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Norman Mailer His Life And Works

Quotes From Norman Mailer
On Booze : "People drink to restore their egos."

On Boxing : "I respect most boxers because they're violent people who learned to discipline themselves ... a good boxer is an artist ... Boxing is existential - some fights are better than others."

On Celebrity : "I understand one element of celebrity, which is the unreality of it. At the age of 25 I went from being the kid-next-door ... to being called a major American writer - that's a role you just don't fit at 25 ... I use to feel I was secretary to someone named Norman Mailer, to meet him you had to meet me first."

On Critics : "I care about reviews - they affect your wallet in the most direct fashion."

On Failure : "The last chapter of Marilyn, where I speculated on the possibility of her being murdered. It was not good journalism."

On Fears : "I fear decrepitude."

On Humanity : "We're all divided souls, we've got two natures in us, You measure schizophrenia not by the fact that you're divided but how well the divisions speak to one another."

On Ideologies : "This notion of the women's movement that women are good and men are evil is about as useful as Hitlerism or Communism or Political Correctness or any kind of ideology that is limiting or constricting."

On the Internet : "I think the internet is the greatest waste of time since masturbation was discovered."

On JFK : "The country began to speed up, the sexual revolution began with Jack Kennedy ... things began to open up."

On Judaism : "I am very Jewish ... I have a Jewish temperament, I have a Jewish mind ... I am inquiring and fascinated with the dialectic, fascinated with argument, counter argument and the argument that comes out of the counter argument ... I am not at all pious, I am superstitious so to that degree I am a little bit of an orthodox Jew but not at all in that I am not close to the ceremonies and I am in no way a formal Jew but in every way I consider myself Jewish."

On Marriage : "It is an excrementious relationship, we can take all that is bad in us and throw it at the mate, she throws it back at you and you both shake hands and go on with your business - you can't do that out in the world"

On Novelists : "We're a special breed of human being. Somewhere between Psychologists, Historians, Detectives, students of style and manner - we have a capacity to do things that other people don't ... we develop over the years to try to see someone as whole."
On Oswald : "His character was such that he could have done it - that was the conclusion I came to."

On Politicians : "Any politician who wins an election for the first time has a lot of stamina - you owe him the same respect you'd pay a mediocre professional athlete"

On The Cold War : "We didn't win the Cold War, we were just a big bank that bankrupted a smaller bank because we had an arms race that wiped the Russians out."

On Violence : "Violence is the last frontier in literature."

On Writing : "Fiction can tell you certain things that nothing else can ... there's no one that we know inside out, there's always an area that we know, there's an area we know less well and there's a speculative area - the outside - that's part of the roundness of people we live with and when you do it ( ) in a book the person becomes more real."

On Life : "...and then there was that law of life so cruel and yet so just that one must grow or else pay more to remain the same."

A Suitable Epitaph : "He may have been a fool, but he certainly did his best ... and that can't be said of all fools."

Quotes are taken from two interviews with Norman Mailer from "Face to Face : Jeremy Isaacs talks to Norman Mailer(PBS)" and "The Late Late Show(RTE)". And from an appearance at Marietta College "Perspectives" lecture series, Marietta, Ohio, Thursday, February 5, 1998 (thanks to Vince Nelson). I hope to add more quotes as I find them.


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Last modified: November 2002

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