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American MythologiesEssays on Contemporary Literature$
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William Blazek and Michael K. Glenday

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780853237365

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846312540

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 June 2021

Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee: Mythologies of Representation in Selected Writings on Boxing by Norman Mailer1

Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee: Mythologies of Representation in Selected Writings on Boxing by Norman Mailer1

Chapter:
(p.47) Chapter 3 Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee: Mythologies of Representation in Selected Writings on Boxing by Norman Mailer1
Source:
American Mythologies
Author(s):

Christopher Brookeinan

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780853237365.003.0004

This chapter explores the impact of Muhammad Ali on Norman Mailer's non-fiction writing about heavyweight boxing. It places Mailer's mythic representation of Ali within the context of the author's views about African American exceptionalism and its revolutionary challenge to white bourgeois America – an argument Mailer first propounded in ‘The White Negro’. The chapter then examines Mailer's The Fight (1975) in relation to a variety of examples that concern American racial politics of the 1960s and 1970s, with a particular emphasis on African American cultural adaptability and defiance – from the verbal contests of ‘the dozens’, to the exaggerated parodies of the actor Stepin Fetchit, to Ali's own image-making and his complex and often controversial personae.

Keywords:   Muhammad Ali, heavyweight boxing, myth, African American exceptionalism, racial politics, cultural adaptability, defiance

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