Auden And Isherwood / Edition 1

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Like Paris in the twenties, Berlin in the early thirties was one of the most exciting cities in the world. As the Weimar Republic sputtered to a close and war loomed on the horizon, the city was a magnet for talented writers and artists. It was in this now-vanished time and place that W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood lived, wrote and slept together. Norman Page tells the story of how these years shaped these important writers and, in doing so, illuminates a bygone era.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The valuable service Mr. Page performs in his short, readable book is to run the historical-cultural camera backwards . . . restoring the reality of what the two young Englishmen saw and did.” —Washington Times

“A sometimes illuminating, always informative study of the Berlin milieu in which Auden and Isherwood found themselves shortly before Hitler rose to power.” —San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle
...illuminating, always informative study of the Berlin milieu in which Auden and Isherwood found themselves shortly before Hitler rose to power.
Washington Times
Valuable...readable book is to run the historical-cultural camera backwards...restoring the reality of what the two young Englishmen saw and did.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although the revival of Cabaret makes Page's study timely, the opportunity is mishandled. His visit to the Berlin years of W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood reads like a series of rambling academic lectures. Source notes clot the narrative, pronoun references are often vague, and the detailed survey of 1928-1933 urban topography further erodes the narrative. Friends and, briefly, lovers, the two writers escaped to Weimar Berlin to sample its gay clubs and rent boys. Auden, who would visit during holidays, found much inspiration but little of literary value in the sexual turn-ons of the scene. Isherwood would casually mask his experience in the novellas collected as The Berlin Stories (1935-1939), which Page (A.E. Housman) calls "too discreet, too evasive, too readily disposed to encode and displace, to make use of what must have been wonderfully colourful material." That Isherwood's stories were autobiographical fiction rather than autobiography and were written for a more censorious generation, yet inspired the play I Am a Camera and the musical Cabaret, seems less significant to Page than their less-than-complete exposure of the depression-driven daydream that Berlin seemed to be before the rise of Hitler. From Isherwood's 1977 memoir, Christopher and His Kind, Page quotes the author's rueful confession, "Seldom have wild oats been sown more prudently." This book reflects that disappointment. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
Berlin in the late 1920sbefore Hitler's power surgewas acknowledged to be a city of sexual freedom that was also open to all forms of art and artists. Wystan Auden and Christopher Isherwood were two of those artists who visited Berlin and stayed longer than intended. It wasn't simply that Berlin was accepting of sexual ambiguityand in any case, Auden and Isherwood were not ambiguous in their homosexuality. More importantly, as Page (emeritus, modern English literature, Univ. of Nottingham) makes clear, the city's glittering decadence and aura of untrammeled experimentation fostered Auden's poetry and even more so Isherwood's prose. Page makes his case convincingly by devoting a section of his book to the boy-bars, streets, neighborhoods, houses of Berlin, and to the subculture of transvestism. Page also discusses other personalities operative in Berlin from approximately 1929 to 1933, most notably Magnus Hirschfeld who founded the Institute for Sexology. The final two sections deal with the social impact of the Weimar cinema and the specific writings of each man, with a greater emphasis on Isherwood's autobiographical works. Entertaining and insightful reading; highly recommended.Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
Peter Parker
The book is wide ranging, taking in topography, biography, political and social history, and literary criticism...all with stimulating and informative, and livened by humor and some nice touches of asperity.
The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312227128
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/5/2000
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 1,365,479
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Page is Emeritus Professor of modern English language at the University of Nottingham. He has published widely on literature and has lectured in many parts of the world.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Looking for Berlin
• Two Young Englishmen
• Berlin: Places
• Past and Present
• Homes and Haunts
• Cultures and Subcultures
• Death of a Daydream
• Berlin: Faces
• Anna Muthesius
• John Layard
• Magnus Hirschfeld
• Francis Turville-Petre
• Gerald Hamilton
• The Other Camera: Aspects of Weimar Cinema
• Writing about Berlin
• Epilogue: Goodbye to Berlin

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