When Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man first appeared, it shocked many with its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in maturity. Isherwood's favorite of his own novels, it now stands as a classic lyric meditation on life as an outsider.
However, while he is content to cure the town's animals, it isn't long before he is persuaded to use his gift in other ways. When Sharon, whom he adores, begs him to heal her leg, he cannot deny her.
His acquiescence causes them both to be exploited. Sharon runs away to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of stardom. Jacob follows her, hopeful that they will meet again. And they do–as miserable performers in a seedy stage show. While they plan their escape from the dreary stage life, Jacob is asked to heal a self–absorbed young millionaire. And with his assent, Jacob's plans and all of his dreams begin to crumble.
Written in tight, vivid, and seamlessly crafter prose, this previously unpublished tale by two of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century shows the dangers a magical gift holds for even the noblest of characters.
Published in 1959, when Isherwood had already become something of a literary rock star, Down There on a Visit is a very funny but also sad and deeply personal book that charts Isherwood's life of carnal indulgence and his first interlude with what would become a serious involvement with Eastern mysticism.
When it first appeared in 1945, Prater Violet caused a fury of critical speculation and acclaim. Edmund Wilson called it "a deliberate historical parable," and Diana Trilling's Nation review said, "Prater Violet is the most charming novel I have read in a long time... It is a book written in the author's own person, yet utterly without ego; it is a novel about movie writers which is yet a novel about the life of every serious artist; it is a book without a political moral, but a profound moral-political statement; it is gay, witty, sophisticated, but wholly responsible.
Against the backdrop of World War II, The World in the Evening charts the emotional development of Stephen Monk, an aimless Englishman living in California. After his second marriage suddenly ends, Stephen finds himself living with a relative in a small Pennsylvania Quaker town, haunted by memories of his prewar affair with a younger man during a visit to the Canary Islands. The world traveler comes to a gradual understanding of himself and of his newly adopted homeland.
When first published in 1953, The World in the Evening was notable for its clear-eyed depiction of European and American mores, sexuality, and religion. Today, readers herald Christopher Isherwood's frank portrayal of bisexuality and his early appreciation of low and high camp.
The book revealingly contrasts fact with fiction-the real people Isherwood met in Germany with the portraits of them in his two Berlin novels, who then appeared again, fictionalized to an even greater degree, in I Am a Camera and Cabaret. But one does not need to be familiar with his body of work to appreciate the powerful and compelling story he tells here. Isherwood left Berlin in 1933, after Hitler came to power. For the next four years, he wandered around Europe-through Greece, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and France-with a German boy named Heinz.
The characters in the book include W.H. Auden, Stephen Sper, and E.M. Forster as well as the literary circles of Somerset Maugham and Virginia Woolf. Chronicling German refugees and the British colony in Portugal, the Group Theatre company (which performed the three Auden-Isherwood plays) and the film studio where he worked and which he used as the setting for Prater Violet, Christopher and His Kind is an engrossing and powerfully rendered portrait of a decade in the life of a major writer.
The diaries are crammed with wicked gossip and probing psychological insights about the cultural icons of the time—Francis Bacon, Richard Burton, Leslie Caron, Marianne Faithfull, David Hockney, Mick Jagger, Hope Lange, W. Somerset Maugham, John Osborne, Vanessa Redgrave, Tony Richardson, David O. Selznick, Igor Stravinsky, Gore Vidal, and many others. But the diaries are most revealing about Isherwood himself—his fiction (including A Single Man and Down There on a Visit), his film writing, his college teaching, and his affairs of the heart. He moves easily from Beckett to Brando, from arthritis to aggression, from Tennessee Williams to foot powder, from the opening of Cabaret on Broadway (which he skipped) to a close analysis of Gide.
In the background run references to the political and historical events of the period: the anxieties of the Cold War, Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight, de Gaulle and Algeria, the eruption of violence in America's inner cities, the Vietnam War, the Summer of Love, the moon landing, and the raising and lowering of hemlines. Isherwood is well known for his prophetic portraits of a morally bankrupt Europe on the eve of World War II; in this unparalleled chronicle, The Sixties, he turns his fearless eye on the decade that more than any other has shaped the way we live now.
After a long separation, two English brothers meet in India. Oliver, the idealistic younger brother, prepares to take his final vows as a Hindu monk. Patrick, a successful publisher with a wife and children in London and a male lover in California, has publicly admired his brother's convictions while privately criticizing his choices.
First published in 1967, A Meeting by the River delicately depicts the complexity of sibling relationships—the resentment and competitiveness as well as the love and respect. Ultimately, the brothers' exposure to each other's differences deepens their awareness of themselves. In A Meeting by the River, Christopher Isherwood dramatizes the conflict between sexuality and spirituality that inspired his late writings.
“The best prose writer in English.” Gore Vidal
Published in 1932, when Isherwood was twenty-eight years old, The Memorial is the immediate precursor to the first volume of the famous Berlin Stories, but it stand in its own right as the first book in which Isherwood really found his literary voice.
Originally published in 1988.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.