Camilla's Reviews > A Single Man

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
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Sep 01, 12

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Read from August 31 to September 01, 2012

I finished this, literally, 20 minutes ago. In all, the book took maybe 3 hours to plough through. It should perhaps have taken longer - it's not a light read. It's a Mrs Dalloway-esque journey through one day in one man's life. But where Ms Woolf is (always) poignant and subtle, Mr Isherwood is about as subtle as a KFC ad.

Which is not to say that he doesn't attempt to be subtle. Perhaps, on a close reading, he appears to be that way. On a superficial reading, there is this dichotomy between the character and the narrator's judgmental pessimism, and the moments of sentimental but unjudgmental descriptions: the metaphor of the rock pools, the naive motive behind George's more perverse moments.

All drowned in the final moments of the novel, which is both fitting and predictable.

It is a good novel - one worthy of study, as the bridge between modernism and postmodernism, the fatalistic clutching at transcendence, unit, meaning, even as these concepts turn out to be shadows of our own psychologies. Perhaps this is why the novel feels unsubtle? Because, looking back, these views are incompatible and, as already mentioned, naive and sentimental. Looking back, one feels he should know better.
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