Norman Mailer on The Man Who Was Thursday

At this past meeting, Peter Maurice spotted this in a collection of essays from Norman Mailer.

Under financial and contract pressure, Norman Mailer hurried out a novel called Tough Guys Don’t Dance. He admits this rush-job was flawed, but one thing came through –the style.  Which prompts him to say in self-criticism:

You can write a very bad book, but if the style is first-rate, then you’ve got something….The shining example might be G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday.  It was an undeniably silly plot unless you invest a great deal into it.  A worshipful right-wing critic can do a blitheringly wonderful thesis on the symbolic leaps and acrobatics of  The Man Who Was Thursday, but actually, it’s about as silly as a Jules Verne novel.  Yet the writing itself is fabulous  The style is extraordinary.  The aperçus are marvelous. The Man Who Was Thursday proves the point: style is half of a novel.  (Norman Mailer. Social Life, Literary Desires, Literary Corruption. Collected in Mind of an Outlaw: Selected Essays, 2003)

Peter thinks all but the most worshipful Chestertonian would think this a fair assessment.

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