Isherwood on Writing by Christopher Isherwood
The Lectures in California

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Synopsis

In the 1960s, Christopher Isherwood gave an unprecedented series of lectures at California universities on the theme “A Writer and His World.” During this time Isherwood, who would liberate the memoir and become the founding father of modern gay writing, spoke openly for the first time about his craft—on writing for film, theater, and novels—and on spirituality. Isherwood on Writing brings these public addresses together to reveal a distinctly—and surprisingly—American Isherwood.

 

Given at a critical time in Isherwood’s career, these lectures mark the era when he turned from fiction to memoir. In free-flowing, wide-ranging discussions, he reflects on such topics as why writers write, what makes a novel great, and what influenced his own work. Isherwood talks about his working relationship with W. H. Auden; his literary friendships with E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Stephen Spender, Aldous Huxley, and Somerset Maugham; and his work in the film industry in London and Hollywood. He also explores uncharted territory in candid comments on his own work, something not contained in his diaries.

 

Isherwood on Writing uncovers an important and often-misunderstood time in Isherwood’s life in America. The lectures present, in James J. Berg’s words, “an example of a man, comfortable in his own sexuality and self, trying to talk about himself and his own life in a society that is not yet ready to hear the whole story.”

 

A major figure in twentieth-century fiction and the gay rights movement, Christopher Isherwood (1904–1986) is the author of many books, including A Single Man and Down There on a Visit, available from Minnesota.

 

James J. Berg is dean of liberal arts and sciences at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota. He is editor, with Chris Freeman, of The Isherwood Century: Essays on the Life and Work of Christopher Isherwood (winner of the Lambda Award) and Conversations with Christopher Isherwood.

 

Claude Summers is professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan, Dearborn and author of many works, including Gay Fictions: Wilde to Stonewall.

 

About Christopher Isherwood

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Christopher Isherwood, born in Cheshire, England, in 1904, wrote both novels and nonfiction. He was a lifelong friend of W.H. Auden and wrote several plays with him, including Dog Beneath the Skin and The Ascent of F6. He lived in Germany from 1928 until 1933 and his writings during this period described the political and social climate of pre-Hitler Germany. Isherwood immigrated to the United States in 1939 and became a U.S. citizen in 1946. He lived in California, working on film scripts and adapting plays for television. The musical Cabaret is based on several of Isherwood's stories and on his play, I Am a Camera. His other works include Mr. Norris Changes Trains, about life in Germany in the early 1930s; Down There on a Visit, an autobiographical novel; and Where Joy Resides, published after his death in 1986. Berg is the program director for the Center for Teaching and Learning, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
 
Published December 28, 2007 by Univ Of Minnesota Press. 208 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction