The Same Language
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 Duncan's 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, Duncan's story is a touching chronicle of one man's 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 King's 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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