When Edmund White moved to Paris in 1983, leaving New York City in the
midst of the AIDS crisis, he was forty-three years old, couldn’t speak
French, and only knew two people in the entire city. He will be at Labyrinth to read from his new memoir of this time; please join us.
In middle age, White discovered the new anxieties and pleasures of mastering a new
culture. When he left Paris fifteen years later to take a teaching position in
the U.S., he was fluent enough to broadcast on French radio and TV, and
in his work as a journalist, he’d made the acquaintance of everyone
from Yves Saint Laurent to Catherine Deneuve to Michel Foucault. He’d
also developed a close friendship with an older woman, Marie-Claude,
through which he’d come to understand French life and culture in a
The book’s title evokes the Parisian landscape in the
eternal mists and the half-light, the serenity of the city compared to
the New York White had known (and vividly recalled in City Boy).
White fell headily in love with the city and its culture: both
intoxicated and intellectually stimulated. Inside a Pearl is a memoir which gossips and ruminates, and offers a brilliant
examination of a city and a culture eternally imbued with an aura of
Edmund White is the author of many acclaimed novels, memoirs, and critical works. He is the definitive biographer of Jean Genet and also wrote lives of Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud. His most recent book is The Flaneur.
White was made an officer in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and teaches in the creative writing program at