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The American Isherwood$
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James J. Berg and Chris Freeman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816683611

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816683611.001.0001

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Working through Grief in the Drafts of A Single Man

Working through Grief in the Drafts of A Single Man

(p.37) 3 Working through Grief in the Drafts of A Single Man
The American Isherwood

Carola M. Kaplan

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines how Christopher Isherwood worked through grief while writing multiple drafts of the novel that was to become A Single Man. Isherwood wrote the drafts during a particularly turbulent period in his relationship with his lover Don Bachardy, in which a breakup seemed imminent. In these drafts, he recounts a journey from shock to resignation, as he contemplates the loss of his beloved life partner. Engaging in an artistic process that parallels the psychoanalytic process Sigmund Freud alludes to in “Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through,” Isherwood proceeds from pain and incomprehension through an increasing understanding of personal crisis and novelistic potential to ultimate insight and artistic realization. In contemplating the loss of love, Isherwood recalls and works through multiple previous losses—the loss of innocence, of homeland, of youth. Thus he comes to confront the ultimate loss, that of life itself.

Keywords:   loss, love, Christopher Isherwood, grief, drafts, A Single Man, Don Bachardy, Sigmund Freud, pain, personal crisis

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