Diaries: Volume 1, 1939-1960

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9780061180187: Diaries: Volume 1, 1939-1960

In 1939 Christopher Isherwood and W. H. Auden emigrated together to the United States. These diaries, covering the period up to 1960, describe Isherwood's search for a new life in California, where he eventually settled.

The diaries tell how Isherwood became a disciple of the Hindu monk Swami Prabhavananda; about his pacifism during World War II; about his work as a screenwriter in Hollywood and his friendships with such gifted artists and intellectuals as Garbo, Chaplin, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Stravinsky, Aldous Huxley, Gielgud, Olivier, Richard Burton, and Charles Laughton, many of whom were émigrés like himself.

Throughout this period, Isherwood continued to write novels and sustain his literary friendship with E. M. Forster, Somerset Maugham, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, and others. He turned to his diary several times a week to record jokes and gossip, observations about his adopted country, philosophy and mystical insights. In spare, luminous prose, he also revealed his most intimate and passionate relationships, particularly with Bill Caskey and later with the very young Don Bachardy.

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Review:

Christopher Isherwood is noted for his novels and autobiographical writings, especially The Berlin Stories (the basis for the film, Cabaret) and Christopher and His Kind. But Isherwood put at least as much of his genius in his Diaries as he did in his writings intended for immediate publication. The first volume follows Isherwood as he emigrates from England to the United States where he became a Hollywood scriptwriter. This volume continues with his lifelong affair with Don Bachardy to his establishment as a major writer in the early 1960s. Isherwood's Diaries are beautifully written, gossipy, and indispensable for anyone who cares about writing, the creative process, and gay history.

About the Author:

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.

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