( Portrait of C. Isherwood by Don Bachardy...The world of Interiors April 2011...p.169)
A friend loaned me Christopher Isherwood's novel..."Mr. Norris changes trains".
She was soon to be on her way to Berlin and I had only recently returned.
I knew very little about the life of Isherwood the writer, before going to Berlin. But while there, my niece set up a tour for us...
with Brendan Nash...who runs the "Cabaret Berlin"web site and gives talks on the era of the Weimar republic..
His tour takes you around the relatively small area in East Berlin, that was the location for so many of the novels. Absolutely facinating. And if you are thinking of Berlin for a long break and like the works of Isherwood or Auden...an absolute must!
Having been on the tour first ...and then read the book ...it was clear that most of the characters were familiar faces to him during his stay there.
The theatres and buildings of the "Golden Era" of the late 1920s and 30s still exist..
...though more often than not, have assumed a very different way of keeping themselves going!
More than anything, the tour opened my eyes to how speedily change can happen, from a decadent "demi-monde" to a police state, in Weimar.
...but perhaps more moving were the pavement brasses installed in front of the homes where the Nazis had taken the residents to their deaths in the concentration camps.
Cynically...the fascists took over the "Eldorado" as their voting centre and hung the windows with the Nazi flags proclaiming it as the place to vote for Hitler.
Christopher Isherwood eventually lived out the rest of his life in California with this partner Don Bachardy on that famous road...Adelaide Drive.
( An etching of them both by David Hockney...W o I...April 2011 ..p.165)
I went into our local Waterstones bookshop yesterday to buy ,"The Berlin Novels" and "Goodbye to Berlin". I think that his insight into the personalities around him then, resonate even today.
I have been visiting Germany since the '60s and had never made it to that city...and it was a real treat to share it with my sister and her family.
I'll be back...I hope!