Wide World of Quotes > Norman Mailer Quotes


Norman Mailer
American novelist and essayist
(1923-2007)



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The Naked and the Dead.
-- Title of novel (1948)

Growth is a greater mystery than death. All of us can understand failure, we all contain failure and death within us, but not even the successful man can begin to describe the impalpable elations and apprehensions of growth.
-- Advertisements for Myself (1959)

Every day a few more lies eat into the seed with which we are born, little institutional lies from the print of newspapers, the shock waves of television, and the sentimental cheats of the movie screen.
-- Advertisements for Myself (1959)

America is a hurricane and the only people who do not hear the sound are those fortunate if incredibly stupid and smug White Protestants who live in the center, in the serene eye of the big wind.
-- Advertisements for Myself (1959)

The White Protestant's ultimate sympathy must be with science, factology, and committee rather than sex, birth, heat, flesh, creation, the sweet and the funky.
-- Advertisements for Myself (1959)

Hip is the sophistication of the wise primitive in a giant jungle.
-- Voices of Dissent (1959), 'The White Negro'

The final purpose of art is to intensify, even, if necessary, to exacerbate the moral consciousness of people.
-- 'Hip, Hell, and the Navigator', in: Western Review, no. 23, Winter 1959

The sickness of our times for me has been just this damn thing that everything has been getting smaller and smaller and less and less important, that the romantic spirit has dried up.
-- 'Hip, Hell, and the Navigator', in: Western Review, no. 23, Winter 1959

In America few people will trust you unless you are irreverent.
-- In: Esquire, June 1960

Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.
-- In: Esquire, June 1960

A modern democracy is tyranny whose borders are undefined; one discovers how far one can go only by traveling in a straight line until one is stopped.
-- The Presidential Papers (1964)

The world stood like a playing card on edge ... One looked at the buildings one passsed and wondered if one was to see them again.
-- The Presidential Papers (1964)

In America all too few blows are struck into flesh. We kill the spirit here, we are experts at that. We use psychic bullets and kill each other cell by cell.
-- The Presidential Papers (1964)

I'm hostile to men, I'm hostile to women, I'm hostile to cats, to poor cockroaches, I'm afraid of horses.
-- The Presidential Papers (1964)

At bottom, the FBI has nothing to do with Communism, it has nothing to do with catching criminals... it has nothing to do with anything but serving as a church for the true mediocre.
-- The Presidential Papers (1964)

There is one expanding horror in American life. It is that our long odyssey toward liberty, democracy and freedom-for-all may be achieved in such a way that utopia remains for ever closed, and we live in freedom and hell, debased of style, not individual from one another, void of courage, our fear rationalized away.
-- Cannibals and Christians (1966), 'My Hope for America'

Society is built on many people hurting many people, it is just who does the hurting, which is forever in dispute.
-- Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968)

New York is one of the capitals of the world and Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic. San Francisco is a lady, Boston has become Urban Renewal, Philadelphia and Baltimore and Washington blink like dull diamonds in the smog of Eastern Megalopolis, and New Orleans is unremarkable past the French Quarter. Detroit is a one-trade town, Pittsburgh has lost its Golden Triangle, St. Louis has become the golden arch of the corporation, and nights in Kansas City close early. The oil depletion allowance makes Houston and Dallas naught but checkerboards for this sort of game. But Chicago is a great American city. Perhaps it is the last of the great American cities.
-- Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968)

The average good Christian American secretly loved the war in Vietnam... America needed the war. It would need the war so long as technology expanded on every road of communication, and the cities and corporations spread like cancer.
-- The Armies of the Night (1968), "History as Novel: The Steps of the Pentagon'

The horror of the twentieth century was the size of each event, and the paucity of the reverberation.
-- Of a Fire on the Moon, ch. 2

If the Devil was devoted to destroying all belief in conservative values among the intelligent and prosperous, he could not have picked a finer instrument to his purpose than the war in Vietnam.
-- St. George and the Godfather (1972)

So we think of Marilyn who was every man's love affair with America, Marilyn who was blonde and beautiful and a sweet little rinky-dink of a voice and the cleanliness of all the American backyards.
-- Marilyn (1973)

But then our country is our religion. The true religion of America has always been America.
-- Interview, Time, 27 September 1984

All the security around the American president is just to make sure the man who shoots him gets caught.
-- Quoted in Sunday Telegraph, 4 March 1990


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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