The Deer Park

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The Deer Park
First edition
Author Norman Mailer
Country United States
Language English
Genre Hollywood novel
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date
ISBN 978-0375700408
OCLC 21623916
Preceded by Barbary Shore
Followed by An American Dream

The Deer Park is a Hollywood novel written by Norman Mailer and published in 1955 by G.P. Putnam's Sons after it was rejected by Mailer's publisher, Rinehart & Company, for obscenity. Despite having already typeset the book, Rinehart claimed that the manuscript's obscenity voided its contract with Mailer. Mailer retained his cousin, the attorney Charles Rembar, who became a noted defense attorney for publishers involved in censorship trials.

Rembar disagreed with Rinehart's characterization of the manuscript as obscene, and threatened to take the publisher to court. Rinehart settled with Mailer, allowing him to keep his advance.[1]

A roman à clef, the metaphorical "Deer Park" is Desert D'Or, California (a fictionalized Palm Springs). A fashionable desert resort, Hollywood's elite converge there for fun and games and relaxation. The novel's protagonist, Sergius O'Shaughnessy (a recently discharged Air Force officer), is a would-be novelist who experiences the moral depravity of the Hollywood community first hand.

The title refers to the Parc-aux-Cerfs ("Deer Park"), a resort Louis XV of France kept stocked with young women for his personal pleasure.

Stage version[edit]

Norman Mailer adapted his novel into a play. It opened Off-Broadway at the Theatre de Lys (now the Lucille Lortel Theatre) on Christopher St. in Greenwich Village on January 31, 1967. The play closed on May 21, 1967, after 128 performances.[2] "The Deer Park" was directed by Leo Garen and starred Rip Torn, Marsha Mason, Mailer's former brother-in-law Mickey Knox, and Mailer's third wife, Beverley Bentley.[3] Torn won an Obie Award for his performance.[4]


  1. ^ Holland, Steve (28 October 2000). "Obituary: Charles Rembar". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Deer Park: Production Information". Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Deer Park". Lortel Archives - The Internet Off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "1966–1967 Obie Awards". Retrieved 12 February 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • For commentary on this book, see: Wild, Peter (2011). Paradise of Desire: Eleven Palm Springs Novels. Tucson, AZ: Estate of Peter Wild. p. 281. OCLC 748584112.