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Nocturnes for the King of Naples

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  252 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews

A hauntingly beautiful evocation of lost love, Noctunes for the King of Naples has all the startling, almost embarrassing, intimacy of a stranger's love letters. The intense emotional situation envelops the readers from the first page; like all images in a dream, White's characters are the most real people we know, thought they remain phantoms. Each chapter, each nocturne,

Paperback, 148 pages
Published February 28th 1980 by Penguin Books (first published 1978)
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Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Literary zounds! I've been on a lucky streak lately. I'm finding these short-sharp-shocks of books are perfect antidotal medicine to whatever it is that ails me. I'd never read White, though his reputation for saying some pretty crazy shit precedes him, so I went in blind on the suggestion of a friend. My Lord, this is some lovely writing. This is almost sacred; some holy amalgam of pantheistic shout-outs and simultaneous inventorying of human anatomy. Let us compare tragedies?

The naysayers on G
Gary Lee
Edmund White has always been a bit of an enigma for me.

He cites such influences as Nabokov, Proust, Genet, and Mishima; yet claims Joyce Carol Oates as his muse. He's continually revered by critics and academics, yet he continues to largely go unnoticed. He writes some of the most beautiful sentences you'll ever read (especially in regards to the American canon), yet very few people read his novels.
It's maddening.
It's sad.
But it's true.

Nocturnes for the King of Naples is an incredibly beautiful
Jul 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art wankers, vampires, catamites, parasites
Shelves: wanker, magic-carpet
This was a hard book to get into - a cross between John Berger and Edith Sitwell - all purple velvet and longing... the first few chapters are barely linear, mostly quivering sensations; I don't mind this but if a book does it from the outset I can find it hard to echolocate, get a sense of where I am.

A paean to a lost, dead lover, an older man whom the narrator has treated with the callousness of youthful narcissism. Of course, time wreaks its own revenge - he in turn loses his looks and become
David M
Oct 12, 2017 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Cody
A wonderful early novel by one of our elder statesmen of gay lit. I can't help wondering if White wasted his talent by becoming, post-ACT-UP, a semi-official spokesmen for homosexuals in this country. Nocturnes suggests he had the potential to do something entirely different, become a literary artist more akin to Proust or Genet.
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully frivolous. I drew some little exclamation marks around this killer of a line: "An enema bag's khaki tubing described the symbol for infinity on the majolica tiles." Majolica!
Feb 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another one of my favorite boks. You need an open mind and an open bottle of wine to fully experience this novel.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
i just. really loved it.

somewhat slow-going and hard to read cuz of the mercurial, impressionistic prose, but for the same reason prob the most unique and enthralling reading experience i can remember.

a self-immolating retrospective bent

..if i speak of my beauty it is only because I've lost it.

I longed away my childhood, resisted my youth, regretted the rest...

startling off-kilter insights

Self-sufficiency may inspire admiration but not love; frank, hungry need excites pity but tranquilizes
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, lgbt
There are certain novels for which the proper language to describe seems to elude me, no matter how many times I reread them and think I have them dissected. This is one such. It’s one of my favorite books for that particular reason, but it does render explaining it rather difficult.
The thing itself is rather brief, brushing near 150 pages. In summary Nocturnes for the King of Naples is part love letter, part valediction to an older ex-lover of the unnamed narrator’s, written years after they
[These notes were made in 1988:]. It is a rather humbling experience to come to a new author out of limited, psychosexual motives, and discover that the book elicits a full range of human response in spite of one. Which windy & euphemistic pronouncement simply means that I came to Edmund White as a gay writer and finish my first encounter with him with a healthy respect for his dense, imagistic style, his powers of observation, and his ability to create a very convoluted narrative without im ...more
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  • The Folded Leaf
  • Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall
  • Buddies
  • Afterlife
  • The Men from the Boys
  • While England Sleeps
  • The Folding Star
  • Wrong
  • The Salt Point
  • Eighty-Sixed
  • Martin and John
  • Dancer from the Dance
  • Mawrdew Czgowchwz
  • Surprising Myself
  • Selected Poems
  • The Emperor Waltz
  • Down There on a Visit
  • Narrow Rooms
Edmund White's novels include Fanny: A Fiction, A Boy's Own Story, The Farewell Symphony, and A Married Man. He is also the author of a biography of Jean Genet, a study of Marcel Proust, The Flâneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, and, most recently, his memoir, My Lives. Having lived in Paris for many years, he is now a New Yorker and teaches at Princeton University. He was also a membe ...more
More about Edmund White...