Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Commentary on A Single Man

I've been reading David Bergman's The Violet Hour: The Violet Quill and the Making of Gay Culture, and while I don't necessarily recommend the book as a whole (unless one is extremely interested in the Violet Quill writers, and occasionally aggravatingly academic discussions of the writers' work), there's an intriguing section (pp. 60-67) about Isherwood and A Single Man in the chapter entitled "Gay Writing Before the Violet Quill."

***Spoilers ahead, in case you have not read A Single Man (which you absolutely should!)***

The reason I particularly recommend this discussion is that it takes an interesting, and I think very intelligent, angle on the question of the final scene, which I recall we discussed at great length. Bergman does not think that George dies at the end of the book, but rather that Isherwood is using the playful "let's suppose" of the final two or three pages to both supply and subvert the traditional "the gay man must die" ending of so many prior mainstream gay novels. He also connects the final scene back to the "rock pool" description from several pages earlier, in a way that I wanted to do myself while I was reading but was unable to see my way clear to.

This particular discussion is well worth a look.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Persistent Voices Persisting (We Hope)

You wouldn't know it from the link in the posting below, but Philip's reading from Persistent Voices at the DC Center tomorrow evening (Dec. 10) has been postponed. I'll put up the new date when I learn of it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Aristophanes’ speech on YouTube

These two YouTube videos may be of interest:

Aristophanes’ Speech from Symposium


Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Origin of Love


Friday, December 4, 2009

non ridere etc

Just came across this Guardian interview with Alan Hollinghurst shortly after he won the Booker Prize for The Line of Beauty. Considering how moralistic a response Hollinghurst's works, in particular this novel, sometimes elicit, I thought this quote especially worthwhile:

Nick's millionaire Lebanese-born lover, Wani, is hooked on extreme porn and takes bucketloads of cocaine. One reviewer called Wani depraved, an odd remark to make about Hollinghurst's morally neutral fiction. "I don't make moral judgments," he says. "I prefer to let things reverberate with their own ironies and implications. That was one of the interests of writing this book from the inside and not just writing something that broadly satirised or bashed up the 80s. To tell it from the point of view of someone who was very seduced by it." Nick is as morally compromised as the rest. Or not, depending on your point of view.

Judgments are easy. Every person has them. Insights are rarer.