Skip to main content

Gore Vidal was an American original and perhaps the last of a generation of authors whose early years were shaped by their experiences in World War II.  His multi-faceted brilliance - along with his towering intellect - was never in question.  Even his detractors would concede that.

He was an elegant writer and public intellectual whose kind we rarely, if ever, see on television any more.  His acerbic wit, penetrating insights, and, even, his understated sense of humor separated him from his contemporaries.

Growing up in Washington, DC as the grandson of a United States Senator, Vidal was well-connected to the literary, political, and movie industry establishment.  And he never feared to criticize those who, for better or worse, make momentous decisions on our behalf.

Last night, this country lost one of its brightest lights and literary giants.  We could all use a few more Gore Vidals amongst our midst.

RIP, Mr. Vidal.  You lived life with style, zest, and panache.  And we are all the more richer for your many contributions to our lives.

The British have a saying for evaluating what outsiders write about their society and country - "Seeing ourselves as others see us."  In that vein, it is useful to look at what others outside the United States thought of Gore Vidal.  As reported in foreign news sources, here is a smattering of tributes paid today to this most remarkable of men.


Video: Carr on Vidal the political philosopher

In this excellent, wide-ranging interview (over 12 minutes) earlier today, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr fondly remembers his friend

"It's sad to see a polymath, someone with that wide-ranging intelligence go," he said.

"And it's sad to lose someone who was a master story teller and what we'd call a great wordsmith.  I think he was the greatest essayist in America without a doubt." - ABC News

Throughout his life and career, Vidal was known for his wit and wisdom, not to mention a willingness to challenge convention.  His 1948 novel 'The City and the Pillar' outraged conservative critics - it was one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality. - George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC


Along with contemporaries Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, Mr Vidal was among the last generation of literary writers who were also celebrities, written about in gossip columns and interviewed on talk shows...

He picked apart politicians, living and dead; mocked religion and prudery; opposed wars from Vietnam to Iraq and insulted his peers, once observing that the three saddest words in the English language were "Joyce Carol Oates." (The happiest words: "I told you so"). - Channel 4 News

A few tributes and tweets by well-known celebrities and others in the literary world:

"Gore Vidal dreaded the idea of an afterlife, because it would mean he'd have to see Norman Mailer again.  Rest In Peace," said comedian Frank Conniff on the social messaging service Twitter, where tributes to Vidal mainly took the form of quotations from the writer.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore and rock singer Courtney Love were among the many celebrities who posted their favourite sayings.

"'Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.' quoted by Gore Vidal ... you will be missed, rest in peace Gore," said Love in a Twitter message. - Reuters

You can read more tweets and tributes by Michael Moore, Rob Lowe, Joan Collins, and many others in the Wall Street Journal, Guardian, and Telegraph.

A few of Vidal's quotes as reported by Australian Television, ABC News

  • "There are many bad regimes on Earth, we can list several hundred.  At the moment I would put the Bush regime as one of them, but I don’t want anybody to attack the United States. Just send Bush back to Texas."
  • "The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country - and we haven't seen them since."
  • "We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic."

Originally posted to JekyllnHyde on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:11 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group.

Poll

How Much Did You Know About Gore Vidal?

21%15 votes
47%33 votes
25%18 votes
5%4 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 70 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site