, warning and visionary promise in Mailer, Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe and earlier writers such as John Ruskin and Henry David Thoreau.

Langbaum, Robert. “Mailer’s New Style.” In The Modern Spirit: Essays on the Continuity of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Literature, 147-63. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. Rpt: Bloom (1986). Important essay on the evolution of Mailer’s “hallucinated realism.”

Leeds, Barry H. “Boxing as a Moral Paradigm in the Works of Norman Mailer.” The New Review 1 (September-October 1992), 12-16. The most complete discussion of the topic.

_____. “Mailer and Marilyn: Prisoners of Sex.” North Dakota Quarterly (winter 1991), 110-17. “The coherence of Mailer’s vision of [Marilyn] Monroe, of women, and of heterosexual love.”

_____. The Enduring Vision of Norman Mailer. Bainbridge Island, WA, 2002. Examination of Mailer’s later works, including an interview with Mailer, and a deft descriptive chapter, “The Critical Climate: Books on Mailer.”

_____. The Structured Vision of Norman Mailer. New York: New York University Press, 1969. First major study of Mailer’s work; valuable for its analysis of An American Dream (65.7), and consideration of The Armies of the Night (68.8) and Deaths for the Ladies (and Other Disasters) (62.3).

_____. “Tough Guy Goes Hollywood: Mailer and the Movies.” In Take Two: Adapting the Contemporary American Novel to Film, edited by Barbara Tepa Lupack, 154-68. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1994. Most nuanced discussion of the adaptation of Tough Guys Don’t Dance (84.17) to the screen.

Lehan, Richard. A Dangerous Crossing: French Literary Existentialism and the Modern American Novel, 81-95. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973. Mailer’s cosmology as an existential recreation.

Leigh, Nigel. “Getting It Wrong: The Cinema of Norman Mailer.” Journal of American Studies 24, no. 3 (1990), 399-413. Comment on Mailer’s films and those made from his novels.

_____. Radical Fictions and the Novels of Norman Mailer. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Leigh writes about Mailer and power from a Foucauldian perspective, but ignores the nonfiction narratives. Excellent readings of Why Are We in Vietnam? (67.15) and Ancient Evenings (83.18). Many misquotations, typos, incorrect page numbers.

Lennon, J. Michael, editor. Critical Essays on Norman Mailer. Critical Essays on American Literature. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1986. Ten reviews and ten essays, including two original ones: Robert F. Lucid’s overview of his proposed biography and Michael Cowan’s on Mailer’s Americanness. Introduction summarizes critical response to Mailer’s work.

_____, and Charles B. Strozier. “Empathy and Detachment in the Narratives of Erikson and Mailer.” Psychohistory Review 10 (fall 1981), 18-32. Comparison of the introspective-empathic narratives of Mailer and Erik Erikson.

_____. “Mailer’s Cosmology.” Modern Language Studies 12 (summer 1982), 18-29. Rpt: Lennon (1986). Delineation of the “three linked strands” of Mailer’s cosmology: 1) universe in process, 2) intensified free will and 3) intensified presence of evil.

_____. “Mailer’s Radical Bridge.” Journal of Narrative Technique 7 (fall 1977), 170-88. Discussion of point of view in Mailer as it relates to his thought.

_____. “Mailer’s Sarcophagus: The Artist the Media, and the ‘Wad.’” Modern Fiction Studies 23 (summer 1977), 179-87. How Mailer’s view of his audience helps shape his work.

Lodge, David. “The Novelist at the Crossroads.” In The Novelist at the Crossroads and Other Essays on Fiction and Criticism, 3-34. Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 1971. Masterful delineation of the origins and possibilities of the nonfiction novel, including The Armies of the Night (68.8).

Lounsberry, Barbara. “Norman Mailer’s Ages of Man.” In The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction, 139-89. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990. Careful exploration of the parallels between Advertisements for Myself (59.13) and Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”

Loving, Jerome. Jack and Norman: A State-Raised Convict and the Legacy of Norman Mailer’s “The Executioner’s Song”. Thomas Dunne Books: 2017. A study of the relationship between Mailer and Jack Abbott.

Lowell, Robert. “A Conversation with Ian Hamilton.” American Poetry Review, September/October, 1978, 23-27. Lowell says Mailer’s portrait of him in The Armies of the Night (68.8) is “the best, the only thing written about me as a living person.”

Lucid, Robert F. Introduction to The Long Patrol: 25 Years of Writing from the Work of Norman Mailer, xi-xxvii. New York: World, 1971. “The Ambition of Norman Mailer” could serve as the title to this brilliant recapitulation of Mailer’s career through Of a Fire on the Moon (71.1). See 71.29.

_____. “Norman Mailer: The Artist as Fantasy Figure.” Massachusetts Review 15 (autumn 1974), 581-95. How increasingly greater demands on Mailer have made him disassemble himself into various avatars and employ new narrative strategies. Indispensable.

_____, editor. Norman Mailer: The Man and His Work. Boston: Little, Brown, 1971. First major collection of essays: 13 on his work, four on his life and Paul Carroll’s interview (68.1). Contains checklist of his work and important introduction in which Lucid attempts to resolve the apparent conflict between Mailer’s public and artistic activities.

_____. “Three Public Performances: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Mailer.” American Scholar 43 (summer 1974), 447-66. Subtle exploration of the love-hate relationship of three public writers and their audiences.

Macdonald, Dwight. “The Bright Young Men in the Arts.” Esquire, September 1958, 38-40. Besides Mailer, Macdonald chooses James Baldwin in the prose category and mentions Truman Capote, Norman Podhoretz, John Updike and Flannery O’Connor. Macdonald says Mailer’s failures are “more interesting than the successes of less-talented writers” and praises “his enthusiasm for general ideas.”

Marks, Barry A. “Civil Disobedience in Retrospect: Henry Thoreau and Norman Mailer.” Soundings 2, 62 (1979), 144-65. Inevitable and careful comparison.

Marx, Leo. “‘Noble Shit’: The Uncivil Response of American Writers to Civil Religion in America.” Massachusetts Review 14 (autumn 1973), 709-39. The virtues of the American vernacular in Mailer, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain and others.

Matz, Charles. “Mailer’s Opera.” Opera News 34 (21 February 1970), 14-16. See 70.4.

Maud, Ralph. “Faulkner, Mailer, and Yogi Bear.” Canadian Review of American Studies 2, no. 2 (fall 1971), 69-75. Why Are We in Vietnam? (67.15) and William Faulkner’s “The Bear” are related to Indian stories, with an ecological emphasis.

McConnell, Frank D. “Norman Mailer and the Cutting Edge of Style.” In Four Postwar American Novelists: Bellow, Mailer, Barth and Pynchon, 58107. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977. Traces the shift from ideological to “visionary” politics in Mailer’s work.

McCord, Phyllis Frus. “The Ideology of Form: The Nonfiction Novel.” Genre 19 (spring 1986), 59-79. Convincingly sorts out the generic status of The Executioner’s Song (79.14) by comparing/contrasting it with Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

McKinley, Maggie. Masculinity and the Paradox of Violence in American Fiction, 1950-75, passim. Bloomsbury: 2015. An examination of violence, masculinity, and racial and ethnic tension in several American novelists, including Mailer.

_____. Understanding Norman MailerUnderstanding Contemporary American Literature. University of South Carolina Press: 2017. An introduction to Mailer’s work in an accessible volume. A solid primer on Mailer’s writings and concerns.

Mendelson, Edward. “Mythmaker: Norman Mailer.” Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers, 124–44. New York: New York Review Books, 2015.

Meredith, Robert. “The 45-Second Piss: A Left Critique of Norman Mailer and The Armies of the Night” (68.8). Modern Fiction Studies 17 (autumn 1971), 433-48. Forceful and detailed critique.

Merrill, Robert. “The Armies of the Night: The Education of Norman Mailer.” Illinois Quarterly 37 (September 1974), 30-44. Rpt: Bloom (1986). Sound analysis of point of view and structure in 68.8.

_____. Norman Mailer, revised edition. Twayne’s United States Authors Series. Boston: Twayne, 1992. Thoughtful examination of the formal structure of Mailer’s novels and nonfiction narratives; contains perhaps best analysis of The Executioner’s Song (79.14). Includes biographical chapter. Most comprehensive study to date.

_____. “Norman Mailer’s Early Nonfiction: The Art of Self-Revelation.” Western Humanities Review 28 (winter 1974), 1-12. A shrewd study of Mailer’s emerging persona in the essays preceding The Armies of the Night (68.8).

Middlebrook, Jonathan. Mailer and the Times of His Time. San Francisco: Bay Books, 1976. Extended personal essay on Mailer’s ties to American romantics, including a comic account of his first meeting with Mailer.

Mosser, Jason. The Participatory Journalism of Michael Herr, Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, and Joan Didion: Creating New Reporting Styles. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2012.

Muste, John M. “Norman Mailer and John Dos Passos: The Question of Influence.” Modern Fiction Studies 17 (autumn 1971), 361-74. Raises serious doubts about the specific influence of John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. on The Naked and the Dead (48.2).

New Orleans Review 3, no. 3 (1973). Special Mailer number. Contains three essays and an interview by Matthew Grace and Steve Roday. See 73.14.

Newlove, Donald. “Dinner at the Lowells.” Esquire, September 1969, 128-29, 168, 170-78, 180, 184. Lowell comments on his portrait in The Armies of the Night (68.8).

Oates, Joyce Carol. “The Teleology of the Unconscious: The Art of Norman Mailer.” In New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature, 170-92. New York: Vanguard Press, 1974. Discussion of Mailer’s dualisms in Why Are We In Vietnam? (67.15) and Of a Fire on the Moon (71.1) by a novelist who “disagree[s] with nearly every one of Mailer’s stated or implied ideas.”

Olster, Stacey. “The Transition to Post-Modernism: Norman Mailer.” In Reminiscence and Re-creation in Contemporary American Fiction, 36-71. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1989. Mailer is seen as a transitional figure between modernism and postmodernism; focus is on his writings of the 1960s.

Ostriker, Dane Proxpeals. “Norman Mailer and the Mystery Woman or, The Rape of the C—k.” Esquire, November 1972, 122-25. Pseudonymous attack in rhymed couplets on Mailer as male chauvinist.

Parker, Hershel. “Norman Mailer’s Revision of the Esquire Version of An American Dream: The Authority of ‘Built-in’ Intentionality.” In Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons: Literary Authority in American Fiction, 181-212. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1984. Argues that the magazine version of 65.7 is superior to the book version. See 83.6.

Pease, Donald E. “Citizen Vidal and Mailer’s America.” Raritan 11 (spring 1992), 72-98. Argues for Vidal as an ignored genius who prefigured the New Historicism and Mailer as anti-homosexual. Tendentious.

Pizer, Donald. “Norman Mailer: The Naked and the Dead” (48.2). In Twentieth-Century American Literary Naturalism, 90-144. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982. Arguably the best essay on Mailer’s first novel.

Podhoretz, Norman. “Norman Mailer: The Embattled Vision.” In Doings and Undoings: The Fifties and After in American Writing, 179-204. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1964. Rpt: Lucid (1971). One of the first essays to examine Mailer’s shifting ideologies and idiosyncratic existentialism.

Poirier, Richard. Norman Mailer. Modern Masters Series. New York: Viking, 1972. Rpt: Partial in Bloom (1986). Still considered to be most intelligent study of Mailer. Contains three chapters: on Mailer’s career, his relation to history, and his dualisms. Poirier’s Mailer is perhaps too postmodern, but Poirier is acute on Mailer’s endlessly modulating rhetoric, even if he is incredulous about Mailer’s cosmology.

_____. “The Performing Self.” In The Performing Self: Compositions and Decompositions in the Languages of Contemporary Life, 86-111. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. Prelude to his 1972 volume on Mailer.

Pratt, William C. “Mailer’s ‘Barbary Shore’ and His Quest for a Radical Politics.” Illinois Quarterly 44 (winter 1982), 48-56. Ideological context for Mailer’s second novel (51.1). Excellent sources.

Radford, Jean. Norman Mailer: A Critical Study. New York: Harper and Row, 1975. General survey of Mailer’s work from a feminist perspective. Her study is marred by its focus on ideology and lack of interest in stylistic nuance; contains a fine analyses of the Eitel-Esposito affair in The Deer Park (55.4).

Raleigh, John Henry. “History and Its Burdens: The Example of Norman Mailer.” In Uses of Literature. Harvard English Studies 4, edited by Monroe Engel, 163-86. Cambridge: Howard University Press, 1973. Mailer’s historical sense, use of the small town and the “dynamic, orgiastic, explosive accelerating city.”

Ross, Mitchell S. “Norman Mailer.” In The Literary Politicians, 166-216. Garden City, N.J.: Doubleday, 1978. Lacking notes and an index, this vicious diatribe is valuable to help understand the depth of anger among Mailer’s detractors. Ross is the Babe Ruth of Mailer revilers.

Rother, James. “Mailer’s ‘O’Shaugnessy Chronicle’: A Speculative Autopsy.” Critique 19, no. 3 (1978), 21-39. Contends that Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet caused Mailer to rethink his plans.

Schaub, Thomas Hill. “Rebel without a Cause: Mailer’s White Negro and Consensus Liberalism.” In American Fiction in the Cold War, 137-62. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991. Attempt to deconstruct “The White Negro” (58.8) into consensus liberalism.

Scheffler, Judith A. “The Prisoner as Creator in Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song” (79.14). Midwest Quarterly 24 (summer 1983), 400-11. Rpt: Bloom (1986). Focus on Gilmore’s self-definition.

Schickel, Richard. “Super Hero, Super Victim,” “The Politics of Illusion.” In Intimate Strangers, 88-208. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1985. Discussion of Mailer’s insights about Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy.

Schrader, George Alfred. “Norman Mailer and the Despair of Defiance.” Yale Review 51 (December 1961), 267-80. Rpt: Braudy (1972). Argues that hipsterism is not existentialism, but a violent variant of romanticism based on “libidinal urges.”

Schultz, Kevin M. Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship That Shaped the Sixties. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015. A critical/biographical history of the friendship between Mailer and William F. Buckley concentrating on their frequently oppositional writing, politics, and public personae in the sixties.

Schulz, Max F. “Norman Mailer’s Divine Comedy.” In Radical Sophistication: Studies in Contemporary Jewish-American Novelists, 69-109. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1969. Rpt: Adams (1974). Examination of Mailer’s novels, with only modest procrusteanism, in a Dantesque framework.

Schwenger, Peter. Phallic Critiques: Masculinity and Twentieth-Century Literature, 24-36, 103-7 and passim. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984. Worthy exploration of Mailer’s rhetoric and obscenity.

Scott, Nathan A., Jr. “Norman Mailer—Our Whitman.” In Three American Moralists: Mailer, Bellow, Trilling, 15-97. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1973. In detailed readings, Scott makes the case that Mailer, like Whitman, is a “spokesperson for the American conscience.”

Seib, Kenneth A. “Mailer’s March: The Epic Structure of The Armies of the Night [68.8].” Essays in Literature 1 (spring 1974), 89-95. Surprising parallels.

Shechner, Mark. “Memoirs of a Revolutionist.” In After the Revolution: Studies in the Contemporary American Imagination, 159-79. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. Examination of Mailer’s post-Marxist revolutionary impulses through Advertisements for Myself (59.13). Contains extensive discussion of influence of Wilhelm Reich and Robert Lindner. See 56.9.

Sheed, Wilfrid. “Norman Mailer: Genius or Nothing.” In The Morning After: Selected Essays and Reviews, 9-17. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971. Tribute to Mailer as a weather vane: “As Mailer goes, so goes the nation.”

Sheets, Diana and Michael F. Shaughnessy. “An Interview with Diana Sheets: Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, Two Leaders of ‘New Journalism’ or Writers Striving to Create the ‘Great American Novel’?” In The Doubling: Those Influential Writers That Shape Our Contemporary Perceptions of Identity and Consciousness in the New Millennium, 109–124. UK: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2016. 

Shloss, Carol. “Norman Mailer and Combat Photography.” In In Visible Light: Photography and the American Writer, 1840-1940, 233-49. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Interesting consideration of the subjective-objective dilemma in The Naked and the Dead (48.2).

Shoemaker, Steve. “Norman Mailer’s ‘White Negro’: Historical Myth or Mythical History.” Twentieth Century Literature 37 (fall 1991), 242-60. Important reconsideration via the “New Historicism” of Stephen Greenblatt.

Silverstein, Howard. “Norman Mailer: The Family Romance and the Oedipal Fantasy.” American Imago 34 (fall 1977), 277-86. Triangular relationships in the early work.

Smolla, Rodney A. “Harlot’s Ghost [91.26] and ‘JFK’: A Fictional Conversation with Norman Mailer, Oliver Stone, Earl Warren, and Hugo Black.” Suffolk University Law Review 26 (fall 1992), 587-613. Discussion of aesthetics and conspiracy.

Solotaroff, Robert. Down Mailer’s Way. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974. Rpt: Partial in Lennon (1986). General survey containing a comprehensive and penetrating examination of Mailer’s existentialism and its debts to European philosophers. Contains one of the best critiques of “The White Negro” (58.8) in print.

Stade, George. “Mailer and Miller.” Partisan Review 44, no. 4 (1972), 616-24. Thoughtful comparison.

Stark, John. “Barbary Shore [51.1]: The Basis of Mailer’s Best Work.” Modern Fiction Studies 17 (autumn 1971), 403-8. The Hollingworths of Mailer and Nathaniel Hawthorne are considered.

Stone, Albert E. “Factual Fictions: Experiments in Autobiography by Norman Mailer, Frank Conroy, Lillian Hellman.” In Autobiographical Occasions and Original Acts: Versions of American Identity from Henry Adams to Nate Shaw, 265-90, 340-42. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. Valuable examination of The Armies of the Night (68.8) as part of the American autobiographical tradition.

“Studies of Norman Mailer.” Modern Fiction Studies 17 (autumn 1971), 345463. Special issue containing nine essays on Mailer’s writings, and Laura Adams’s pioneering checklist of criticism.

Styron, William. “Aftermath of ‘Aftermath.’” In This Quiet Dust and Other Writings, 137-42. New York: Random House, 1982. Styron empathizes with Mailer on the Jack Abbott affair. See 81.10.

Taylor, Gordon O. “Of Adams and Aquarius.” American Literature 46 (March 1974), 68-82. Best essay on the influence of Henry Adams on Mailer’s nonfiction. See 81.16.

Toback, James. “Norman Mailer Today.” Commentary, October 1967, 6776. Examination of Mailer’s religious commitments, and the role of existential dread.

Trilling, Diana. “The Radical Moralism of Norman Mailer.” In Claremont Essays, 175-202. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1964. Rpt: Lucid (1971), Braudy (1972). Best developed and most intelligent examination of Mailer’s work through Advertisements for Myself (59.13). Sensitive mediation between extremes of Mailer’s sensibility with praise for his “high political consciousness” and “moral affirmation.”

Vidal, Gore, and Robert J. Stanton, editors. Views from a Window: Conversations with Gore Vidal, passim. Secaucus, N.J.: Lyle Stuart, 1980. Vidal’s rivalry with Mailer is palpable here.

_____. “Women’s Liberation Meets Miller-Mailer-Manson Man.” In Homage to Daniel Shays, 398-402. New York: Random House, 1972. Cause of Mailer’s fight with Vidal on the Dick Cavett television show in December 1971. See 77.7.

Vogelgesang, Sandy. The Long Dark Night of the Soul: The American Intellectual Left and the Vietnam War, 9-10, 131-33, 149-51, 178-79. New York: Harper and Row, 1974. The powerful influence of The Armies of the Night (68.8) on the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Volpe, Edmond L. “James Jones—Norman Mailer.” In Contemporary American Novelists, edited by Harry T. Moore, 106-19. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964. Two existentialists compared.

Waldron, Randall H. “The Naked, the Dead and the Machine: A New Look at Norman Mailer’s First Novel.” PMLA 87 (March 1972), 271-77. Rpt: Bloom (1986). The U.S. Army as the epitome of technology in The Naked and the Dead (48.2).

Weber, Ronald. The Literature of Fact, 80-87, 166-71, passim. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1980. Examination of The Armies of the Night (68.8) and The Executioner’s Song (79.14) from an American Studies perspective.

Weinberg, Helen A. “The Heroes of Norman Mailer’s Novels.” In The New Novel in America: The Kafkan Mode in Contemporary Fiction, 108-40. Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 1970. Emergence of Mailer’s “activist hero” from Barbary Shore (51.1) to An American Dream (65.7).

Wenke, Robert. Mailer’s America. Stamford, CT: Trans Über LLC, 2014 [1987]. Wenke’s focus is almost completely thematic. Contains first extended treatment of Ancient Evenings (83.18).

Werge, Thomas. “An Apocalyptic Voyage: God, Satan, and the American Tradition in Norman Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon [71.1].” The Review of Politics 34 (October 1972), 208-28. Rich discussion of Mailer’s “conviction of the essential religious drama of man’s experience,” focusing on 71.1 as a continuation of the vision of Herman Melville.

Whalen-Bridge, John. “Adamic Purity as Double-Agent in Harlot’s Ghost [91.26].” In Political Fiction and the American Self, 103-30. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. Subtle examination of “Mailer’s dual aptitude for representing and resisting American mythologies.”

_____, ed. Norman Mailer’s Later Fictions: Ancient Evenings through Castle in the Forest. Foreword by Jason Epstein. Afterword by Norris Church Mailer. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Eleven essays on Mailer’s novels from Ancient Evenings  to The Castle in the Forest.

Widmer, Kingsley. “Several American Perplexes.” The Literary Rebel, 175-98. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1965. Comparison of Mailer and Paul Goodman.

Wilson, Andrew. Norman Mailer: An American Aesthetic. Oxford, England: Peter Lang, 2008.

Zavarzadeh, Mas’ud. The Mythopoeic Reality: The Postwar American Nonfiction Novel, 153-76 and passim. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976. Attempts to prove, unconvincingly, that The Armies of the Night (68.8) has a “zero degree of interpretation” of reality.