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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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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 01 July 2022

Ford Does Isherwood

Ford Does Isherwood

(p.79) 6 Ford Does Isherwood
The American Isherwood

Kyle Stevens

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines what Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel A Single Man becomes for 2009, how it remembers gay identity in the early 1960s, and how it imagines the “epistemology of the closet” for its current moment’s sexual politics—a pivotal moment when gay and lesbian citizens live between cultural acknowledgment and acceptance. In particular, it analyzes fashion designer Tom Ford’s film adaptation of A Single Man and how it thinks back on the novel, how it reflects its own historical moment, and what the intersection of those coordinates locates. Before discussing how Ford takes up Isherwood’s meanings and transforms them in and for the cinema, the chapter considers how the movie was immediately understood, for its reception speaks to the persistence of stereotypes about gay men that the film seeks to undermine. It argues that the heart of the political matter in Ford’s film is the acknowledgment of love, not just the validation of sexual desire for “deviant” object choices.

Keywords:   novel, Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man, epistemology of the closet, sexual politics, Tom Ford, film adaptation, stereotypes, gay men, love

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