The Mailer-Buckley Connection

The late Norman Mailer ’43, a prolific and pugnacious author, apparently wrote a lot of letters to go with his many published works—some 50,000 letters archived by Michael Lennon, according to The New Yorker...

The late Norman Mailer ’43, a prolific and pugnacious author, apparently wrote a lot of letters to go with his many published works—some 50,000 letters archived by Michael Lennon, according to The New Yorker, which ran a selection in its October 6 issue under the title "In the Ring: Grappling with the twentieth century."

Among those missives readers might find amusing are exchanges with political foil (and Yalie) William F. Buckley Jr. (April 20, 1965: "I think you are going finally to displace me as the most hated man in American life.…To be the second most hated man in the picture will probably prove to be a little like working behind a mule for years…"). Mailer subsequently sent Buckley a financial contribution for National Review, while begging that it be kept "in the secret crypts," lest he have to explain "my complex motives for giving a gift to a magazine for which I feel no affection and to an editor with whom on ninety of a hundred points I must rush to disagree. They would not understand that good writing is good writing…" (January 1966).

Mailer also wrote a letter to the editor of Playboy (December 21, 1962), objecting to its characterization of his political leanings: "I don't care if people call me a radical, a rebel, a red, a revolutionary, an outsider, an outlaw, a Bolshevik, an anarchist, a nihilist, or even a left conservative, but please don't ever call me a liberal."

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