Isherwood on Writing

Overview

In the 1960s, Christopher Isherwood gave an unprecedented series of lectures at California universities on the theme “A Writer and His World.” During this time Isherwood, who would liberate the memoir and become the founding father of modern gay writing, spoke openly for the first time about his craft—on writing for film, theater, and novels—and on spirituality. Isherwood on Writing brings these public addresses together to reveal a distinctly—and surprisingly—American ...

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Overview

In the 1960s, Christopher Isherwood gave an unprecedented series of lectures at California universities on the theme “A Writer and His World.” During this time Isherwood, who would liberate the memoir and become the founding father of modern gay writing, spoke openly for the first time about his craft—on writing for film, theater, and novels—and on spirituality. Isherwood on Writing brings these public addresses together to reveal a distinctly—and surprisingly—American Isherwood.

 

Given at a critical time in Isherwood’s career, these lectures mark the era when he turned from fiction to memoir. In free-flowing, wide-ranging discussions, he reflects on such topics as why writers write, what makes a novel great, and what influenced his own work. Isherwood talks about his working relationship with W. H. Auden; his literary friendships with E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Stephen Spender, Aldous Huxley, and Somerset Maugham; and his work in the film industry in London and Hollywood. He also explores uncharted territory in candid comments on his own work, something not contained in his diaries.

 

Isherwood on Writing uncovers an important and often-misunderstood time in Isherwood’s life in America. The lectures present, in James J. Berg’s words, “an example of a man, comfortable in his own sexuality and self, trying to talk about himself and his own life in a society that is not yet ready to hear the whole story.”

 

A major figure in twentieth-century fiction and the gay rights movement, Christopher Isherwood (1904–1986) is the author of many books, including A Single Man and Down There on a Visit, available from Minnesota.

 

James J. Berg is dean of liberal arts and sciences at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota. He is editor, with Chris Freeman, of The Isherwood Century: Essays on the Life and Work of Christopher Isherwood (winner of the Lambda Award) and Conversations with Christopher Isherwood.

 

Claude Summers is professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan, Dearborn and author of many works, including Gay Fictions: Wilde to Stonewall.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816646937
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 12/21/2007
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,050,482
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword Claude J. Summers Summers, Claude J.

Editor's Acknowledgments

Introduction: The American Isherwood James J. Berg Berg, James J. 1

Part I A Writer and His World, 1960 35

Influences 42

Why Write at All? 52

What Is the Nerve of Interest in the Novel? 64

What Is the Nerve of Interest in the Novel? (continued) 73

A Writer and the Theater 84

A Writer and the Films 99

A Writer and Religion 114

A Last Lecture 130

Part II The Autobiography of My Books, 1963-65 143

All the Conspirators, The Memorial 149

The Berlin Stories 161

The Dog Beneath the Skin, The Ascent of F6, On the Frontier 173

Prater Violet 184

The World in the Evening 199

Down There on a Visit 213

Part III Lecture Notes 217

A Writer and His World 223

Influences 223

Why Write at All? 227

What Is the Nerve of Interest in the Novel? 229

What Is the Nerve of Interest in the Novel? (continued) 230

A Writer and the Theater 231

A Writer and the Films 232

A Writer and Religion 234

A Last Lecture 235

Writers of the Thirties 239

The Novel As Experience 241

A Personal Statement 243

Voices of Novelists and Dramatists: Modern 245

What Is a Novel? 247

The Novel and the Novelist 250

Editor's Notes 253

Index 267

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