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Author and essayist Gore Vidal dies aged 86

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  1. burningworm 1 Aug 2012, 10:19am

    I can’t live, if living is Vidal’t you.

    Already missed!

    1. burningworm 1 Aug 2012, 11:02am

      There is no such thing as a homosexual or a heterosexual person. There are only homo- or heterosexual acts. Most people are a mixture of impulses if not practices GV

      1. On this one, I’m afraid he got it wrong. Dismissing the idea that someone can BE gay strays dangerously close to the nonsense spouted by Christian fundamentalists who ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’. Having a mixture of sexual impulses (although I’m pretty sure none of mine include women!) doesn’t necessarily override the clear sense of sexual identity that many have. People need to get comfortable with the fact that some people just ARE gay.

        1. burningworm 1 Aug 2012, 1:51pm

          I happen to agree but i suggest you try to answer it without addressing the hetero world at large as if they are constantly looming over your shoulder. Address the point as if you are talking to someone like you. I imagine that there would be no need to answer.

        2. In that respect I think he was a product of his time but given that he was at the vanguard of the gay rights movement I think I can forgive him holding the occasional view which reflects the social paradigms he grew up with.

          1. you got that right, flapjack..

            homage to Gore Vidal, pioneer of the gay liberation movement.

  2. An inspiration to all.

    Sadly missed.

    Rest in peace Gore Vidal

  3. Cardinal Capone 1 Aug 2012, 11:41am

    Everyone should read Duluth. It’s hilarious and a bit of a mind f*** .

    1. Cardinal Capone 1 Aug 2012, 4:26pm

      Imagine the characters in Corrie took on an existence independent of the actors playing them.

  4. I read ‘The City and the Pillar’ and it is a very good book.

    Quite remarkable that it was written in 1948.

    Yes it’s quite dated now in that homosexuality today is not so hidden or taboo; and it is cliched in the sense that the main character has a miserable life; but as a depiction of gay life in the dark times it is really very impressive.

    1. It is a well structured and thought provoking book and for its era surprisingly frank and honest.

    2. I read “City and the Pillar” in the sixties. It helped me to realise that at least one other person had felt like I was feeling at the time ,

  5. For those who appreciate one-liners, there’s a good selection of GV’s here:

  6. Here in Aus, even our own ABC station news failed to mention his sexuality. Had been straight, we would have been told about his wives and children – but for a gay man – NO MENTION. It is as though we don’t exist!

    1. In fairness, Vidal himself detested the label ‘gay’ and discouraged its use in relation to him, and is said to have claimed his 53-year-long relationship with Howard Auster was sexless.

      Even here the Telegraph (predictably) ended its obituary with “He never married”, though a profile of him mentioned his “companion” Auster.

      1. And you will note that even the PN article makes no mention of Auster!

  7. An intellectually ferocious, shamelessly egotistical, sometimes vicious and often staggeringly brave writer.

    Always compelling, both when he was infuriatingly wrong (as in the line quoted above by burningworm) and when he was breathtakingly right.

    In his memoir _Palimpsest_, Vidal showcased many of his worst characteristics. But through the book runs a passionate and tender devotion to his lover Jim Trimble, who died at Iwo Jima in 1945, a loss from which Vidal never recovered.

    ”For years… I would address the night: ‘Jimmie, are you anywhere?’ and almost always the wind would rise. I am neither a believer in the afterlife nor a mystic… Yet I still want Jimmie to be, somewhere, if only on this page.”

  8. Christopher 1 Aug 2012, 12:48pm

    I want to know why so many figures today have weird names. Is “Gore” short for “Gordon”? Mitt, Tipper, Newt, etc – who named these people??

    Will certainly read his novel, which I am ashamed to say I’ve never heard of – I am of the post-Front Runner generation. Other than Forster (thanks to Merchant Ivory), I am ready to be educated about other C20 writers!

    1. Gore was the surname of his maternal grandfather, the democratic senator for Oklahoma.

      1. barriejohn 5 Aug 2012, 12:32pm

        From Wikipedia (where references can be found):

        Vidal was born Eugene Louis Vidal, Jr. in West Point, New York, the only child of Eugene Luther Vidal (1895–1969) and Nina Gore (1903–1978). The middle name, Louis, was a mistake on the part of his father, “who could not remember for certain whether his own name was Eugene Louis or Eugene Luther.” As Vidal explained in his memoir Palimpsest (Deutsch, 1995), “… my birth certificate says ‘Eugene Louis Vidal’: this was changed to Eugene Luther Vidal, Jr.; then Gore was added at my christening [in 1938]; then at fourteen I got rid of the first two names.”

      2. barriejohn 5 Aug 2012, 12:34pm

        He MAY be a distant relative of Al Gore!

  9. Gore Vidal had a brilliant mind and possessed a wonderful acerbic wit – just look up some of his quotations. I read “The City and the Pillar” and remember it as an eye opener back in 1970. Mr Vidal was also an honorary associate member of the National Secular Society.

  10. Waspish, often infuriating and always unapologetic, he will be missed and cherished as a Gay pioneer whether he approves or not.

  11. Gore Vidal was a man of great thought, humour and attitude. He stood up for what he believed in and challenged and satired that which he did not.

    I love these quotes of his:

    “Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.”

    “Fifty percent of people won’t vote, and fifty percent don’t read newspapers. I hope it’s the same fifty percent.”

    “I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television.”

    “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

    “The behaviour of President Bush on 11 September certainly gives rise to not unnatural suspicions.”

    “The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.”

    “Today’s public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can’t read them either.”

    “There’s a lot to be said for being nouveau riche, and the Reagans mean to say it all.”

  12. Not forgetting “Ronald Reagan is a tribute to the art of the embalmer.”

  13. R I P Gore Vidal A great loss to the world and the gay community. He may well have tenbded towards the waspish end of commentary. Don’t forget his famous “I don’t know who you are?” to David Dimbleby during a US elections a few years ago.
    I recall his books Duluth and Myra Breckinridge, one of the first about Trans issues. THis latter was made into a film.
    He also scripted many a film , perhaps most famously ‘Ben Hur (remember the scene between Hur and Messala- very homoerotic- It was cut from the original cinema release)
    I shall re read a novel in tribute….

  14. Tim Chapman 1 Aug 2012, 6:24pm

    And a brilliant name-dropper. Didn’t he once say something like, ‘Ah, yes, the Clintons. Well, of course, I introduced the to the Pope’.

    1. Tim Chapman 1 Aug 2012, 6:25pm

      …introduced them….

  15. Unfortunately he also wrote the transphobic screed “Myra Breckinridge”.

    1. From my recollection it was only about as transphobic as it was homophobic, heterophobic, anti-American, anti-academe and generally misanthropic. It was, after all, a satirical novel.

      1. I beg to differ. The main character is supposed to be a transsexual woman or at least someone that the public will think is a transsexual woman. This woman then sexually assaults men. So the book (and movie) fall into the stereotypical pattern of negatively portraying transsexual women as sex workers, drug addicts or psychotic killers (Myra fall into this category). Between 1960 and Y2K that’s the image the media portrayed 95% of the time and the public came to believe it. Scholastically you may be right, but as far as it’s impact in the real world you are wrong.

        1. I will take your word for it, since it’s years since I read the book, and I do see where you’re coming from. But I do remember that, as a satire, it dealt with overblown caricatures – if people chose to interpret those characters as accurate representations, more fool them.

          The City and the Pillar had some pretty negative (though arguably accurate) gay male characters too, but I don’t think most people would say it was a homophobic novel.

  16. Let’s not forget that he was also a brilliantly well-informed political historian of the United States. I am one Brit who has learned a vast amount about America from him. And for my money, his treatment of the late Roman Empire, ‘Julian’, is pretty hard to beat as a historical novel.

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