Gore Vidal, the sharp-tongued author of some 25 novels, two memoirs, volumes of essays, plays, television dramas, and screenplays, passed away at the age of 86 in his home in Hollywood Hills, California from complications of pneumonia. The prolific writer is most famous for his “spur-of-the-moment aphorism, putdown, or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy,” according the Times. Vidal is often grouped with Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, and while their works are vastly different, the were among the last generation of literary writers who garnered enough attention to become public figures/celebrities. Vidal constantly appeared on both television and in gossip columns—making him a public figure even for those who had not read his work. So much so, that Vidal took a stab at politics in both New York and California
His most memorable works are the best-selling novels “Lincoln” and “Myra Breckenridge.” His controversial novel, “The City and the Pillar,” is widely considered one of the first about an openly gay character. The novel, published in 1948, was dedicated to Jimmie Trimble, who was a boarding school classmate that Vidal considered to be the great love his life. His Tony–nominated play “The Best Man,” was revived this year on Broadway.
According to the AP: “He picked apart politicians, living and dead; mocked religion and prudery; opposed wars from Vietnam to Iraq and insulted his peers like no other, once observing that the three saddest words in the English language were “Joyce Carol Oates.” (The happiest words: “I told you so”).”
In his private life, Vidal admitted to having over 1,000 sexual encounters and described this feat as nothing special. He was also known to be fond of drink (like most great writers) and even said that he had sampled every major drug once. For a brief time he lived abroad in Ravello, Italy with his companion Howard Austen.
In the September 1969 edition of Esquire, Gore Vidal wrote: “We are all bisexual to begin with. That is a fact of our condition. And we are all responsive to sexual stimuli from our own as well as from the opposite sex. Certain societies at certain times, usually in the interest of maintaining the baby supply, have discouraged homosexuality. Other societies, particularly militaristic ones, have exalted it. But regardless of tribal taboos, homosexuality is a constant fact of the human condition and it is not a sickness, not a sin, not a crime … despite the best efforts of our puritan tribe to make it all three. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. Notice I use the word ‘natural,’ not normal.”
Some controversial interviews after the jump…