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John Norman

John Norman is the pen name of John Frederick Lange, Jr. (born June 3, 1931), a controversial, reactionary philosopher and utopian/soft science fiction novelist best known for his "Chronicles of Gor" and its male dominant/female submissive BDSM content. Lange is a philosophy professor at Queen's College of the CUNY. Followers of Norman’s philosophy are termed Goreans.

Table of contents

Books Science fiction:

Historical fiction:


Norman is a protégé of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and his influential Gor series bears parallels to Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars. His novels include lengthy philosophical and sociological dissertations contrasting the malaise of modern society (everything from common dishonesty to nuclear holocaust) with the remedial beauty of natural society. Placing emphasis on living in accordance with a Nietzsche-esque natural order, he sponsors a hierarchy of talent.

From this hierarchy and his use of evolutionary psychology to analyze gender differences, he then suggests that woman is the submissive natural helper, and figurative slave, of dominant man. His work often, but not always, takes this observation literally: heroes enslave heroines who, upon being enslaved, revel in the discovery of their natural place. Norman and Goreans have been criticized for this tenant of what they consider honoring nature.

Personal Views Imaginative Sex indicates that Norman is not a misogynist but rather a pioneer in human sexual behavior firmly entrenched in BDSM’s fantasy and safe, sane and consensual elements.

Norman, also a political activist, modified his alignment from conservative to libertarian during his effective censorship. The extent to which he himself is Gorean is unclear.

Career Norman’s career as a philosopher/writer underwent three stages:

  1. Late 1960s-early 1980s: Norman becomes wildly popular, rivaling fellow author Marion Zimmer Bradley with sales of the first third of the Gor series. His rise may be attributed to the willingness of rebellious or disaffected Americans during this period to consider his social alternatives.
  2. Mid 1980s -mid 1990s: Increasing political correctness, especially feminism, prompted consumers and interest groups to take action against the sale of Norman’s books, including petitioning retailers. Norman’s books were removed from bookstores and libraries, and Norman accused publishers for blacklisting him.
  3. Late 1990s-present: Acceptance of BDSM and growth of the Internet allowed the resurgence of Norman’s ideas without the consent of normal publishing channels. Goreans assembled on the Internet and in real life while smaller publishers attempted, with limited success, to “bring Norman back.”

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