In one person

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In one person ( 2012 original title: In One Person , German translation Hans M. Herzog and Astrid Arz; 2012) is the 13th novel by John Irving . The main themes of the work are on the one hand undetermined gender identities , on the other hand different varieties of heterosexuality , homosexuality and bisexuality as well as tolerance and respect for these phenomena.

The title comes from Shakespeare's Richard III. , in which the imprisoned title hero says:

Thus play I in one person many people, and none contented.


Bill Abbott grew up in a small town in Vermont after World War II . His environment includes a homosexual father who has disappeared, his grandfather, who only plays female roles at the local amateur theater, and a stepfather whom he raves about. Miss Frost, the cocky librarian, is also his crush, as is the attractive wrestler Jaques Kittredge and the school's pronunciation coach, who is also the mother of his friend Elaine. Numerous figures from his youth remain formative for Bill's later life.

He already knew as a boy that he wanted to be a writer . After coming out , Bill goes to Europe , moves to New York , lives briefly in Los Angeles , visits Europe again, and finds his way back to New York and Vermont. The big turning point in his biography is the AIDS epidemic , which in the novel hits homosexual men out of the blue in the 80s and 90s and dramatically reduces it.


"In one person" was rated as a pageturner in 2012 due to its sometimes drastic descriptions of sexuality and illness. The reviews deal with the typical Irving setting of family, bizarre characters, bears, the sport of wrestling , the mad aria of Lucia and a stay in Vienna .

The New York Review of Books certifies the novel "brutal humanism" and the protagonist narcissism .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ William Shakespeare: Richard III. 5th act, 5th scene .
  2. Bernd Graff: Declaration of love to life. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. November 18, 2012, accessed November 15, 2019 .
  3. Hündür Erikson: In a person - John Irving (2012). In: September 9, 2019, accessed November 15, 2019 .
  4. ^ Charles Baxter: Brute Force ... Humanism. In: The New York Review of Books. Rea Hederman, July 12, 2012, accessed November 16, 2019 .