The Gospel According to the Son

The Gospel According to the Son

by Norman Mailer


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Norman Mailer fused fact and fiction to create indelible portraits of such figures as Marilyn Monroe, Gary Gilmore, and Lee Harvey Oswald. In The Gospel According to the Son, Mailer reimagines, as no other modern author has, the key character of Western history. Here is Jesus Christ’s story in his own words: the discovery of his divinity and the painful, powerful journey to accepting and expressing it, “as if I were a man enclosing another man within.” In its brevity and piercing simplicity, it may be Mailer’s most accessible, direct, and heartfelt work.
Praise for The Gospel According to the Son
“Quietly penetrating . . . [Norman Mailer’s] gospel is written in a direct, rather relaxed English that yet has an eerie, neo-Biblical dignity.”—John Updike, The New Yorker
“A book of considerable intellectual force . . . The writer’s powerful mind works in a specialized way, not by theological argumentation but by telling or retelling a story.”The New York Review of Books
“Challenges readers on the religious right and the atheist left with equally rich interpretive tasks.”The Dallas Morning News
“An informed and believable work of fiction . . . of what may have been going through the mind of Jesus during his epic ministry.”San Francisco Chronicle
Praise for Norman Mailer
“[Norman Mailer] loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.”The New York Times
“A writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.”The New Yorker
“Mailer is indispensable, an American treasure.”The Washington Post
“A devastatingly alive and original creative mind.”Life
“Mailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.”The New York Review of Books
“The largest mind and imagination [in modern] American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.”Chicago Tribune
“Mailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.”The Cincinnati Post

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345434081
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1999
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 511,893
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

Born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Norman Mailer was one of the most influential writers of the second half of the twentieth century and a leading public intellectual for nearly sixty years. He is the author of more than thirty books. The Castle in the Forest, his last novel, was his eleventh New York Times bestseller. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, has never gone out of print. His 1968 nonfiction narrative, The Armies of the Night, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He won a second Pulitzer for The Executioner’s Song and is the only person to have won Pulitzers in both fiction and nonfiction. Five of his books were nominated for National Book Awards, and he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2005. Mr. Mailer died in 2007 in New York City.


Provincetown, Massachusetts, and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 31, 1923

Date of Death:

November 10, 2007

Place of Birth:

Long Branch, New Jersey


B.S., Harvard University, 1943; Sorbonne, Paris, 1947-48

Read an Excerpt

In those days, I was the one who came down from Nazareth to be baptized by John in the River Jordan. And the gospel of Mark would declare that on my immersion, the heavens opened, and I saw "a spirit like a dove descending." A mighty voice said "You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." Then the Spirit drove me into the wilderness, and I was there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan.

While I would not say that Mark's gospel is without truth, I would say that it is much exaggerated. And I would offer less for Matthew, Luke and John who gave me words I never uttered, and described me as gentle when I was pale with rage. Their words were written many years after I was gone, and only repeat what other men told them. Very old men. Such tales are to be leaned upon no more than a bush that is cut away from its root and blown about by the wind.

So I will try to give my own account. For those who ask how my words have come to this page, I would tell them to look upon all that is here as no more than a small miracle. (My gospel, after all, will speak of miracles.) Yet, I hope to remain closer to the truth ...

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The Gospel According to the Son 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
dickmanikowski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very interesting fictional memoir of Jesus of Nazareth. The narrator's voice is highly believable as he undertakes a mission he's not sure he's up to.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gospel retellings from Jesus' point of view have already been done, and done better than this. I was really disappointed with The Gospel According to the Son, because it doesn't deviate *enough* from its source; Mailer never does anything interesting with all of its possibilities. There are even places, both in the dialogue and prose, where the novel follows the gospel story word for word. Bad form, Norman Mailer. A bad book and a disappointment that I really wanted to like.
griggit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mailer does an outstanding job of telling the story of the New Testament from the point of view of Jesus. The description of Christ's encounter with Satan in the wilderness is absolutely riveting. I would highly recommend this book to those who wish to understand the basics of Christianity as I would recommend Siddhartha to those who wish to understand the basics of Buddhism.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the gospel according to Jesus's own perspective. It was interesting and I found it uplifting, even though I am not a religious person. I found the perspective attributed to Jesus was credible.While I enjoyed reading this, it left me wanting more. It was sparsely written and didn't go into Jesus's feelings in much depth.
MsNikki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a spiritually uplifting novel, not at all blasphemous...but even if you're not a religious person it is a well written novel, a look at familiar stories but from a fresh new angle.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mailer's daring account of the Gospel is compelling in that it gives a totally new view to the image of Jesus as a man and deity. Mailer risks extreme criticism by writing The Gospel According to the Son, but succeeds in challenging the minds of his readers to examine the life of Jesus from an abstract and enlightening perspective. In this book, Mailer skillfully articulates the thoughts and inquiries concerning the life of Jesus Christ, regardless of the reader's religious beliefs or convictions. This work of fiction is masterful and a necessary addition to the literary world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you believe that Jesus is divine, and that the Bible is literal, then you will find fault with the book. However, if you believe or open to the idea that Jesus had human frailties like the rest of us then you'll love the book. Mailer shows Jesus struggling with the idea that he is the son of God, with temptation, and in what Jesus said to the disciples. I found this book helpful in understanding my faith better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kudos to Mailer for having the courage to write this book. Jesus has been undergoing revisions since Paul first wrote his letters and this version does no real damage to his reputation. It's too bad that this 'Gospel' is not among Mailer's best work and that the subject has been covered better in plenty of other places. Read the original Gospels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a Protestant clergyman with a love for the Bible, so I was disappointed in some of the liberties Mailer takes with the biblical text. This is a common hazard for any writer trying to write Bible-based fiction. However, I found Mailer's work stimulating to my thinking, and I think it is worth reading for anyone who is not upset by some of his conjectures about Jesus' thoughts and feelings.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mailer is one of the most talented writers of his generation. This is not one of his finest books, but it's his most daring. How many other writers would even consider this book? It's sure to tick a lot of people off, but if you're openminded, it's a great