A Conversation with Gore Vidal Set for Sept. 18

Novelist, playwright, and National Book Award-winning essayist Gore Vidal, whose decades-long career has etched him in American history as both political and social critic, will visit the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The public portion of the program, “A Conversation with Gore Vidal,” begins at 6:45 p.m. The event is free, with limited seating on a first-come basis.

Facilitating the evening discussion with Vidal, author of Point to Point: A Memoir (2006), will be James Morrison, CMC associate professor of literature and film studies.

In addition to a major sequence of seven novels about American history, and such satirical novels as Myra Breckinridge and Duluth, Vidal has written dozens of television plays, film scripts, and Broadway plays such as Visit to a Small Planet and The Best Man. His hundreds of essays, gathered in several volumes published between 1962 and 2001 and exploring everything from socio-political and literary themes to sexual and historical musings, earned him the title of “this (the 20th) century’s finest essayist” by critic John Keats.

Upon winning the National Book Award in 1993 for his United States: Essays 1952-1992, it was noted about Vidal that, “Whatever his subject, he addresses it with an artist’s resonant appreciation, a scholar’s conscience, and the persuasive powers of a great essayist.”

Vidal was born in 1925 to Eugene Luther Vidal, a director of air commerce for the Roosevelt administration, and to Nine Gore Vidal, a onetime actress. His mother was no stranger to politics either, having served in 1940 as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention. The young Vidal, who would share a stepfather with Jackie Kennedy, was raised in Washington, D.C., the home of his grandfather, Oklahoma Sen. Thomas Gore. Vidal graduated from New England’s Phillips Exeter Academy and joined the U.S. Army Reserve.

Vidal’s writing began in the years immediately following World War II. Much of his first novel, Williwaw (1946) was composed while Vidal served as an Army Transportation Corps officer in the Aleutian Islands.

The author’s body of work has since earned him a permanent place in American letters and politics. In the 2004 book, Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Vidal explores the personalities, egos, and conflicts of the founding fathers as they set up the institutions of government by which we still live.

Two of his other recent books, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated and Dreaming of War: Blood for Oil and the Bush-Cheney Junta, are collections of essays investigating the roots and causes of the terrorist crises currently facing the United States.

For more information about this CMC event, visit: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/mmca/temp_fn.asp?volumeFN=23&issueFN=01&typeFN=f