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The Farewell Symphony Paperback – Sep 1 1998


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The Farewell Symphony + The Beautiful Room Is Empty: A Novel + A Boy's Own Story: A Novel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (Sept. 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679754768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679754763
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.1 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #94,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Edmund White has long been praised as one of America's most accomplished novelists. The Farewell Symphony is the final volume in the autobiographical trilogy that began with A Boy's Own Story and The Beautiful Room Is Empty. It details the narrator's life in New York in the 1970s and his flight to Paris as the AIDS epidemic begins. White's prose, at once lucid and magical, is the essence of great writing. Its plainspoken cadences and language resonate with the tragedy of youthful passion giving way to hard-earned knowledge. Like Sherwood Anderson or Theodore Dreiser, White has captured the soul of the American experience--in this case a gay male experience--and made it into art. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

White rounds out the trilogy on gay life begun with A Boy's Own Story and The Beautiful Room Is Empty.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
White chose the title to this novel from Haydn's The Farewell Symphony, in which, as the musical piece nears conclusion, the musicians leave the stage, one by one, until there is a sole violinist remaining, who finishes the work that so many others began.
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.
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By "danieldl_" on Oct. 2 2001
Format: Paperback
While shopping with an ex-lover of mine I found the Dutch print of this book. Bought it... read it... enjoyed it... told all my friends about it...
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.
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By Rob on July 5 2000
Format: Paperback
White's The Unfinished Symphony masterfully completes the trilogy begun with A Boy's Own Story. White's novels speak for a generation of gay men who witnessed the burgeoning of gay liberation and despaired at the devestation of AIDS on the community. It must be read in sequence with A Boy's Own Story and The Beautiful Room is Empty to fully feel the impact of the narrative.
The Unfinished Symphony sees a change in style from the other two novels. With clearer prose and less imagery than the previous two it at times loses some of the beauty of its predeccesors. Having said that this novel is more raw and grittier, more physical and forceful and as a result invokes a whole different range of sensory images than the first instalments.
In certain sections of the novel, the descriptive narrative tends to border on the mundane and dull but when White taps into the emotions of family and death the novel soars and speaks to you both as a human being and as a gay man. The recounting of the relationship with his sister and the illness of his mother is written from the heart and speaks a universal language. The emotional desolation wrought by the deaths of many friends to AIDS leaves the reader drained but feeling extremely human. The emotive passages as the novel nears completion make up for any over descriptive and dull passages earlier on.
I have referred to this book as a flawed masterpiece. Flawed, in my opinion, as a result of the decreased use of the imagery and senses used in the prior books. A masterpiece due to its rawness, its honesty and its ability to hurt, to make us ache and to make us feel human.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the most moving and most accessible of White's novels. The subject matter - the author's relationships, the intellectual and sexual and emotional aspects of which are dealt with - transcend his own circumstances, so that there is a universality with which a reader of any age, gender or sexuality can identify. The language is smoother and more simplified than in his previous works, so that the reader is swept along and not mentally hampered by imagery which clogs rather than enhances meaning. (A shortcoming of some of the previous works). The fluidity of the construction is masterly. Autobiographical novels should be distinguished from autobiography and it is the author's privelege to play with time-scales, to use flashbacks and juxtaposition of events to enhance the effect. There is a seamlessness which enables the reader to enjoy the flow of the narrative. There is no sense of this being a 'plotted' novel with a rigid plan, an unobtrusiveness which is a tribute to Edmund White's skill. Finally, the anguish caused by the succession of deaths due to AIDS of his friends and lovers is unbearably sad. The book ends appropriately with an aching inconclusiveness, conveying the sense of waste for which there is no answer.
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