Study Guide

United States: Essays 1952-1992 Themes

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Death of the Novel

Throughout the first section of this collection, Vidal repeatedly refers to the death of the novel in English as a fait accompli. He points to the decline in general literacy (half of Americans, he says, have never read a newspaper) and the rise of television and other electronic media—including the movies—as reasons for the destruction of the readership for novels.

He recalls in one essay a time around the beginning of the 20th Century when a visiting writer drew considerably more public interest in a small Ohio town than a visiting president. Vidal mentions the "new novel, the "novel of ideas," and literary developments on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean that have no reverberations n the United States. He strikes a pitiful note in describing a courageous gay novelist whose book has received good reviews in...

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This section contains 1,067 words
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Buy the United States: Essays 1952-1992 Study Guide
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