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Christopher And His Kind [Paperback]

Christopher Isherwood
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 18 2001
Originally published in 1976, Christopher and His Kind covers the most memorable ten years in the writer's life-from 1929, when Isherwood left England to spend a week in Berlin and decided to stay there indefinitely, to 1939, when he arrived in America. His friends and colleagues during this time included W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and E. M. Forster, as well as colorful figures he met in Germany and later fictionalized in his two Berlin novels-who appeared again, fictionalized to an even greater degree, in I Am a Camera and Cabaret.

What most impressed the first readers of this memoir, however, was the candor with which he describes his life in gay Berlin of the 1930s and his struggles to save his companion, a German man named Heinz, from the Nazis. An engrossing and dramatic story and a fascinating glimpse into a little-known world, Christopher and His Kind remains one of Isherwood's greatest achievements.

A major figure in twentieth-century fiction and the gay rights movement, Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) is the author of Down There on a Visit, Lions and Shadows, A Meeting by the River, The Memorial, Prater Violet, A Single Man, and The World in the Evening, all available from the University of Minnesota Press.


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Product Description

Review

“The best prose writer in English. . . . The later Isherwood is even better than the early cameraman.”
      —Gore Vidal, The New York Review of Books

“Indispensable for admirers of this truly masterly writer.”
      —Peter Stansky, The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

JAMES CLAMP is a young British actor and voiceover talent from London, England. He lives in New York.


CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD (1902-1986) lived in Berlin from 1928 to 1933 and immigrated to the United States in 1939. A major figure in 20th-century fiction and the gay rights movement, he wrote more than 20 books including the novels Prater Violet and a series of short stories, Goodbye to Berlin, that inspired the musical Cabaret.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read- rewarding for the patient Dec 12 2001
Format:Paperback
I will admit to being slightly put off by the text when I first started reading it. However, once past the unique construction of grammar and syntax, it was an enjoyable experience. I found the filter of the English class system, homosexuality and 1920's mores an interesting perspective. I would recommend reading some of Isherwood's other texts before undertaking this one as many of the stories and characters are freely referenced and revealed in a truer light. The descriptions of Germany are unique to his age and thoroughly fascinating. The story of the man he tries to save from the Nazi's is interesting, but I particularly liked the end of the novel where he broaches the future and seeking love, and true companionship. Overall I fine read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Isherwood discovers Berlin and boys Feb. 11 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Christopher Isherwood makes it clear in his introduction that this book will be candid about his homosexuality. It begins with his move to Berlin and covers the time up to his move to America. There are fascinating anecdotes: the character of Sally Bowles (later made famous by "Cabaret") was named after the then unknown but handsome American Paul Bowles. Isherwood read E.M. Forster's "Maurice" in manuscript, decades before it was published. These are just a few. And note: his "Diaries: Volume 1" begins just *after* this book (the earlier diaries were destroyed)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but a bit ponderous July 1 2011
Format:Paperback
I purchased the book after I saw the movie at a gay film festival in Toronto. At first I was intrigued but after most of what the movie had covered, I began to slowly lose interest. The details were informative but it was hard to feel any connection to the writer who is narrating his own story in the THIRD person. This creates a little distance...instead of pulling the reader in, I felt pushed out. However, if you are a Christopher Isherwood fan or you wish to know how his Berlin stories were generated, you must read this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a Kind May 5 2003
By Aaron
Format:Paperback
This book is one of a kind....brilliant, great, adventurous, a classic. Words do not describe it. Isherwood lays evertything on the table. He shows all his cards. This is one of the most exciting books I've ever read. I'm a college student and I skipped all of the ten thousand other books I have to read in order to read this one. It was not a waste of time. Once you get into this book it's a blast. The best part is following Isherwood across Europe. If you want the definitive feeling about the Modern Era read this book. You will get to know such characters as EM Forster, W.H. Auden, and Virginia Woolfe.....Gee, ever heard of them? This is the last great classic Isherwood wrote. I was so entranced by the words that I stayed up all night to finnish it. It's defintiely on my all time favorite list.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Literary Memoir Dec 5 2006
By profile - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've just finished reading Christopher Isherwood's beautiful little memoir of the years 1929 to 1939, Christopher and His Kind. The personalities that Isherwood surrounded himself with, both little and well-known, provide much of the book's content. Isherwood, with wonderful candor, discusses his meetings and relationships with such luminaries as E.M. Forster, Stephen Spender, W.H. Auden and Rosamond Lehmann. The lesser-known figures, such as the dazzling aesthete Brian Howard, and Gerald Hamilton, a sort of shady internationalist and editor, are just as fascinating. Possessing a gift for anecdote and a deeply sympathetic personality, Isherwood's renderings of his contemporaries are a joy to read and always ring true. The book has occasionally dark themes, especially those surrounding the political milieu of the time and the rising tensions in Europe. As we relive Isherwood's life during these years, we share his sense of impending doom. Isherwood's lover, Heinz, is actually arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo and was later forced to fight on the Russian front (an experience which he miraculously survived). Isherwood's treatment of homosexuality is matter-of-fact; he never seems to have felt guilt or pain over it, but rather early on in his life felt that it was sort of a personal game for he and his friends. During the course of the book, however, he is forced to develop an increasing consciousness of being a member of an unwieldy 'tribe' of gays that extends far beyond his small personal world. At first, it seems like Isherwood is going to write in the third person, but he continually lapses back and forth between the first and the third, an effect which is slightly bewildering but doesn't really effect the book negatively. Christopher and His Kind provides a near perfect picture of literary and gay life of the Europe of the thirties.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How kind of Isherwood April 8 2005
By B. Morse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
To reveal a more candid portrait of his life between 1929 and 1939.

Christopher and His Kind explores the real story behind his travels back and forth from England to Germany, and the people and events that influenced his life during this decade of time.

Having first read 'Down there on a Visit', which draws experiences and people from this time in his life as it's foundation, it was amusing to read the 'real' story behind certain characters and situations described in the former novel.

Isherwood is far more frank about his homosexuality, and his encounters with other males, in this book, which can also be attributed to the time period in which this was written, being the 1970's, which definitely saw a more liberal attitude emerging than in the 50's, and 60's. But at the same time, he never seems 'graphic' or overindulgent in his descriptiveness. A sense of propriety and discretion carries throughout.

The only off-putting aspect of this novel to me, which lists many of Isherwoods contemporaries and friends, including Wystan Auden, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, and more, is that Isherwood in many, many instances refers to himself in the third person, as Christopher, and then immediately switches to first person, 'me'....which is a bit confusing. It reminded me of another book by an 'autobiographical' author, Edmund White (The Married Man) in which White switches from his usual first-person narrative to a third person narrative, leaving me with the impression that he found himself unable to record the events described as anything but an outsider, or observer. I wonder if perhaps the same is true with Isherwood?

Regardless, this book delves deep into his travels, and interactions with his friends and family. Also described are his days with a long-term love and travel companion, and the lengths Isherwood went to for this young man. The book hints at much more to come with the ending words, which is by far my favorite 'line' out of the four Isherwood works I have read...knowing what he is refering to....but I won't give it away.

An excellent read, and entertaining to any fan of this gifted author, to know more about his life and times.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Isherwood discovers Berlin and boys Feb. 10 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Christopher Isherwood makes it clear in his introduction that this book will be candid about his homosexuality. It begins with his move to Berlin and covers the time up to his move to America. There are fascinating anecdotes: the character of Sally Bowles (later made famous by "Cabaret") was named after the then unknown but handsome American Paul Bowles. Isherwood read E.M. Forster's "Maurice" in manuscript, decades before it was published. These are just a few. And note: his "Diaries: Volume 1" begins just *after* this book (the earlier diaries were destroyed)
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a Kind May 5 2003
By Aaron - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is one of a kind....brilliant, great, adventurous, a classic. Words do not describe it. Isherwood lays evertything on the table. He shows all his cards. This is one of the most exciting books I've ever read. I'm a college student and I skipped all of the ten thousand other books I have to read in order to read this one. It was not a waste of time. Once you get into this book it's a blast. The best part is following Isherwood across Europe. If you want the definitive feeling about the Modern Era read this book. You will get to know such characters as EM Forster, W.H. Auden, and Virginia Woolfe.....Gee, ever heard of them? This is the last great classic Isherwood wrote. I was so entranced by the words that I stayed up all night to finnish it. It's defintiely on my all time favorite list.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read- rewarding for the patient Dec 12 2001
By "rihock" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I will admit to being slightly put off by the text when I first started reading it. However, once past the unique construction of grammar and syntax, it was an enjoyable experience. I found the filter of the English class system, homosexuality and 1920's mores an interesting perspective. I would recommend reading some of Isherwood's other texts before undertaking this one as many of the stories and characters are freely referenced and revealed in a truer light. The descriptions of Germany are unique to his age and thoroughly fascinating. The story of the man he tries to save from the Nazi's is interesting, but I particularly liked the end of the novel where he broaches the future and seeking love, and true companionship. Overall I fine read.
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