It's the season of Venice's famous Biennale, and The Guardian's "Jonathan Jones' On Art Blog" features this write-up about Venice as described yet not described by the character of Marco Polo in Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino, a writer Gore Vidal championed. Vidal and Calvino share Venice as a topic. Vidal in Venice (1985) was Vidal's personal exploration of the city. The book features photographs by Tore Gill. (Some sample images: Gore, Vidal in Venice, Wedding). Vidal also served as guide through a 2-part documentary, Vidal in Venice, that first aired on Britain's Channel 4.
In my third book, The City and the Pillar, I described the normality of homosexual relations. The New York Times was always hysterical about sex of any kind, and Orville Prescott, then the principal book reviewer, said that under no circumstances would any book written by Gore Vidal be reviewed there again. Ever.
Vidal once remarked that one ought never to miss an opportunity to have sex or appear on television. (However, he cheekily corrected himself later -- see the quotes.) He might have added, "or beat up on The New York Times."
Photo courtesy of the Photos From the Vault website of The Tribune.
There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise. - "Writing Plays for Television," New World Writing, #10, 1956.
I am an obsessive rewriter, doing one draft and then another and another, usually five. In a way, I have nothing to say, but a great deal to add. - (Source attribution sought; contact gorevidalpages-at-gmail.com)
Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies. - The Sunday Times Magazine, Setember 16, 1973.
I don't want to be respectable. I don't want prizes. I turned down the National Institute of Arts and Letters when I was elected to it in 1976 on the grounds that I already belonged to the Diner's Club. - (Source attribution sought; contact gorevidalpages-at-gmail.com)
I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag. - "Writing Plays for Television," New World Writing, #10, 1956.
I can understand companionship. I can understand bought sex in the afternoon, but I cannot understand the love affair. - quoted by Martin Amis, "Mr. Vidal: Unpatriotic Gore" (1977) in The Moronic Inferno (1987)
I wouldn't use the word aristocratic [to describe my background].... My family was ruling class through holding office (Senate, Cabinet) as well as providing generals and admirals for the various wars.... The Auchinclosses are regarded by the egregious Birminghams as aristocratic because they have had money or married money for the last three quarters of a century...and to the extent that I was Hugh D. Auchincloss's stepson from ten to sixteen, it can be said that I was brought up as an American aristocrat at Bailey's Beach, Newport; the Warrenton Hunt; 1925 F Street club, Washington D.C.; etc. But I like ruling class better . . . partly because that excludes almost all the Auchinclosses! - 1979 interview in Views From a Window: Conversations with Gore Vidal (ed. Robert J. Stanton), 1980.
Don’t ever make the mistake with people like me thinking we are looking for heroes. There aren’t any and if there were, they would be killed immediately. I’m never surprised by bad behaviour. I expect it. - The Times Online, September 30, 2009.
Lonely children often have imaginary playmates but I was never lonely; rather, I was solitary, and wanted no company at all other than books and movies, and my own imagination. - Screening History, 1992.
I was never an expatriate. I was never considered to be that by anyone except for the far right. I had a house in southern Italy and another house in southern California--but in right-wing circles, that's enough to be considered an expat. America was what I always wrote about. - "An American Icon: Gore Vidal on Italy, Iraq - and Why He Hates George Bush," by Peter Popham. The Independent, June 23rd, 2006.