As we approach what would have been Gore Vidal's 88th birthday on October 3, 2013, it's interesting to be reminded that Vidal was once, of course, young and highly impressionable...as well as deeply human at every stage of life. This year saw the revelation by Kim Krizan in A Cafe in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal, Volume 10, that Gore Vidal, when still in his early 20's and relatively recently returned from service in the Second World War, proposed sexless marriage to Anais Nin and mis-characterized the matter in his first memoir Palimpsest.
Kim Krizan offers a version of her analysis on The Huffington Post.
Nin never accepted Vidal's offer of a sexless partnership and their once-vivid closeness dissolved into hostility: Gore Vidal's. Nin became bewildered by his growing resentment and her diary reports she asked him, "Why do you splatter venom on me?"
The reason was most likely his mother. Vidal had been abandoned by the woman when he was a boy and some believe her continued hurtful treatment of him further broke his heart. Anais Nin was a most glamorous replacement for a faithless mother: maternal, beautiful, infinitely interested - but doomed to repeat Vidal's abandonment for a second agonizing time.
Forty years later, nearly twenty years after Nin's death, Vidal wrote a memoir he called Palimpsest [in which he] accuses her of being a "chickenhawk" whose "hope" to have an affair with him turned into "a chagrin d'amour" that eventually became a "fureur," leaving the impression Nin had loved Vidal unrequitedly.
In her article, Krizan includes the content of an unpublished letter Vidal wrote to Nin in 1947. It is an interesting and valuable find relative to the controversial Vidal-Nin relationship
For more on that relationship, which in its early stages--and presumably only then--included Vidal's defense of Nin against harsh literary criticism, visit The Anais Nin Blog.
Photo: Vidal and Nin in c. 1946.