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Gore Vidal's death


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#1 bart

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 12:59 PM

We've been talking about Vidal on the summer reading thread, but for some reason no one has started an Obituary thread about this fascinating writer/ character/ public figure/ social commentator/ you name it.

Ballet Alert is probably NOT the best place to enage in a debate over Vidal's politics. But here's a short, brilliant (I think) appreciation of the man and writer published this week by The Economist.

http://www.economist.com/node/21560234

#2 dirac

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 06:25 PM

Thanks for posting, bart. I liked that the writer highlighted Vidal's interest in the classical world, which gave us the fine novel Julian and, less happily, the Guccione "Caligula."

One noticed during Vidal's regular television appearances that he could speak in beautifully parsed sentences and paragraphs. Not easy to do for even the most glib of writers and he made it look quite natural.

#3 bart

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:18 AM

From the Times Literary Supplement, an interesting piece about a visit to Vidal at home in the Hollywood Hills, in 2008.

http://www.the-tls.c...icle1099169.ece

I have put my favorite insight in bold.

Like much that emerged from Vidal’s pen, an objective insight was generated by subjective pique. While he was unarguably one of the big beasts of post-war American literature, Vidal’s fiction did not draw the serious treatment accorded to that of certain contemporaries: Saul Bellow, for example, or his bête noire Truman Capote; the comic Vonnegut, the minimalist Cheever, the silent Ellison – all seemed to merit deeper respect than the author of Myra Breckinridge, Messiah, Kalki, Duluth and a score of other novels.

Vidal rarely got angry. His characteristic outburst was a languorous sigh. “Rebirth of the novel? That seems unlikely.” Young people nowadays – this is 1976 again – “find the act of reading anything at all difficult and unrewarding”. As a preamble to his monumental effort to crush John Updike (10,000 words of TLS ordnance in 1996), he wrote: “What is the point to attacking writers in a period where they are of so little consequence? In observance of this law of a dying species, I have hardly mentioned, much less reviewed, Updike in the past . . .”. The burden of the sentence may be found in its finale: “. . . and he has observed the same continence with regard to me”.



#4 sandik

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 08:56 AM

From the Times Literary Supplement, an interesting piece about a visit to Vidal at home in the Hollywood Hills, in 2008.

http://www.the-tls.c...icle1099169.ece

....

Vidal rarely got angry. His characteristic outburst was a languorous sigh. “Rebirth of the novel? That seems unlikely.”


I think this response puts him right in the middle of the current preference for ironic commentary.

Thanks so much for the link -- I don't see the Times Literary Supplement very often, and so miss a lot. Vidal was what I think of as a public author, a writer known as much for their participation in literary discussion as they are for their own creative work.

#5 bart

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 04:04 AM

According to a brief notice in the NY Times, A biography of Vidal is planned for 2015. Author is Jay Parini, the biographer of John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, and Robert Frost, the last of which I've read and enjoyed. Parini spent 20 years thinking about and studying Frost before his book was published. He has spent an even longer time becoming acquainted with Vidal.

Accoding to Gerald Howard of Doubleday's,

... Parini ... had been a friend of Mr. Vidal's for some 30 years, since they first met in Italy. "They hit if off quite well," Mr. Howard said, "and Jay had been talking to Gore for all that time, usually weekly and sometimes daily, in person and more often over the phone, so he knows a lot about Gore that he's heard directly from the source ....


A Biography of Gore Vidal Coming in for 2015

Parini has commented extensively since Vidal's death, including writing the obituary for the Guardian.

http://www.guardian....gore-vidal-dies

I like the way he balances two sides of Vidal's literary personality:

Vidal liked to present himself as an insider – a man who understood the world and how it worked. This knowing quality, registered in the tone of his prose, permeates the essays. Their edge and vitality derive from his complete mastery of the scene he described ...


On the other hand:

Vidal's critics disparaged his tendency to formulate an aphorism rather than to argue, finding in his work an underlying note of contempt for those who did not agree with him.


And, swinging back again:

His fans, on the other hand, delighted in his unflagging wit and elegant style.

It looks like we are in for a balanced and articulate biography.


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