The last man of letters in the American Empire on the last day of July breathed his last. This is truly the end of an Era.
Gore Vidal, prolific novelist, literary agent provocateur, and amazing man of letters lived in Italy most of his life so he could as he says, “See the American Empire more clearly”. Though Vidal was given to much hyperbole, acerbic wit, bitter pronunciations, one could say of him as Copelston said of Seneca, “He knew what he was talking about”.
Vidal was steeped in Antiquity. He understood the failure and successes of the Greco-Roman Era and did not want to see his own country of the United States fall into it. Vidal was always screaming about going back to being a Republic, because empires have in them the seeds of their own demise. He was the first real serious man of letters to really dwell over and over again on the dictatorship of Lincoln.
His nonconformity did not end there either, by no means. When the Humanist Magazine interviewed him about seeking to take the “In God We Trust” off the dollar bill, as an Atheist he sneered because he thought it was a waste of time, when it was the Bill of Rights that was really in trouble. Stick to real priorities.
The New York Times asked him if as a life long openly gay man if he supported gay marriage, he laughed and said it was stupid to let the government in your bedroom. Of all the writers in the 20th century he thought that only Calvino and Bellow were worth his time, or anyone’s time for that matter, Hemingway and Fitzgerald be damned.
And now an Era of a man who understood real politics, government, and literature is over. It really is over. It died with Vidal.
I saw a street preacher a few years back on a major university campus who was preaching against every sin known to man ask one question to students out of curiosity, “Does anyone here know who Gore Vidal is?” No one raised their hands. Though he disagreed with Vidal on many, many things, the preacher responded to the students’ ignorance, “That’s your problem.” When a giant like Vidal dies, expect that problem to increase.
MenOfLetters on Jul 26, 2011
Gore takes a meat cleaver to the merchants of clericalism, militarism and the high imbecilities of the political class of the United States of Amnesia. Put on your safety helmet.
MenOfLetters on Aug 13, 2011
Gore Vidal on the imperial mentality of America and the dangers posed to freedom by unchecked power.
The interview took place at the Texas Book Festival in October 29, 2006.
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