A King’s Ransom

mailer.gifNorman Mailer is speaking at the University of Texas this Wednesday, but his legacy will reside here long after his departure. UT’s Harry Ransom Center has just purchased Mailer’s extensive archives (free sub. required) of letters, notes, and other remnants from his decades of researching and writing. Given his prolific involvement in various aspect of culture and society, Mailer’s archives promise a treasure trove of observation.

It is surprising that someone so closely associated with the New York literary establishment would choose to house their archives in Texas. Mailer developed an attachment to Texans during his service in World War II; an attachment that the University of Texas solidified with its outstanding literary resources. Money quote from Mailer:

“However, despite a few sentimental and cultural attachments to the state, the largest part of my decision grew out of the fact that the Ransom Center at the University of Texas has one of the finest, if not the finest, collections of American literary archives in the world.”

Austin is fortunate to have such a world-class archive, particularly since our town is a little short on cultural institutions. The HRC has a few notable attractions, including a Gutenberg Bible and the first photograph, with rotating exhibitions of 20th century literature and photography. If you haven’t already been, it’s well worth checking out.

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