Vidal with President John F. Kennedy

•••

DETAILS: But aren't there stupid people in Europe too?
Gore Vidal: When you meet a cab driver in Italy, he's smarter than any professor of English at Fairleigh Dickinson. [Ed. note: Bernard Dick, a professor of English at Fairleigh Dickinson, a private university in New Jersey, wrote a critical study of Vidal, The Apostate Angel, in 1974.]

DETAILS: Do you follow contemporary fiction much?
Gore Vidal: No, I don't. It follows itself, I suppose. It should. Nobody else is going to.

DETAILS: The Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently claimed that she was so offended by one of your novels that it inspired her to leave the Democratic party and become a Republican. You declined to respond to this remark on the grounds that she was "too stupid to deserve an answer"—but aren't you at all pleased to know that your name still has that kind of power?
Gore Vidal: Her name has no power. She's just another dum-dum waddling along the pike. And she is not demure. If she were demure, she'd realize that there are whole areas in which a 10th-rate member of Congress ought to keep her trap shut. Nobody cares about her views.

DETAILS: Why are you are so much more willing to take unpopular stances than other public figures?
Gore Vidal: Well, you see I'm something—it's a grown-up word I am going to use, so I hope your readers will understand me—I'm a critic. And they have never seen a critic before. All you're supposed to do is praise your little group, whoever they may be. You're allowed to do that up to a point, but don't overdo it, you know. Otherwise, you'll sound like the New York Times looking after its own. You have to be careful.

READ MORE:
The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal: The Best (Dressed) Man
Three Brilliant Debut Novels Your Have to Read