Gore Vidal, RIP

Mark Coggins (CC)

One of America’s most daring, outspoken citizens is dead. The New York Times offers this obituary:

Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, where he moved in 2003, after years of living in Ravello, Italy. He was 86.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said by telephone.

Mr. Vidal was, at the end of his life, an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM. And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, putdown or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy.

Perhaps more than any other American writer except Norman Mailer or Truman Capote, Mr. Vidal took great pleasure in being a public figure. He twice ran for office — in 1960, when he was the Democratic Congressional candidate for the 29th District in upstate New York, and in 1982, when he campaigned in California for a seat in the Senate — and though he lost both times, he often conducted himself as a sort of unelected shadow president. He once said, “There is not one human problem that could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”…

[continues in the New York Times]


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6 Comments on "Gore Vidal, RIP"

  1. He and William F. Buckley used to get into it on a regular basis on the tube. Gore liked to think he got the better of Buckley, and Buckley seemed to enjoy the encounters. It was great entertainment.

    • Jesus Borg | Aug 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |

      “listen you Queer, Call me a Nazi one more time and I’ll smash your face in!”

    • at the DNC Chicago 68
      in a TV debate
      Vidal kicks Buckley’s ass on every point
      it was astonishing to see Buckley so thoroughly whipped


      • Monkey See Monkey Do | Aug 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm |

        From the moment Buckley opens his mouth his thoroughly whipped.

        • I always had this vague idea that Buckley was
          a real smart, traditional conservative
          but having watched his debates with Vidal & Chomsky
          he comes off as a Republican hack
          in both cases
          he is no match for either
          and he has an odd lizard-like persona
          and what’s with holding a pencil to his ear all the time?

          • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 2, 2012 at 11:30 am |

            You’re probably making the mistake of evaluating the arguments through the prism of 2nd or 3rd order rationality.

            The appeal of conservative thought is its atavistic sparseness.  It sees everything as a function of raw animal power relations.  It’s pretty hard to break a machine with only one moving part.

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