A Single Man

January 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

isherwoodandaudenMany of you may be familiar with the movie, by the same name, directed by Tom Ford. The movie differs from the book in its focus on the melodramatic and George’s sorrow; whereas in the book the humour has a dry, acerbic quality to it, and why in my opinion it fares better. As a result the book manages to be both witty and moving.

Isherwood deftly utilizes the ‘one day in the life’ technique; twenty four hours in the life of a gay, recently widowed, Englishman living in California. The book also allows a glimpse into 60’s America (remember at this point it was ‘the land of milk and honey’) and snippets of conversation, particularly between Kenny and George, are reminiscent of Yates, his characters and the ‘hollowness’-of-the-American-Dream theme that runs throughout some of his novels .

Being privy to the flow of George’s thoughts; from the mundane to the profound; what he thinks of his neighbours, his students; to his lover Jim, all bring George to life.

There is an existential undertone to the novel; in that faced with mortality one vows to live a richer, fuller life. And it is this that adds a dash of hope in what otherwise might have been a melancholic novel. George comes to accept his position and decides that all he can do is to continue living; not existing but living.

Hopefully this time round I’ve done a better job of reviewing this novel. I do have a feeling that in the not too distant future I shall pick this book up again.

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Image: Isherwood and Auden by Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.



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