When the world speaks with one voice, it almost invariably gets it wrong. Thus, Norman Mailer, who died at the weekend, has been hailed as a great, if flawed, American writer, a pre-eminent chronicler of the 20th century. But it would be closer to the truth to characterise him as an arch-conservative who pulled off a stunning confidence trick.
Mailer hated authority, homosexuality, women and almost certainly himself, producing fiction and essays that would be comically bad if they did not display addictions to violence and abusive sex.
Then as now, few on the left cared that he was a hysterical opponent of contraception and abortion: "I hate contraception ... it's an abomination." It was left to one or two feminist writers, notably Kate Millett in Sexual Politics, to point out the contradictions that disfigured his work. Millett regarded Mailer as "a prisoner of the virility cult", a man whose "powerful intellectual comprehension of what is most dangerous in the masculine sensibility is exceeded only by his attachment to the malaise."
My feelings exactly. Read the rest.