Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Prissy Closet

An interesting theme that runs through Edmund White's City Boy is his passage from the eternal and universal to the contemporary and particular, both as a reader and a writer. In his twenties he "still had an unquestioning admiration for the Great … because they were Great." As a writer, "I defended myself against … immersing myself in my own period. … A writer must be eternal and universal." With an artist's instinct he moves against his prejudices. But later, when successful, he has to put up with such fulminations as Richard Poirier's (slant rhymes with "warrior"):

Gay writers! I've never heard of anything so absurd. It's obscene! … it's a betrayal of every humane idea of literature. Have you never heard of universalism?

To answer his ilk in kind: "yeah, that dago guttersnipe, writing in the vernacular — Dante!"

The NY Times obituary of the "warrior" concludes

Mr. Poirier never married. No immediate family members survive.


Terry said...

Speaking of obituaries, you should read the Times obituary of Coleman Dowell, also mentioned by White in what I thought was a brilliant passage. Not a clue there either.

Tim said...

Blogger doesn't allow links within comments but anyone who goes to the Times website — — and searches on "Coleman Dowell" will find the obituary, which among the survivors fails to his longtime lover and supporter, Bert.