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The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War Hardcover – August 5, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For those wearied by doorstop biographies, this lean and urbane dual portrait is a breath of fresh air. As lawyer and writer Lebedoff (Cleaning Up) makes clear, on the surface no two British writers could be more different. Evelyn Waugh was a loud convert to Catholicism, an even louder social climber and very much a man of Empire. George Orwell (Eric Blair) could best be described as a long-suffering atheistic humanist, a utopian socialist and dreamer. Waugh succeeded early; Orwell was an obscure polemicist until his masterpieces Animal Farm and 1984, which were written at the end of his life. But both men were born the same year (1903) and came from the same class. They admired each other's writing and moral courage, says Lebedoff, and finally met six months before the bed-ridden Orwell's death in 1950. Both men, the author says, rejected not only the immorality of dictators in their own time but the moral relativism they foresaw in the future. Aside from a slightly rambling chapter of summation, Lebedoff nimbly compares and contrasts the lives and art of these literary titans. 8 pages of photos. (Aug. 5)
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From The New Yorker

George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh met on only one occasion, in 1949; neither man kept a record of what happened, and perhaps the only certain outcome of the meeting is the existence of this idiosyncratic book. Offering an appreciation of two writers typically seen as opposites, Lebedoff strives for neither biographical nor critical comprehensiveness. He argues that both were essentially anti-modernist�Waugh a nostalgic moralist and Orwell a prophetic idealist�and therefore, in a sense, �the same man.� It�s a tenuous thesis that is not well served by Lebedoff�s method; his treatment of Waugh as a gifted stylist and Orwell as a truth-peddler tends to underscore rather than challenge their dissimilarities. Still, Lebedoff affirms his odd couple�s cultural relevance, using their writing as a lens to scrutinize everything from political correctness to the dangers of e-mail.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066344
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066346
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,473,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Lebedoff's thematic portrait of Messrs. Orwell (Blair) and Waugh is commendable for the true power of ideas and how they are used in the hands of masters---in a book remarkable in it's brevity. I would tend to agree with another reviewer that Mr. Lebedoff over-reaches (just a bit) when he describes these two remarkable men as the "greatest" of their generation----which is, of course, subjective (Lewis has my vote as being in their company). Nonetheless, this small volume is a magnificent contribution to our era of "political correctness" and the breath-taking lack of diverse intellectual inquiry at the university. Mr. Lebedoff correctly concludes that these two men, Orwell and Waugh, while vastly different were one in concluding that "modernity" holds much peril for the essential moral foundation on which Western civilization precariously rests.
A few quotes jumped off the page:

"What they had most in common was a hatred of moral relativism. They both believed that morality is absolute, though they defined and applied it differently. But each believed with all his heart, brain, and soul that there were such things as moral right and moral wrong, and that these were not subject to changes in fashion. Moral relativism was, in fact, the gravest of sins. Everything else they believed in common flowed from this basic perception."

"They opposed totalitarianism, period, and they opposed it with all their hearts...What both believed---their core, who they are---was that individual freedom mattered more than anything else on earth and reliance on tradition was the best way to maintain it."

"Their most fundamental concern was that the Modern Age would strip human beings of their humanity.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Same Man" is a winning dual biography of George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, two giants of 20th century English prose. Apart from the book's frequently witty and consistently lucid style, perhaps its most memorable feature is its unusual thesis. Its author, David Lebedoff, claims that the two distinguished writers, often thought of as polar opposites of Left Wing and Right, had more important features in common than differences. While it's true, for example, that the Catholic Tory Waugh was a social upstart and the socialist Orwell a sort of "downstart," both men at the same time were serious moralists who shared a detestation of then fashionable moral relativism. Each had a firm belief in right and wrong and an unwavering commitment to that all-important common sense and individual freedom, high among the worthiest features of English tradition. When large segments of the British intelligentsia, for instance, were infected with a spirit of capitulation and all agog over whether wisdom lay in supporting Hitler or Stalin, both Orwell and Waugh made clear their open and intense disdain for the two dictators. Similarly, if Waugh sucked up to the titled classes, his novels are nevertheless filled with mockery of the frequent emptiness of the lives of such worldlings, as Orwell himself might have suggested. Similarly, Orwell, for all his left-leaning, was a severe critic of Stalin and a bitter foe of communism long before most British movers and shakers had to admit that "the god ...[had] failed." Waugh, a believer in the supreme importance of the afterlife, could have suggested that Orwell adopt such a gimlet-eyed view toward all other merely political attempts to improve the human condition as he'd demonstrated here.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Viscount Bolingbroke

One of the pleasures of wandering through a brick-and-mortar bookstore is the opportunity to stumble across a marvelous book quite by chance. Such was the case with David Lebedoff's small but substantial "The Same Man". A dual biography of George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, "The Same Man" proposes to show that for all their external differences Orwell and Waugh were essentially two sides of the same coin. I thought this a difficult almost impossible task. I was wrong. Lebedoff's thesis is a compelling one and one he supports with both substance and no small amount of charm.

Lebedoff's Prologue sets out the external difference between Waugh and Orwell in a compelling manner. He takes a night in June 1930. It is one in which Waugh attends a grand dinner party in London thrown by the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. That same night, Lebedoff takes us to Leeds where Eric Blair/Orwell sits working in a shabby ill-lit room. To his friends and family Orwell was considered a sponger and a failure. As the narrative continues, Lebedoff points to the various other external differences between the men. Waugh seems to wish for nothing more than an opportunity (via marriage if need be) to turn his blood as blue as possible. His drive to insinuate himself into the upper reaches of Britain's aristocracy was obsessive. Orwell's path of downward mobility was as driven and as seemingly obsessive as Waugh's. Waugh was religious, a convert to Catholicism, and his faith deepened as the years went on. Orwell was secular and was as committed to his secular view of the world as possible. Their writing was also markedly different.
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