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Civil Rights in the White Literary ImaginationInnocence by Association$
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Jonathan W. Gray

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781617036491

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617036491.001.0001

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The Apocalyptic Hipster

The Apocalyptic Hipster

“The White Negro” and Norman Mailer’s Achievement of style

Chapter:
(p.44) Chapter Two The Apocalyptic Hipster
Source:
Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination
Author(s):

Jonathan W. Gray

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781617036491.003.0003

This chapter discusses how Robert Penn Warren attempted to reconcile the contradictions between southern deed and the American creed. Norman Mailer was, in many ways, the antithesis of Robert Penn Warren. While Warren considered himself an academic, Mailer rejected conventional schools of thought, sought to provoke as much as to enlighten, and avoided the serious responsibilities of the academy. His interest in the racial issues of the 1950s stemmed from his study of the media accounts of the Montgomery bus boycott, and he held on to the conclusion that white Americans could regain the moral standing they had lost during the Second World War by identifying with Black Americans. This identification would radicalize American innocence by aligning exceptionalism with a life that demanded meaningful action instead of conformity.

Keywords:   southern deed, American creed, Norman Mailer, racial issues, Montgomery bus boycott

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