Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Encyclopedia of Literature: Edward Bond (Thomas Edward Bond) Biography to Bridge

Boy's Own Story, A

bildungsroman, Giovanni's Room, The Beautiful Room is Empty

self awareness novel white

a novel by Edmund White, published in 1982. This deceptively simple story, with marked autobiographical overtones, of a young boy's journey to sexual and intellectual self-awareness, reworks the conventional American bildungsroman (and its European prototype) to include an exclusively homosexual perspective and sensibility that entirely avoids shame, guilt, and self-hatred. Elegantly—and at times extravagantly—written and meticulously crafted, it is distinguished by its fine powers of observation, its evocation of life in small town America, and its careful balance of anecdote and introspection. Its apparent disregard for conventions of plot and narrative drive may be interpreted as an artful device that convinces the reader of the reality of the experience the writer depicts, encouraging identification and thus rendering universal a theme that had been previously treated (as in James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room) as an occasion for self-torment. Thus it can be said that White, in this novel and its sequel The Beautiful Room is Empty, has retrieved ‘gay fiction’ from the margins to which it was hitherto relegated and located it as a thriving trend in contemporary American literature; not without irony, since the joy with which he wrote has been replaced by a deep awareness of the impact of Aids on all depictions of contemporary sexuality.

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