Goodbye to isherwood: The rise and fall of a literary reputation

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This article analyses the critical reception of Christopher Isherwood. In the first half, using the oft-quoted words I am a camera as a starting point, it illustrates how at the outset this phrase was redolent with political commitment. This idea is reinforced by using two contemporary texts: Isherwood's own view of Germany; John Lehmann's contemporary assessment, itself based on Virginia Woolf's remarks on the comparative merits of fiction and poetry. The second half traces how the situation has radically altered. The three deciding factors in this critical sea change are first, biographical: his decision to leave England; second, the emergence of Isherwood as a key figure in the gay movement, and third, Isherwood's elusiveness. Some of these factors are well-known, others are not, but brought together in this way, they will hopefully prepare the ground for a critical reassessment of his early work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-137
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


  • 1930s
  • Berlin
  • Christopher Isherwood
  • Gay studies
  • John Lehmann
  • Literary reception
  • Modernism

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