Diaries, Volume One: 1939-1960

Diaries, Volume One: 1939-1960

by Christopher Isherwood
     
 

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At times pious, at times profane but always unashamedly honest, The Diaries of Christopher Isherwood provide an inside look at the life and times of one of the most celebrated writers of the century. Chronicling Isherwood's life from 1939, when he emigrated to the United States, until 1960, these entries cover some of the most turbulent years of his career

Overview

At times pious, at times profane but always unashamedly honest, The Diaries of Christopher Isherwood provide an inside look at the life and times of one of the most celebrated writers of the century. Chronicling Isherwood's life from 1939, when he emigrated to the United States, until 1960, these entries cover some of the most turbulent years of his career and give readers unprecedented insight into the major turning points in his life. Here, Isherwood relates the spiritual crisis he went through as World War II began, his discipleship (along with Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard) with the Hindu monk Swami Prabhavananda and his decision to become a pacifist. Here also are his accounts of his intense social life in Hollywood, his career as a screenwriter and his many sexual affairs. Readers will be particularly fascinated by his revealing anecdotes and gossip about the literary greats (such as W. H. Auden, Thomas Mann, E. M. Forster, and Tennessee Williams) and movie stars (such as Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and Sir Laurence Olivier) of the time.

Author Biography: Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was the author of more than 20 books. His best-known work, Goodbye to Berlin, was developed into the musical Cabaret, which later won eight Academy Awards in the film version starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Gray.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Mixing mournful self-interrogation about sex, art, and politics; less than lucid delvings into spiritual matters; and wry chatter about acquaintances both obscure and celebrated, Isherwood's voluminous diaries provide rather too wide a window onto the eminent novelist and memoirist's foibles.

Isherwood emigrated to America from England in 1939, and during the years covered here he lived in Los Angeles, worked as a screenwriter, studied and wrote about Vedanta Hinduism, wrote novels (Prater Violet, The World in the Evening, and most of Down There on a Visit), and had a few major love affairs. Close to half of this volume covers the first five years of Isherwood's expatriatism. Edited and annotated heavily by the author himself in 1946, these wartime diaries are sprinkled with the kind of artfully ironic character sketches familiar to readers of Isherwood's novels. The author socialized with the likes of Aldous Huxley, Charlie Chaplin, and Greta Garbo, but much of his time was spent with his guru and fellow disciples of Vedanta, which his musings do not enliven for the reader. Isherwood was criticized for not returning to Britain during the war; he is forthright here about his pacifism. Fussing about the obligations imposed by his swami and his lovers, the author indulges in mopy rants that tire even himself: "I'm so bored with myself. . . . The whole of this diary is becoming a bore. Let's snap out of it. Come on, St. Augustine—amuse us. A little less about your sins." After substantial ellipses, the diaries become less consistently fretful in the mid-'50s, when Isherwood met the artist Don Bachardy, who would remain his companion until Isherwood's death in 1986. Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Igor Stravinsky, Somerset Maugham, and a raft of movie stars were Isherwood's pals in the '50s; finally, after hundreds of pages in which the creative process seldom merits a mention, Isherwood occasionally comes alive as a working artist in the latter entries.

Maundering, prolix, altogether daunting.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061180187
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/28/1998
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
1104
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 2.12(d)

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