In his recent dual biography, The Same Man, David Lebedoff takes on two men who represent opposite sides of the same coin: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. Both used their prose to dice up the society they lived in, although from two different perspectives. Orwell chose to live amongst and write about the working classes and the frontline of the Spanish Civil War. Waugh climbed the social ladder to rub elbows with nobility. While Orwell used his incisive observations as his primary weapon, Waugh more often chose to use sly wit and parody. This bi-biography reveals as much about the time in which these two literary giants lived and their prescience about the time that would follow as it does about their individual lives. Lebedoff tells these two stories with a quick-moving and funny narrative that honors the best of both men without being hagiographic. When Waugh joins The Hypocrites Club at Oxford, the biographer describes "the drunken majority vote for Waugh as secretary. No minutes were ever taken." Lebedoff offers an insightful interpretation of these two figures that is even interesting and accessible enough for those who might be reluctant to place a literary biography at the top of their "to read" list.
Thu., Aug. 14, 7 p.m., 2008