How Much Christopher Isherwood is Too Much Christopher Isherwood? (3 cents)

That is the question.

Having finished “Goodbye to Berlin”, I went right to “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” and read it over a two day period.  Also written in Berlin, during the 1930s, it has much the same feel of “Goodbye” (it was actually written first), but is probably not as autobiographical although the ‘hero’, William Bradshaw, is clearly Isherwood.  It is a novel, rather than a series of inter-connected stories, and follows the strange activities of an English con man, and Bolshevik double agent, Arthur Norris, who befriends Bradshaw and involves him in some of his weird, and very unkosher, undertakings.

You see Bolsheviks, and Nazis, and Germans, and English expats, and Jews.  Some of the Germans come out pretty well; none of the others do.  There was clearly a tinge of anti-Semitism in Isherwood, although not as strong as his anti-Naziism, which is somewhat off-putting, but other than that, he is a joy to read.


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