The Elegant Wit of Gore Vidal

The celebrated writer Gore Vidal died on Tuesday in his Hollywood Hills home in Los Angeles, CA at age 86. Always known for his quick wit, Vidal will be immortalized for his excellent writing and his strong opinions. Vidal published 25 novels, two memoirs, and multiple volumes of essays, in addition to writing plays, dramas, and screenplays.

Vidal was known for his ability to conjure brilliant aphorisms or critiques in an instant, making him a respected political figure and commentator. He ran for office multiple times, in California and New York, but lost in each instance. Vidal made appearances on Family Guy and The Simpsons, and spent a considerable amount of time on television getting into feuds with respected members of society while establishing himself as a master raconteur. After a bad review Norman Mailer once punched Gore Vidal at a party. While on the ground bleeding, Vidal retorted, “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer.”

In remembrance of Gore Vidal, we present a collection of his numerous bon mots and witticisms.

“I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television.”

“A narcissist is someone better looking than you are.”

“Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically by definition be disqualified from ever doing so.”

“It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”

“Envy is the central fact of American life.”

“The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country — and we haven’t seen them since.”

“Andy Warhol is the only genius I’ve ever known with an IQ of 60″

“A good deed never goes unpunished.”

“Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.”

“Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.

“Fifty percent of people won’t vote, and fifty percent don’t read newspapers. I hope it’s the same fifty percent.”

“Some writers take to drink, others take to audiences.”

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

“The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.”

“Sex is. There is nothing more to be done about it. Sex builds no roads, writes no novels and sex certainly gives no meaning to anything in life but itself.”

“Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.”

“In America, the race goes to the loud, the solemn, the hustler. If you think you’re a great writer, you must say that you are.”

“There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”

“We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.”

“I do many different things rather better than most people do one thing”

“Cemeteries are the most beautiful things in America; I know more people in them than outside.”


“Prolific, Elegant, Acerbic Writer,” Charles McGrath, NY Times

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