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Feast of ExcessA Cultural History of the New Sensibility$
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George Cotkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190218478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.001.0001

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“An Extreme Gesture”

“An Extreme Gesture”

Gore Vidal 1968

Chapter:
(p.241) { 17 } “An Extreme Gesture”
Source:
Feast of Excess
Author(s):

George Cotkin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.003.0019

Gore Vidal’s novel Myra Breckinridge captured the sexual revolution with its main character as a transgendered individual. From the opening line, “I am Myra Breckinridge and no man will ever possess me,” to its conclusion of Myron (formerly Myra) Breckinridge transformed into a happy, middle-class, married individual, the novel oozed with camp irony. It fit well into the emerging sexual revolution (exemplified in part by the film The Graduate), with its explicit rendering of certain scenes, including one where Myra rapes a young man. It was a transgressive work that paraded its excesses without necessarily celebrating them. Vidal was busy this year as well, appearing as a commentator on the Vietnam War and the riots in Chicago at the Democratic Convention, which led to a vicious argument with conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr.

Keywords:   Gore Vidal, William F. Buckley Jr., camp, Myra Breckinridge, Chicago Democratic Convention riot, Vietnam War, transgressive, transgender

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