Eugene Luther Gore Vidal (October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) was an American writer and public intellectual known for his epigrammatic wit, erudition, and patrician manner. Listen to a Gore Vidal audiobook for free: https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&tag=tra0c7-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=72cf442f293aa9c43f5d1803934cd95a&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=books&keywords=gore%20vidal%20audiobook
Selected list of works
The City and the Pillar (1948) https://amzn.to/2XIE1VG
Julian (1964) https://amzn.to/2XH6Q5a
Myra Breckinridge (1968) https://amzn.to/3AA7kZo
Burr (1973) https://amzn.to/3AAmWvZ
Lincoln (1984) https://amzn.to/3hXebF4
Vidal was bisexual, and in his novels and essays interrogated the social and cultural sexual norms he perceived as driving American life. Beyond literature, Vidal was heavily involved in politics. He twice sought office—unsuccessfully—as a Democratic Party candidate, first in 1960 to the United States House of Representatives (for New York), and later in 1982 to the U.S. Senate (for California).
A grandson of a U.S. Senator, Vidal was born into an upper class political family. As a political commentator and essayist, Vidal’s primary focus was the history and society of the United States, especially how a militaristic foreign policy reduced the country to a decadent empire. His political and cultural essays were published in The Nation, the New Statesman, the New York Review of Books, and Esquire magazines. As a public intellectual, Gore Vidal’s topical debates on sex, politics, and religion with other intellectuals and writers occasionally turned into quarrels with the likes of William F. Buckley Jr. and Norman Mailer.
As a novelist, Vidal explored the nature of corruption in public and private life. His polished and erudite style of narration readily evoked the time and place of his stories, and perceptively delineated the psychology of his characters. His third novel, The City and the Pillar (1948), offended the literary, political, and moral sensibilities of conservative book reviewers, the plot being about a dispassionately presented male homosexual relationship. In the historical novel genre, Vidal recreated the imperial world of Julian the Apostate (r. AD 361–63) in Julian (1964). Julian was the Roman emperor who espoused “religious tolerance” in order to re-establish pagan polytheism to counter Christianity. In social satire, Myra Breckinridge (1968) explores the mutability of gender roles and sexual orientation as being social constructs established by social mores. In Burr (1973) and Lincoln (1984), each protagonist is presented as “A Man of the People” and as “A Man” in a narrative exploration of how the public and private facets of personality affect the national politics of the United States.
In the 1960s, the weekly American sketch comedy television program Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In featured a running-joke sketch about Vidal; the telephone operator Ernestine (Lily Tomlin) would call him, saying: “Mr. Veedul, this is the Phone Company calling! (snort! snort!).” The sketch, titled “Mr. Veedle” also appeared in Tomlin’s comedy record album This Is a Recording (1972).
In the 1970s, in the stand-up comedy album Reality … What a Concept, Robin Williams portrayed Vidal as a drunken shill in a Thunderbird wine commercial.
Vidal provided his own voice for the animated-cartoon version of himself in The Simpsons episode “Moe’N’a Lisa” (season 18, episode 6) he was also mentioned in “Krusty Gets Busted” (season 1, episode 12) by Sideshow Bob voiced by Kelsey Grammer and “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” (season 7, episode 25) by Lisa Simpson voiced by Yeardley Smith his picture also appearing a book in the episode. He also voices his animated-cartoon version in Family Guy. Likewise, he portrayed himself in the Da Ali G Show; the Ali G character mistakes him for Vidal Sassoon, a famous hairdresser.
In the biographical film Amelia (2009), the child Vidal was portrayed by William Cuddy, a Canadian actor. In the Truman Capote biographic film Infamous (2006), the young adult Vidal was portrayed by the American actor Michael Panes.
The Buckley–Vidal debates, their aftermath and cultural significance, were the focus of a 2015 documentary film called Best of Enemies, as well as a 2021 play by James Graham, inspired by the film.
A Netflix biopic titled Gore, directed and co-written by Michael Hoffman, based on Jay Parini’s book Empire of Self, A Life of Gore Vidal, starring Kevin Spacey was filmed in 2017, but after sexual misconduct allegations were made against Spacey, the film was cancelled and remains unreleased.
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