LONDON Aug 1 The death of American author Gore
Vidal at the age of 86 brought tributes from around the globe on
Wednesday, as ordinary readers and celebrities shared their
favourite quips from a writer once described as the Oscar Wilde
of the modern age.
Vidal, whose biting observations on politics, sex and
American culture in novels and essays made him one of the
best-known American authors of his generation, died at his home
in Los Angeles on Tuesday of complications from pneumonia.
Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to Bill Clinton, said Vidal
was "one of the several dominant literary figures of mid-century
"What he had in his veins was a sense of high politics and
an understanding - in a way that no other literary figure of his
generation did - of Washington. It was unique," Blumenthal told
British theatre and opera director Jonathan Miller, who
moved in the same celebrity circles as Vidal in New York in the
1960s, paid tribute to the writer, describing him as "grand" and
"fun to be with".
"He was amusing ... an old-fashioned American patrician," he
"(This) was very apparent from the way in which he spoke and
was very apparent from the way in which he separated himself
from some of the idiocies of America in the last 20 or 30
years," he said on BBC radio.
Vidal, born in West Point, New York, began writing as a
19-year-old soldier stationed in Alaska, where his World War Two
experiences provided material for his first work, "Williwaw".
But it was with his third novel, "The City and the Pillar",
which openly featured one of the first homosexual protagonists,
that Vidal created a sensation in 1948.
A series of historical novels - "Burr," "1876," "Lincoln"
and "The Golden Age" among them - as well as the campy
transsexual comedy "Myra Breckinridge" also form Vidal's
literary legacy from a publishing career spanning over six
MODERN OSCAR WILDE
But the self-described "gentleman bitch" was just as well
known for his caustic comments outside of the book covers.
He considered Ernest Hemingway a joke and compared Truman
Capote to a "filthy animal that has found its way into the
His most famous literary enemies were Norman Mailer and
conservative pundit William F. Buckley Jr.
Mailer, whom Vidal once likened to cult killer Charles
Manson, head-butted Vidal before a TV appearance.
"Gore Vidal dreaded the idea of an afterlife, because it
would mean he'd have to see Norman Mailer again. Rest In Peace,"
said comedian Frank Conniff on the social messaging service
Twitter, where tributes to Vidal mainly took the form of
quotations from the writer.
Documentary maker Michael Moore and rock singer Courtney
Love were among the many celebrities who posted their favourite
"'Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not
giving a damn.' quoted by Gore Vidal....you will be missed, rest
in peace Gore," said Love in a Twitter message.
Moore chose: "Half of the American people have never read a
newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the
same half", a quotation also tweeted by the British Internet
entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox.
British writer Owen Jones, who penned the book "Chavs" about
British social class, picked a Vidal quote about friendship and
"'Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me
dies'. RIP Gore Vidal, a great intellectual of our time. No-one
did acerbic better."
(Editing by Will Dunham)