He could be aloof, difficult and mercurial. He was never afraid to take an unpopular position and defend it passionately.
I came across his written stuff like while reading people like Kurt Vonegurt and Norman Mailer - writers with a gift for analyzing the human condition with complex allegory. I was instantly taken by his droll wit and fierce intelligence. He made me WANT to understand the stuff he was talking about.
Is there an Oscar Wilde for our own day? The moderator proposed Gore Vidal, and, really, once that name had been mentioned, there didn’t seem to be any obvious rival.
Like Wilde, Gore Vidal combined tough-mindedness with subversive wit (The Importance of Being Earnest is actually a very mordant satire on Victorian England) and had the rare gift of being amusing about serious things as well as serious about amusing ones. Like Wilde, he was able to combine radical political opinions with a lifestyle that was anything but solemn. And also like Wilde, he was almost never “off”: his private talk was as entertaining and shocking as his more prepared public appearances. Admirers of both men, and of their polymorphous perversity, could happily debate whether either of them was better at fiction or in the essay form.