freedom (personal, artistic, sexual); mutability (of an existential sort); tension (historical, cultural, creative); beauty (natural and architectural); and a haunted atmosphere, amenable to ghosts and witches.

These qualities can be seen in the five chief evocations of Provincetown in Mailer’s work from 1958 to 1984.

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Provincetown has always been ahead of the rest of the nation. One of the things I love about this town and that I always tell people who haven’t been here, is that this is the freest town in America. People can argue. But it’s free now with the gay population, and it was free long ago when the artists came here. You could live with whomever you wanted and in any combination that you wanted. To have sexual freedom has always been terribly important to artists.



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