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Mr Norris Changes Trains: Christopher Isherwood (Vintage classics)

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There is this great moment in the book, one of many great moments, when Christopher is talking to a friend about belonging to a place and how Berlin has become that place for him that he can feel most like himself. I think most of us seek such a place our whole lives and have to settle for finding a place that at least allows us an opportunity to mostly be ourselves, but actually finding the Shangri-La, the place that best speaks to our soul, is an elusive discovery. If you have found such a place, don’t let wild horses pull you away from it, but then sometimes, like in the case of Berlin, something happens that changes the place from what you need it to be. The magic is crushed beneath the marching feet of a coming tide of faux-moralistic, bombastic rhetoric. The final diary entries deftly capture the sense of foreboding and dread as Berlin became the epicentre of a political earthquake that precipitated the Second World War. The descriptions of driving through Berlin with the doomed Weimar police chief, the workers taking to the streets singing The International, and the author's smiling reflection in a shop window are the work of writer of genius. My first reaction was to feel, perhaps unreasonably, angry, I had to admit to myself that my feeling for Arthur had been largely possessive. He was my discovery, my property. I was as hurt as a spinster who had been deserted by her cat. And yet, after all, how silly of me. Arthur was his own master; he wasn’t accountable to me for his actions. I began to look round for excuses for his conduct, and, like an indulgent parent, easily found them. Hadn’t he, indeed, behaved with considerable nobility? Threatened from every side, he had face his troubles alone. He had carefully avoided involving me in possible future unpleasantness with the authorities.”

Mr Norris Changes Trains - Penguin Books Australia Mr Norris Changes Trains - Penguin Books Australia

Book Genre: 20th Century, British Literature, Classics, Cultural, European Literature, Fiction, Gay, Germany, Historical, Historical Fiction, LGBT, Literature, Novels, QueerThe novel follows the movements of William Bradshaw, its narrator, who meets a nervous-looking man named Arthur Norris on a train going from the Netherlands to Germany. As they approach the frontier William strikes up a conversation with Mr Norris, who wears an ill-fitting wig and carries a suspect passport.

Mr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood - Waterstones

Sally gave me the most fatuous grin: ‘I know, darling...But it makes me feel so marvellously sensual….’” And the observations are nothing but sublime. The everyday life in all layers of society, the growing political tension and the dekadence Berlin was then known for. Christopher Isherwood wrote the fictional "Mr Norris Changes Trains" based on his experiences in Berlin in the early 1930s. He left England to work in Berlin as an English tutor since Berlin was much more liberal toward homosexuals. The character William Bradshaw (named after Isherwood's middle names) acts as a narrator and an observer in the book.One of the many delights of this novel is the character Isherwood has created in Mr Norris. He is a rather delicate and fussy individual, used to the finer things in life even though he seems to have little money of his own to indulge in such luxuries. (His daily grooming regime is very precise and elaborate, not unlike that of a grande dame with lotions and face creams aplenty.) That said, when he is flush, he is more than generous to his friends, buying them little presents whenever he can. As he gets to know Bradshaw, Norris reveals a little of his childhood and the years he spent travelling around Europe with his adoring mother prior to her death. I loved this description of how Mr Norris frittered away his inheritance in the space of a couple of years, in the days of his early twenties when he didn’t know any better. Then I laughed outright. We both laughed. At that moment I could have embraced him. We had referred to the thing at last, and our relief was so great that we were like two people who have just made a mutual declaration of love. I'll leave you to discover Norris's fate for yourselves, it is an entertaining and apt conclusion for one so despicable, depraved and corrupt.

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