Roger Kimball

Naked & Read

Norman Mailer: A Double Life

By

Simon & Schuster 960pp £30 order from our bookshop

It seems to be the season of ‘double lives’. I have on my desk galleys of The Double Life of Paul de Man, the reader-proof doyen of deconstruction who began his career in Belgium during the Second World War writing newspaper articles sympathetic to the Nazi cause. That was an aspect of his literary production he declined to advertise from his perch as Sterling Professor at Yale in the 1970s. And now we have Norman Mailer: A Double Life, a hagiographical, ‘authorised’ biography of the novelist, wife-stabber and booster of homicidal misfits. De Man’s double life revolved around his efforts to conceal his early fondness for the doctrines of Hitler; Mailer’s revolved around the tension between his identity as a ‘nice Jewish boy’ and his caddish misogyny and obsession with violence. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,
    • 'Keynes predicted that future generations would enjoy such an improved standard of living that they might work just… ,