A dozen thoughts from Gore Vidal
August 1st, 2012
10:59 AM ET

A dozen thoughts from Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal, the eclectic author who faithfully chronicled the major shifts and upheavals in the United States in books, essays and plays, has died. He was 86.

Here are a dozen of his best quotes, as gathered by The Gore Vidal Pages.

"Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies."

"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail."

"I can understand companionship. I can understand bought sex in the afternoon, but I cannot understand the love affair."

"Never pass up a chance to have sex or appear on television."

"A narcissist is someone better looking than you are."

"Write something, even if it's just a suicide note."

"You know, I've been around the ruling class all my life, and I've been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country."

"I suspect that one of the reasons we create fiction is to make sex exciting."

"The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country - and we haven't seen them since."

"Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman president everything will be all right. But it won't be."

"The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so."

"There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise."

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  1. Words Fail

    My favorite quote of Vidal's, after receiving a punch from Norman Mailer (backstage at The Dick Cavett Show in 1971):

    "Words fail Norman Mailer yet again."

    How witty! And what a great way to deal with a bully.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dr. Carole Donovan

    Eugene Gore Vidal was indeed a man of his own right–true to self–and irregardless of whether or not one agrees with his philosophies, he was inside, a generous, kind, and caring human being, and one to be admired in many respects. He mailed me a six page handwritten letter from Italy shortly before leaving the country for the US. It was a generous letter, and revealed his deep respect for his heritage. His compliments were free, and one comment was an opinion concering my G. Grandmother; he quoted: "The part I like best is about GALLANT EMMA (Gore)." Thank you, Gore Vidal.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MrCritic

    Why even compare Vidal with Covey? Because they both died? Anyone dumb enough to buy self-help-for-executives books by Covey is too dumb to read Vidal without someone telling him what the words mean.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • JC

      You're absolutely right.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • RonFromNM

      Covey and Vidal compared? I never would have considered it, but don't disparage Covey. He helped a lot of people become better people. Though I enjoy Vidal's writings, I don't think that claim could be made w/ a straight face. Gore Vidal helped Gore Vidal.

      August 1, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Donna

    An earlier literary giant, George Bernard Shaw, warned residents of an unspoiled beach community to fend of commercial exploitation. Returning to the site decades later he surveyed the neon scene and declared "I told you what to do and you didn't do it".

    I want these acerbic wits' books on my shelves, but I don't want them holding court in my living room. The charms of self-involved monologists who value the turn of the phrase over historic fact and view the masses with scorn wane rapidly. Watching Vidal's mental decline after 9/11 was heartbreaking. His conspiracy theory baggage will be part of his legacy. Maybe the liberal intellectual should have left us before senescent ramblings clouded his genius.

    August 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
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