Latest Issue

Bombast as art

In portraying Hitler as the product of a diabolical incest, Norman Mailer has taken fictional ambition to a remote peak of implausibility

The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer (Little, Brown, £17.99)

There can be little doubt that The Castle in the Forest needs to be consigned at once to the underworld inhabited by Norman Mailer’s most remarkable fictional disasters. At times the novel ranks for ridiculousness alongside Ancient Evenings, his never-to-be-reread 1983 epic of ancient Egypt. But a closer analogy may be with Harlot’s Ghost, the interminably baggy über-narrative of the CIA he published in 1991, an opus which set out to embrace “the mind of America” and which concluded after 1,168 exhausting pages with an epigraph to confound even…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect