Edmund White
Forgetting Elena
The Joy of Gay Sex
Nocturnes for the King of Naples
States of Desire: Travels in Gay America
A Boy's Own Story
The Beautiful Room is Empty
The Darker Proof: Stories from a Crisis
The Faber Book of Gay Short Fiction
Genet: A Biography
The Burning Library
Our Paris: Sketches from Memory
Skinned Alive
The Farewell Symphony
Marcel Proust
The Married Man
Loss Within Loss: Artists in the Age of AIDS
The Flâneur
Fanny, A Fiction
Arts and Letters
My Lives: An Autobiography
Terra Haute
Hotel de Dream
Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel
City Boy
Sacred Monsters
Jack Holmes & His Friend
Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris
Our Young Man


Also available in French

The Burning Library (1994)

Edmund White is one of our most celebrated novelists and astute social commentators. Now this richly varied collection brings together his most enduring essays from the past twenty-five years—a wide range of writings on art, politics and sexuality.

Beginning with "The Gay Philosopher," a powerful statement about the centrality of friendship in gay life, written just after the Stonewall Riots, and ending with "The Personal Is Political," a profoundly humanistic discussion of the place of queer fiction in the current dust storm of literary/identity politics, White constructs a fascinating portrait of his times, his world and himself as a writer. Animated by his uncanny novelist's eye for social observation, these essays offer a discerning chronicle—by turns celebratory and elegiacal—of the changes in gay life and culture from the beginning of the gay liberation movement in the late sixties to the present; it is a progress somberly punctuated by the occurrence of the AIDS crises and its staggering costs, to White personally and to his community. (The title, derived from the saying that when someone dies a library burns, refers to a pervasive sense of loss.)

A large part of the collection is devoted to pieces that bring White's prodigious critical intelligence to bear upon some of the most important writers of our time, including Vladimir Nabokov and Christopher Isherwood (whom he counts among his key influences) as well as Cormac McCarthy, William Burroughs, James Merrill, and Truman Capote, with whom White has an unforgettable sweltering interview. Among the other essays on art, there is a spirited defense of the controversial aesthetics of White's late friend and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and a dazzling appreciation of the singer formerly known as Prince.

Graced throughout by wit, humor, and insight that never rely on received formulations of correctness, this collection charts the progress of a courageous and supremely humane write

I. The Seventies

  • The Gay Philosopher
  • On Becoming a Model for Male Smut
  • The Joys of Gay Life
  • Fantasia on the Seventies
  • On James Merrill
  • Sado Machismo
II. The Eighties
  • The Political Vocabulary of Homosexuality
  • The Irresponsible Art of Robert Mapplethorpe
  • A Sensual Man with a Spiritual Quest: Christopher Isherwood
  • The Politics of Genet: Michael Foucault
  • Sweating Mirrors: A Conversation with Truman Capote
  • This Is Not a Mammal: A Visit with William Burroughs
  • James Schuyler
  • Thoughts on White on Black on White: Coleman Dowell
  • The Emperor of Signs: Roland Barthes
  • Moves and Poems: Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • Paradise Found
  • Sexual Culture
  • Nabokov: Beyond Parody
  • Writer on a Hot Tin Roof: Tennessee Williams
  • The Woman Who Loved Memory: Christina Stead
  • Keeping up with Jones: James Jones
  • Their Masks, Their Lives—Harry Mathews's Cigarettes
  • Esthetics and Loss
  • Danilo Kis: The Obligation of Form
  • The Critic, the Mirror and the Vamp: A.W. Symons
  • The Paris Review Interview

    III. The Nineties

  • The Angel in the House: Tennessee Williams' Letters
  • Out of the Closet, onto the Bookshelf
  • The Wanderer: Juan Goytisolo's Border Crossings
  • Genet's Prisoner of Love
  • Straight Women, Gay Men
  • Black Like Whom?: Darryl Pinckney
  • Southern Belles' Letters: Cormac McCarthy
  • Two Princes: Prince and Richard Price
  • Two Eulogies: David Kalstone, Robert Mapplethorpe
  • Pool in the Rocks by the Sea: Isherwood and Bachardy
  • Marguerite Youurcenar
  • Hervé Guibert: Sade in Jeans
  • The Person Is Political: Queer Fiction and Criticism




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