With the centennial year of the United States as the target of this historical novel, Gore Vidal again mounts a glorious expedition into that grimy and intricate activity called politics. And this is politics as it ought to be: gossip, corruption, money, dinner parties, more corruption, and all the tacky panoply of power. Into the rarefied atmosphere of a world where money has begun to talk very loudly ? usually through the mouths of people called Astor ? step Charles Schuyler and his daughter Emma. Charlie is the unacknowledged bastard son of Aaron Burr; Emma is rather beautiful; and both think it is prudent to return from penury in Europe and secure a fortuitous marriage for Emma. But America is no longer a young republic; it's a fledgling international superpower with its attendant seedy administration, dubious election campaigns, snobbery, 'popped corn', 'speaking tubes' and 'perpendicular railways' (lifts). It's a world that will welcome into its social and political bosom these two attractive exotics with the right names. And it's a world whose every political peccadillo, social slip-up and irresistible intrigue is recorded in this, the journal of Charlie Schuyler.
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(199mm x 125mm x 29mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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US Kirkus Review »
Once again as in Burr (1973) Vidal centers on politics as the manifestation and shaper of American identity. Here he illuminates one of the nation's dark moments, the disputed Tilden-Hayes election along with the centralizing drift of money, power and sectional interests toward the capital. Charlie Schuyler is again the journalist-narrator. He has returned to New York City after 37 years in France with his beautiful, widowed daughter Emma and some Rip Van Winkle obsessions: "When I was young. . . The American was lean, lanky, often a bit stooped with leathery skin. . . Some new race has obviously replaced (him). . . a plump, voluptuous people. . . ." They are the prosperous New Yorkers, from the monumental "Mystic Rose," Mrs. William Astor, to the clients of cigar store brothels. As an admirer of the ailing Tilden, a scrupulous ascetic, Schuyler forgoes his detachment and reports the corrupt electoral tangles. While Tilden falls, notables in New York and Washington are observed: a smooth, intelligent Garfield (". . . when you are dealt the cards you play them"); a glum, bewildered Grant; a "deceitful" Senator Conlding ("Senate seats are expensive. . . It is all money nowadays"); and also that likable rake, James Bennett, Jr. of the Herald. While Schuyler lives out what is to be his last year, daughter Emma breaks an engagement and marries a widower (whose son will appear in Vidal's next novel). 1876 is a rich, talky book, but the talk - rarefied escritoire to bock-beer blunt - moves easily. An achievement - Vidal revolutionizes the genre with a seriousness and a muscle both firm and new. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal was at the centre of literary and intellectual life for half a century and wrote 'The Narratives of a Golden Age' series as well as countless bestsellers. He died on 31st July 2012.