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America’s leading review of the arts and intellectual life
- Harry Mount, the London Telegraph


September 2012

Gore Vidal, 1925–2012

by John Simon

On the passing of the writer.

This is not a regular obituary, but then again, Gore Vidal was not a regular guy. Instead, he was a heady cocktail: one-third talent, one-third wit, and one-third arrogance. He was also a somewhat better-than-average novelist, interesting playwright and screenwriter, and a noteworthy essayist. A man of letters, certainly, and, no less certainly, a star.

What does star mean in this context? Besides literary aptitude, it means he was a vivid presence on the cultural horizon. Someone whom perhaps relatively few have read, but whom, from frequent TV/span> appearances, a great many can recognize, and even, grudgingly or not, admire.

Admire for what? For personality, outspokenness, repartee, and cheek. And, unlike so many successful writers, he was good-looking. But not like, say, Norman Mailer, with his slightly disheveled, vaguely street corner-ish ...

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John Simon's collections of film, theater, and music criticism are available from Applause.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 September 2012, on page 78

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The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
On May 5, 2014, The New Criterion and PJ Media presented the second Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity. The award is given to highlight egregious examples of dishonest reporting. Also awarded this year was the Rather, a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.
The Duranty Prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow corresponded in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts. It has never been revoked.
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