Gore Vidal’s Washington, D.C.: Maintaining Legitimacy

  • David SmitEmail author


In this chapter I show how Vidal’s sense of his own aristocratic lineage and his contempt for the lower classes influenced his portrayal of the political elite in Washington, D.C. I focus on how the major characters of the novel work hard to keep much of their actual behavior hidden from the public in order to ostensibly exemplify a way of life that the rest of the country might aspire to and what it takes for a member of the lower classes to break into and be accepted by the ruling elite. Vidal’s politicians treat the use of government as a personal competition for power and prestige rather than as a means to meet the needs and desires of their constituents. The lure of power and prestige is so great that all of the young radicals in the novel eventually sell out and join the “establishment,” leaving the poor and working class without representation.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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