Gore Vidal's America
October 2005, Polity
Gore Vidal's America examines the ways in which Vidal's
writings on history, politics, sex and religion throw into focus
our understandings of the United States, but also recognizes his
versatility and inventiveness as a creative writer, some of whose
novels - Julian; Myra Breckinridge; Lincoln; Duluth - are among the
important literary works of their time.
Ranging from Vidal's early defence of homosexuality in The City and the Pillar (1948) to his most recent writings on the war in Iraq, this book provides a unique perspective on the evolution of post-World War II American society, politics and literature. As Altman writes: “Difficult not to see in the results of the 2004 elections, where the Republican right gained in both the White House and the Senate, proof of Vidal's worse fears, namely that the impact of imperial adventure, big money and religious moralism would increasingly imperil the American Republic."
One Vidal's Life.
Three America and its History.
Gore Vidal's American Chronicles.
The Growth of American Empire.
Masculinity and Empire.
Vidal and America in the Twenty First Century.
Gore Vidal and 'Political Correctness'.
Five Vidal as Writer.
Gore Vidal and Queer Theory.
Nine Gore Vidal's America.
Index of Fictional Characters.
- A major new examination of the ways in which Vidal's writings
on history, politics, sex and religion throw into focus our
understandings of the United States.
- Ranges widely - from Vidal's defence of homosexuality in his
earliest works to his most recent writings on the war in
- Provides a unique perspective on the evolution of post-World
War II American society, politics and literature through one of the
most significant writers of the 20th Century.
- Written by an experienced and well known author who has had
personal contact with Vidal for more than 20 years.
- Is pitched at a general reader as a trade title and will also be useful for students of American Literature and Society.
-- Alex Danchev, Times Higher Education
"Dennis Altman has certainly evoked with great thoroughness a
now lost world – American and European – ranging from
Depression to World War II to the decline of the Hollywood studios
to the rise of global television, not to mention that global empire
to which his protagonist stands so edgily aslant."
-- Gore Vidal
"Dennis Altman, it turns out, is the perfect person to write a
study of Gore Vidal. A revolutionary thinker in his own right, a
long-time friend of Vidal, an Australian, Altman has the ideal
perspective on America’s grand old expatriate of letters and
politics. In this exciting portrait Altman gives us Vidal alive and
well and more radical than ever. This is a profound picture of
Vidal’s thought, not just a trivial biography of his
-- Edmund White
"Dennis Altman has written what amounts to the finest work yet
published on Gore Vidal. Altman understands the unique role Vidal
has played -- as novelist, playwright, and essayist -- in defining
and critiquing American culture from the inside, as someone who has
both watched the culture evolve and played a role in its
production. This wise, beautifully written, and insightful book
will stimulate discussion for years to come."
-- Jay Parini, Middlebury College
"Dennis Altman is well placed to unravel the paradox of Gore
Vidal, concentrating here on his politics, sexuality and love-hate
relationship with the US. This study is every bit as fascinating as
the great man himself."
"Altman's main purpose is to provide a detailed analysis of
Vidal's long and prolific career and he succeeds brilliantly in
this aim. Vidal's extraordinary productivity means that Altman has
a great deal of primary material to work with, but he marshals his
forty and more key texts with remarkable ease. It is a long time
since I've experienced such clarity in a critical work of this
kind; Altman has a positive but open style, which directs the
reader without ever shutting out the possibility of alternative
readings of the Vidal oeuvre."
Laurie N Ede, Screening the Past