Friday, August 15, 2008

David Lebedoff's "The Same Man"

David Lebedoff is the award-winning author of five books, including Cleaning Up, about the Exxon Valdez case, and The Uncivil War: How a New Elite Is Destroying Our Democracy.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Same Man: George Orwell & Evelyn Waugh in Love and War, and reported the following:
Page 99 may be a microcosm of most books, but can't be with mine. That's because my book, The Same Man: George Orwell & Evelyn Waugh in Love and War (Random House) is a dual biography--it's about the lives of two men, perhaps the two best writers of the twentieth century, and told in alternating chapters. And so page 99 deals with only one of them--Evelyn Waugh.

The point of the book is that despite enormous dissimilarities, they were, as the title suggests, the same man. They were united in their hatred of political correctness, their adherence to a moral code, and in admiration of each other's craftsmanship. In the things that really matter they were much the same.

But the details of their lives were fantastically different. They were both born in 1903 into the English upper middle class. And there the obvious resemblance ends. Waugh was a social climber who achieved fame early and married into the aristocracy. He was surrounded by the most glittering circle of his day. He was politically conservative, devoutly Catholic, and highly sybaritic. Orwell hated the class system and chose to live among and identify with the poor. He was an atheist and socialist. Fame came late to him, and his life was lonely and his surroundings grim.

Page 99 does suggest what Waugh's life was like. It has him partying with the rich and famous, and describes his cunning method of bullying others. Not his whole life, but an outrageous slice of it. So maybe Ford Madox Ford had something.
Learn more about The Same Man at the Random House website.

--Marshal Zeringue