A SINGLE MAN by Christopher Isherwood


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A Single Man, like its forerunner Down There on a Visit, is perhaps not best read as a novel and is just hazily fictional. Its title character is George, a flaccid 58, not only the victim of his failing functions but emotionally devastated now that Jim is dead. This is his nasty commentary on the world he views as "The Enemy" (Woman too shares that designation). Intermittent sequences take him from his home where he is given to some petulant picture-window observation of his neighbors, to his classroom in a California state college—a faltering dominion—to a drunken evening with the ever-hopeful Charlotte whom he had first known in England, to a night with a student whom he initiates as Jim's successor. There are, here and there, some fine passages as the "I am a Camera" eye takes in a supermarket, a gym, a hospital, the campus, and some strange California blooms. There is a certain brilliance to what George calls his "wild wordflights." On the other hand, it is often hard to disassociate George from another "miserable don" to whose "spiteful, playful,...vinegar prose" he refers. Sadly enough, it is not only the "warped" heterosexual world which brands him as a "misfit"; the homosexual has never appeared more wretchedly alone than he does here through his own admissions. Some will read about it with discomfiture.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1964
ISBN: 0816638624
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1964


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