Single Man (英語) ペーパーバック – 1997/10/22
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In this brilliantly perceptive novel, a middle aged professor living in California, is alienated from his students by differences in age and nationality ,and from the rest of society by his homosexuality. Isherwood explores the depths of the human soul and its ability to triumph over loneliness, alienation and loss.
"His key postwar work. A quarter-century ahead of its time in its portrayal of a quotidian homosexual life, it inspired a generation of gay writers in Britain and the US" (Independent)
"This mix of humour and stoicism in the face of pent-up grief is essential Isherwood" (Guardian)
"His own highly personal form of fiction [is one] in which simple sentences strike a note of great intimacy with the reader as if to a close personal friend, and a sense of total honesty is sought. This style, witty, observant, nostalgic, exact, was Isherwood's great contribution to modern literature" (Financial Times)
"He had dazzling talents as a writer. His literary production was pre-eminent for its wit, humour, charm of style and narrative skill... A Single Man can be almost considered as his masterpiece" (Guardian John Lehmann)
This is a tale of grieving and redemption.
This is a day in the life of George, a British English schoolteacher at San Tomas Sate College in Southern California, who is mourning the loss of his life partner, Jim. We see him get out of bed, perform his daily routine, and try to cope with his terrible loss.
Jim died at a car accident in Mexico when he was traveling with his mistress, Doris. Doris survived the accident but she's in a vegetative state. George visits her once a week - mostly because is the only thing left that is purely Jim.
Charlotte is George's best friend. Also a British, Charlotte is mourning her failed marriage with Buddy and an empty nest - as her son, Fred has finally left her to live with his girlfriend.
But redemption comes to George, Kenny Potter, one of his students, follows George to his favorite bar - a dive where he and Jim met. Kenny flirts with George and because they are so drunk, they end up together. Although George knows that this will probably be a one time thing, the redemption comes with the knowledge that George is helping Kenny deal with his homosexuality.
Beautifully told from an universal point of view, the story deals with the loss of a loved one, even one who clearly broke the trust between a couple. George clearly blames Doris for Jim's death, yet one wonders if he had lost Jim irregardless.
Isherwood is clearly aware that gays are being persecuted and presents a clear perspective of the gay man in the 1960's: "A minority has its own kind of aggression. It absolutely dares the majority to attack it. It hates the majority - not without a cause, I grant you. It even hates the other minorities, because all minorities are in competition: each one proclaims that its sufferings are the worst and its wrongs are the blackest. And the more they all hate, and the more they're all persecuted, the nastier they become! Do you think it makes people nasty to be loved? You know it doesn't! Then why should it make them nice to be loathed? While you're being persecuted, you hate what's happening to you, you hate the people who are making it happen; you're in a world of hate. Why, you wouldn't recognize love if you met it! You'd suspect love! You'd think there was something behind it - some motive - some trick...."
I wonder if the book would had a different ending, now that gays are more accepted by society....
Don't read this if you are feeling depressed.
This novel is a sad, elegiac portrayal of a professor in Southern California in the early 1960's struggling to find meaning in life after the death of his partner. The novel is one of the first examinations of gay life in U.S. The plot and writing style reminded me both of some of the best writings of E.M. Forster, as well as "A Death in Venice." The difference between this book and "A Death in Venice" is that Isherwood's protagonist allows himself to go beyond merely observing from a distance the object of his desire.
This book is worth reading both for its historical significance and its literary value.