Gore Vidal: Controversial, Acerbic, and Brilliant

The legend remembered, in part through his own words
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2012 1:59 PM CDT
Gore Vidal: Controversial, Acerbic, and Brilliant
Gore Vidal delivers the keynote presentation during the first session of the 27th annual Key West Literary Seminar in Key West, Fla, Jan. 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Carol Tedesco)

Gore Vidal has passed away, and that means everyone is contemplating the life of one of America's most caustic, controversial men of letters. Of course, given that Vidal once said he hoped to be remembered as "the person who wrote the best sentences of his time," the best many can do is quote him.

  • Vidal was "an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed," writes the New York Times, "and he was probably right." Vidal Quote: "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."

  • The Nation recalls his tumultuous history writing for the magazine, in which he took some controversial stances—like declaring certain Jewish pundits "an Israeli Fifth Column Division" and supporting a version of the 9/11 truther conspiracy—but also crafted gems like, "We are the United States of Amnesia. We learn nothing because we remember nothing. … The withered Bill of Rights, like a dead trumpet vine, clings to our pseudo-Roman columns."
  • "Vidal could be guaranteed to say something entertainingly outrageous about American imperialism or contemporary sexual mores," the Washington Post recalls. "Everything and anything could be skewered with stiletto-like finesse, and nothing was sacred." Vidal Quote: "There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise."
  • The Telegraph rounds up a number of notable celebrity responses to Vidal's death, almost all of which are quotes of his. Including: "Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn."
(More Gore Vidal stories.)

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