Abbildung: Goodbye To Berlin
Abbildung: Goodbye To Berlin Abbildung: Goodbye To Berlin Abbildung: Goodbye To Berlin Abbildung: Goodbye To Berlin

Illustrated by George Grosz, introduced by Frank Whitford. Quarter-bound in cloth with printed paper sides, frontispiece and 11 black & white illustrations, plain slipcase, 256 pages.

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In the opening story of the semi-autobiographical Goodbye to Berlin, Isherwood writes: ‘I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.’ But he does himself scant justice: he is not simply an observer, but a writer of immense skill and a master of the unexpected angle. As the critic Walter Allen has said, his originality ‘is to show us the collapse of German civilization obliquely, through characters eccentric or bizarre, characters who for one reason or another – sexual, racial, economic – are lost’. Goodbye to Berlin is made up of six short stories – one of which stars Sally Bowles, who would go on to become the iconic figure at the heart of the musical Cabaret – but the collection has the unity of a novel, capturing the decadence of Berlin and the growing menace of Nazism. Isherwood reveals the city through searing snapshots, capturing a vibrant society pulsing with nightlife 24 hours a day. The sleazy bars, the jazz, the alcohol and the sex are brought to life with his prose, and each conversation carries the uneasy tension of a people hoping to avoid the inevitable.

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