Gore Vidal American Literature Analysis
Great diversity in subject matter, narrative structure, and style characterizes Vidal’s fictional work. His first eight novels, written before he was thirty years old, typically depicted young men in search of proper and fulfilling lives. For example, young men at war on a ship have to work out moral and ethical problems in a small group under stress; other young men examine the meaning of friendship and love; some are caught up in historical events, such as a revolution in Central America; some face dilemmas of choosing careers and lifestyles. Young men who choose what appear to be secure positions or socially acceptable and conforming lifestyles often find themselves destroyed. Vidal’s message is that to live fully, one must defy social pressures and choose to live a life of personal freedom.
Author Ernest Hemingway greatly influenced Vidal’s writing style, as he did that of many other young writers in the postwar years. Vidal’s seventh and eighth novels were particularly important to his development. In The Judgment of Paris (1952), he began to develop his own stylistic voice, marked by wit and irony. In the ancient Greek myth, Zeus forces a young man, Paris, to choose the most beautiful among three goddesses. In Vidal’s story, a modern young man confronts three women, each offering him a different gift: political power, knowledge, or love. He chooses love—not static, possessive love with one person but the stance of remaining open...
(The entire section is 5349 words.)
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