Dead, Gore Vidal on the 31st of July 2012, he was an American writer (of novels, essays, screenplays, and stage plays) and a public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing.
Born Eugene Louis Vidal on the 3rd of October 1925 in the cadet hospital of the U.S. Military Academy, at West Point, New York, and was the only child of Eugene Luther Vidal (1895–1969) and Nina Gore (1903–78).
Vidal was born at the West Point cadet hospital because his first lieutenant father was the first aeronautics instructor of the military academy.
After leaving St. Albans in 1939, Mr. Vidal spent a year at the Los Alamos Ranch School in New Mexico before enrolling at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
He contributed stories and poems to the Exeter literary magazine, but he was an indifferent student who excelled mostly at debating.
A classmate, the writer John Knowles, later used him as the model for Brinker Hadley, the know-it-all conspiracy theorist in “A Separate Peace,” his Exeter-based novel.
In 1950, Gore Vidal met Howard Austen, who became his life-partner in a 53-year relationship.
He said that the secret to his long relationship with Austen was that they did not have sex with each other: “It’s easy to sustain a relationship when sex plays no part, and impossible, I have observed, when it does.”
In Celebrity: The Advocate Interviews (1995), by Judy Wiedner, Vidal said that he refused to call himself “gay”, because he was not an adjective, because “to be categorized is, simply, to be enslaved.
Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent.
He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays.
He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM.
And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, put-down or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy.
Television was a natural medium for Mr. Vidal, who in person was often as cool and detached as he was in his prose.
“Gore is a man without an unconscious,” his friend the Italian writer Italo Calvino once said. Mr. Vidal said of himself: “I’m exactly as I appear.
There is no warm, lovable person inside. Beneath my cold exterior, once you break the ice, you find cold water.”
By the end of the ’50s, though, Mr. Vidal, at last financially secure, had wearied of Hollywood and turned to politics.
He had purchased Edgewater, a Greek Revival mansion in Dutchess County, N.Y., and it became his headquarters for his 1960 run for Congress.
He was encouraged by Eleanor Roosevelt, a neighbor who had become a friend and adviser.
The 29th Congressional District was a Republican stronghold, and though Mr. Vidal, running as Eugene Gore on a platform that included taxing the wealthy, lost, he received more votes in running for the seat than any Democrat in 50 years.
And he never tired of pointing out he did better in the district than the Democratic presidential candidate that year, John F. Kennedy.
On the 30th of September 2009, the British newspaper The Times published an interview with Vidal in which he said that there soon would be a dictatorship in the U.S.
The newspaper emphasized that Gore Vidal, the Grand Old Man of American Belles-lettres, claimed that America is rotting away – and to not expect Barack Obama to save the country and the nation from imperial decay.
In that interview, Gore Vidal also up-dated his views of his life, the U.S., and other political subjects.