Gore Vidal published 25 novels, two memoirs and reams upon reams of historical and opinionated essays, plays, television dramas and screenplays. “Style,” he once wrote, “is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” By that definition, one of the most stylish gentlemen we have ever known passed away last night at the age of 86.

We’re not ones to flippantly eulogize. (That’s what Facebook is for.) But every so often, the passing of a great man consequently marks the passing of something greater than just one man, or in the case of Mr. Vidal, a Man of Letters—erudite, wittily cynical, well-informed, prolific, compassionate and fearless.

A title may never again befit a gentleman so justly.

Love is not my bag. —G.V.

“Write what you know” will always be excellent advice for those who ought not to write at all. Write what you think, what you imagine, what you suspect! —G.V.

Eugene Vidal Sr. founded three airlines, including one that became TWA. He had so much faith in his Hammond Flivver Plane that he sent 10-year-old Gore aloft to fly it.

By the time he was 25, he had already had more than 1,000 sexual encounters with both men and women, he boasted in his memoir Palimpsest. Mr. Vidal tended toward what he called “same-sex sex,” but frequently declared that human beings were inherently bisexual, and that labels like gay (a term he particularly disliked) or straight were arbitrary and unhelpful. For 53 years, he had a live-in companion, Howard Austen, a former advertising executive, but the secret of their relationship, he often said, was that they had never slept together.NY Times Obituary

A narcissist is someone better looking than you are. —G.V.

Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so. —G.V.

There is not one human problem that could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise. —G.V.

Moments before appearing on The Dick Cavett Show, Norman Mailer head-butted Vidal in the green room. The fight continued (verbally) on air, stopping only when Cavett instructed Mailer to “take this piece of paper, fold it five ways and put it where the moon don’t shine.”

Via The Telegraph

When Howard and I moved into La Rondinaia, our villa on the Amalfi coast, everyone arrived to case the premises. Mick turned out to be a model sightseer. —G.V.

Vidal’s guests at Villa La Rondinaia also included Italo Calvino, Hillary Clinton, Gianni Agnelli, Lauren Bacall, Sting, Paul Newman, Leonard Bernstein, Peter O’Toole, Andy Warhol, Tennessee Williams and Princess Margaret.

Via The Telegraph

I jokingly asked Andy to autograph our villa so we could sell it as a Warhol sculpture. —G.V.

I’ve always associated my friend Tennessee (or “The Glorious Bird,” as I dubbed him) with beaches. —G.V.

Kathleen Tynan next to the director Tony Richardson, HRH Princess Margaret, Gore Vidal, Jack Nicholson and the Tynan children, Hollywood, CA.

The more money an American accumulates, the less interesting he becomes. —G.V.

I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television. —G.V.

Vidal with Giuseppina Manzi, blind from birth, whom he helped get surgery in the US.

Never have children, only grandchildren. ¬—G.V.

All in all, I would not have missed this century for the world. —G.V.

So fun, indeed.

—C.B.S.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • C. Brian Smith