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The Same Languageby Ben Duncan
Synopses & Reviews
When Ben Duncan chronicled his evolution from a Depression-era orphan in Alabama to an Oxford educated writer and commentator in England in 1962, he was unable to tell his whole story. He revealed much--a harrowing childhood, his tenacity and drive for self-definition and self-creation. But he also hid crucial parts of his life that would remain masked for fifty years. As a gay man living in Great Britain at a time when homosexuality was aggressively prosecuted in the courts, Duncan was forced to hide an essential feature of his life and identity.
Now, in The Same Language, Duncan tells his story anew, weaving throughout his original memoir italic passages that reveal the true circumstances of his life--dire, humorous, and angry by turns--and honor the kinds of love, sexuality, and support that animated and defined his existence.
Shifting from past to present and back again, Duncan tells of growing up in a string of foster homes, joining the military, earning a scholarship to Oxford, and negotiating the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of English immigration officials determined to keep him out. But here also is Duncans account of his evolving sexuality, the many masks he was forced to contrive for survival and acceptance, and a vivid rendering of the underground world of gay life at every level of academia, politics, class, and social life in 50s and 60s-era Britain.
An alien in his adopted country, an alien by nature of his sexual orientation, Duncans story is a touching chronicle of one mans search for home--in a new country, with a man he loves, and within himself--a life no longer masked, but his own.
Ben Duncan is a writer and broadcaster based in England. He is author of the novel Little Friends and of numerous articles that have appeared in The Guardian, New Society, Punch, The Spectator, and The Times Literary Supplement.
John Howard teaches in the Department of American Studies at Kings College, University of London. He is author of the widely-acclaimed study Men Like That: A Southern Queer History and editor of Carryin On in the Lesbian and Gay South and two volumes of postwar gay literature.
In this lucid, thoughtful, and eminently readable memoir, Ben Duncan proves himself more than equal to the memoirists principal task: recreating the ambience of a lost age, while melding personal recollection with vivid portraits of other people. Having read the book, I found myself very much wanting to meet him.”--David Leavitt, author of The Body of Jonah Boyd
In The Same Language, Ben Duncan recalls his sometimes desperate childhood in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1930s and 1940s, his education at Oxford University in the early 1950s, his quiet affirmation of his sexuality as a gay man in a ferociously homophobic era, his struggles to remain in England with his life-long partner, and, eventually, his distinguished career as a British-American radio broadcaster, writer, activist, and intellectual. It is an odyssey for our times, recounted by a natural storyteller with intelligence, wit, and a rare generosity of spirit.”--Dan T. Carter, author of The Politics of Rage and Scottsboro
Ben Duncans The Same Language is a delightfully absorbing tale. I read it with real pleasure and was also intrigued at the way he simultaneously preserved the integrity of his original memoir even as he updated it. Editor John Howards superb afterword is a model of how to gracefully provide needed historical context.”--Martin Duberman, author of Paul Robeson
About the Author
Ben Duncan is a writer and broadcaster based in England. He is author of the novel Little Friends and of numerous articles that have appeared in The Guardian, New Society, Punch, The Spectator, and The Times Literary Supplement. John Howard teaches in the Department of American Studies at Kings College, University of London. He is author of the widely-acclaimed study Men Like That: A Southern Queer History and editor of Carryin On in the Lesbian and Gay South and two volumes of postwar gay literature.
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