Christopher Isherwood

Liberation
  • Liberation

  • In this final volume of Christopher Isherwood's diaries, capstone of a million-word masterwork, he greets advancing age with poignant humour and an unquenchable appetite for the new. Isherwood journeyed and changed with his century, until, by the 1980s, he was celebrated as the finest prose writer in English and the Grand Old Man of Gay Liberation. The mainstays of his mature contentment, his Hindu guru, Swami Prabhavananda and his long term companion, Don Bachardy, draw from him an unexpected high tide of joy and love.

    Gifted friends both anonymous and infamous take a turn through Isherwood's densely populated human comedy, sketched with ruthlessness and benevolence against the background of the Vietnam War and the Nixon, Carter and Reagan White Houses. Bachardy’s burgeoning career pulled Isherwood into the 1970s art scene where we meet Rauschenberg, Ruscha, and Warhol (serving fetid meat for lunch) as well as Hockney (adored) and Kitaj. Frpm Hollywood and the worlds of music and letters enter John Huston, Merchant and Ivory, John Travolta, John Voight, Elton John, David Bowie, Joan Didion and Armistead Maupin.

    These are the most concrete and the most mysterious of his diaries, candidly revealing the fear of death that crowded in past Isherwood’s fame, and showing how his life-long immersion in the day-to-day lifted him, paradoxically, toward transcendence.

Christopher Isherwood was born at High lane, Cheshire, in 1904. He left Cambridge without graduationg, tried briefly to study medicine and in 1928 published All the Conspirators, followed by a second novel, The Memorial in 1932. From 1928 onwards he lived mostly out of England: four years in Berlin, five in various European countries including Portugal, Holland, Belgium and Denmark. In 1939 he went to California, which became his home for the rest of his life. His Berlin experiences produced two novels, Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939). Isherwood worked with the American Friends Service Committee during part of the war. In 1946 he became a US citizen. Following his move to America he wrote five novels - Prater Violet, The World in the Evening, Down There on a Visit, A Single Man and A Meeting by the River; a travel book about South America, The Condor and the Cows; and Ramakrishna and his Disciples, a biography of the great Indian mystic. In 1971 he published Kathleen and Frank, a book based on the correspondence of his parents and his mother's diary, in 1977 Christopher and his Kind, an autobiographical account of the years 1929 to 1939, and in 1980 My Guru and His Disciple, the story of his friendship with the Swami Prabhavananda. He died in 1986.