A Year in La Dolce Vita Rome
Interviewer: Luca Lanzilotta
Interviewee: Edmund White
The Gay and Lesbian Review
Edmund White lived in Rome for most of 1970. It was his first time living abroad—Paris would come much later—and while his “Roman holiday” lasted less than a year, he included various episodes from his Italian stay in a number of his writings, including in memoirs, essays, and novels. Clearly his time in Rome left an impression, but it must be said that his recollections often have a negative edge when touching on Roman life in general and the gay scene in particular.
In this interview, White reminisces about his Italian experience, shares his perspective on what it was like to live in Rome as an openly gay American in 1970, and sheds light on what drew him and a few other writers associated with the Violet Quill to the land of La Dolce Vita (1960). Fully four members of the latter group, which met for the first time in 1980—Robert Ferro, Michael Grumley, Felice Picano, and White himself—had lived in Italy for some length of time during the previous decade, raising the question: what was Italy’s appeal for literary gay men in the ’70s? Doubtless each young man found his own Rome to write about; what follows are White’s reflections on the Eternal City. (For the record, the other members of the Violet Quill, an informal reading group, were Christopher Cox, Andrew Holleran, and George Whitmore.)
I had the pleasure to interview Edmund White at his home in New York City.
— Luca Lanzilotta
White, Edmund. "A Year in La Dolce Vita Rome," interview by Luca Lanzilotta September 1, 2017, The Gay and Lesbian Review September-October (2017). http://www.glreview.org/article/a-year-in-la-dolcevita-rome/