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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 269

The themes of Andrew Sean Greer's fictional 2018 novel Less include homosexuality, the literary industry, and aging.

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The protagonist, Arthur Less, is a writer who at the novel's opening is approaching is 50th birthday. This coincides with news that his former lover, Freddy, is betrothed to marry someone else. Less is reminded of when he had been the younger lover of a poet and novelist Robert Brownburn. Less is reminded that living with Robert was less than idyllic, as Arthur himself remained in the shadows of Robert's own thriving literary career. Put off by the prospect of attending Freddy's wedding, Arthur deices to attend a series of literary events around the world.

Homosexuality is a prominent theme, not only by virtue of the protagonist being a homosexual, but (in a very metafictional stroke) because Arthur's pending novel ("Swift") is about a gay man. Arthur struggles with aging in part because he feels it especially difficult to age as a homosexual. Arthur's ambivalence at Freddy's marriage causes him to regret the modern circumstance that more and more young gays opt to get married than when Arthur was young.

The literary industry is also satirized in Greer's novel. When Arthur attends a literary reception in Italy, the panel of judges includes only all high-school-age students. He also attends many other unpaid literary events around the world, but rediscovers his love of writing when teaching a creative writing seminar in Berlin. The reader pauses to consider whether Arthur Less is a tragically common trope of a man questioning his own self-worth as an aging writer in the cut-throat and snobbish industry of literature.


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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 129

Less by Andrew Sean Greer is a work of fiction that seeks to depict the lifestyle associated with homosexuality. Homosexuality in itself could be said to be a major theme throughout the novel. Another major theme that could be categorized beneath the label "homosexuality" would be the theme of forbidden love between Arthur Less and Robert Brownburn. Another theme would be aging, as there is a significant age gap between Arthur and Robert, along with the themes of failure and...

(The entire section contains 526 words.)

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