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1876: A Novel by Gore Vidal

By Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire sequence spans the background of the USA from the Revolution to the post-World warfare II years. With their huge canvas and big solid of fictional and historic characters, the novels during this sequence current a landscape of the yankee political and imperial event as interpreted through one in all its so much worldly, figuring out, and ironic observers.

The centennial of the us was once celebrated with nice fanfare--fireworks, exhibitions, pious calls to patriotism, and maybe the main underhanded political machination within the country's historical past: the robbery of the presidency from Samuel Tilden in prefer of Rutherford B. Hayes. This was once the Gilded Age, whilst robber barons held the handbag strings of the kingdom, and the occasion in strength was resolute to stick in energy. Gore Vidal's 1876 supplies us the inside track of the day during the eyes of Charlie Schuyler, who has back from exile to regain a misplaced fortune and organize a wedding into long island society for his widowed daughter. And even though Tammany corridor has faltered and Boss Tweed has fled, the results of corruption succeed in deep, even into Schuyler's circle of relatives.

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It was his genius which was being cultivated; it was his taste which set the standards. Beauty didn’t really know anything about music, except for dancing. She liked pretty tunes, but didn’t know why everything had to become so complicated and so noisy. But that was the way Kurt liked it, and that was the way he had it. Now here was another kind of genius, another strange and bewildering art; Beauty listened, and it seemed to her a chaos of sound, going on without any discoverable reason for either starting or stopping.

From watching him rather than from listening, Beauty had come to understand that he was trying to find something to take the place of the war; trying to vent his rage and despair, his love for his own people, his grief at their humiliation and defeat. Watching his face while he played, Beauty lived through her agonies with Marcel, and then those with Kurt, shifting back and forth between the German soul and the French. The composition was supposed to have an orchestral accompaniment; Lanny could read this with his swiftly flying eyes, and would sit with the score and imagine it while Kurt played the piano part.

Lanny saw his father on board the steamer, and gave him messages for the many Budds, and hugged him hard, and then stood on the quay and watched the steamer warped out into the harbor. Waving to the receding figure on the deck he thought: What a wonderful world, what a blessed state, when one can see one’s father off on a comfortable seahotel, and know that neither in the Mediterranean nor in the outside ocean will there be any submarines watching for a chance to send it to the bottom! II Three months had passed since Beauty and Kurt had returned from Spain, and nobody had manifested the least suspicion of or hostility toward a Swiss music-teacher; so gradually peace settled in the woman’s heart, and there began the burgeoning of new impulses toward her fellow-creatures.

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