Gore Vidal on the Republic and its Fall

The best interview with the late Gore Vidal that I’ve heard so far. Unsurprisingly it comes from the inimitable Christopher Lydon of Radio Open Source.

Having read all the Gore Vidal obits and the many more-and-less grudging encomia, I find the man himself at very near his best in my own conversational files — from an evening at Harvard just before Thanksgiving in 2003, on the occasion of his publishing Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams and Jefferson. He’d walked into the hall slowly, on a cane, that night, but his chatter was was crackling with fresh mimicry and mischief. (Two nights earlier, his reward at a joint reading in Provincetown was discovering that ancient nemesis Norman Mailer was getting around on two canes.) Great entertainer and great complainer, Vidal at 78 came through as passionate historian and erudite old comic who could still fill the house, and whose repartee was not all repertoire.

1 thought on “Gore Vidal on the Republic and its Fall”

  1. You’d want this man in your Cabinet, at your dinner party, as well as on your bookshelf. His voice delivers the man — the irony but the firm acquaintance with history and public men (is there anybody you’d rather hear on the real JFK?), the jokes and the passionate seriousness. He’s the almost singular embodiment of “the non-conformist streak in public life” that R.W. Emerson knew was required, and that the late great Tony Judte had been steadily disqualified in “our dilapidated public conversation.” Three cheers for Gore Vidal, and three more for PULSE for keeping a non-conformist channel open and lively.

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