Literary Precedents for The Naked and the Dead

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Mailer has acknowledged that much of his characterization in The Naked and the Dead derives from Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. Dos Passos's trilogy USA (1930-1936; see separate entry) has newsreel sections and capsule biographies of historical figures that are interleaved with the lives of fictional characters in America from the turn of the century to the Depression. Camera Eye sections provide the narrator's very personal subjective impressions of the era and of his consciousness within it. The multiple frames through which a culture is viewed in USA clearly set a precedent for Mailer's World War II epic. Hemingway's influence seems more a matter of subject matter. Great events — particularly war — challenge the writer to become the consciousness of his time. Mailer, as Hemingway taught him, uses the novel to find the nexus between private lives and significant historical events.

Several other novels center on...

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This section contains 256 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy The Naked and the Dead Study Guide
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