Presenter of the National Book Awards

Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, 2009

Gore Vidal

Born Eugene Luther Vidal Jr. in 1925 in West Point, New York, Vidal is considered a prominent social critic on politics, history, literature, and culture, in addition to being a writer. While serving in the military, he wrote his first book, Williwaw (1946), which was published when he was twenty years old.

From 1946 to 1954, he published eight novels including The City and the Pillar (1948), noted as one of the first explicitly gay novels in American fiction. Unfortunately, after its publication, the mainstream press ignored his next five novels.

Using the pseudonym Edgar Box, he also published three mystery novels: Death in the Fifth Position (1952), Death Before Bedtime (1953), and Death Likes it Hot (1954), and was well-known in the 1960s for his fictional exploration of gender and sexuality in Myra Breckinridge (1968).

From 1962 to 1998, Vidal wrote over twenty novels, including Two Sisters (1970), described on the title page as "a novel in the form of a memoir." His novels on American history focus on real historical figures, including the novel Burr, which was a National Book Award Fiction Finalist in 1974. Vidal has also been lauded as a nonfiction writer. His book of collected essays, United States: Essays 1952-1992, received the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1993. He lives in the Los Angeles area.


Gore Vidal photo © Stathis Orphanos.

Backlist

Novels

  • Williwaw (1946)
  • In a Yellow Wood (1947)
  • The City and the Pillar (1948)
  • The Season of Comfort (1949)
  • A Search for the King (1950)
  • Dark Green, Bright Red (1950)
  • The Judgment of Paris (1952)
  • Messiah (1954)
  • A Thirsty Evil (1956) (short stories)
  • Julian (1964)
  • Washington, D.C. (1967)
  • Myra Breckinridge (1968)
  • Two Sisters (1970)
  • Burr (1973)
  • Myron (1974)
  • 1876 (1976)
  • Kalki (1978)
  • Creation (1981)
  • Duluth (1983)
  • Lincoln (1984)
  • Empire (1987)
  • Hollywood (1990)
  • Live from Golgotha: the Gospel according to Gore Vidal (1992)
  • The Smithsonian Institution (1998)
  • The Golden Age (2000)
  • Clouds and Eclipses : The Collected Short Stories (2006)

Essays and non-fiction

  • Rocking the Boat (1963)
  • Reflections Upon a Sinking Ship (1969)
  • Sex, Death and Money (1969) (paperback compilation)
  • Homage to Daniel Shays (1972)
  • Matters of Fact and of Fiction (1977)
  • The Second American Revolution (1982)
  • Armageddon? (1987) (UK only)
  • At Home (1988)
  • A View From The Diner's Club (1991) (UK only)
  • Screening History (1992)
  • Decline and Fall of the American Empire (1992)
  • United States: essays 1952–1992 (1993)
  • Palimpsest: a memoir (1995)
  • Virgin Islands (1997) (UK only)
  • The American Presidency (1998)
  • Sexually Speaking: Collected Sex Writings (1999)
  • The Last Empire: essays 1992–2000 (2001)
  • Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace or How We Came To Be So Hated
  • Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta
  • Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson (2003)
  • Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia (2004)
  • Point to Point Navigation : A Memoir (2006)
  • The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal (2008)

Screenplays

  • Climax!: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1954) (TV adaptation)
  • The Catered Affair (1956)
  • I Accuse! (1958)
  • The Scapegoat (1959)
  • Ben Hur (1959) (uncredited)
  • Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
  • The Best Man (1964)
  • Is Paris Burning? (1966)
  • Last of the Mobile Hot Shots (1970)
  • Caligula (1979)
  • Dress Gray (1986)
  • The Sicilian (1987) (uncredited)
  • Billy the Kid (1989)
  • Dimenticare Palermo (1989)

Suggested Links

VIDEO: Gore Vidal on Writing
BookTV
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhT4Qq0sN3Y

 

VIDEO: Gore Vidal on This is America, With Dennis Wholey
1 of 3 = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ilcb7dsWaA
2 of 3 = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMWNj_sxPL0
3 of 3 = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLcpHCp2Ejg

 

Every fall, in conjunction with the conferring of The National Book Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature, the Board of Directors of the Foundation also presents a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which comes with $10,000. The recipient is a person who has enriched our literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work.