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A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man (original 1964; edition 2001)

by Christopher Isherwood

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1,554637,092 (4.02)85
Title:A Single Man
Authors:Christopher Isherwood
Info:Univ Of Minnesota Press (2001), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (1964)

  1. 10
    After Many a Summer Dies the Swan by Aldous Huxley (SnootyBaronet)
    SnootyBaronet: The protagonist of "A Single Man" discusses "After Many A Summer" with his students.
  2. 00
    Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian (FFortuna)
  3. 11
    Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (chrisharpe)

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» See also 85 mentions

English (62)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (64)
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
I found this book to be very interesting and well written, but it failed to engage me emotionally. In addition, there were some parts that have not aged well, which took me out of the story and affected my enjoyment. ( )
  queenofthebobs | Feb 6, 2019 |
In which a European in exile in 1964 manages to accurately convey the inner workings of those of us Antipodeans in 2012.

I've not yet seen the (apparently wonderful) film based on this book, which was probably a blessing, as I was able to approach it uninitiated. In a scant 150 pages, Isherwood details one mundane-yet-important day in the life of an English professor in the U.S. Digging deftly to the root of George's mind, Isherwood captures his moments of intelligence and pain, of arrogance, lust, self-loathing, confusion, alienation, connection, nostalgia, heartbreak, discovery. It's a taut little character study, which approaches a variety of '60s counter-culture/neo-romantic issues (social alienation, the rise of that loathsome word 'tolerance', man-made boundaries preventing connection), yet - because his focus is so clearly on George's character - Isherwood avoids that painfully on-the-nose attitude that so dates other writers of the era (if I cough Kerouac's name out of the corner of my mouth, will a thousand hipsters descend upon my house with torches and pitchforks?).

A beautiful little work. It worries me somewhat that I feel Isherwood has here predicted my future. And if not, all the better: he has allowed me an insight into a genuine mind. A complete human being laid bare in 150 pages. Perhaps the moral is to invite your neighbours over to dinner more often. Perhaps it's simply to say "yes" when asked. Or perhaps it is that we cannot expect any more. It's not the dinner, or the asking, or what we say when we're there, or even what we mean. It's about washing ourselves free of the rituals in which we drape our lives, or at least of questioning the rituals before we abandon ourselves to them. It's how we remove the past from its pedestal without removing its meaning. It's going forward knowing that, in some ways, everything we have learned is important to us, yet in other ways, we have learned nothing at all. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
I was getting worried. Recently it seems I hate pretty much every book I read and the best praise I could give any was, "It was pretty good."

I love this book. Oh, that feels great to be able to say.

Uh. So I was staying at this Hindu temple where my aunt is a nun that Christopher Isherwood went to a lot. I got some literature about the religion Vedanta and Swami Prabhavananda, and the only thing that I actually took the time to read (because I am lazy and was then only mildly curious) was a quote about how death is like a glass of water being poured into the ocean. I loved that and decided I was going to remember that forever, and that it was going to be me answer any time any one asked me any questions about death. A Single Man is basically that sentiment in novella form. And his writing... he took that sentiment and made it better. Instead of a cup, it's tidepools. Which is better right? I know!

  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
Un mondo "diverso"

In tutto questo caos, velocità, frenesia, in questo mondo che va più veloce di quanto possiamo assimilare, ci sono momenti in cui tutto sembra rallentare, fermarsi. Poche parole e sei catapultato in qualcosa d'altro, di "diverso", e non solo per l'approccio in prima persona del protagonista del libro, e neanche perchè capisci di aver a che fare con un panorama lontano da quella che i più considerano la "normalità". E' come se il pensiero dominasse sull'azione, l'accento è messo sul moto interiore più che su quello esteriore del "fare". E sembra di essere trasportati da un fiume, che a tratti rallenta, i ricordi, la perdita dell'amato, a tratti accelera, la vita reale, un nuovo contatto. E sembra tutto lieve anche se nei fatti è doloroso. George si interroga, va al fondo di sè stesso, di un "prima" e un "dopo" senza un "durante". E' solo una parvenza, una recita quotidiana, lui, inglese che insegna in un college americano, un alieno per più di un motivo, geografico e morale. Sembra non avere senso continuare la farsa. Jim non c'è più, il mondo avversa le sue preferenze sessuali, e non ha più molto senso continuare a sopportare in solitudine. Uno studente fa breccia in questo mondo di solitudine. Sembra un nuovo promettente inizio. Ma la vita presenta l'ultima beffa al povero George. E tutto ha fine lievemente, come se nulla fosse accaduto, come se George neanche fosse mai esistito. Cosa resterà mai di ognuno di noi?
  Magrathea | Dec 30, 2017 |
As well-written as anything else that Isherwood put together - he was a natural talent, clearly - this is that rarest thing: a book that is slightly inferior to the film that (much) later followed. For one thing, the ending resolves more clearly and dramatically in Tom Ford's masterful film rendition. That said, 'A Single Man' is a great read, and well worth the investment - especially if you want to appreciate how authentic the big screen version was. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Sep 29, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
The remarkable thing about this book is that it starts off by looking like his most resounding failure so far, then gradually gets the reader involved until he is laughing, slapping his thigh, and experiencing the sensation described by Holden Caulfield - the desire to snatch up a pen and write the novelist a letter...

What comes over, like a spring breeze, is George’s essential sweetness - and Christopher Isherwood’s own essential goodness and kindness. This is no sour, nihilistic lament of a middle-aged man. It has humour - not even ‘wry’ humour, but the sunny humour of a man who is at peace with himself. When George daydreams about kidnapping the members of the local Purity League and forcing them to act in pornographic movies, the writing has an unexpected touch of Kingsley Amis.
added by SnootyBaronet | editTwentieth Century Literature, Colin Wilson (Oct 1, 1976)

» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isherwood, Christopherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bachardy, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brockway, James.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Waking up begins with saying am and now.
These books have not made George nobler or better or more truly wise. It is just that he likes listening to their voices, the one or the other, acording to his mood. He misuses them quite ruthlessly - despite the respectful way he has to talk about them in public - to put him to bed, to take his mind off the hands of the clock, to relax the nagging of his pyloric spasm, to gossip him out of his melancholy, to trigger the conditioned reflexes of his colon.
George picks it up, saying, “Let’s see if that old robot’ll know the difference,” and pretends to be about to punch another slit in the card. The girl laughs, but only after a split-second look of sheer terror; and the laugh itself is forced. George has uttered blasphemy.
He starts across the largish open space which is the midst of the campus, surrounded by the Art Building, the gymnasium, the Science Building and the Administration Building, and newly planted with grass and some hopeful little trees which should make it leafy and shadowy and pleasant within a few years: that is to say, about the time when they start tearing the whole place apart again.
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Please be careful not to combine the film with the book. Thank you.
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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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