Tuesday 7 May 2019

Book Review: The Berlin Novels by Christopher Isherwood (Modern Classics)

Title: The Berlin Novels
Author: Christopher Isherwood

Publication Date: 1993 (1945)
Modern Classic
Bought Copy

Mr Norris Changes Trains: The first of Christopher Isherwood's classic 'Berlin' novels, this portrays the encounter and growing friendship between young William Bradshaw and the urbane and mildly sinister Mr Norris. Piquant, witty and oblique, it vividly evokes the atmosphere of pre-war Berlin, and forcefully conveys an ironic political parable.

Goodbye to Berlin: The inspiration for the stage and screen musical Cabaret and for the play I Am a Camera, this novel remains one of the most powerful of the century, a haunting evocation of the gathering storm of the Nazi terror. Told in a series of wry, detached and impressionistic vignettes, it is an unforgettable portrait of bohemian Berlin - a city and a world on the very brink of ruin.

Having enjoyed A Single Man I was keen to read The Berlin Novels, and they didn't disappoint. Isherwood's prose is sparse yet emotive, with not a word wasted, and there is a wonderful sense of reality about his portrayal of 1930s Berlin and the people inhabiting it. Knowing well the musical Cabaret I found it fascinating to read the source material, looking at what Kander and Ebb kept and what they changed. I am definitely a fan of Isherwood's writing style and would like to read more of his work in the future.

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