One climbed to the very top of the social ladder, the other chose to live among tramps. One was a celebrity at twenty-three, the other virtually unknown until his dying days. One was right-wing and religious, the other a socialist and an atheist. Yet, as this ingenious and important new book reveals, at the heart of their lives and writing, Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell were essentially the same man.
Orwell is best known for Animal Farm and 1984, Waugh for Brideshead Revisited and comic novels like Scoop and Vile Bodies. However different they may seem, these two towering figures of twentieth-century literature are linked for the first time in this engaging and unconventional biography, which goes beyond the story of their amazing lives to reach the core of their beliefs–a shared vision that was startlingly prescient about our own troubled times.
Both Waugh and Orwell were born in 1903, into the same comfortable stratum of England’s class-obsessed society. But at first glance they seem to have lived opposite lives. Waugh married into the high aristocracy, writing hilarious novels that captured the amoral time between the wars. He converted to Catholicism after his wife’s infidelity and their divorce. Orwell married a moneyless student of Tolkien’s who followed him to Barcelona, where he fought in the Spanish Civil War. She saved his life there–twice–but her own fate was tragic.
Waugh and Orwell would meet only once, as the latter lay dying of tuberculosis, yet as The Same Man brilliantly shows, in their life and work both writers rebelled against a modern world run by a privileged, sometimes brutal, few. Orwell and Waugh were almost alone among their peers in seeing what the future–our time–would bring, and they dedicated their lives to warning us against what was coming: a world of material wealth but few values, an existence without tradition or community or common purpose, where lives are measured in dollars, not sense. They explained why, despite prosperity, so many people feel that our society is headed in the wrong direction. David Lebedoff believes that we need both Orwell and Waugh now more than ever.
Unique in its insights and filled with vivid scenes of these two fascinating men and their tumultuous times, The Same Man is an amazing story and an original work of literary biography.
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A brief comparative study of the lives, works and attitudes of two great 20th-century authors.Hardly an original work, Lebedoff (The Uncivil War: How a New Elite is Destroying Our Democracy, 2004, etc.) offers a series of linked analyses and speculations based on information readily available in standard biographies and related works about the worlds in which both men lived and did battle. This book's premise and purpose, however, are distinctive, in that Lebedoff surveys his subjects' histories as illustrative of their essential similarity, even oneness (hence his title), despite obvious differences in personality, social standing and worldviews. Waugh was a ferociously devout Catholic, Orwell an equally impassioned anti-communist and socialist "concerned entirely with this world [while Waugh was preoccupied] with the next." Lebedoff thus compares and contrasts Waugh's celebrity-obsessed school experiences, abortive teaching career and disastrous first marriage with the stoicism exhibited by Eric Blair (before he adopted the famous nom de plume), who renounced any possibility of rising socially, joining the British civil service as a policeman stationed in Burma. Subsequently, there are juxtaposed considerations of each man's literary trials and triumphs; Waugh's misadventures in Croatia as a scandalously unconventional officer and gentleman; the increasingly tubercular Orwell's days as a Home Guard during the London Blitz; both men as husbands and fathers. Pages are filled by such risible expedients as a potted biography of the Mitford sisters, a needless summary of the overfamiliar plot of Brideshead Revisited and a labored analysis of this "masterpiece" and Orwell's 1984 as each author's grave Final Statement. Fortunately, both Orwell and Waugh are such engagingly stubborn and heroic figures that there's no resisting such deservedly well-known anecdotes as Captain Waugh's maliciously merry rumor-mongering insistence that Yugoslavia's Marshall Tito was a woman.We've heard it all before, but it's well worth hearing again. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Book Description Random House, 2008. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "Nimble and provocative."Michiko Kakutani,New York Times "The peace that Orwell and Waugh found with each other suggests a common ground for liberals and conservatives of today."Los Angeles Times "Lebedoff has pulled off a literary hat trick. It isn't possible to find two 20th-century literary peers who, at first glance, seem more different in ambition, temperament and subject matter than the authors of, respectively,1984andBrideshead Revisited(both of which have been filmed twice, including a version ofBridesheadcurrently in theaters). The connections, though, have been there all along, slipping past previous literary scholars who couldn't see beyond appearance."Arkansas Democrat-Gazette "The Same Manplaces the work of these two literary giants cheek by jowl. Comparisons are riveting, but the conclusion is dire. For as we read Orwell and Waugh's prophetic warnings we cannot help a shiver of recognition. We have created a world they would have abhorred."The Times(London) "Just the kind of book that both Waugh and Orwell, full of passion and conviction themselves, might have enjoyedor enjoyed arguing with."Wall Street Journal "The two met only once, in late August of 1949. Waugh, who had written Orwell an admiring note, visited him as Orwell lay dying. It was an act of disinterested kindness on the part of a man known more for his rudeness than for his charity. No record remains of their conversation that day. But certainly, as Lebedoff shows, they were secret sharers, and they recognized it at the last. Seen through the honest window pane of good prose, their worlds were neither high nor low but one and the same. The deepest caves are linked by secret passageways to the peaks."New York Sun "A pithy, thoughtful study of two brilliant authors who, were they alive today, might very well have ended up supping together at a faded gentlemen's club lamenting the idiocies of the modern age and what Orwell aptly termed its "smelly little orthodoxies."Toronto Star "For those wearied by doorstop biographies, this lean and urbane dual portrait is a breath of fresh air. . . . Lebedoff nimbly compares and contrasts the lives and art of these literary titans."Publishers Weekly "This thrillingly written study of two of the 20th century's great social icons will impel readers to return to their timeless works."Library Journal "Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell exemplified the brilliance of British writing in the 20th century, but we usually think of them as very different men. David Lebedoff shows how they were, in fact, quite alike in their discomfort with the modern age. This is especially reassuring to those of us who admire both of these writers."Walter Issacson, author ofEinstein: His Life and Universe "An insightful, witty, immensely readable account of two giants of English literature whose work, in very different ways, prefigured the moral and political dilemmas bedeviling our society today."Lynne Olson, author ofTroublesome Young Men From the Hardcover edition. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_1400066344
Book Description Random House, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches. New book. Pristine. Jacket not clipped. Publisher's mark to bottom text block, o/w no markings. // Shipped carefully packed in a sturdy box. Bookseller Inventory # 004983
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Book Description Random House, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 1400066344
Book Description Random House, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P111400066344