Journal Article

On ‘The Problem of the Religious Novel’: Christopher Isherwood and <i>A Single Man</i>

Victor Marsh

in Literature and Theology

Volume 24, issue 4, pages 378-396
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online November 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI:
On ‘The Problem of the Religious Novel’: Christopher Isherwood and A Single Man

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Dating from his conversion to Vedanta in 1939, the writings of British expatriate Christopher Isherwood’s California period offer testimony of a life engaged with spiritual inquiry and praxis pursued over more than four decades, yet texts from this period are either ignored or dismissed by critics intent on maintaining the standard view of the writer. Isherwood theorised the writing of religion in his essay ‘The Problem of the Religious Novel’, yet it is in the least overtly religious text, A Single Man,1 where the influence of his training in the Ramakrishna Vedanta tradition is seamlessly integrated. Moreover, the impact of Vedanta teaching (particularly in its Advaitist formulation) on Isherwood’s textual personae, his experiments with first-person point of view, his interrogation of the problematics of writing religion and a sustained engagement with a religious praxis not based on a repudiation of his sexuality, are all contributing to a third wave of interest in this controversial writer today.

Journal Article.  8177 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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