An American Dream: A Novel by Norman Mailer

By Norman Mailer

During this wild battering ram of a unique, which was once initially released to sizeable controversy in 1965, Norman Mailer creates a personality who can be a fictional precursor of the philosopher-killer he may later profile within the Executioner's track. As Stephen Rojack, a adorned warfare hero and previous congressman who murders his spouse in a modern ny urban high-rise, runs amok throughout the urban during which he was a privileged citizen, Mailer peels away the layers of our social norms to bare a global of natural urge for food and incessant cruelty. One half Nietzsche, one half de Sade, and one half Charlie Parker, An American Dream grabs the reader by means of the throat and refuses to enable move.

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55 The path down and back is dark, the moment of encounter one of both literal and figurative illumination. We might read the clerk, then, as making a visit that structurally echoes the nekuia. If so, the carbuncular clerk is a pimply Odysseus and the typist is linked with Tiresias, the latter connection suggested not only by aural similarity but also, and more forcefully, by Tiresias’s self-descriptions, each of which emphasizes his female attributes (“Old man with wrinkled female breasts,” “old man with wrinkled dugs”) and by a staged intensification of his identification with the typist.

Tiresias calls attention to himself as narrator three times, each time raising the stakes of his vision. At the 42 UN DE RWOR L D IN TW E N T I E T H - C E N T U R Y P O E T R Y beginning of the passage, he can simply “see . . ” After his description of her flat, Tiresias indicates not only his vision but also his visionary capacity: “Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest” (emphasis mine). ” We might go one step further: the clerk/hero is the poet who visits at the violet hour to take from the transcriber/tradition what might be of use to him.

Not only do the quatrains and couplet rhyme as the form demands (almost), but the stanzas also compose discrete tropic units. The first plays on the meanings of “engage,” so that invitation, betrothal, and combat all are connotatively at work. The second emphasizes the last of these with its military diction. The third shifts attention to Tiresias and his typicality (or, better, the typicality of the episode itself, since even the famed prophet has “foresuffered” it). The couplet at once returns us to the “lovers” and implies a comment on the scene; “gropes” links the clerk’s assault on the typist with his assault on the stairs so that the darkness of the stairs seems also to embrace the action we have just witnessed.

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