By Bonamy Dobrée
A biographical and demanding learn. From a existence so full of incident, Mr. Dobrée has selected these proof which appear such a lot to undergo at the poet's improvement in existence via artwork.
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7 48 Vidal and Mailer’s display of literary rivalry on tv and Cavett’s representation of literary rivalry with tv both suggest that what was at stake in this episode’s almost zoological display of types of machismo was the diminishing literary, cultural, and political authority of the male novelist. It is signiﬁcant from this standpoint that Vidal himself comes to be a ﬁgure, not only on, but also for tv. The most concise example of this ﬁguration occurs toward the end of The King of Comedy (1982), Martin Scorsese’s brilliant treatment of televisual celebrity.
One highbrow show, the Cavett Show would seem to have oﬀered a venue for the intellectual that wasn’t print. Yet it has become commonplace to blame tv, in particular the talk show, for the decline in public discourse. Some people complain of this decline as it is represented by the airing of formerly private problems on shows like Oprah, Phil Donahue, and Jerry Springer. But the current therapeutic orientation of talk television could simply be seen as a recapitulation at a mass level of Andy Warhol’s selection of the television over the therapist in his account, in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, of the purchase of his ﬁrst tv.
As the talking writer comes increasingly into contact with the world, Vidal prognosticates: ‘‘Only good can come of the writers’ engagement in public aﬀairs. At last, other voices are being heard, if only late at night on television’’ (47). Although Vidal’s initial optimism about the fate of the writer in the age of tv later ﬂagged, in this essay the decline of the serious novel expands rather than contracts the writer’s access to public and political debate. Curiously, in ‘‘Writers and the World,’’ Vidal had attributed to Mary McCarthy exemplary status as a writer-celebrity when he applauded the appearance of writers on television: ‘‘Mary McCarthy is no less intelligent a literary critic because she plays games on television.
Alexander Pope by Bonamy Dobrée