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White, Edmund (b. 1940)  
page: 1  2  

Though some of these critics, including some in the gay press, focused on White's principle of selection, reviews were more often occasion for social comment, as in Paul Cowan's dismissal of the book as "a journey through promiscuous all-male America--a desolate place to live."

The changing lives of gay men, particularly as they are devastated by AIDS, continue to shape White's work. His collection of stories with Adam Mars-Jones, The Darker Proof: Stories from a Crisis (1988), was one of the first works of serious fiction to treat the impact of AIDS.

In a 1987 essay in Artforum, White summarizes his obligation to gay culture in these words: "To have been oppressed in the '50s, freed in the '60s, exalted in the '70s, and wiped out in the '80s is a quick itinerary for a whole culture to follow. For we are witnessing not just the death of individuals but a menace to an entire culture. All the more reason to bear witness to the cultural moment."

All of White's work can be seen as intimately bound to gay culture, simultaneously reflecting its shifting contours and shaping its most provocative edges.

Randal Woodland

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literature >> Overview:  AIDS Literature

In the twenty years since its first appearance in the West, AIDS has been the subject of a large body of literature, most of it written by gay men and much of it designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic and the suffering of affected individuals.

literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

After Stonewall, gay male literature became focused as a movement, aided by the development of gay newspapers, magazines, and quarterlies and the founding of serious gay and lesbian bookstores.

literature >> Overview:  Children's Literature

Gay- and lesbian-relevant themes and issues resonate throughout both classic and contemporary works of children's literature.

social sciences >> Overview:  Fire Island

Two of the communities of Fire Island, New York--Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines--are famous as hedonistic resort towns for gay men and lesbians.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

literature >> Overview:  Novel: Gay Male

Since World War II, the gay male novel has progressively flourished in England and especially in America.

literature >> Overview:  Travel Literature

Travel has afforded gays and lesbians both freedom from the restraints of their own cultures and the erotic stimulus of exotic sexual customs and partners.

literature >> Overview:  The Violet Quill

A circle of gay male writers in Manhattan who met a few times in 1980 and 1981, the members of the Violet Quill helped create the post-Stonewall renaissance of American gay male writing.

literature >> Barnett, Allen

Allen Barnett wrote stories unlikely to be surpassed for their depiction of gay life at the height of the AIDS pandemic.

literature >> Cooper, Dennis

Controversial writer Dennis Cooper is best known for his series of strikingly original, critically acclaimed, albeit transgressive and contentious, novels exploring the nature of sexual obsession, alienation, brutality, and death.

literature >> Duplechan, Larry

Lambda Award-winning author Larry Duplechan is best known for Blackbird (1987), a coming of age novel about a black teenager growing up in the bland outer suburbs of Los Angeles in the 1970s.

literature >> Ellis, Bret Easton

Perhaps the most accomplished of the "Generation X" writers, Bret Easton Ellis creates works distinguished by transgressive themes, a fascination with popular culture, and a spare but resonant prose style.

literature >> Genet, Jean

Jean Genet's work has left a powerful legacy to post-modernity and remains a provocation to questions of gay identity.

literature >> Hollinghurst, Alan

Noted for his elegant prose style and subtle representations of moral ambiguities, Alan Hollinghurst has in recent years emerged as Great Britain's most significant contemporary gay novelist.

arts >> Kert, Larry

Gay actor and singer Larry Kert introduced some of the most memorable songs in American musical theater.

literature >> Mars-Jones, Adam

Author and editor Adam Mars-Jones has written short stories as well as longer fiction on gay themes, including AIDS.

literature >> Picano, Felice

Prolific author Felice Picano, a founding member of the Violet Quill, is also a pioneer in gay publishing, having founded two publishing houses.


Bergman, David. "Edmund White." Contemporary Gay American Novelists. Emmanuel Nelson, ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1993. 386-394.

Cowan, Paul. "The Pursuit of Happiness." New York Times Book Review (February 3, 1980): 12-13.

Goldstein, William. "Edmund White." Publishers Weekly (September 24, 1982): 68.

"An Interview with Edmund White." Paris Review (Fall 1988): 47-80.

Karlinsky, Simon. "America, Texas, and Fire Island." The Nation 218 (1974): 23-24.

Wilson, Carter. "Remembering Desire." The Nation 235 (1982): 503-505.


    Citation Information
    Author: Woodland, Randal  
    Entry Title: White, Edmund  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated December 20, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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