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The Undesired Result

Gillian Darley: Betjeman’s bêtes noires, 31 March 2005

Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 744 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7195 6495 6
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... to premature autobiography.’ Precocious Beverley Nichols headed the field with Twenty-Five while Christopher Isherwood and Cyril Connolly wisely allowed another ten years of their lives to elapse before they wrote, respectively, Lions and Shadows and Enemies of Promise. Hillier publishes long sections of Summoned by Bells which were excised, including ...


Edward Timms, 17 March 1988

The Temple 
by Stephen Spender.
Faber, 210 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 0 571 14785 2
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... as a sub-text in some of the most significant writings of his generation. For authors like Auden, Isherwood and Spender, the struggle for sexual freedom was a stimulus to political dissent. Around 1930, the centre of gravity both of their lives and of their writings was displaced to Weimar Germany, where a Reichstag committee on the penal code had resolved to ...


Ian Sansom, 17 July 1997

W.H. Auden: Prose 1926-38, Essays and Reviews and Travel Books in Prose and Verse 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 836 pp., £40, March 1997, 0 571 17899 5
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... and during that time he published The Orators (1932), The Dance of Death (1933) and, with Christopher Isherwood, The Dog beneath the Skin (1935), as well as writing most of the poems which were to appear in Look, Stanger (1936). It was the period of the great outpouring of his talent, and, as this first volume of his collected Prose reveals, much ...


Stephen Wall, 26 March 1992

Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... Green told his interviewer that ‘the writer must be disengaged’, and enjoyed pointing out that Christopher Isherwood, who called Living ‘the best proletarian novel ever written’, had never worked in a factory himself. Pontifex’s own employees, having rumbled the fact that Yorke and Green were the same, weren’t so impressed. ‘I read your ...

Dastardly Poltroons

Jonathan Fenby: Madame Chiang Kai-shek, 21 October 2010

The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China 
by Hannah Pakula.
Weidenfeld, 787 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 297 85975 8
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... Chiang and her husband when he and Auden were visiting China to report on the war with Japan, Christopher Isherwood wrote that she can become at will the cultivated, Westernised woman with a knowledge of literature and art; the technical expert, discussing aeroplane engines and machine-guns; the inspector of hospitals; the president of a ...

Lost in Beauty

Michael Newton: Montgomery Clift, 7 October 2010

The Passion of Montgomery Clift 
by Amy Lawrence.
California, 333 pp., £16.95, May 2010, 978 0 520 26047 4
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... physical decline. In his diary entry for 24 September 1956, a few months after the accident, Christopher Isherwood lamented Clift’s lost looks, but blamed the ravages of self-indulgence. Indeed what with the booze, the chain-smoking, the prescription pills, the years, it’s a wonder he still looked so good. It seems crass to admit it, but despite ...

President Gore

Inigo Thomas: Gore Vidal, 10 May 2007

Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 316 02727 8
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... succeed? Suppressed love as the engine for Vidal’s enormous output? Fifty years ago, Vidal told Christopher Isherwood that he was an enemy of love. It involved too much entanglement; and entanglements of any kind, whether they are conducted by an individual or by the US government, were too European for this American, for whom everything personal has a ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1996, 2 January 1997

... adjoining table had been Don Bachardy, so I go back in and have a word, last having seen him with Christopher Isherwood 35 years ago. Then he was an olive-skinned doe-eyed boy who came round and did a drawing of me. Now he looks exactly as lsherwood did, even down to the little schoolboy sprout of hair at the back. A propos Pinochet, anybody brought up ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... Ian – chastised him ‘by banging a serving spoon on his offensively prominent ear trumpet’. Christopher Isherwood, on the other hand, found that Maugham’s stammer ‘somehow made you feel that you were stammering, not he’. Raymond Mortimer noted his ‘very violent temper’. In his later years, visitors described him as ‘saurian’ or ...


Stephen Spender: Unnecessary Wars, 9 April 1992

... with the revolutionary teachings of the American psychologist Homer Lane. Auden invited his friend Isherwood to join him in Berlin. Thirty-five years later, in his autobiography Christopher and his Kind, Isherwood wrote: ‘To Christopher, Berlin meant ...

Madly Excited

John Bayley, 1 June 1989

The Life of Graham Greene. Vol. I: 1904-1939 
by Norman Sherry.
Cape, 783 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 224 02654 2
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... days his wedding (to which he had invited a great number of people, though he forgot his cousin Christopher Isherwood) and his career as critic and embryo publisher seemed more promising than his future as author. Early novels flopped. There was no sudden success like that of his fellow adventurer Evelyn Waugh. One suspects that before the formula was ...

Mysteries of the City

Mark Ford: Baudelaire and Modernity, 21 February 2013

Baudelaire: The Complete Verse 
edited and translated by Francis Scarfe.
Anvil, 470 pp., £10.95, January 2012, 978 0 85646 427 0
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Baudelaire: Paris Blues/Le Spleen de Paris 
edited and translated by Francis Scarfe.
Anvil, 332 pp., £10.95, January 2012, 978 0 85646 429 4
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Seeing Double: Baudelaire’s Modernity 
by Françoise Meltzer.
Chicago, 264 pp., £29, May 2011, 978 0 226 51988 3
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... the double image that Baudelaire’s writings so often convey, a contradictoriness summed up by Christopher Isherwood in the 1946 preface to his translation of Baudelaire’s Journaux intimes: What kind of a man wrote this book? A deeply religious man, whose blasphemies horrified the orthodox. An ex-dandy, who dressed like a condemned convict. A ...

Triumph of the Poshocracy

Susan Pedersen: Britain between the Wars, 8 August 2013

The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, Citizenship and Internationalism, c.1918-45 
by Helen McCarthy.
Manchester, 282 pp., £65, November 2011, 978 0 7190 8616 8
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A Lark for the Sake of Their Country: The 1926 General Strike Volunteers in Folklore and Memory 
by Rachelle Hope Saltzman.
Manchester, 262 pp., £65, April 2012, 978 0 7190 7977 1
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... job, the volunteers’ readiness to have a week’s fun driving trains had a nasty undertone. Christopher Isherwood, remembering the episode in Lions and Shadows two decades later, thought it revealed not the splendid sanity and patriotism of the British but how deeply entrenched the class system was. For ‘the Poshocracy had won, as it always did ...

Hug me till you drug me

Alex Harvey: Aldous Huxley, 5 May 2016

After Many a Summer 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 035 5
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Time Must Have a Stop 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 305 pp., £9.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 034 8
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The Genius and the Goddess 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 127 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 036 2
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... trousers and a battered hat with a brim that hid her face’; the visiting Bertrand Russell; Christopher Isherwood; and Huxley’s favourite mystic, Krishnamurti, accompanied by a retinue of Theosophists and vegetarian catering ladies in saris. While his guests looked like pixies ‘on a spree’, according to Loos, Huxley himself resembled a ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2016, 5 January 2017

... the second time I had come across such an open avowal of a gay relationship, the first time being Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy.19 September. Long piece in the Guardian sports section about Joey Barton, the difficult (and sometimes violent) footballer who has been transferred from Burnley to Rangers and is in trouble again. He is obviously ...

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