Political Animal: Gore Vidal on Power

Political Animal: Gore Vidal on Power

by Heather Neilson


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Political Animal: Gore Vidal on Power by Heather Neilson

The late Gore Vidal occupied a unique position within American letters. Born into a political family, he ran for office several times, but was consistently critical of his nation's political system and its leaders. A prolific writer in several genres, Vidal was also widely known - particularly in the US - on the basis of his frequent appearances in the various electronic media. This ground-breaking work examines the centrality of the theme of power throughout his writings. Political Animal: Gore Vidal on Power focuses primarily, although not exclusively, on Vidal's historical fiction. In his novels depicting American history, and those set in the ancient world, Vidal evokes a world in which deliberately propagated falsehood ('disinformation') can become established as truth. The book engages with Vidal's representations of political and religious leaders, and with his deeply ambivalent fascination with the increasingly inescapable influence of the media. It asserts that Vidal's oeuvre has a Shakespearean resonance in its persistent obsession with the question of what constitutes legitimate power and authority. *** "Heather Neilson is one of the most gifted, clear-eyed readers of Gore Vidal that we have. She reads not only the sentences but sees through them, ushering us gently toward a fresh understanding of this controversial, often misunderstood writer." — Jay Parini, Middlebury College *** "The most significant monograph on Vidal's archive of political and historical writing." — Donald E. Pease Jnr, Professor of English and Comparative Literature and The Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities, Dartmouth *** "...when it comes to Vidal's politics, Neilson demonstrates that his representations of political power are a source of rich insight. Her incisive study will engage scholars of Vidal, and should draw wider attention to one of the most trenchantly heterodox perspectives on American politics that we have." — Journal of American Studies, Vol. 49, Special Issue 04, November 2015

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781921867682
Publisher: Monash University Publishing
Publication date: 09/30/2013
Series: Investigating Power
Pages: 220
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

About the Author viii

Acknowledgements ix

Preface xi

Introduction 1

Part 1 Ancient Worlds 35

Searching for a King 38

Making a Religion 42

A Brilliant Time 62

Part 2 From Revolution to Empire 83

An Inconvenient Founding Father 86

Catching Reflections of Dead Stars 112

The Squalor Never Ends 129

Big Words 144

Part 3 The American Century 171

Terrible Words 175

Turning Back Time 184

A Delicate Matter 199

Forestalling Apocalypse 215

Conclusion 227

List of Works Consulted 243

Index 255

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