Christopher Hitchens, who once regarded Vidal as a modern Oscar Wilde, lamented in a 2010 Vanity Fair essay that Vidal’s recent comments suffered from an “utter want of any grace or generosity, as well as the entire absence of any wit or profundity.” Years earlier, Saul Bellow stated that “a dune of salt has grown up to season the preposterous things Gore says.” the telegraph
No matter that our politics differed, Vidal gave me hours of pure pleasure and Instruction.
Update: Vidal is still dead. Andrew Sullivan writes,
And that combination of love of country – and vein-bulging disgust with it – strikes me as related to his homosexuality, lived bravely in an era of cowardice. The displacement of being gay in a very straight world created a dynamic of rejection and longing that extended to more than a family. It extended to a country. And it was a bit of a show. He returned to the country he loved to die. And he will be buried, we are informed, in a grave next to his partner of many decades, whom he would doggedly refuse to call his husband. link
I defer to Sully in all matters gay but the fact Vidal lived with Howard Austen for forty years without having sex with him makes the “husband” assertion more than a little doubtful.
Whatever else Vidal was, and he was a lot of things, he was not the “marrying kind”. A long time companion is not the same as a husband which, I suspect, Vidal would agree with.
Could anyone ever again have the career of a Gore Vidal? Is there space, or licence any more for someone who engages in public life with such knowledge and wit; such a command of texture, personality and policy? One of the most striking things of the past 40 years is the professionalisation of the careers both of politician and of writer. The politician emerges, like Ed Miliband, from successive chrysalises of local activism, bag-carrier, House of Commons researcher and then candidate for a safe seat. The novelist emerges from a first degree in English to an MA in creative writing and a contract for a first novel about a provincial childhood.
They no longer understand each other. The ordinary MP may never read a novel or see any point in it. The ordinary novelist has never met a political animal apart from people who agree with him. He may write a conventional diatribe against conservative politics and how the country was ruined by Mrs Thatcher. But he is never at all likely to meet, talk to, or try to understand the players in the political game.
Since Disraeli, very few novelists have engaged on a high level with both political and literary life. Most MPs who have written fiction have produced mundane to lamentable volumes – Ann Widdecombe, Douglas Hurd, Chris Mullin. I’ve read more than one novel by Edwina Currie, but from them I can remember only the single word “moist”. Where are the Gore Vidals of the day? Philip Hensher, TelegraphAdvertisements