Christopher Isherwood wrote several books about his experiences in the 1930s, including his Berlin Stories. The book has a definite "meta-" quality, in the sense that he uses "Christopher" to describe himself in the 1930s, "I" to describe himself in the present, and "Isherwood" to describe the narrator of Berlin Stories. We also see his private life, which (not to put too fine a point on it) revolves around twinks, specifically 16-17 year-old boys.
if i do come across gay characters set in this period, i'm used to them being deeply repressed and thoroughly self-hating, often torn between family/duty and love - it was refreshing to read that here it wasn't really the case. in all of the books of his i've read so far, you get a real sense of isherwood having lived each moment through what he could later write about it - placing himself as a character ('christopher') in his own autobiography is an extension of that.
Frank, and beautifully written, however I was less captivated than I'd expected Immediately prior to reading "Christopher and His Kind" by Christopher Isherwood I read, and really enjoyed, "Mr Norris Changes Trains, so I was excited to find out more about Christopher Isherwoods life during the 1930s. I hoped "Christopher and His Kind would provide new insights into both Berlin in the 1930s and, in particular, the events related in "Mr Norris Changes Trains".
Isherwood fills my mind and heart with his intelligence, serenity and pure literate swooning (poising over young boys- excuse the pun, without being irritating or disgusting in the detail). What I mean to say is this, for me, Isherwood, as with Wilde, Gibson (and other gay writers) fills my heart with this sense that, 'we are not alone'. The topsellers among teenagers in recent years (The Hunger Games, Twilight etc.) have followed 'straight' relationships, rather than the rational, and oh-so-common notion that some of their readers may in fact be GAY.
So many things I loved about this book- 1. 2. I had previously read "The Berlin Stories" and loved the way in which he described the "fictional" characters.
Rather, I was constantly drawn to the formal quality of rewritingof Isherwood very consciously revisiting events that had found their way into his autobiographical writing over the years, and then later attempting to set the record straight about them.
It's fascinating to read this alongside the fictional account he gives in the Berlin Novels and the even more fictionalised Cabaret film.
In 1925, Isherwood was asked to leave Cambridge University after writing joke answers on his second-year exams. Neddermeyer was refused entry to England on his second visit in 1934, and the pair moved restlessly about Europe until they were finally separated when Neddermeyer was arrested by the Gestapo in May 1937. They returned to England and Isherwood went on to Hollywood to look for movie-writing work. He decided not to take monastic vows, but he remained a Hindu for the rest of his life, serving, praying, and lecturing in the temple every week and writing a biography, Ramakrishna and His Disciples (1965). Isherwood wrote another novel, A Meeting by the River (1967), about two brothers, but he gave up writing fiction and turned entirely to autobiography. In Christopher and His Kind (1976), he returned to the 1930s to tell, as a publicly avowed homosexual, the real story of his life in Berlin and his wanderings with Heinz Neddermeyer.