º Read ↠´ The Berlin Stories: Mr Norris Changes Trains / Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood À Whilst I wasn t quite fanciful enough to expect Liza Minnelli and the Kit Kat Klub to be lurking among these pages, I did expect something a bitwell,For me, the power of The Berlin Novels lies solely in the combined temporal and geographical setting the glittering metropolis of Berlin in the heady tail end of Weimar Germany It was a place of ostentation, sexual deviance and poverty but desperate to reassert itself as an important modern city on the comeback from defeat and hyperinflation All the while it was teetering on the brink of destruction the Nazis and the Communists battled it out for power, shootings and riots were a normal occurrence and unemployment was rife What makes this novel so especially contextually fascinating is that it s a thinly disguised first hand account of not only the hedonism Excellent account of author s experience in Weimer s Germany the start of Hitler s reign.
I find a lot of my books after hearing about them on OTR, generally when I hear the book adaption presented on these older radio shows I was first introduced to Christopher Isherwood this way had no idea that he wrote the book behind the the theatrical I Am a Camera 1951 Cabaret Broadway musical 1966 film 1972 Prater Violet was portrayed on OTR but I decided on The Berlin Stories first since it sounded really interesting I also have other works of his younger years on my to read list on Goodreads Isherwood was an Englishman who later became a naturalized American citizen born in 1904, so he was in his twenties when he was living in the Weimar Republic Isherwood was a homosexual it is interesting how he mentions some friends being gay but he only jokingly mentioned this Mr Norris Change Trains The First Of Christopher Isherwood S Classic Berlin Novels, This Portrays The Encounter And Growing Friendship Between Young William Bradshaw And The Urbane And Mildly Sinister Mr Norris Piquant, Witty And Oblique, It Vividly Evokes The Atmosphere Of Pre War Berlin, And Forcefully Conveys An Ironic Political Parable Goodbye To Berlin The Inspiration For The Stage And Screen Musical Cabaret And For The Play I Am A Camera, This Novel Remains One Of The Most Powerful Of The Century, A Haunting Evocation Of The Gathering Storm Of The Nazi Terror Told In A Series Of Wry, Detached And Impressionistic Vignettes, It Is An Unforgettable Portrait Of Bohemian Berlin A City And A World On The Very Brink Of Ruin UPDATE Aug 2106 tried again just as boring After starting with great expectations, I found The Berlin Stories to be incredibly boring The GR reviews of the book were farinteresting for me than the book itself I guess I like character development as an adjunct to a plot, but not so much all by itself I found no reason to care about the characters and the minutia of their lives, no matter how well described they were A pity, since so much was happening in Germany in the time period of the stories early to mid 1930s Hope I haven t hurt anyone s feelings.
I m reading this alongside Isherwood s memoir, Christopher and His Kind for an upcoming column on the film Cabaret So you might say I m getting all the ins and outs of Weimar Germany, and set to music, no less slaps own cheek Did I say that Isherwood s writing is so delightful, his characters so well drawn and his portrait of Berlin so fascinating that you almost miss the despair, particularly in Sally Bowles It s hard to read that story without seeing Liza Minelli in your mind s eye and hearing the soundtrack from the musical running through your head This isn t to say that there weren t dark elements in the movie, but they re not quite the same dark elements that Isherwood was working with in the 1930s, when he wrote The Berlin Stories This was again a new author for me and I found I quite enjoyed reading this The first of the novellas the Last of Mr Norris reminded me very much of Travels with My Aunt Mr Norris who our narrator a version of Isherwood meets on a train is a reprobate, and his dealings and connections , almost always dubious But our narrator takes to him in a sense and finds himself amidst sometimes as a mere observer, but at othersinvolved Norris life and friends all with varying degrees of eccentricity as Norris drifts from periods of relative luxury to penury, to places seedy or politically charged, but mostly from trouble to trouble which seems to follow no matter where he goes His adventures and misadventures are colourful, at times not particularly appealing, at others somewhat funny, but you can t help but also feel I fell in love with Isherwood earlier this year when I read A Single Man So I couldn t resist when the book club chose The Berlin Stories Even though I was vastly overcommitted I did it anyway And I m glad.
It s not as dark as so much pre WWII writing is That s because most pre WWII writing was written post WWII and takes a look at the oncoming darkness head on With Isherwood it really seeps in so slowly you don t notice.
It is a very youthful book, full of the kind of blase naivete that isn t anything like innocence It is full of prostitutes, pimps, criminals and communists It was one of the few times I wasn t annoyed out of my mind by a non entity narrator Perhaps because the rotating cast of characters are so inter The Berlin Stories is a collection of two Isherwood novellas set in Berlin in the early 1930s While enjoyable and light, both stories have great depth because they contain an almost hidden background of Hitler s rise to power.
While I enjoyed the first novella Mr Norris Changes Trains for its characterization and rather unexpected ending, it is the second novella I love In Goodbye to Berlin, Isherwood masterfully uses dialogue to tell the story of the lively, erratic, optimistic Sally Bowles In fact, as I read, I continually found myself with a silly smile on my face If you liked Lisa Minnelli in Cabaret, you will love this book Minnelli was the perfect choice for the role.
Highly recommended reading English author, Christopher Isherwood, intended to write a lengthy novel set in Berlin between the two world wars Thankfu
Recently, I have had some interesting reading experiences with book choices for one of my Goodreads groups, Reading the 20th Century A recent read was Dorothy Whipple s, Someone at a Distance, which I initially thought would be boring, but found that I loved Meanwhile, on paper, The Berlin Novels, looked like the type of book which would appeal to me After all, despite the fact that I have watched virtually no films all the way through, I have seen, and enjoyed, Cabaret, which was taken from Isherwood s novellas Indeed, pre war Berlin is a delightful, literary place to spend time The sort of place where you can imagine Bernie Gunther propping up the bar at the Adlon, his eye on a pretty blonde and a nice, cool drink in his hand Therefore, it is doubly disappointing that I really didn t warm to this at all.
The first novella in thi Two novels in one, although the second novel is a collection of loosely connected stories A series of character portraits, exaggerated personalities, and all the color and clamor of a Weimar cabaret But all of this is made bittersweet with the knowledge that the Nazis would begin to consume all in their path by 1933.