The Naked and the Dead  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Naked and the Dead is a 1948 novel by Norman Mailer. It is based on his experiences during World War II. It was later adapted into a movie of the same title in 1958.

Set in the South Pacific and dealing primarily with a single reconnaissance platoon of riflemen, the novel contains several combat scenes, but focuses on the psychological portraits of the men in the squad. The tension of the novel derives mostly from the conflict between officers and men, including the lieutenant of the squad and the men under him as well as his superiors. The novel questions the impact of high-ranking officers and their decisions on the outcomes of military campaigns.

The Naked and the Dead was Mailer's first published novel and his only hugely successful one; it established his reputation as a novelist and brought international recognition.


The publishers of The Naked and the Dead persuaded Mailer to use the euphemism "fug" in lieu of "fuck" in his novel. Mailer's version of a subsequent incident follows:

"...The word has been a source of great embarrassment to me over the years because, you know, Tallulah Bankhead's press agent, many years ago, got a story in the papers which went...'Oh, hello, you're Norman Mailer,' said Tallulah Bankhead allegedly, 'You're the young man that doesn't know how to spell...' You know, the four-letter word was indicated with all sorts of asterisks... I thought she [Bankhead] should have hired a publicity man who had a better sense of fair play." (1968 Panel Discussion, CBLT-TV, Toronto, moderated by Robert Fulford) From "Conversations with Norman Mailer", 1988. Edited by J. Michael Lennon.

The band The Fugs took their name from this word. According to Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs, the remark was made by Dorothy Parker, not Tallulah Bankhead.

The incident is mentioned in John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. Colin Singleton tells Lindsey Lee Wells about how he likes to read literary criticism after reading a book. He says that the publisher didn't want to publish it if it contained more "f-bombs" than regular bombs.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Naked and the Dead" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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