Read PDF Gore Vidal: A Critical Companion (Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers)

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Both Baker and Gibson have essays forthcoming in St. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Greenwood. Condition: New. Seller Inventory GP More information about this seller Contact this seller. Seller Inventory NEW New Book. Shipped from UK. Established seller since Seller Inventory IQ Language: English. Brand new Book. Baker and Gibson show that while Vidal's novels are tremendously entertaining, they are also serious examinations of a recurring theme-the decline of the West in general and the decline of the United States in particular.

First are the historical fictions, those of the ancient world Julian, Creation , and the American Chronicles, Vidal's family saga of the United States over the course of its history.

Palimpsest by Gore Vidal

Seller Inventory LHB Book Description Greenwood, Delivered from our UK warehouse in 4 to 14 business days. Seller Inventory APC Marian contemplates the bleakprospects for her future at Seymour Surveys, where there seems to be no possibility of promotion. Marian imagines the company in terms of an ice cream sandwich, where powerful and authoritative men occupy the top layer, questionnaire peo- ple like herself occupy the gooey middle layer, and low-paid housewives occupy the lowest layer as interviewers, counters, and sorters.

Marriage, as one alternative strategy for advancement, is introduced in chapter 3. However, at this stage of the novel, marriage seems to offer equally bleakprospects. Clara is pregnant with an unplanned third child, and the household is in complete disarray. The children misbehave. Arthur, the oldest, has two bathroom accidents. Consequently, when Marian invites her unmarried friend Len Slankto join her and Peter for dinner, she pointedly does not include Ainsley. Besides, Len is known to like young girls, and Ainsley would be too old for his taste.

Ainsley, however, needs a father to conceive her child, and she thinks Len Slank would be a good candidate. Marian interviews three men. This third man, Duncan, will fascinate Marian throughout the novel. Similarly, he will always evade her conclusions about him. In response to her survey, Duncan claims to drink7 to 10 beers weekly, then claims not to drinkit at all, after which it is subsequently revealed that he indeed does drinkit when he accepts one offered by his roommate.

He is a young professional with rising expectations. Marian, too, behaves like an aspiring middle-class wife. Although she does not live with Peter, she performs the duties of the housewife.


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Peter responds by leading her into the bathtub to make love. Although this behavior is slightly unusual, Marian does tell us that. Marian concludes the lovemaking by turning on the cold-water tap, foreshadowing her eventual reluctance in the relationship. The two meet Len for a drinklater that evening at the Plaza Hotel.

Although uninvited, Ainsley appears, dressed in a way that makes her lookmuch younger than her real age so as to better attract Len. Mean- while, Peter and Len strike up a graphic conversation about rabbit hunt- ing. Marian feels queasy and ends up weeping in the bathroom. In chapter 9, a rather dramatic chase ensues as Len pursues Marian on foot and Peter follows her in his car. However, another source of anxiety for Marian is revealed when she turns her thoughts to her four-month relationship with Peter.

She realizes that things are getting serious and she needs to make a decision.

However, an argument quickly erupts between them, and she begins to set out on foot alone. Peter turns up in his car, scolds her for her behavior, and then proposes. The breakfast scene in chapter 10, one-third of the way through the novel, is perhaps reminiscent of the opening scene.

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This time, however, Marian rather than Ainsley has the hangover. She announces to Ainsley her engagement, and Ainsley suggests that she marry in the States, where obtaining a divorce is easier.


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  • Peter later joins them for coffee. Con- versation seems a bit awkward between them. Is it because they are now engaged? She meets Duncan at the Laundromat and, while waiting for the laundry, they talkabout Dun-. They kiss upon parting. In chapter 12, the last chapter of part 1, Marian cements her resolve to settle down and act responsibly, and convinces herself that she and Peter need not end up like Clara and Joe. Since Marian is a young woman, an engagement announcement would not only signal her intention to marry, but also the possibility of an eventual pregnancy— something Mrs.

    She resolves to sort through her things, getting rid of old clothes, books, and two dolls in preparation for the next stage of her life. Marian no- tices some differences in her behavior but is not able to interpret them. The reader quickly realizes that Marian is feeling threatened by Peter and the impending marriage. For example, while Marian tells herself that she is comfortable with her decision to marry Peter, her body sends her clear signals that it is not so comfortable with her decision.

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    The whole game strikes Marian, literally, as being rather distasteful. Marian feels her appetite disappear. Chapter 14 exposes the threatening elements in a variety of relation- ships around Marian. Rather than honesty, Marian sees relationships based on ambiguity and deception.

    When Peter cancels their dinner plans, Marian goes alone to a movie in order to give Ainsley the apartment so that she can seduce Len. In the darktheater, she hears a cracking noise, and when she turns around to investigate, she spots Duncan. She feels. Upon returning to the apartment, she is greeted by a distraught landlady who is clad in curlers.


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    She is upset because the man who entered their apartment earlier has not yet come downstairs. Marian reassures her, although she wonders how they are going to sneakLen out in the morning. Entering the apart- ment, Marian notices that the bottle of scotch she half paid for is almost empty and that the necktie is hanging around the doorknob of her bed- room, the signal that this is where Ainsley chose to make her conquest.

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    Marian visits Clara and her new baby in the hospital in chapter Although he is now trained, he still hoards his stool and hides it in various locations throughout their home. Marian does not bother to look at the baby and leaves the hospital with a great feeling of escape.

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    He had phoned her earlier in the day to askher to bring him some wrinkled clothes, to feed his compulsive need to iron. What follows in chapter 16 is a rather curious scene of seduction. Dun- can explains his compulsion to iron as the need to do something simple and straightforward, as opposed to such other activities as writing com- plex term papers.

    He convinces Marian to give him her shirt to iron. She does. Afterwards, while they lie together on the bed, Duncan caressing the robe he had lent her, Marian realizes how self-absorbed Duncan is. Chapter 17 involves a pivotal dinner scene in which Marian seems to become much more conscious about the nature of her anxiety and con- fronts the reality of her eating disorder. Mar- ian advocates understanding, whereas Peter supports physical discipline. When their rare steaks arrive, Marian ponders the concept of justice.

    Marian watches him cut his meat and realizes the violence of the gesture. She imagines. We next see Marian facing the reality of her situation, eating peanut butter, thumbing through a cookbook, and making a mental list of the food she is no longer able to eat. These include most meats, although hotdogs seem to be allowed. She is concerned about her protein levels and about becoming a vegetarian. Len, stricken by guilt over impregnating the innocent Ains- ley, comes to beg Marian to convince Ainsley to have an abortion. Ainsley returns home and absolves Len of all responsibility.

    Marian feels disgusted by the whole thing and heads for bed. When Mrs.