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."
* Exam copies only available to lecturers for whom the book may be suitable as a course text.
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-- Alex Danchev, Times Higher Education Supplement
"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 quirks."
-- 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