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The Gospel According to the Son: A Novel

The Gospel According to the Son: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Norman Mailer
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

In the two millennia since Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote their separate biographies of Jesus, only a handful of other authors have attempted renditions--Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy and D.H. Lawrence have tried their hands at it; scholars E.P. Sanders and Raymond Brown have produced academic treatises on the historical Jesus. Perhaps the best-known fictional account of the life of Jesus is Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ, which explores the Son of Man's all-too-human side. Norman Mailer joins these ranks with The Gospel According to the Son.

Not content to chronicle Jesus' life in the form of an apocryphal gospel, Mailer has the audacity to crawl inside his title character's head and tell the story from the first- person point of view. Here we get the Prince of Peace's personal account of his temptation by Satan, his three-year ministry and his agony on the cross. Mailer presents an entirely new kind of passion play, one that remains faithful to the shape of Jesus' life as outlined in the gospels, while daring to imagine the inner life of this most elusive historical figure


It's penetration into Jesus's human heart rivals Dostoyevsky for depth and insight (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)

A compellingly beautiful performance (- IRISH TIMES)

His gospel is written in a direct, rather relaxed English that has an eerie, neo-Biblical dignity - the tone as a whole is quietly penetrating. (John Updike)

Hypnotically engaging (- TLS)

Mailer has studied the gospels with great care, and his imaginging of Jesu s' story is both respectful and respectfully inventive. Most compelling, he has tried to make sense of Jesu s' full humanity, shrewdly giving us a son of God whose evolving unders (BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1756 KB
  • Print Length: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (17 Sep 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #480,013 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking and enjoyable read. 18 Nov 1998
By A Customer
A daring piece of characterisation which pays off well. The tale is told simply with minimal prose and a modern style which blew the dust clean off my copy of the New Testament. A living breathing version of one of the greatest stories ever told? Maybe this is how it was.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-imagining Christ 21 Jan 2010
Sometime ago, when I was browsing through the shelves at the Dudley Library, looking and hoping I'd find one or two titles by Dambudzo Marechera, I came across The Gospel According to the Son.

The title was like a magnet.

Many years earlier, while browsing through the shelves of a bookstore in Harare, Zimbabwe I'd stumbled upon Kahlil Gibran's Jesus, the Son of Man and I'd been completely taken in by the idea of a novel about Jesus Christ. I'd found Gibran's book so engaging that it's now top on the list of books I keep reading and re-reading. Norman Mailer's Gospel According to the Son is also joining that list.

The two books are similar to each other. They are both based on the Gospels. They both take a familiar story and they re-imagine and re-tell it. They both present an imaginative account of the life and work of Jesus Christ and explore the effect that Jesus had on the lives, hearts and minds of the people he lived and worked among. The story in both books is presented in the first person by a person who was close to the action. And, to me, the spirit that informs and pervades both books feels so authentic that each of the books reads like an alternative Gospel.

The main difference between the two books is that Jesus, the Son of Man was first published in 1928 while The Gospel According to the Son came out in 1998. Also, while The Gospel According to the Son has one narrator, Jesus, the Son of Man is told from multiple perspectives. It is told from the individual point of view of a variety of characters who'd known, lived with, met or heard about Jesus Christ.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't quite pull it off ... 2 Dec 2013
By Mike N
The premise is great. The gospel according to Jesus himself. I'm not religious in the slightest, but I do find the subject matter fascinating, so I was drawn to this one.

Unfortunately I don't think Mailer delivers on his promises here. The story is pretty much lifted from the existing gospels (even though he gives himself an out here by saying that they got a lot of things wrong!), which means most people will know exactly what's going to happen. This means that to "hook" the reader he needs to create a truly fascinating character, and this is where it falls down.

Sure, he manages to "humanise" Jesus a little, and show us some of his flaws while he grapples with who he really is, but it never really grabbed me. The prose is nicely written, but since he's tried to maintain the biblical style it also comes across as a little dry at times (also unnecessary, since much of the writing in the bible is beautiful).

As far as Jesus stories rewritten go, I preferred Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (Canongate Myths), though that's possibly not to everybody's taste either.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea, cowardly treated 26 Oct 2001
By A Customer
The story is widely known and is probably the most often told story (be it fictional or historical) on Earth. Here it is told from the perspective of Jesus himself. That sounds very promising, I think. Mailer's objective was to "humanise" Christ, to make him more understandable as (also) a human being. I do not think Mailer succeeded.
It is really amazing how close Mailer sticks to the original, i e the gospels. Of course he can't be blamed for that; it is quite a step to try to rewrite them. But since that is what Mailer obiously has tried to do, I think he should have had more courage and try some alternative explanations to, for instance, the miracles. I know this would upset quite a lot of people, but if the aim is to present Jesus more as a human being I find the miracles a little out of place.
Moreover, I find the (human) Jesus Mailer portraits a rather unpleasant person; instead of being righteous he appears self-righteous, instead of being humble, pompous.
Of course you can try to read the book as a "normal" novel, but I think the story is too well-known for that. If you know from the very beginning what will happen next, then the only reason for reading on is the beauty of the language. Granted, the language can be beautiful in places, but then again, it is not Mailer's own, but a very biblical kind of prose.
I'd stick to the original, this book has not much to add. For more convincing "biblical" novels I recommend the Swedish author Marianne Fredriksson, many of whose books have been translated into English.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars printed out of sync 6 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book goes from page 35 to page 108. and page 230 to 261 out of order. unreadable and annoying
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