May the Muses Embrace You

From the fun blog Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience, a letter from Norman Mailer to Salman Rushdie:

Dear Salman Rushdie,

I have thought of you often over the last few years. Many of us begin writing with the inner temerity that if we keep searching for the most dangerous of our voices, why then, sooner or later we will outrage something fundamental in the world and our lives will be in danger. That is what I thought when I started out, and so have many others, but you, however, are the only one of us who gave proof that this intimation was not ungrounded. Now you live what must be a living prison of contained paranoia, and the toughening of the will is imperative, no matter the cost to the poetry in yourself. It is no happy position for a serious and talented writer to become a living martyr. One does not need that. It is hard enough to write at one’s best without wearing a hundred pounds on one’s back each day, but such is your condition, and if I were a man who believed that prayer was productive of results, I might wish to send some sort of vigor and encouragement to you, for if you can transcend this situation, more difficult than any of us have known, if you can come up with a major piece of literary work, then you will rejuvenate all of us, and literature, to that degree, will flower.

So, my best to you, old man, wherever you are ensconced, and may the muses embrace you.


Norman Mailer

(h/t Tyler Willis)

1 comment on “May the Muses Embrace You
  • Well…Salman’s still around, teaching and writing his memoir. So his courage and convictions won out…so far.

    Would I want to go into hiding for three years because of my writing? No. But I suspect he didn’t either.

    Now…if only can be so brave…willing or not.


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