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Gore Vidal seems to specialise in writing historical literature that is based on real characters and events but imbuing them with a new light that forces us to re-examine aspects of the past that have now entered popular imagination. This novel is a classic example of his work, that is still fiction, but it is fiction that is based on real events and real characters. In particular, this work focuses on the American Founding Fathers and presents an iconoclastic vision of this period of history.
Even though Vidal committed lots of time and effort to researching this historical period and based his view of history in the work of historians, it is clear that he adds his own narrative twist to the work, as he presents such important historical figures to the founding of America such as Washington and Jefferson in a completely new light. For example, in Vidal's vision of events, Washington is satirised as a rather rotund individual who is unable to mount a horse without ruining his pants. He also lacks any talent as a general. Jefferson is presented as nothing more than a hypocrite whose impressive rhetoric concerning inalienable rights is undercut by the way he thinks and treats the outcasts of society in their various guises.
Vidal's work can therefore not strictly be described as "non-fiction," but it is a powerfully re-interpretetive novel that presents us with another way of looking at the Founding Fathers that strips them of the glory and myth with which they have been associated and presents them as much more human individuals.
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