1995 "First Edition" stated; Random House publishers, New York; "Revised with a new preface by the author"; hardbound with ivory and brown boards and gilt lettering on spine; very good condition, appears unread; dust jacket very good also.
The City and the Pillar is the third published novel by American writer Gore Vidal, written in 1946 and published on January 10, 1948. The story is about a young man who is coming of age and discovers his own homosexuality.
The City and the Pillar is significant because it is recognized as the first post-World War II novel whose gay protagonist is portrayed in a sympathetic manner and is not killed off at the end of the story for defying social norms. It is also recognized as one of the "definitive war-influenced gay novels", being one of the few books of its period dealing directly with male homosexuality. In addition, it was among the few gay novels reprinted in inexpensive paperback form as early as the 1950s.
In 1965, Vidal released an updated version of the novel titled The City and the Pillar Revised. Most modern printings contain the updated text; however, they retain the original title The City and the Pillar.
The plot centers on Jim Willard, a handsome youth in Virginia in the late 1930s, who is also a very good tennis player. When his best friend Bob Ford, one year his senior, is about to leave high school, the two take a camping trip into the woods. Both are elated to be in each other's company and, after some moaning from Bob about how difficult it is to get the local girls to have sex with him, the two have sex, even though Bob thinks this is not a "normal" thing for two men to do.
Jim, who does not find girls so appealing, hopes Bob can stay and is crushed when Bob is insistent on joining the United States Merchant Marine. The next seven years of Jim's life will be an odyssey, at the end of which he hopes to be happily reunited with Bob.
Jim decides he wants to go to sea too and becomes a cabin boy on a cruise ship after going to New York City to look for work. Another seaman on his ship, Collins, goes out with him in Seattle, but is more interested in a double date with two girls than in sex with Jim. The date is a disaster for Jim, who must realize that he is unable to drink enough to overcome being repelled by the female body. When he finally storms out, Collins calls him a queer, which causes him to think about this possibility.
He quits his job, fearing another confrontation with Collins, and becomes a tennis instructor at a hotel in Los Angeles. One of the bellboys, Leaper, whose advances he has spurned previously, introduces him to the circle around the mid-thirties Hollywood actor Ronald Shaw, who immediately takes interest in Jim. Eventually, Jim moves in with Ronald, even though he is not really in love with him.
Their affair is ended when...