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Literary Tourism

The Case of Norman Mailer – Mailer’s Life and Legacy

Jasna Potočnik Topler

Most of Norman Mailer’s works depict the reality of the United States of America and the complexities of the contemporary American social, political and economic scenes. They also contributed to the development of literary tourism. This monograph reveals Mailer’s literary places and points out the areas of social and political contemporary life that he most often referred to in the following works: The Naked and the Dead, An American Dream, Why Are We in Vietnam?, The Armies of the Night, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, Of a Fire on the Moon, The Executioner's Song and Why Are We at War?


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2. The Lives of Norman Mailer


17 2. The Lives of Norman Mailer The title of this chapter is not incorrect: Mailer’s life was so rich and diverse that his official biographer J. Michael Lennon titled the biography of the American icon Norman Mailer: A Double Life (2013). Many biographers attempted to capture Mailer’s complex personality, including Richard Poirier in 1972, Philip H. Bufithis in 1978, Hillary Mills in 1984, Peter Manso in 1986 and Mary Dearborn in 2001. By considering all six of the above-mentioned biographies of Norman Mailer alongside his books, articles and other pieces or manuscripts, the most comprehensive picture of Norman Mailer emerges. On the back cover of Lennon’s biography of Mailer, Norman Mailer is referred to as “one of the giants of American let- ters, and one of the most celebrated public figures of his time,” but behind this label there are more than 40 fiction and non-fiction books, articles, movies, unpublished materials, more than fifty thousand letters, and more. In addition to this, Mailer was the co-founder of The Village Voice, which in its early years “had a greater impact on the non-fiction/journalistic world than any other single publication, with the possible exception of Esquire and The New Yorker” (Gutking 6), served as the president of the American Chapter of PEN from 1984 to 1985, and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters from 1984 until his death in November 2007. Among other activities, Mailer was actively engaged in politics. In 1969, he was a candidate...

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