Difference between revisions of "Scorsese vs. Mailer: Boxing as Redemption in Raging Bull and An American Dream"

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Unlike Mailer, who has been fascinated by boxing from the outset, Scorsese came reluctantly to the sport as an artistic subject. When Robert De Niro gave him the book ''Raging Bull'' and suggested it as a film project, Scorsese recalls, his response was: "A boxer? I don't like boxing •••• The idea...was something I didn't--couldn't--grasp". {{sfn|Kelly|1991|page=122}}
Unlike Mailer, who has been fascinated by boxing from the outset, Scorsese came reluctantly to the sport as an artistic subject. When Robert De Niro gave him the book ''Raging Bull'' and suggested it as a film project, Scorsese recalls, his response was: "A boxer? I don't like boxing •••• The idea...was something I didn't--couldn't--grasp". {{sfn|Kelly|1991|page=122}}


By contrast, Mailer has consistently treated violent confrontation as a central metaphor for his own artistic and personal struggles for growth, fulfillment, salvation. During his youth and middle age, he was known for his refusal to avoid a brawl. This ethic has been evident for at least thirty years in his writing. In his powerful essay titled "Death" in ''The Presidential Papers'', {{sfn|Mailer|1963}} Mailer uses the first Sonny Liston/Floyd Patterson championship bout as a point of departure from which to develop a profound series of perceptions about the American national temperament, particularly that of blacks. In ''King of the Hill'' {{sfn|Mailer|1971}} and more strikingly in ''The Fight'' {{sfn|---|1975}} he deals nominally with a specific fight but goes beyond journalism to find certain normative precepts in the sport. A more important level on which boxing informs Mailer's vision is in his fiction, notably ''An American Dream'' {{sfn|Mailer|1966}} and ''Tough Guys Don't Dance'',{{sfn|Mailer|1984}} in which boxing experiences help define the protagonists. Stephen Richards Rojack and Tim Madden respectively find "the reward of the ring" {{sfn|Mailer|1966|page=16}} applicable to their quests for identity. Thus, Mailer has found in this arena of ritualized violence a rich source of perception about the human condition.
By contrast, Mailer has consistently treated violent confrontation as a central metaphor for his own artistic and personal struggles for growth, fulfillment, salvation. During his youth and middle age, he was known for his refusal to avoid a brawl. This ethic has been evident for at least thirty years in his writing. In his powerful essay titled "Death" in ''The Presidential Papers'', {{sfn|Mailer|1963}} Mailer uses the first Sonny Liston/Floyd Patterson championship bout as a point of departure from which to develop a profound series of perceptions about the American national temperament, particularly that of blacks. In ''King of the Hill'' {{sfn|Mailer|1971}} and more strikingly in ''The Fight'' {{sfn|Mailer|1975}} he deals nominally with a specific fight but goes beyond journalism to find certain normative precepts in the sport. A more important level on which boxing informs Mailer's vision is in his fiction, notably ''An American Dream'' {{sfn|Mailer|1966}} and ''Tough Guys Don't Dance'',{{sfn|Mailer|1984}} in which boxing experiences help define the protagonists. Stephen Richards Rojack and Tim Madden respectively find "the reward of the ring" {{sfn|Mailer|1966|page=16}} applicable to their quests for identity. Thus, Mailer has found in this arena of ritualized violence a rich source of perception about the human condition.


An interesting confluence of life and art informs the comparison between Scorsese and Mailer. In his seminal novel ''An American Dream'', Mailer introduces a brief but significant confrontation between his protagonist, Stephen Richards Rojack (a university professor, television personality and amateur boxer) and a brash retired prizefighter,  Ike "Romeo" Romalozzo. This provides a significant test of courage for Rojack in the series of challenges by which he wins the love of Cherry Melanie and finds his way to personal salvation and an ·existential definition of self. Romeo seems clearly modeled on Jake La Motta.
An interesting confluence of life and art informs the comparison between Scorsese and Mailer. In his seminal novel ''An American Dream'', Mailer introduces a brief but significant confrontation between his protagonist, Stephen Richards Rojack (a university professor, television personality and amateur boxer) and a brash retired prizefighter,  Ike "Romeo" Romalozzo. This provides a significant test of courage for Rojack in the series of challenges by which he wins the love of Cherry Melanie and finds his way to personal salvation and an ·existential definition of self. Romeo seems clearly modeled on Jake La Motta.