Christopher Isherwood Inside Out (Hardcover)

Christopher Isherwood Inside Out By Katherine Bucknell Cover Image
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A stunningly intimate exploration of the writer and gay cultural icon and of his lifelong search for authenticity.

The story of Christopher Isherwood’s life is one of pilgrimage: away from the constraints of inheritance and empire and toward authenticity and spiritual illumination. Isherwood—the author of Goodbye to Berlin, which inspired Cabaret, and A Single Man—was born an heir to a crumbling English estate. He died an icon of gay liberation in California while his partner of thirty years, Don Bachardy, painted his death portrait.

Isherwood began his career depicting the psychological wreckage of World War I. Living in Berlin, his stories and plays (cowritten with W. H. Auden), inspired by the city’s nightlife and artistic underbelly, made him famous. With the rise of fascism and the Gestapo’s arrest of his boyfriend, Isherwood left the country and found work as a screenwriter in Hollywood, where he became the disciple of a Hindu monk, Swami Prabhavananda. Together they translated the Bhagavad Gita.

Isherwood shed his family ghosts and became a chief instigator of the cultural shift that made gay liberation possible. Every step of the journey served his writing; one of our greatest diarists, he recorded his experiences and transformed them in fiction and memoir. Katherine Bucknell charts the quest of the restless, penetrating, blackly comic mind through books, films, foreign lands, love affairs, and collaborations for self-understanding and happiness. Here is Christopher Isherwood Inside Out.

About the Author

Katherine Bucknell is the editor of four volumes of diaries by Christopher Isherwood, The Animals, a volume of letters between Christopher Isherwood and his partner Don Bachardy, and W.H. Auden's Juvenilia: Poems 1922-1928. She is director of the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, as well as a founder of the W. H. Auden Society and co-editor of Auden Studies. Bucknell is also the author of four novels, Canarino, Leninsky Prospekt, What You Will, and +1. She lives in London.

Praise For…

"Christopher Isherwood Inside Out is the best biography I’ve ever read. The subject, Christopher Isherwood, was a mindful, moral man, an example for all, and a wonderfully talented writer. The author, Katherine Bucknell, explores every moment of his life—English, German, American—and links them all to the vast ongoing project of his life and work. The book is long but every page is full of surprises." —Edmund White

"This is a first rate biography of the man, the writer and the lover. If he would have stayed in England, he would have been the squire of Marple Hall in Cheshire, very very different to the Christopher I knew." —David Hockney

“This book—profoundly sympathetic to its subject, lucidly and excitingly written—is both a fast-paced story of an extraordinary life and a broadly illuminating history of vast cultural changes across eight decades and four continents. Katherine Bucknell, having edited four volumes of Isherwood’s diaries, has distilled her expertise into the finest literary biography of its century.” —Edward Mendelson, author of Early Auden, Later Auden

"A roller-coaster ride through a genuinely remarkable life. Katherine Bucknell has had full access to all the primary sources—and it shows. Her Isherwood is both fascinating and dangerous, as reckless in his relationships as he was scrupulous in his art. His virtues shine, and his faults are documented with admirable candour." —Neil Bartlett, author of Address Book

"The best biographies make the reader feel they are looking over the subject’s shoulder, watching them grow up and into life. Katherine Bucknell does exactly this, marshalling an enormous range of scholarship with insight, empathy, and humour. Her long immersion in Isherwood’s work and life is lightly worn, she writes beautifully, and whether she is invoking declining English country-house life, Weimar Berlin, mid-century Hollywood or the alternative cultures of California, one trusts her judgement implicitly. Christopher Isherwood Inside Out matches its subject's narrative skill and psychological insight, and brilliantly illuminates his search for a new way to live." —Roy Foster, author of W. B. Yeats: A Life

"This is the Isherwood book we’ve been waiting for. While Isherwood is rightly celebrated as a courageous forefather of the gay liberation movement . . . he should be equally celebrated as a fearless early practitioner and writer on Hinduism (Vedanta), again pulling the rest of the country with him . . . By telling the truth through his writing and through his life, Isherwood achieved greatness in his art and in his spiritual quest, and that will continue to move us and change us long after we, and all those that knew him, are gone." —Pravrajika Vrajaprana, author of Vedanta: A Simple Introduction

"Open this thick book to almost any page about Christopher Isherwood's important and glamorous life, and you will find a lot about the fascinating people this supreme twentieth century literary artist often saw. What stars he knew in his magic circle during his many lives, from 'thirties Berlin down to post-war Hollywood and after." —James Ivory, author of Solid Ivory: Memoirs

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374119362
ISBN-10: 0374119368
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: August 26th, 2024
Pages: 848
Language: English