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Thread: Gore Vidal and His Patrician Manner

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    Registered User Red Terror's Avatar
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    Gore Vidal and His Patrician Manner

    I read some of Vidal's essays and want to read his novel, Lincoln. Even though he has this patrician manner about him, at the end of the day he is a man of the people. I remember reading that he thinks Evelyn Waugh's novel Scoop is the funniest book he has ever read. Anybody here read Scoop???

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    Scoop is superb. Teaches you everything you ever needed to know about journalism. It's one of Waugh's best novels (though not quite up to the standard of the superlative A Handful of Dust).

    I've not read any Vidal, but he's one my 'to-read' list. I've always loved his oft-quoted line: 'whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies'.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    He's a breath of fresh air. Whatever you can say about the man, he spoke his mind. And he was challenging. He went straight for the idols, and with good purposes. Who else could so convincingly proclaim that Hemingway couldn't write worth a damn? And you know what, JoH agrees. Vidal's taste was so highly evolved that it could bypads the chaff and get straight to the heart of what literature is.

    In later life, he was a nasty, demented old man. And some of what he said is overwhelmingly vile. Also, yours truly thinks he was a poor writer. But the man knew something about books most people don't, and admirably slaughtered the sacred cows.






    J

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Scoop is indeed wonderful. I've just re-read Vile Bodies and that is also very funny indeed. Together with Decline and Fall those are his three early satiric masterpieces. Waugh got more serious after that, (like A Handful of Dust).
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Well other synonyms might be snobbish, waspish, arrogant, proud etc. Definitely an able writer but quite narrow in his view of the world despite being what Americans would consider a liberal. His various sniping comments at other American writers often had a grain of truth (That can be said of most of us when we snipe.) His confrontation with Buckley in 1968 sounds like two sons of privilege having a right good spat. He successfully got under Buckley's skin to the point where Mr B threatened him with violence and was reduced to pompous boasts about having been a sojer boy whereas Vidal was a "queer" who wrote "pornography". If I was to take the Marxist perspective that there is always a slightly "better" side in a confrontation then Vidal was on that side.

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    Eiseabhal
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    *****y would do Ennison. Some English writer or other called Vidal's work meretricious. I would agree with that. Buckley was no form of Nazi whatsoever so it wasn't surprising he got angry when Vidal accused him of that- yes Buckley was right wing and reactionary but he was also large minded and tolerant of opposing views. And genial and relaxed in a way that Vidal could never be. I doubt if the blow yer own trumpet strumpet would appeal much to Buckley. He was no fan of A R to whom you referred recently. He called himself a libertarian - usually folks who call themselves that aren't - but he was in the main a fair and decent fellow. On the wrong horse? Ok
    Ah I see I have used an unaccepted synonym starting with a b

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    What exactly are you saying Eis? Fair! He spent his intellectual and public life disparaging the idea behind that concept. He put up with Mailer because he realized Mailer had some talent? Is that what you mean by tolerant? He certainly had urbane manners but he was a child of privilege and dedicated his life to defending the wealth parasites against the many. Even clever people can be taken in by the varnish of good manners. I believe what Vidal called him was a crypto-Nazi but he had used the word first of some hippy demonstrators. So if Vidal was wrong to call him that (He was) then he was revealing something quite weak in himself by referring to that airy-fairy bunch as Nazis. Of course he was young then. But his boast that he'd been in the army also showed a grubby patriotic side. The kind of guy who loves uniforms, swank and spurious glam but not, definitely not, the grime and sweat of hard labour. I am not a Vidal fan nor a Buckley hater. They are on the other side of the barriers though.

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    Eiseabhal
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    I think what I was saying was that Mr Vidal might appear to be progressive but Buckley was the better man. His outburst against Vidal (allegedly punched by Mailer) was out of character. But yes he was what here we would see as a reactionary and I would say eccentric in his adherence to the Latin Mass. Tha mi a smaointinn gum bi tu fhein ag aontachadh ... That being on the side of the weak against the strong does not mean your personal morality or behaviour will be exemplary. Vidal was certainly by his own boastful accounts a slut despite his precise vocabulary.

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    Exactly. A cove who boasted of his several hundred conquests was but a whore. However whores can be quite progressive and in his iconoclasm (expressed in excellent language) I still think he was more progressive if less pleasant than Mr B.

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    I liked the video.

    Thanks!

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