Gore Vidal is one of the most respected writers in recent times. Vidal was born in 1925 into a family with strong political connections. His father Eugene Vidal, worked for the Roosevelt administration, his grandfather was Senator Thomas Prior Gore of Oklahoma, and his mother had connections with the Kennedy’s through John F. Kennedy’s presidency. In 1943 at only nineteen years old, Vidal wrote his first novel Williwaw while in the army. He wrote most of the novel while in the army but went on to finish it in the hospital while rehabilitating from frostbite. The novel was based on his time spend in the war. Critics were impressed that a writer so young produced something with such good quality and it immediately put him on the map. Although his work received good reviews he did not see a great monetary gain from his first work (Parini).
It was then that Vidal moved to Guatemala where the cost of living was very cheap. Between 1946 and 1954 he wrote several novels including The City and the Pillar and the Judgement of Paris. The releasing of The City and the Pillar was notable not because of its reviews as a novel, but more because of the controversy that came with it. It was the first openly gay novels of American fiction and he suffered the consequences. The New York Times refused to review his next five novels. Among the best of those five that the press would not review was Messiah, which Vidal used the modernistic writing style of journal within the memoir (Parini).
Although Vidal’s The City and the Pillar received harsh reviews, it is the work that guided him to be the person he is today. The City and the Pillar is about a young man who discovers his homosexuality. It is so significant because it is the first novel written after World War II that features a character who is openly gay during a time when homosexuality was a subject of great skepticism: Gore knew that his novel would create controversy, but released it intending on stirring the pot. The novel took such a beating from the press that he had to release a few mystery novels as Edgar Box. The City and the Pillar was just the first example of Vidal pushing the envelope, which he went on to do very often in his career in order to receive notoriety. It seems that every time he starts to find some consistent success in something, he starts feeling like he wants to do something else that he feels has more of an impact because he is not fulfilling his need to be making an impact on people.
With Vidal still struggling for money after his problems with The City and the Pillar, he went on to write scripts even though it wasn’t something that wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do. Over the next decade Vidal wrote dozens of scripts for television. His best though, was most likely Visit to a Small Planet, which was later turned into a full Broadway play. The play showed Vidal’s witty and ironic tone and remains a masterpiece of the time period. Vidal even played an...