The recent post critical of Gore Vidal’s… later opinions was intended to be part of reasonable discourse concerning the controversial figure now passed. It was not meant to besmirch the memory of a dead man. Vidal’s legacy is still being written by those who he influenced and those who knew him. Some of the most critical reviews will be vital to our understanding……
David Greenburg cannot agree with Vidal’s Liberal resume- “Vidal’s extreme late-in-life beliefs, however, weren’t deviations from an otherwise noble record. They were the natural progression of thought in a man whose worldview was fundamentally racist and elitist, motivated by the fear that the reign of his own caste was ending as the walls of aristocratic privilege crumbled in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust. Vidal was a paradigmatic, almost stereotypical representative of the traditional American elite—WASP lineage, prep schools, money, connections. Fashioning himself a latter-day Henry Adams, a valiant upholder of a civilization under siege—he compared America to Rome in its decadence—he repeatedly denigrated those activist groups he considered less than fully American.” Slate
Sam Tanehaus recognized the contradictions in his character- “Buckley and Mr. Vidal both subscribed, though in very different ways, to the ideal of American exceptionalism — with its suggestion that even as the nation stood apart from or above other nations, it was susceptible to foreign infection. Mr. Vidal feared the evils of empire building (a continuous theme in his historical novels) and warned against the decline that had overtaken other civilizations brought low by imperial hubris.” New York Times
Brian Williams gushes over the man, cementing the Liberal bias- “a prolific writer” who was unquestionably brilliant, he got his larger wish in life, to be remembered as both a polemicist and a man of letters. One of the most active and agile minds of his generation.” NBC Nightly News
Three different commentators, one subject… Somewhere in this discourse, the truth can be found. Perhaps it can be pieced together from all three. All the voices need to be heard before Vidal’s legacy can be taught to the next generation.