I am rather enamoured by the late Norman Mailer. He wrote a letter to the late Ernest Hemingway in 1955.

It is as follows:


—because finally after all these years I am deeply curious to know what you think of this.

—but if you do not answer, or if you answer with the kind of crap you use to answer unprofessional writers, sycophants, brown-nosers, etc., then fuck you, and I will never attempt to communicate with you again.

—and since I suspect that you're even more vain than I am, I might as well warn you that there is a reference to you on page 353 which you may or may not like


Other than being an entertaining read (it certainly made me laugh) I am concerned with finding the alleged reference (I cannot see why it wouldn't be there).

I have a 1957 copy of The Deer Park. I could not find the reference on page 353.

Either it is more subtle than I supposed, or on another page, or does not exist.

Does anybody have any more information about this?

  • 2
    It seems to have been a draft copy he sent so the page number is probably no guide to the published edition.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 15:43
  • Ah. Right. Thanks. How did you know that it's a draft copy?
    – G. Ward
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 13:08
  • I was sure I read that when I was having a search online to see if your question was asked and answered elsewhere, but I cannot locate the source of it now. What I can find is this site which says the letter/book was sent in 'early 1955', while wikipedia says the book was published in mid-October. I'm not sure what the printing timescale would have been but it seems that that leaves scope for it to have been some sort of advance reading copy, which seems to be a more accurate term than 'draft' and became more common in the 50s/60s. lopezbooks.com/media/pdf/c155.pdf
    – Spagirl
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 15:01
  • Ah. Well thanks. The reference has now been found (it's in the answer below) if you're interested. It's only a small nougat. I hyped it up in my mind. Thanks a lot for your help. G. Ward.
    – G. Ward
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


In Google books, one can preview page 353 of The Deer Park, where one finds the following text:

and I tried to write my novel about bullfighting, but it was not very good. It was inevitably imitative of that excellently exiguous mathematician, Mr. Ernest Hemingway, and I was learning that it is not creatively satisfying to repeat the work of a good writer.

This is the trade paperback Random House edition (1997), but it presumably has the same page numbering as the original 1955 hardcover or advanced reading copy that Mailer sent Hemingway.

Your edition presumably has different page numbering.

  • Thanks awfully. I can't believe I didnt just use the search function on Google Books. (I usually use it all the time). I didnt think the reference would be so direct. I thought it would be a sort of comic-attack on his persona via a character. Obviously I was wrong. Thanks very much. Why do you think Mailer calls Hemingway a "mathematician"? Presumably it is a reference to his precise, machine-like style (a style I very much like) but it is still a rather odd choice of word. Anyway, I'm just being garrulous now. Take care.
    – G. Ward
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 0:29

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