Literary Estimations – Gore Vidal on Italo Calvino


Gore Vidal has always been highly intelligent, disciplined and cranky, and as this video shows, has left himself open to being dismantled due to his use of crude attacks on literary colleagues –  not only attacks, but outright belittlement. No one can relish the idea of going up against his sharp tongue. However, by doing so he does not follow the “political correct” path that most do and therefor what comes out of his speech and thinking are truths that no one else tells, no one dares to tarnish their reputation by doing so. There is often unique perspective or angle along with his broadsides. Vidal has a unique, non-linear zig zag mental process. He does not accept surface truths and works hard to get at the triggers of nations, politics and individuals – rethinks them all on his own terms.  That is why the man was so important to our nation, to our thinking. His absence (he died this past summer) is felt deeply and I wonder who can step up to take his place.

This video shows Vidal in rare form near the end of his days, about one year ago. It is his assessment of the importance of Italo Calvino. He felt that Calvino was the only person worthy of literature’s grace in his generation. However, one cannot help but see Vidal’s envy in way that Calvino was honored by the Italian nation upon his death – the entire nation grieved his passing and when Vidal tells the story one sees the obvious comparison to Vidal’s life and the lack of esteem he felt he had as its literary citizen.

Vidal understands his mission and it is at odds with the “nice”, pc world, especially the American breed of it when he says: “But, surely, shock is what writers are meant to apply when the patient has lost touch with reality.”  – from The Last Empire – 2001.

One thought on “Literary Estimations – Gore Vidal on Italo Calvino

  1. Pingback: These are a few of my favorite things #2 (The Man Who Shouted Teresa, a very short story by Italo Calvino) « Ritu’s Weblog

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