Eugene Luther Gore Vidal born October 3, 1925, was something of a rebel rouser in his youth. As a liberal American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist he caused outrage among conservative critics with his third novel, The City and the Pillar (published in 1948) which was one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality.
But his list of achievements doesn’t stop at writing, for as a political critic he tried to lead by example and ran for political office twice.
In his later days he was described by the New York Times as “an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent.”
The Los Angeles Times chalked him up as a “literary juggernaut” whose scribing, both in essay and novel were considered “among the most elegant in the English language”.
The Washington Post paid tribute by calling him a “major writer of the modern era” and an “astonishingly versatile man of letters” and popular Spanish publication Ideal said that Vidal’s death was a loss to the “culture of the United States” adding that was a “Huge American novelist and essayist”.
The Italian La Corriere portrayed him as “the enfant terrible of American culture” and that he was “one of the giants of American literature” while the French paper Le Figaro said he was “the Killjoy of America” but also an “outstanding polemicist” who used words and phrases “like high precision weapons.”
After such outstanding tributes few can deny Vidal’s presence among the literary greats and his passing due to complications with pneumonia at his home in Hollywood Hills on July 31, 2012 was met with much sadness. He was 86 years old and left behind an unparalleled literary legacy.