Gore Vidal's Screening History

Screening History, by Gore Vidal. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.

THE THREE LECTURES COLLECTED in Screening History, and delivered at Harvard in 1991, give us Gore Vidal at his most relaxed and digressively avuncular. His first sentence refers to that ever approaching Final Exit we must all take sooner or later—Vidal speaks of his Now as the springtime of his senescence—yet I detect no slackening of the nimble, wacky mind that summoned Myra Breckinridge in 1968. It must be said that Vidal, half politician that he is, tends to hone certain themes into aphorisms and to repeat these for years on end. Fortunately, they are usually heretical enough to bear repeating.

In the work at hand, the story of Vidal’s childhood and youth in the ’30s is shown through the prism of surrounding history, the perception of which was then and is now strongly determined by the fiction films and newsreels

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