The Farewell Symphony Paperback – 28 May 1998
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"A work of singular accomplishment" (Sunday Times)
"A writer blessed with a more elusive gift, and it should probably be called wisdom" (Daily Telegraph)
"Disturbing... but with the kind of salvation that genuinely good writing can give" (Observer)
From the Inside Flap
Following "A Boy's Own Story (now a classic of American fiction) and his richly acclaimed "The Beautiful Room Is Empty, here is the eagerly awaited final volume of Edmund White's groundbreaking autobiographical trilogy.
Named for the work by Haydn in which the instrumentalists leave the stage one after another until only a single violin remains playing, this is the story of a man who has outlived most of his friends. Having reached the six-month anniversary of his lover's death, he embarks on a journey of remembrance that will recount his struggle to become a writer and his discovery of what it means to be a gay man. His witty, conversational narrative transports us from the 1960s to the near present, from starkly erotic scenes in the back rooms of New York clubs to episodes of rarefied hilarity in the salons of Paris to moments of family truth in the American Midwest. Along the way, a breathtaking variety of personal connections--and near misses--slowly builds an awareness of the transformative power of genuine friendship, of love and loss, culminating in an indelible experience with a dying man. And as the flow of memory carries us across time, space and society, one man's magnificently realized story grows to encompass an entire generation.
Sublimely funny yet elegiac, full of unsparingly trenchant social observation yet infused with wisdom and a deeply felt compassion, The Farewell Symphony is a triumph of reflection and expressive elegance. It is also a stunning and wholly original panorama of gay life over the past thirty years--the crowning achievement of one of our finest writers. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The good point is: even when he is not so good, White's writing is delicious and amazing.
The writing is sometimes clever, but it doesn't make up for all the times when it's pompous, affected, nothing more, I regret to say, than intellectual wanking. The author goes from place to place (New York, Paris, Italy) and from character to character without making any point. Of course, one does not *have* to make a point, if the characters are entertaining and the scenes thrilling. This is not the case here. We just follow this insipid self-loathing and mysoginist young gay man whose only quality is to have friends that are better than him, and hear about his constant changing moods, his failures and his tedious sex life.
This book seems like a self-published book. As if it hadn't been edited: Pages and pages of uninteresting, irrelevant details and facts and events that could and should have been cut out. The only interesting moment of the book is the death of his friends - it is, indeed, moving. But then again, how hard is it to be moving when one is talking about aids? Nothing to be proud of.
In conclusion, an overrated book from an overrated author, whose success symbolizes the problem of gay litterature: There's so little of it that it doesn't take much to make a "classic"... In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In White's novel, we are taken on a tour of the protagonist's (White himself) 30's, 40's, and 50's as he climbs from unknown author to celebrated chronicler of gay life. Along the way, White bares his soul through his no-holds-barred sexual confessions, as we see him interract with friends, lovers, and back-alley liaisons.
Beginning post-Stonewall, and culminating in the AIDS crisis we witness White in many scenarios: best friend, object of desire, live-in lover, and even surrogate parent. White envelops each role with his particularly magical brand of prose, sentiment, and bravado, that is sometimes shocking, sometimes sad, but always entertaining.
As the novel carries on, and reaches the now 20 year old beginning of the AIDS epidemic, we see the significance and poignancy of the title, as the disease ravages the ranks of White's friends, and leaves him the one violinist remaining to chronicle their lives, as they intertwined with his own.
From backrooms to bedrooms, from parking lots to Paris, with stops in New York, Venice, and Morrocco along the way, White delivers another triumph in chronicling his life, and what began as A Boy's Own Story becomes the life of a man.
I have never been a person who liked to read books with an autobiographical point of view; but I am glad I have dared to look beyond my prejudices and go for it.
Nice words, beautifully written, Edmund White is a real craftsman. (Based solely on this novel, because he lost some magic when I read A Boys story).
A very helpfull and insightfull book. How did gay men live in the 50's up till the 80's... Really beautiful!
I spread the word about the book among almost all of my friends and even the heterosexual people really liked it. I think it's not only a gay-tale, but it's a tale about loving people, wheter they are male, female... whatever, it doesn't matter, because the one thing you can read between all the lines is that the writer must have really loved the people he wrote about.
Within a few weeks he'll be coming to the Netherlands for a presentation, most definitely I am one of the people being there and hanging on to every word he tells.