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A Good Place To Start

The Berlin Stories 1


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Categorization is odious. There is tremendous overlap among genres. These pigeonholes are offered only as a convenience.

Christopher Isherwood (1904 - 1986)

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vitawallace January 12th, 2007 07:59 AM PST

Christopher Isherwood's fiction and autobiography blend into each-other seamlessly, which leads to some funny confusions, for example in one book he has a female character write a book with the same title as one of his own novels. I was completely captivated by his style and particularly enjoyed the stories about Mr. Norris, many of which are incorporated into The Berlin Stories, and the parts of Lions and Shadows about his years at Cambridge completely wrapped up in an imaginary Gothic world he shared with a friend. I also loved his description of working as the secretary of a string quartet after his willful failure at the university. Both of these books could be called semi-autobiographical....

The stories about Sally Bowles which were first published separately are also now collected in The Berlin Stories. They reminded me too much of Breakfast at Tiffany's, but they are charming.


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Christopher Isherwood was born in the northwest of England, and spent his childhood in various towns where his father was stationed. After his father was killed in the First World War, he settled with his mother in London.

At Repton school he met his lifelong friend Edward Upward, with whom he wrote the extravgant "Mortmere" stories, of which only one was published during his lifetime (a few others appeared after his death) He deliberately failed his tripos and left Cambridge without a degree In 1925. For the next few years he lived in the home of the violinist André Mangeot while working as the secretary for Mangeot's string quartet; he wrote a book of nonsense poems, People One Ought to Know (not published until 1982), with illustrations by Mangeot's eleven-year-old son Sylvain.

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