Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood

I read this as a teenager and don’t think I then had the cultural capital – the access to the language, tonalities, frames of reference – to understand GOODBYE TO BERLIN. It seems magnificent to me now: the characterisation, the description of places, the shifts in narration, the comedy and the critique; with Nazism structured into the stories and their ordering in the volume so that by the end they have invaded all areas of life in Berlin. I may have to revisit his other major works and see if my experience of them match my memory.

Gregory Woods has pointed out to me that this is the edition that, ‘  speaks of a “gay couple” on the back cover, which drives a steamroller over all of Isherwood’s daringly ambiguous restraint’. It is:

It is that edition and it would certainly be reductive  and inaccurate to describe Otto as ‘gay’. Still that’s a problem with the production of this particular edition — which I otherwise really love; the novel feels lovely to hold — rather than the novel itself.

PS: Now reading Christopher and His KInd where Isherwood says that Mr. Norris is based on Gerald Hamilton and that ‘MR. NORRIS fails to reveal what was the most enduring bond between Gerald and Christopher, their homosexuality.’ … so my intuition wasn’t wrong.

José Arroyo

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