University of Texas at Austin

Monday, July 20, 2009

Norman Mailer materials chronicle Apollo 11’s trip to the moon 40 years ago

 

Astronaut on the moon with American flag. From NASA photo no. AS11-40-5875

Astronaut on the moon with American flag. From NASA photo no. AS11-40-5875

From the Vietnam War to capital punishment, Norman Mailer engaged the important intellectual and social issues of his time. So it should come as no surprise that Mailer chronicled America’s space program and the 1969 journey of Apollo 11 in a three-part article for LIFE Magazine. Portions of the piece ultimately became Mailer’s book “Of a Fire on the Moon” (Little, Brown, 1970).

As Mailer stated in a letter to Neil Armstrong on February 26, 1970, “I’ve worked as assiduously as any writer I know to portray the space program in its largest not its smallest dimension.” In “Of a Fire on the Moon,” Mailer searches for the moral and philosophical meaning of landing on the moon.

View Mailer’s handwritten manuscripts, research materials, NASA photographs, and notes concerning “Of a Fire on the Moon,” all from Mailer’s archive at the Ransom Center. The collection, which includes materials associated with all of Mailer’s literary projects, whether completed or not, contains more than 1,000 boxes of materials and is available to researchers, students, and the public.

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