Goodbye to Berlin

Goodbye to Berlin First Published In , Goodbye To Berlin Has Been Popularized On Stage And Screen By Julie Harris In I Am A Camera And Liza Minelli In Cabaret Isherwood Magnificently Captures Berlin Charming, With Its Avenues And Caf S Marvelously Grotesque, With Its Nightlife And Dreamers Dangerous, With Its Vice And Intrigue Powerful And Seedy, With Its Mobs And Millionaires This Was The Period When Hitler Was Beginning His Move To Power Goodbye To Berlin Is Inhabited By A Wealth Of Characters The Unforgettable And Divinely Decadent Sally Bowles Plump Fra Lein Schroeder, Who Considers Reducing Her B Steto Relieve Her Heart Palpitations Peter And Otto, A Gay Couple Struggling To Come To Terms With Their Relationship And The Distinguished And Doomed Jewish Family The Landauers

Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen writer, autobiographer, and diarist He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privile

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  • Paperback
  • 206 pages
  • Goodbye to Berlin
  • Christopher Isherwood
  • English
  • 15 August 2017
  • 9780811220248

10 thoughts on “Goodbye to Berlin

  1. says:

    I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking p.1 I catch sight of my face in the mirror of a shop, and am horrified to see that I am smiling You can t help smiling, in such beautiful weather The trams are going up and down the Kleiststrasse, just as usual They, and the people on the pavement, and the tea cosy cosy dome of the Nollendorfplatz station have an air of a curious familiarity, of striking resemblance to something one remembers as normal and pleasant in the past like a very good photograph No Even now I can t altogether believe that any of this really happened p.252 So the idea of a camera and of photography frames this little book, my first thought was no, you are not a camera, nor can you be any such assertion always giving rising to the opposite thought But it seems a key idea the author pretends he is not the author just a camera, and his stories just photographs, instantly we wonder why does he pretend not to be human, to be a device And recall that even a camera has to be pointed and clicked, the film wound on, even if there isn t a photographer, there must be a person who sets up the camera trap and that implies any number of conscious and unconscious decisions A photograph we know isn t always just a true image, it can be manipulated in various ways The camera decided to be in Berlin, to arrive in 1930 and to leave in 1933 The negatives are only finally developed in 1939, reading the stories one notices that they intersect each other, time has been sacrificed to preserve unity of place, the illusion of a camera present at one location taking a picture, and then we can inspect the scenes captured by the camera in so far as they are careful staged and arranged of posers the whole thing is about performance the book is a game between ideas of theatre and veracity.I think we can easily say that Isherwood is trying to hide behind the image of the camera and a theme is him playing hide and seek with the reader, he tells us about his life and experiences and yet tries to hide from our view Some clues as to why occur early on in the third paragraph he talks of the boys whistling to their girlfriends to let them in, he doesn t like this because eventually a whistle so piercing, so insistent, so despairingly human, that at last I have to get up and peep through the slats of the Venetian blind to make quite sure that it is not as I know very well it could not possibly be for me p.2 The man desires to be treated by a young man as his girlfriend A transgression of sexuality and class and nation too, if you are of patriotic inclinations We might understand then why he might hide from his 1939 audience, but then we have to wonder why he reveals so much, this isn t a strip tease, a compulsive taking off and putting back on the same garment.My reaction was to imagine that what Isherwood needed was Earnest Hemingway, specifically in Spain, as I recall from Death in the Afternoon Hemingway was obsessed with men having sex with men he sees it everywhere from the paintings of El Greco to a pair of Americans in a Paris Hotel, with Hemingway providing the Gaydar surely Isherwood would be cosy in another man s arms in no time, but no, this was a false conclusion for in the 15th paragraph, just pages 5 into 6 ,we have the Herr Rittmeister, the riding master who specialises in riding women, overturning the coffee cups as he does so staining the wallpaper with coffee allegedly One has a sense of Isherwood as ambivalent about sexuality, he desires to be desired, and to hear his boyfriend whistling for him from the street, at the same time he is a camera in the zoo, photographing the uncontrollable animal behaviours of the non cameras, the humans Separate from them, safe from emotional involvement.Indeed later Otto is described as an animal, but Isherwood observes the good effects the animal behaviour has on Peter Wilkinson, but also Peter s descent into jealousy whenever Otto looks at a woman, or a poster Sexual life may have its satisfactions, but Isherwood appears to fear the power of the emotions, I wonder if in part this is because Peter Wilkinson and Sally Bowles are alter egos of Isherwood rather than real people No doubt the fanciful utterance of a sick person and the relationship between Isherwood and those others not so direct, though when Sally Bowles says that painting her toe nails makes her feel sensual I imagine Isherwood admires her open sensuality, Wilkinson in counterpoint to her is a warning, if you step into a sexual life this is what you ll become a jealous obsessive Perhaps because of this the book reminded me of the film La Dolce Vita, which is anything but to its protagonists the politics of the two works is also similar Here in the legendary hedonistic last years of the Weimar republic no one seems to be having a good time.The same triad repeats itself through the book in politics there is communism, Hitler, or indifference passing on by while wringing the hands Since Isherwood is a camera, we might expect him to take the third choice and indeed that is the best description of his inactions During the Sally Bowles chapter Isherwood observes the funeral procession for Social democracy pass under his window after this he begins to describe himself as a socialist, by extension associating himself with a dead cause, later he is described as a communist, this defined as a belief in equality, and as an anti fascist So we ask if the camera is not ideologically neutral, but in fact ideologically committed, do a series of pictures of Berlin s demi monde and scrapers and strivers barely keeping their heads above water, some of whom support Hitler, most of whom are politically uncommitted amount to a political picture There is an implicit warning, if you don t take sides, you don t get to choose and eventually you ll be discussing the nature of death by natural causes pp.222 224 If you re not involved in politics , politics will involve itself with you This this emphasised by the visit to the Reformatory, the boys there can see through the windows their options for their future life, the prison or the factory And the factory has closed down They aren t locked in because where can they run to The borstal is a social service, a refuge from home life Isn t there a kind of natural instinct for freedom Isherwood asks, there is, but the boys soon lose it p.239 This appears to be a political commentary, given the choice between work or concentration camps people will be quiet and quickly accept the loss of freedom, and writing in 1939 plainly there are international implications to this Peace is indivisible, as Molotov said, without a cocktail in his hand.Why, I wondered did Isherwood stay so long in Berlin he doesn t seem to have liked it, not even the gay bar and the nightclub, but then the whole book comes down to performance and staging, the art of being a photographer perhaps is in knowing when to take a picture, and I suspect at some point he is staying to collect stories At the Nowak s he writes of working on a novel about unhappy people in a large country house with unearned incomes while living among unhappy people in a small rented apartment where there is Kein Auskommen mit dem Einkommen, no outcome with this income, one can imagine that at some point the pfenning dropped.The politics was nicely handled, the Nazi presence builds up and with the eruption of the Americans into the Queer club we sense that the Nazis are street theatre, they are just another form of performance, carefully staged, while in the background is the succession of unsuccessful chancellors as the political process grinds towards failure.It is a much miserable and alienated work than I had imagined it might be But then I suppose when a person aspires to being a camera, what can one expect view spoiler 1930 1939distance, framing, observing, alienationsexuality, identity alter egos, politics, locationpresentation, is anything real The reformatry hide spoiler

  2. says:

    The author prefers introspection to action in this novel fed by his own memories He positions himself as a cameraman and simply observes the characters and graciously unfolds their stories while sharing their daily lives.In a historic pre war period marked by the financial crisis and drastic changes from calm before the storm, Christopher Isherwood weaves a subtle story, colorful and poetic.Funny anecdotes, blows of fate, disillusionment, fears, Berlin saw his last moments of recklessness before the arrival of the Nazis in power.Built on an art of nuance, Christopher Isherwood relies on empathy, lucidity of looks and the ability to capture collective history in unique destinies offering us a rare and valuable book.

  3. says:

    Even now I can t altogether believe that any of this has really happened But it did happen All of it Although the Goodbye to Berlin is only semi autobiographic it gives a fine picture of Berlin between wars The poor staying poor, the rich getting richer, the intellectuals turning communists and the working class looking for a strong leader to set everything right.In between the class struggle is Herr Christoph , a foreigner, an upcoming writer, teaching English to spoiled upper class kids for a penny and once in a while free riding in high society.It s not that easy to make a lasting impression as a writer in your threadbare clothes and old shoes, when your last and only novel sold just 5 copies.So why are you here, Herr Christoph To find myself , seems to be the answer To get away from the bonds of English aristocracy, explore my true nature, and not least my sexuality But I m also here to observe I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed And the observations are nothing but sublime The everyday life in all layers of society, the growing political tension and the dekadence Berlin was then known for.A delightful look into a Berlin that is no .

  4. says:

    Goodbye to Berlin indeed , at least as it was, and the rest of Europe for that matter, as storm is growing within the German establishment, a storm that will go on to wreak havoc across the land and neighboring Poland as Hilter sets in motion the beginning of the darkest time for humanity in the twentieth century Originally planned as a huge novel titled The Lost covering the years of pre Hitler Berlin, but was deemed to grandiose for the short stories and diaries written during this time, Christopher Isherwood uses six sketches here forming roughly a continuous narrative between 1930 and 1933, spending this period in Berlin he mixes the decadence and people of high society with also those fearful few who can foresee trouble ahead From his landlady and the tenants who stay in their apartment, young wannabe socialites trying to make it big, and time spent on Ruegen Island with two male friends who s sexual desire causes conflict during their spell together, these individuals stories are told almost like confessions, where Isherwood himself is just lingering in the background listening a hell of a lot but with just the occasional comments made with a wry sense of humour and his prose has a distant style to it, meaning that even though you are intimate and close with those involved there is also a sense of detachment Considering what lies around the corner the reading is humorous far than I expected, but this actually helps make it pleasurable and light rather than dark Isherwood s Mr Norris Changes Trains was also to be part of The Lost , and there are contradicting overlaps between that and Goodbye to Berlin which would have come together had he decided on the full length novel The Nazi s in general only get mentioned briefly here and it s not until the later stages that the mistreatment of Jews becomes apparent A Single Man in my eyes is one of greatest small novels of the twentieth century, and I would be lying to say this is better, because it isn t, however in terms of exposing German life prior to war it s carried through with startling ability and deft touch.

  5. says:

    One of the small pleasures of growing older is that you can re read your favourite books and, for the most part, they seem fresh and new one fondly recalls the core story but generally forgets the local colour, the descriptions and prose styling I was recently reading Eminent Outlaws The Gay Writers Who Changed America by Christopher Bram in it he discussed Christopher Isherwood and Goodbye to Berlin Ironically my online book group was reading it at the same time So, I decided to re read it for the first time in twenty five years I have always been a vicarious traveller I ve been to Italy with James and du Maurier, France with Stein and Baldwin, Spain with Hemingway, China with Pearl Buck, Burma with Orwell, and India with Ackerley and Forster all memorable trips, but Germany with Isherwood has been a special treat I love the interaction of the characters and how Isherwood introduces them to us I thoroughly enjoyed the milieu of the boarding house, and the decadence of Berlin circa 1930 Yes, there were Nazis, but their presence added a sense of tension and romance to Isherwood s grand adventure Sally Bowles is an exasperating creature One loves and loathes her simultaneously Is she endearing or a nuisance Both Is she wicked No Self absorbed Yes, quite so One is left with the impression that poor Sally is never going to amount to much as an actress or a singer She lacks talent, discipline and the requisite commitment to her craft Instead she seems content to sleep her way to success, only the poor creature hasn t the good sense to sleep with the appropriate people She is a good time girl with delusions of grandeur It is her imperfections that make her such a memorable character indeed, actresses as diverse as Julie Harris, Judi Dench, Liza Minnelli and Natasha Richards have played her in dramatizations for stage and screen I laughed out loud when Sally commented that her lover s underclothes wear was so old and raggedy that they could have belonged to John the Baptist The scenes with Chris, Peter and Otto on the island were truly inspired Ah, Otto Who hasn t known an Otto He s a taker But then Peter is a user too, isn t he, in his own way I mean in the end, you get what you pay for Perhaps if Peter had been of a man and less of a fishwifebut this was always going to be a short lived relationship.I found the ending of the The Nowaks moving The images of the patients standing around the bus as it readies for departure are indelibly etched in my mind Otto really became quite annoying it s a wonder he lived passed puberty I think I could have lived in that house for about an hour The Landauers section was particularly fine Natalia is a great character I loved the scene where Natalia met Sally and they didn t hit it off Sally stuck her foot in her mouth after only having said hello Christopher seems to be the only non anti Semite he knows Bernhard is an emotional cripple manipulative, mysterious and creepy at the same time Sally, Otto, Peter, Bernhard does Christopher seek out neurotic, wayward people because he likes them or because as a writer he finds them fascinating The final diary entries deftly capture the sense of foreboding and dread as Berlin became the epicentre of a political earthquake that precipitated the Second World War The descriptions of driving through Berlin with the doomed Weimar police chief, the workers taking to the streets singing The International, and the author s smiling reflection in a shop window are the work of writer of genius I read this slowly savoured it lazed about Frl Schroeder s listening to the gossip, hoping she d make me an omelette.

  6. says:

    I believe at one point this novel was going to be called Miserable Mopey English Sod has Absolutely No Fun in Berlin which would have left the reader in no doubt.I am not so silly as to have expected Two Ladies or The Gorilla Song in Goodbye to Berlin, as I have discovered since I read Oliver Twist that sometimes they make up songs and add them randomly into the story when they film these books But I did expect to be reading about Sally Bowles and her exploits at the Kit Kat Club after all, in Dickens Fagin doesn t sing You ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two but he is there for the duration so what a disappointment when Sally turns up only for 66 pages and it s just kind of mentioned that she s a got a 2 week gig as a nightclub singer and there s no Kit Kat Club at all, so no outrageous MC and no camp drag acts, and after 66 pages no Sally Bowles And while she s around all she does is irritate by moaning about how she s always spending too much time with the wrong gentlemen and drinking prairie oysters which Isherwood mentions like a million times Right at the end he trawls around a few Berlin night spots and one gay bar is mentioned in one paragraph, and that I guess paragraph was pounced upon by the scriptwriters as their excuse to invent the Kit Kat Club Nothing happens in this novel because it s a thinly fictionalised diary, and not that fictionalised either because he gives his own character the name Christopher Isherwood, which is a bit of a give away So we just get a dreary succession of Berlin characters who are kind of there for a bit and then not there, just like people are in life It s all a bit bleurhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.When this was turned into a play it was re titled I Am a Camera and a critic came up with a great one line review, Me no Leica which is one of two one line reviews I can remember, the other being of Pink Floyd s movie The Wall All in all it s just another flick to appal Oh well What use is sitting alone in your roomReading Goodbye to Berlin Life is a cabaret old chumSo sling it and let s get a drink.

  7. says:

    Goodbye to Berlin The Berlin Novels 2 , Christopher IsherwoodGoodbye to Berlin is a 1939 novel by Christopher Isherwood set in Weimar Germany It is written as a connected series of six short stories and novellas These are A Berlin Diary Autumn 1930 , Sally Bowles , On Ruegen Island Summer 1931 , The Nowaks , The Landauers and A Berlin Diary Winter 1932 3 2012 1390 293 9786009174324 1391 20 1930 1931 1932 1933 .

  8. says:

    The Berlin Stories all contain so many colors emotions that the whole desolate grey Berlin of our dreams is pretty much obliterated Well sort of The writer s autobiographical anecdotes are inspiring this is precisely what a foreigner writing in a strange land should write like He is mystified, he is the average onlooker, but he participates often and with polarizing results even his sexual identity is a big , usually saying one thing to a character lying, inventing, distorting and meaning another Isherwood knows that his naivete only takes him so far he seeks out experience and then we are all the richer for it Goodbye to Berlin is a twofold title in personal and historic terms Isherwood never left Berlin he entertains and proves to be an astute, intrepid travel companion But when his physical person DID manage to get out, it was just in the nick of time Hitler s rise is seen as the very death of German bohemia Isherwood is present at this pivotal revelatory instant of the 20th century, but only at the margins this is a compelling, fascinating, far than just interesting travelogue.

  9. says:

    Quando a sorte presenteia algu m com uma vida travada em tempos de c lera, qual ser a melhor atitude a tomar Enfrentar os eventos vindouros, que n o auguram ganhos proveitosos mas apenas feridas imposs veis de sanar, ou aceit los e participar neles como um actor secund rio, submisso a um papel menor Em Adeus a Berlim , Isherwood cria uma persona que, segundo o pr prio, n o ele mas a ele se assemelha um brit nico aspirante a escritor, em visita a Berlim, que, tal como defendido por uma personagem, adopta uma postura de uma m quina fotogr fica com o obturador aberto, totalmente passiva, que regista e n o pensa Na nota introdut ria desta edi o, o autor refere se s diferentes partes que comp em a obra como pe as De facto, n o t m o poder narrativo de um conto ou novela mas tamb m n o aspiram a esse patamar S o antes relatos de uma cidade em ebuli o, num ringue de boxe do civismo, onde a cada canto pode surgir a viol ncia, a condena o, o desprezo e a discrimina o cega Sente se o frio da sombra, cheira se a futilidade materialista e saboreia se a decad ncia social H refer ncias persegui o aos judeus e s querelas pol ticas, a que se contrap em os ambientes descontra dos mas sempre conspirativos dos caf s, espet culos e cabarets ou n o tivesse este livro servido como argumento para o filme Cabaret , onde planos eram engendrados, contactos feitos e olhares cruzados, numa clara afronta s normas estabelecidas de antes mas ainda t o vincadas actualmente De facto, para a purpurina brilhar necessita de um foco de luz e, nesta poca, reinava mais um negrume que consumia o fruto interior que designa o ser humano como tal O que fica desta am lgama Uma involu o do quotidiano, t o bem retratada no mpeto dos t sicos arredados em sorverem ao m ximo a vida de quem os visitava no sanat rio.Tal como o destino escreve direito por linhas tortas , tamb m aqui o tempo desconexo e n o linear Mas nada disso impede a entrega de um retrato frio e indesejado de uma sociedade em queda, onde imperam a desconfian a, a ambi o e a disciplina Tudo lei da for a e da bala, ambas repressoras de qualquer liberdade, inclusivamente daquela que permite ler nas entrelinhas.

  10. says:

    1930 1933 , , 1935 , , , 30 1933, , ,

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