By general consensus, Pablo Picasso is the most brilliant and influential artist of this century. Despite this supreme position in the history of art, he has nonetheless eluded and frustrated critics. Getting an intimate sense of the character of Picasso appears almost impossible; his macho posture and his incomparable range of styles seem designed to keep everyone who is interested in him at a distance. Who better than another legendary artist, Norman Mailer, to enter inside so enigmatic and protean a mind? In Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man, Mailer sets out to capture the meaning of Picasso's life and art and explores in bold fashion the originality of his ambition. Commenting upon much of the critical work on Picasso that has appeared over the years, Mailer's biography brings us closer to the young artist than we have ever been before. Much at the heart of Mailer's interpretation in Picasso's first great love, Fernande Olivier, with whom the artist lived for seven years--a period that included Picasso's most revolutionary works, from the explosive innovations of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon to the mysteries of Cubism itself. To understand Picasso in these years, Mailer argues, it is necessary to follow his relationship with the extraordinary Fernande, who is here given her own voice by way of excerpts from her candid memoirs, hitherto unpublished in English. Since this period also includes Picasso's friendships with Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein, the book evokes the charm and special character of bohemian life in Paris in the early 1900s.