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A Single Man

A Single Man

4.6 8
by Christopher Isherwood

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ISBN-10: 0816638624

ISBN-13: 9780816638628

Pub. Date: 03/28/2001

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

When A Single Man was originally published, it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner, and determines to persist in the routines of his daily life; the course of A Single Man spans twenty-four hours in an ordinary

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A Single Man 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
It's amazing how connected the reader feels to George, the protagonist. It's almost as though we're in his mind, hearing his thoughts. And yet, the novel is written in the third person and so we cannot possibly be doing so. The genius of this book lies in Isherwood's ability to make the third person personal. That, and that, even in the 1960's, he had the temerity to tackle a taboo subject - that of homosexuality - in a sympathetic way.

This book follows a day in the life of George. It follows his every thought, his every action and interaction. He has lost his lover. But he still has people in his life, most notably Charlotte. Yet, you get the impression that he is a lonely man. When a neighbor invites him over to her house, he is truly surprised. Almost as though he moved seemingly invisible through the world. Observing. Longing.
Loves2ReadJS More than 1 year ago
I've just finished "A Single Man" and immediately think of Gore Vidal's quote on the back of the novel stating, "Isherwood is the best prose writer in English." Well said, Mr. Gore. I find myself struggling to piece together adequate commentary - the length of the novel belies the dense richness packed into every sentence, chapter and word that went into conveying George's story. It is melancholy at times and I doubt that I could have read it with any real understanding or empathy when I was in my twenties or thirties. However, I am now in the same age group as the protagonist George and I am in awe of the talent that could so finely articulate the nuances of thoughts, questions, and emotions threaded from beginning to end in the narrative. I could very much identify and laugh when George stopped at the gym to work out - thinking to himself that he wasn't bad providing he didn't wear his glasses, so he wouldn't see the sags or wrinkles. Or when he speaking to one of his students and states that experience did not provide wisdom rather you merely found yourself saying - oh, yes, that again. Read it if only to admire Isherwood's talent as a writer and ability to communicate the interior dialogs and thoughts we may have but are unable to poignantly express as well as he did in this book.
gerryburnie More than 1 year ago
How do you go about reviewing Christopher Isherwood ["A Single Man," Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1964, Vintage Classics, 2010] without the urge to genuflect at the beginning of each chapter? Answer: You don't! It is somewhat similar to reviewing E.M. Forster, or perhaps Charles Dickens. To comment on Isherwood's strengths as a writer would be presumptuous to say the least. His strengths lie in each word, times the number of words in a phrase, multiplied by the number of phrases in a paragraph, etc., etc. Besides, having been deceased since 1986 he is in no need of advice from a neophyte like me. Rather, about the most one can do, realistically, is to comment on what can be learned from this acknowledged master of observation, narrative skill, style, wit and humour. "A Single Man," considered by many to be his finest achievement, was a daring novel for 1964-the same decade that saw the homophobic 'Stonewall Inn raid,' in New York City, 1969. This story depicts George Falconer, a gay, middle-aged British college professor who has recently lost his longtime partner, Jim. It occurred as the result of a car accident while Jim was visiting his parents in Ohio, and to protect Jim's image George declines an invitation to attend his lover's funeral. Therefore, he is deprived of even this token closure. Left alone in the modest house that Jim and he shared, which is only accessible by crossing a sagging bridge, George now uses this 'moat' to defend his lifestyle against the Strunks and Garfeins; representing suburban family values. In this milieu 'The Girls' nurture their obstreperous brood according to the latest psychology book; the self-expressing kids run amok; the grown-ups hold weekend barbeques complete with "martoonies" beside the kidney-shaped pool, and the paunchy Mister Strunks can be heard muttering such things as, "I don't give a damn what he does just as long as he stays away from me." Consequently, overwhelmed by the surrounding common denominator, George is struggling to find meaning in his humdrum existence; a situation that Isherwood ingeniously captures with the opening line, casting George as an "it." "That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognized I, and therefrom deduced I am, I am now. 'Here' comes next, and it is at least negatively reassuring, because here, this morning, is where it had expected to find itself;" [Quotation marks mine]. Without addressing the issue directly, therefore, Isherwood nevertheless draws the reader into the depths of despair plaguing his main character; i.e., the purposelessness of his existence. He then proceeds to transition George by way of a sterile freeway to the San Tomas State College campus-passing an equally septic senior-citizen's complex along the way. Once on campus, however, George starts to feel a measure of regeneration, for suddenly his life regains a semblance of meaning; like an actor stepping outside of himself to assume the role of an alter ego. "He is all actor now; an actor on his way up from the dressing room, hastening through the backstage world of props and lamps and stagehands to make his entrance. A veteran, calm and assured, he pauses for a well-measured moment in the doorway of the office and then, boldly, clearly, with the subtly modulated British intonation which his public demands of him, speaks his opening line 'Good morning!'" He also feels some semblance of power as he signs
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An excellent quick read. Presents interesting topics for group discussion
Anonymous More than 1 year ago