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A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man (original 1964; edition 2009)

by Christopher Isherwood, Simon Prebble (Reader)

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1,370585,593 (4.04)83
Title:A Single Man
Authors:Christopher Isherwood
Other authors:Simon Prebble (Reader)
Info:HighBridge Company (2009), Edition: Unabridged; 4.75 hours on 4 CDs, Audio CD
Collections:Your library, To read

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A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (Author) (1964)


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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
This was one of the first LGBITQA books that I read when I was young, and so for that, I am grateful.

I like Isherwood's writing style and his characterisation of George. George feels raw, angry and vulnerable in this novel, and I wondered how much of it was autobiographical, if any. This book is personal and I appreciated the fact that Isherwood went to so much trouble to describe George's thoughts when he was driving to work, or when he was at work, or when he was on the phone.

There was something really sensual about this book - as in, I think it tried to engage all of the five senses. Sometimes, I feel that it went a little flat, but overall I enjoyed it. It's a short, sad little snapshot of a life. But I think there was something missing in this book, and I can't quite describe what it was, but... I'll have to give it 3.5 stars, overall. c: ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
“What’s so phony nowadays is all this familiarity. Pretending there isn’t any difference between people —well, like you were saying about minorities, this morning. If you and I are no different, what do we have to give each other? How can we ever be friends?”

Set just after the Cuban missile crisis the book is about the final day in the life of George, an English professor of literature working in California. George is living alone after the recent death of his lover Jim in a car crash. He is lonely and his only company is literature (“These books have not made George nobler or better or more truly wise. It’s just that he likes listening to their voices, the one or the other, according to his mood”). He feels resentment towards a society that considers him, a gay man, to be a “monster”.

To those who believe that “Jim is the substitute I found for a real son, a real kid brother, a real husband, a real wife,” he says, “Jim wasn’t a substitute for anything. And there is no substitute for Jim.”

George at home is barely functioning but whilst teaching he seems to really come alive as he tries to share both his knowledge and passion for literature. However, he also challenges his students to question the social orthodoxies of the time (“a minority has its own kind of aggression. It absolutely dares the majority to attack it”).

As the day progresses,in an attempt to stave off his loneliness George visits an old English friend, similarly alone, going to the bar where he met Jim for the first time, and spending the night with one of his students.

George is up-lifted when he realises that he is in the minority 'the living' but there is a deeply felt pain running through George’s internal monologue and only when drunk does he truly open himself up to another person. “What I know is what I am.”

The novel has the big obsessions of its time in nuclear war and sexual revolution as well as more localised things like campus politics. But there is also a study of the minuscule as the book opens and ends with a pretty vivid description of the body's own functions of just waking up and living.

The prose is tight (my copy only runs to 142 pages) and well written giving a real insight into the meaning of loneliness. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jun 7, 2016 |
So much about this book rang true to me. One day in the life of a man that I didn't really like but found fascinating. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
So much about this book rang true to me. One day in the life of a man that I didn't really like but found fascinating. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Nothing like the film in term of tone and some key facts - the whole attitude of the writer was not really translated into the film at all. For its time it was ahead of itself I would say. The detached tone of the opening tends to undercut your interest in the main character. And like other readers, I couldn't detect much humour. ( )
  adrianburke | Feb 10, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0816638624, Paperback)


The author's favorite of his own novels, now back in print!

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 day. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness. Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this novel catches the texture of life itself.

"A testimony to Isherwood's undiminished brilliance as a novelist." Anthony Burgess

"An absolutely devastating, unnerving, brilliant book." Stephen Spender

"Just as his Prater Violet is the best novel I know about the movies, Isherwood's A Single Man, published in 1964, is one of the first and best novels of the modern gay liberation movement." Edmund White

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

After the sudden death of his longtime lover, George must adjust to life on his own as a professor in Southern California in the early 1960s. During the course of an ordinary day, George is haunted by memories as he seeks connections with the world around him--Publisher's description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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HighBridge Audio

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