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  • Conversations with...

    Edmund White

    Friday, October 12, 2012
    7:30 PM

    New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute continues its popular “Conversations with...” series and is pleased to present Dr. Lois Oppenheim in discussion with award-winning writer Edmund White who will reflect on his creative process and career.

    A book signing will follow.

    $25 per person
    $10 for students with ID

    New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
    247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
    The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium

    Edmund White was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1940. When he was seven his parents divorced and he lived with his mother and sister on the outskirts of Chicago. Summers were spent with his father in Cincinnati. White attended Cranbrook Academy and later majored in Chinese at the University of Michigan. Moving to New York City he worked for Time-Life Books from 1962 until 1970. After a year’s sojourn in Rome, White returned to the U.S., where he served as an editor at The Saturday Review and Horizon.

    Beginning in the late-1970s, he and six other gay New York writers—Andrew Holleran, Robert Ferro, Felice Picano, George Whitmore, Christopher Cox, and Michael Grumley—formed a casual club known as the Violet Quill. Meeting in one another’s apartments, they would read and critique one another’s work, then move on to high tea. Together they represented a flowering of the kind of gay writing Edmund White as a teenager in Illinois had longed to discover. White’s early novels include his allegorical fantasia on Fire Island life, Forgetting Elena (1973), Nocturnes for the King of Naples (1978), and the first two volumes of a projected autobiographical trilogy, A Boy’s Own Story (1982) and The Beautiful Room is Empty (1988). White completed the trilogy with The Farewell Symphony (1997).

    In 1983 White moved to France. When he returned to the United States in 1990 it was to a literary landscape devastated by AIDS. Four members of the Violet Quill—Ferro, Grumley, Cox, and Whitmore—had died, as well as numerous other promising young writers such as Tim Dlugos and John Fox. White’s two closest friends, the critic David Kalstone and his editor Bill Whitehead, were also dead from the disease. White has written, “For me, these losses were definitive. The witnesses to my life, the people who had shared the same references and sense of humor, were gone. The loss of all the books they might have written remains incalculable.”

    Although White is known as a novelist whose work has been widely praised by such writers as Vladimir Nabokov and Susan Sontag, it is as a cultural critic that White has perhaps had his greatest influence. Urbane, knowing, sophisticated, he has chronicled life in the seventies through today with wit and insight. His pioneering work The Joy of Gay Sex: An Intimate Guide for Gay Men to the Pleasures of Gay Life, written with Dr. Charles Silverstein and published in 1977, followed by States of Desire: Travels in Gay America (1980), introduced millions of readers, gay and straight and curious alike, to a brave new world of sexual practices and lifestyle.

    The cumulative effect of White’s presence simultaneously within so many different genres was to begin to define, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the parameters of “gay culture,” whatever that evolving entity might be. White has written of the dilemma facing gay writers in the 1980s: “Some...think that it's unconscionable to deal with anything (other than AIDS); others believe that since gay culture is in imminent danger of being reduced to a single issue, one that once again equates homosexuality with a dire medical condition, the true duty of gay writers is to remind readers of the wealth of gay accomplishments. Only in that way, they argue, will a gay heritage be passed down to a post-plague generation.”

    White’s choice is clear as his National Book Critics Circle Award winning, monumental biography of the French novelist and playwright Jean Genet celebrates this treasure of gay heritage, and argues for the centrality of Genet’s homosexuality to any consideration of his oeuvre.

    As for Edmund White, he and his work—privileged, literate, sophisticated, hedonistic—remain central to any consideration of American literature.

    Edmund White is the award-winning author of many novels, including A Boy’s Own Story, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, The Farewell Symphony, and Hotel de Dream. His nonfiction includes City Boy and other memoirs; The Flâneur, about Paris; and literary biographies and essays. His most recent novel is Jack Holmes & His Friend (Bloomsbury, 2012). White lives in New York and teaches at Princeton.

    White is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he is an Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as bestowed by the French government, a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Genet, and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Dr. Lois Oppenheim is Distinguished Scholar, Professor of French, and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Montclair State University where she teaches courses in literature and psychoanalysis. She is also Scholar Associate Member of the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute (NYPSI) and Honorary Member of the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Society. She has authored or edited eleven books, including Imagination from Fantasy to Delusion (Routledge, 2012); A Curious Intimacy: Art and Neuro-Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2005); and The Painted Word: Samuel Beckett's Dialogue With Art (University of Michigan Press, 2000). Dr. Oppenheim’s current research is in the area of neuro-psychoanalysis and creativity. Dr. Oppenheim continues as host of NYPSI's popular “Conversations with...” series of discussions on creativity. Dr. Oppenheim is also co-creator of the forthcoming documentary about mental health stigma entitled The Madness Project.

guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •
guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •
guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •