“Gore Vidal seemed able not only to do anything but to do it all at the same time,” Hillel Italie wrote in an remembrance of Vidal for the Associated Press yesterday. “In the early 1960s, you might catch him on a television talk show, read an essay of his in The Nation about Norman Mailer, see “The Best Man” on Broadway or watch him campaign for Congress with Eleanor Roosevelt at his side.”
- Richard Rover in the New Yorker, 1960
Italie quotes Richard Rovers in the New Yorker from 1960: “Nothing is easier nowadays than to get a feeling of being entirely surrounded by Gore Vidal.”
It has felt that way again over the past few days, naturally, as news of Vidal’s death has been reported around the world and reacted to by his friends and admirers, as well as his detractors and other opinisists. Italie suggests that Vidal “feared irrelevance” to which Vidal might have responded, “Don’t we all?”
When asked in 2007 how he wanted to remembered, Vidal answered, “Not at all … Anyone who wants to be remembered is doomed not to be.”
Early indicators suggest that the prospects for Vidal’s continued relevance are great. Hillel Italie notes that, upon his death, Gore Vidal was not only seemingly everywhere again — and as relevant as ever:
Burr, Lincoln and other Vidal books have sold out on Amazon.com, a far more striking response than to the deaths of such peers as Mailer and William Styron. On Tuesday, he was the leading topic on Twitter in Canada, Ireland, Pakistan, Germany and South Africa. Hundreds posted comments on the Facebook page his publisher has maintained.*
At the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, where “The Best Man” … is running, producers plan to start each of the next week’s shows with an announcement that the performance will be dedicated to Vidal and to end them by showing pictures of him on monitors. Broadway as a whole honored him Friday night when marquee lights were dimmed for one minute.
“I’m honored to have been able to call Gore a close friend,” cast member Cybill Shepherd said in a statement. “I’m privileged to currently be appearing in his play ‘The Best Man’ and speaking his witty and eloquent words every night only reinforces for me what a genius he was.”
*In fact, this site and the Facebook and Twitter accounts are maintained, not by Gore Vidal’s publisher, but at his personal behest.
- Aug. 6, 2012