Norman Mailer and The Novel of Social Concern
Latteier, James Lockett
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Mailer is constantly reacting to his culture and his times. He speaks, not from a cultivated point of view, but by becoming himself the champion of the moment, prophet of the coming apocalypse and harbinger of our most immediate doom. The result is that he tends to resemble the age itself. Mailer is the mirror of America. When Communism failed in the forties, its failure was recorded in Barbary Shore. When it seemed that America's literary talent might be selling out to Hollywood, Mailer recorded the plight of the artist in The Dear Park. And lately as our country is discovering the leisure to nurse and nurture its own neuroses, Mailer has become more neurotic than most in the wild fears and phobias of An American Dream. A discussion of Mailer is not complete without an understanding of the society in which he lives and about which he has continued to write. Mailer and America are inseparable. And perhaps to even a greater extent than America is necessary in coming to understand the unique phenomenon and unpredictable logic of America itself during its past twenty years.