Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of thoughts and quotes by Norman Mailer on writing, activist, philosophy, radical, women, life, democracy, sex, prison and socialism.

76 Notable Quotes By Norman Mailer

Quick Facts

Famous As: Novelist, Journalist and Screen Writer

Born On: January 31, 1923

Died On: November 10, 2007

Born In: Long Branch

Founder / Co Founder: The Village Voice

Died At Age: 84

Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, essayist, journalist, actor, political activist, filmmaker and playwright. He is widely regarded as one of the pioneering exponents of ‘new journalism’. Mailer grew up in New York and enrolled at Harvard University in aeronautical engineering in 1939, before going on to serve the US Army. Mailer’s experiences in the Army was the inspiration behind ‘The Naked and The Dead’; his first novel. Two of his most famous works are ‘The Executioner’s Song’ and ‘Armies of the Night’; both of which went on to win ‘Pulitzer Prizes’, while the latter also won the ‘National Book Award’. Mailer was also one of the most influential essayists, journalists and political thinkers of his era and wrote plenty of essays that made him a formidable voice of the time. Some of his famous essays include ‘The White Negro’ and ‘On the Steps of The Pentagon’ among others. Some of the publications he wrote for included, ‘The Village Voice’, ‘Esquire and Harper’s’ magazine. His views and thoughts on many subjects became quite impactful. We bring to you a treasure trove of quotes that have been excerpted from his novels, books, essays and writings. Read on to explore a compilation of some of the best known quotes by Norman Mailer, covering various aspects of life. The quotes would surely leave a lasting impression on your mind and leave you inspired.
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I don't think life is absurd. I think we are all here for a huge purpose. I think we shrink from the immensity of the purpose we are here for.

Norman Mailer

Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.

Norman Mailer

Ultimately a hero is a man who would argue with the gods, and so awakens devils to contest his vision.

Norman Mailer

Writer’s block is only a failure of the ego.

Norman Mailer

Any war that requires the suspension of reason as a necessity for support is a bad war.

Norman Mailer

There is no greater impotence in all the world like knowing you are right and that the wave of the world is wrong, yet the wave crashes upon you.

Norman Mailer

You don't know a woman until you've met her in court.

Norman Mailer

One thing I've learned in all these years is not to make love when you really don't feel it; there's probably nothing worse you can do to yourself than that.

Norman Mailer

The mark of mediocrity is to look for precedent.

Norman Mailer

Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.

Norman Mailer

If a person is not talented enough to be a novelist, not smart enough to be a lawyer, and his hands are too shaky to perform operations, he becomes a journalist.

Norman Mailer

The only faithfulness people have is to emotions they're trying to recapture

Norman Mailer

We are all so guilty at the way we have allowed the world around us to become more ugly and tasteless every year that we surrender to terror and steep ourselves in it.

Norman Mailer

Harsh words live in the dungeon of the heart

Norman Mailer

There is a no man's land between sex and love, and it alters in the night.

Norman Mailer

Every one of my books had killed me a little more.

Norman Mailer

The natural role of the twentieth-century man is anxiety.

Norman Mailer

The desire for success lubricates secret prostitution in the soul.

Norman Mailer

Sentimentality is the emotional promiscuity of those who have no sentiment.

Norman Mailer

I guess all that's left is to love the fire.

Norman Mailer

Bright was the light of my last martini on my moral horizon

Norman Mailer

The paradox is that no love can prove so intense as the love of two narcissists for each other.

Norman Mailer

Great sex is apocalyptic. There is no such thing as great sex unless you have an apocalyptic moment.

Norman Mailer

Great hope has no real footing unless one is willing to face into the doom that may also be on the way. p.207

Norman Mailer

Ultimately a hero is a man who would argue with the gods, and so awakens devils to contest his vision. The more a man can achieve, the more he may be certain that the devil will inhabit a part of his creation.

Norman Mailer

You never do find out what makes you tick, and after a while it's unimportant.

Norman Mailer

Existentialism is the kind of philosophy that makes for legendary children.

Norman Mailer

No heart is so hard as the timid heart.

Norman Mailer

Yeah, fighting a war to fix something works about as good as going to a whorehouse to get rid of a clap.

Norman Mailer

The more things you own, the more things you need to keep you comfortable.

Norman Mailer

I am not here only so that the blind might see, but to teach those who thought they could see that they are blind

Norman Mailer

When the time comes, they won't ask what kind of a Jew you are.

Norman Mailer

Love was love, one could find it with anyone, one could find it anywhere. It was just that you could never keep it. Not unless you were ready to die for it.

Norman Mailer

The function of socialism is to raise suffering to a higher level.

Norman Mailer

Poems should be like pins which prick the skin of boredom and leave a glow equal in its pride to the gate of the sadist who stuck the pin and walked away

Norman Mailer

The jeep would round the bend, be hit by a dozen bullets at once, and that would be the end of his petty history of unfocused groping and unimportant dissatisfactions.

Norman Mailer

That was how the tears went down Cherry's face...a teaspoon full of ten years' sorrow.

Norman Mailer

Faction is that hybrid of documented fact and novelistic elaboration.

Norman Mailer

Tough guys don't dance. You had better believe it.

Norman Mailer

There are many churches in my name and in the name of my apostles. The greatest and holiest is named after Peter; it is a place of great splendor in Rome. Nowhere can be found more gold.

Norman Mailer

I wonder, said the Lord I wonder if I know the answer any more.

Norman Mailer

...and dread came back like a hoot from a bully on the street outside.

Norman Mailer

Prevarication, like honesty, is reflexive, and soon becomes a sturdy habit, as reliable as truth.

Norman Mailer

I cannot bear that chirpy Bobby Kennedy, always building his beaver's nest with a few more facts. He needs to look into the abyss.

Norman Mailer

The moments like these, the passing doubts, were the temptations that caught you if you were not careful.

Norman Mailer

Every time I move I squash something said Loathesome.

Norman Mailer

So long as you use a knife, there's some love left.

Norman Mailer

Men who work at Time have a life expectancy which is not long said the young man from Newsweek

Norman Mailer

In the South of Spain, one could look to vice as quickly as to virtue for a sense of tradition.

Norman Mailer

So you come soon to power, but you have merely inherited the crisis and yours is the profit of cancer.

Norman Mailer

Kerouac lacks discipline, intelligence, honesty and a sense of the novel. His rhythms are erratic, his sense of character is nil, and he is as pretentious as a rich whore, sentimental as a lollypop.

Norman Mailer

A fire had begun to spread in me. It was burning now in my stomach and my lungs were dry as old leaves, my heart had a herded pressure which gave promise to explode.

Norman Mailer

At the end of medicine is dope; at the end of life is death; at the end of man may be the Hell which arrives from the vanities of the mind.

Norman Mailer

How his hatred seethed in search of a justifiable excuse.

Norman Mailer

The Irish are the only men who know how to cry for the dirty polluted blood of all the world.

Norman Mailer

Yank! Yank! We you come to get Yank. We you come to get.

Norman Mailer

Just as a fighter has to feel that he possesses the right to do physical damage to another man, so a writer has to be ready to take chances with his readers’ lives.

Norman Mailer

His decision had been made in the valley, and it lay as an iron warp in his mind. He could have turned back no more easily than he could have killed himself.

Norman Mailer

It takes all kinds to make a world.

Norman Mailer

The feeling of joy came up in me again the way the lyric of a song might remind a man on the edge of insanity that soon he will be insane again and there is a world there more interesting than his own.

Norman Mailer

Rip the prisons open put the convicts on television

Norman Mailer

Goldstein, you'd be a pretty good boy if you wasn't so chicken.

Norman Mailer

I could not begin to mourn Deborah or my mind would ride off with me. There was nothing so delicate in all the world as one's last touch of control.

Norman Mailer

...the Waldorf looked like one of the dead and empty spaces which collect about the exit of a man who has lost a million in an hour.

Norman Mailer

There is something silly about a man who wears a white suit all the time, especially in New York." (on Tom Wolfe)

Norman Mailer

Certain kinds of honor could not be lost without demanding that one consecrate oneself thereafter—no matter how unsuited and unprepared—to a life of revenge. I

Norman Mailer

It is easy to comprehend people who are weaker than ourselves, but it is not as simple to be ready for the true feelings of those more powerful.

Norman Mailer

Perhaps the measure of the best art is that it does not excite envy.

Norman Mailer

Then comes the left jab again. A converted southpaw? It has something of the shift of locus which comes from making love to a brunette when she is wearing a blond wig.

Norman Mailer

If men could move out of infancy at half a mile an hour and get up to eighteen thousand miles an hour in one lifetime, well, who was to assume that the walls of the universe were safe from future men?

Norman Mailer

American’s capacity for real estate improvement; build yourself a house, grow fat in it, and die.

Norman Mailer

I HATE EVERYTHING WHICH IS NOT IN MYSELF

Norman Mailer

The Anti-Semiten. Why don’t they ever learn? Why does God permit it?” Roth sneered. “God is a luxury I don’t give myself.

Norman Mailer

Listen my love the hour is late my side has an ache If you don't get a taxi my heart will break

Norman Mailer

You know,” he laughed easily, “with all the goddam drinkin’ Ah’ve done, Ah still can’t remember the taste of it unless Ah got the bottle right with me.

Norman Mailer