Edmund White

Last updated

Edmund White
Edmund White 2 by David Shankbone.jpg
White in his home in New York, October 2007
BornEdmund Valentine White III
(1940-01-13) January 13, 1940 (age 80)
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
OccupationNovelist, short stories, non-fiction
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Michigan
Period1970s–present
Notable works The Joy of Gay Sex , A Boy's Own Story , The Beautiful Room Is Empty , The Farewell Symphony
Spouse Michael Carroll
Website
edmundwhite.com

Edmund Valentine White III (born January 13, 1940) is an American novelist, memoirist, and an essayist on literary and social topics. Much of his writing is on the theme of same-sex love. His books include The Joy of Gay Sex (1977) (written with Charles Silverstein), his trio of autobiographic novels, A Boy's Own Story (1982), The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988) and The Farewell Symphony (1997), and his biography of Jean Genet.

Contents

Early life

Edmund Valentine White was born on January 13, 1940, in Cincinnati, Ohio. White mostly grew up in Chicago, Illinois. [1] He attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, as a boy. Afterward, he studied Chinese at the University of Michigan, graduating in 1962. [1]

Incestuous feelings existed in White's family; his mother was attracted to him. [2] White spoke of his sexual attraction to his father in an interview: "I think with my father he was somebody who every eye in the family was focused on and he was a sort of a tyrant and nice-looking, the source of all power, money, happiness, and he was implacable and difficult. He was always spoken of in sexual terms, in the sense he left our mother for a much younger woman who was very sexy but had nothing else going for her. He was a famous womanizer. And he slept with my sister!" [3] He has also stated: "Writing has always been my recourse when I've tried to make sense of my experience or when it's been very painful. When I was 15 years old, I wrote my first (unpublished) novel about being gay, at a time when there were no other gay novels. So I was really inventing a genre, and it was a way of administering a therapy to myself, I suppose." [4] [5]

Literary career

White declined admission to Harvard University's Chinese doctoral program in favor of following a lover to New York, where he worked for eight years as a staffer at Time-Life Books and freelanced for Newsweek . After briefly relocating to Rome and then New York, he was briefly employed as an editor for the Saturday Review when the magazine was based in San Francisco in the early 1970s; after the magazine folded in 1973, White returned to New York to edit Horizon (a quarterly cultural journal) and freelance as a writer and editor for entities, including Time-Life and The New Republic .

White is gay and much of his work draws on his gay experience. His debut novel, Forgetting Elena (1973), set on an island, can be read as commenting on gay culture in a coded manner. The American/Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov called it "a marvelous book". [6] Written with psychotherapist Charles Silverstein, The Joy of Gay Sex (1977) made him known to a wider readership. His next novel, Nocturnes for the King of Naples (1978) was explicitly gay-themed and drew on his own life. [7]

From 1980 to 1981, White was a member of a gay writers' group, The Violet Quill, that met briefly during that period and included Andrew Holleran and Felice Picano. White's autobiographic works are frank and unapologetic about his promiscuity and his HIV-positive status. [8]

In 1980, he brought out States of Desire, a survey of some aspects of gay life in America. In 1982, he helped found the group Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York City. [9] In the same year appeared White's best-known work, A Boy's Own Story the first volume of an autobiographic-fiction series, continuing with The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988) and The Farewell Symphony (1997), describing stages in the life of a gay man from boyhood to middle age. Several characters in the latter novel are recognizably based on well-known people from White's New York-centered literary and artistic milieu. [10]

From 1983 to 1990 White lived in France. In 1984 in Paris he was involved in the foundation of the French HIV/AIDS organisation, AIDES. During this period, he brought out his novel, Caracole (1985), which centres on heterosexual relationships. After returning to America White maintained his interest in France and French literature, publishing Genet: a biography (1993), Our Paris: sketches from memory (1995), Marcel Proust (1998), The Flaneur: a stroll through the paradoxes of Paris (2000) and Rimbaud (2008).

White at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival Edmund White BBF 2011 Shankbone.JPG
White at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival

The novel The Married Man (2000) is gay-themed and draws on White's life. Fanny: A Fiction (2003) is a historical novel about novelist Frances Trollope and social reformer Frances Wright in early 19th-century America. White's 2006 play Terre Haute (produced in New York City in 2009) portrays discussions that take place when a prisoner, based on terrorist bomber Timothy McVeigh, is visited by a writer based on Gore Vidal. (In real life McVeigh and Vidal corresponded but did not meet.)

In 2005 White published his autobiography, My Lives organised by theme rather than chronology and in 2009 his memoir of New York life in the 1960s and 1970s, City Boy.

White has been influential as a literary and cultural critic, particularly on same-sex love and sexuality.[ citation needed ]

He is currently a professor of creative writing in Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts. [11] In June 2012, White was reported by his husband, Michael Carroll, to be making 'remarkable' recovery after suffering two strokes in previous months. [12]

Among these he is a and an He received the inauguralfrom Publishing Triangle in 1989, and is also the namesake of the organization's Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction.

In 2014, Edmund White was presented the Bonham Centre Award from The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto, for his contributions to the advancement and education of issues around sexual identification. [13]

Awards and honors

Works

Fiction

Plays

Nonfiction

Biography

Memoir

Anthologies

  • The Darker Proof: Stories from a Crisis, with Adam Mars-Jones (1987)
  • In Another Part of the Forest: : An Anthology of Gay Short Fiction (1994)
  • The Art of the Story (2000)
  • A Fine Excess: Contemporary Literature at Play (2001)

Articles

See also

Related Research Articles

Vladimir Nabokov Russian-American novelist, lepidopterist, professor

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist, poet, translator, and entomologist. Born in Russia, he wrote his first nine novels in Russian (1926–1938) while living in Berlin. He achieved international acclaim and prominence after moving to the United States and beginning to write in English. Nabokov became an American citizen in 1945, but he and his wife returned to Europe in 1961, settling in Montreux, Switzerland.

Jeffrey Eugenides Novelist, short story writer, teacher

Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is an American novelist and short story writer. He has written numerous short stories and essays, as well as three novels: The Virgin Suicides (1993), Middlesex (2002), and The Marriage Plot (2011). The Virgin Suicides served as the basis of a feature film, while Middlesex received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in addition to being a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International Dublin Literary Award, and France's Prix Médicis.

William Styron American novelist and essayist

William Clark Styron Jr. was an American novelist and essayist who won major literary awards for his work.

Philip Roth American novelist

Philip Milton Roth was an American novelist and short-story writer.

Richard Ford

Richard Ford is an American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works are the novel The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land and Let Me Be Frank With You, and the short story collection Rock Springs, which contains several widely anthologized stories. Ford received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1996 for Independence Day. Ford's novel Wildlife was adapted into a 2018 film of the same name.

Thomas M. Disch American science fiction author and poet (1940-2008)

Thomas Michael Disch was an American science fiction author and poet. He won the Hugo Award for Best Related Book – previously called "Best Non-Fiction Book" – in 1999, and he had two other Hugo nominations and nine Nebula Award nominations to his credit, plus one win of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Rhysling Award, and two Seiun Awards, among others.

Russell Banks American writer of fiction and poetry

Russell Banks is an American writer of fiction and poetry. As a novelist, Banks is best known for his "detailed accounts of domestic strife and the daily struggles of ordinary often-marginalized characters". His stories usually revolve around his own childhood experiences, and often reflect "moral themes and personal relationships".

<i>Pnin</i>

Pnin is Vladimir Nabokov's 13th novel and his fourth written in English; it was published in 1957. The success of Pnin in the United States launched Nabokov's career into literary prominence. Its eponymous protagonist, Timofey Pavlovich Pnin, is a Russian-born assistant professor in his 50s living in the United States, whose character is believed to be based partially on the life of both Nabokov's colleague Marc Szeftel as well as on Nabokov himself. Exiled by the Russian Revolution and what he calls the "Hitler war", Pnin teaches Russian at the fictional Waindell College, loosely inspired by Cornell University and Wellesley College—places where Nabokov himself taught.

Tobias Wolff American writer and educator

Tobias Jonathan Ansell Wolff is an American short story writer, memoirist, novelist, and teacher of creative writing. He is known for his memoirs, particularly This Boy's Life (1989) and In Pharaoh's Army (1994). He has written four short story collections and two novels including The Barracks Thief (1984), which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Wolff received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in September 2015.

Aleksandar Hemon

Aleksandar Hemon is a Bosnian-American fiction writer, essayist, and critic. His best known novels are Nowhere Man (2002) and The Lazarus Project (2008).

Bobbie Ann Mason is an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and literary critic from Kentucky. Her memoir was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Andrew Sean Greer

Andrew Sean Greer is an American novelist and short story writer. Greer received the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel Less.

William Keepers Maxwell Jr.

William Keepers Maxwell Jr. was an American editor, novelist, short story writer, essayist, children's author, and memoirist. He served as a fiction editor at The New Yorker from 1936 to 1975. An editor devoted to his writers, Maxwell became a legendary mentor and confidant to many of the most prominent authors of his day. Although best known as an editor, Maxwell was a highly respected and award-winning novelist and short story writer. His stature as a celebrated author has grown in the years following his death.

Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee is an American fiction writer, poet, journalist and reviewer.

Felice Picano

Felice Picano is an American writer, publisher, and critic who has encouraged the development of gay literature in the United States. His work is documented in many sources.

Yiyun Li is a Chinese writer who lives in the United States. Her short stories and novels have won several awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award and Guardian First Book Award for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, and the 2020 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for Where Reasons End. She is an editor of the Brooklyn-based literary magazine A Public Space.

<i>Lolita</i> 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita is a 1955 novel written by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, a middle-aged literature professor under the pseudonym Humbert Humbert, is obsessed with a 12-year-old girl, Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. "Lolita" is his private nickname for Dolores. The novel was originally written in English and first published in Paris in 1955 by Olympia Press. Later it was translated into Russian by Nabokov himself and published in New York City in 1967 by Phaedra Publishers.

Patrick Eugene Ryan is an American novelist and short story writer. His books include The Dream Life of Astronauts and Send Me, as well as three novels for young adults: Saints of Augustine, In Mike We Trust, and Gemini Bites.

Evan Fallenberg American-born writer residing in Israel

Evan Fallenberg is an American-born writer and translator residing in Israel. His debut novel Light Fell, published in 2008, won the Stonewall Book Award and the Edmund White Award, and was a shortlisted Lambda Literary Award nominee for Gay Debut Fiction at the 21st Lambda Literary Awards. His second novel, When We Danced on Water, was published in 2011 by HarperPerennial, and his third, The Parting Gift, by Other Press in 2018. He has also published English translations of several Israeli writers, including Meir Shalev, Hanoch Levin, Ron Leshem and Batya Gur.

Joe Okonkwo

Joe Okonkwo is an American writer, whose debut novel Jazz Moon won the Edmund White Award and was shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction, in 2017.

References

  1. 1 2 "Edmund White". Cranbrook Schools. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  2. "Edmund White: Who are you calling a Trollope?". Tim Teeman. August 23, 2003. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  3. Interview with Edmund White, David Shankbone, Wikinews , November 8, 2007.
  4. "Steve Dow, Journalist". stevedow.com.au.
  5. Dow, Steve (May 20, 2006). "The story of his lives". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  6. Edmund White, City Boy, 2009. Archived September 26, 2015, at the Wayback Machine ("Gerald Clarke...had gone to Montreux to do an interview with Nabokov for Esquire, and followed the usual drill...On his last evening in Switzerland he confronted Nabokov over drinks: 'So whom do you like?' he asked—since the great man had so far only listed his dislikes and aversions. 'Edmund White' Nabokov responded. 'He wrote Forgetting Elena. It’s a marvelous book." He’d then gone on to list titles by John Updike and Delmore Schwartz (particularly the short story "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities"), as well as Robbe-Grillet’s Jealousy among a few others.")
  7. Yohalem, John (December 10, 1978). "Apostrophes to a Dead Lover". The New York Times . Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  8. Mascolini, Mark (August 2005). "AIDS, Arts and Responsibilities: An Interview With Edmund White". The Body. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  9. Wood, Gaby (January 3, 2010). "A walk on the wild side in 70s New York". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  10. Benfey, Christopher (September 14, 1997). "The Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  11. "The Program in Creative Writing, Princeton University". princeton.edu. Archived from the original on March 5, 2008.
  12. Reece, Phil. Washington Blade. "Edmund White's partner after stroke: 'his improvement is remarkable'". June 1, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  13. "The 2014 Bonham Centre Awards Gala celebrates Power of the Word on April 24, 2014, honouring authors and writers who have contributed to the public understanding of sexual diversity in Canada". pennantmediagroup.com.
  14. "2018 PEN American Lifetime Career and Achievement Awards". PEN America. February 2017. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  15. "You searched for edmund white". PEN America. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  16. 1 2 3 4 "Edmund White". www.albany.edu. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  17. "Stonewall Book Awards List". American Library Association . Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  18. "Edmund White to receive Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters". Princeton University. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  19. "Person, Place, Thing". New York University Arts and Letters. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  20. "The Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement". The Publishing Triangle. Retrieved August 30, 2020.

Further reading