An Existential Phenomenology of George as A Queer in C. Isherwood's A Single Man

Hamdi Ali Serdar


The sense of social belonging has often been difficult to resist. It is almost always the case that we get to be defined by where we prefer to belong on a social level. There appears to be, however, very little public concern for those who prefer not to belong anywhere. Individual resistance to social imperatives to fit in a particular group by the standards of sex, for example, often meets with public resistance to grant social acceptance. The resulting effect of this is usually equated with a resolute choice not to belong anywhere—that is to say, to remain unnamed, uncategorized and undefined. It is for this reason that queerness does not easily lend itself to definitions. The aim of this study is thus to demonstrate with an example from literature, namely George as the central character in Christopher Isherwood’s novel A Single Man, that queerness might as well be read from a phenomenological perspective in understanding the state of a queer being in between. Phenomenology has been chosen as the method of investigation into the way in which George as a homosexual male character can (not) relate to his environment, since it supplies ways to live an experience of someone ‘out there’ from within, rather than to make an attempt to observe the situation from afar. Central to the investigation has been a search for an answer to the question of what it is to be like George, rather than what George is like.

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