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Goodbye to Berlin

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,785 Ratings  ·  342 Reviews
First published in 1939, the novel evokes the gathering storm of Berlin before and during the rise to power of the Nazis. Events are seen through the eyes of various individuals whose lives are about to be ruined.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published July 1st 1994 by Reclam, Ditzingen (first published 1939)
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May 20, 2012 Ivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of the small pleasures of growing older is that you can re-read your favourite books and, for the most part, they seem fresh and new; one fondly recalls the core story but generally forgets the local colour, the descriptions and prose styling. I was recently reading “Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America” by Christopher Bram; in it he discussed Christopher Isherwood and “Goodbye to Berlin.” Ironically my online book group was reading it at the same time. So, I decided to re-re ...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 23, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels

I believe at one point this novel was going to be called Miserable Mopey English Sod has Absolutely No Fun in Berlin which would have left the reader in no doubt.

I am not so silly as to have expected "Two Ladies" or "The Gorilla Song" in Goodbye to Berlin, as I have discovered since I read Oliver Twist that sometimes they make up songs and add them randomly into the story when they film these books. But I did expect to be reading about Sally Bowles and her exploits at the Kit Kat Club – after al
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Christopher Isherwood lived in Berlin from 1929 to 1933 and kept detailed diaries, from which he created this novel. It's a slow mover, but it has a sense of reality that tells you Isherwood didn't stray too far from his diaries to create it. You see the gradual decline in the fortunes of people of all classes, the undercurrent of growing fear, and the uncertainty about what sort of government will prevail. People tried to go on with life as usual, acclimating so slowly to their future under Hit ...more
Christopher Isherwood lived in Berlin in the early 1930s, recorded his experiences in his diaries, and later created the fictional "Goodbye to Berlin". Although Isherwood was raised in an upper middle class home in England, he had a more frugal life in Berlin as an English tutor. To stretch his money, he lived in boarding houses where he met some memorable characters. This book is composed of six chapters (or interconnected short stories) that should be read in order.

He tells us about the narrat
This was not quite what I expected and I wish I had ended up liking it more than I did.

The famous sentence from the first page is “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking". Christopher Isherwood created the novel out of his diaries he kept in Berlin in the early 1930s. Towards the end, Hitler was rising, the city gradually changing and the writer decided to leave Berlin for good. This is the section I really liked. The rest, excepting the character of Sally B
Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye.

Ora che ho appena finito di (ri)vedere Cabaret (ma chi lo sapeva, allora, che Cabaret era - quasi - Addio a Berlino e viceversa!)
nella mia mente le parole di Isherwood si sovrappongono alle immagini del film di Bob Fosse.
La Berlino e il tono di Christopher Isherwood sono più pacati, il clima non è così rutilante e gaudente com'è nel film, né la mia immaginazione mi aveva portato a immaginare l'esuberante e disnibita Sally Bowles con gli occhi bistrati, le labbra laccate
Whilst in Berlin recently we went to see Cabaret in German in a spiegeltent. Splendid. Naturally I was looking forward to reading about the very same Sally Bowles in this book, but it turns out that Sally Bowles is a complete English Arse. Utterly unbearable. I think it would be fair to say she's been thoroughly fixed up for the musical and bravo for that decision. Certainly this book improves on the pages in which she is not to be found.

There is much to separate this book from Kästner's Going
Mel Bossa
Sep 22, 2015 Mel Bossa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0006-lgbtq
What I love about Isherwood's writing is its honesty. He's so transparent and seems incapable of being pretentious. And there's a lovely loneliness to him I find so endearing. Maybe I wish the characters in these stories would have treated him better, or maybe it was he who was too "English" and well-bred to really let his guard down with any of the women and men he met. Of course, the real central figure in this novel of collected vignettes, is Berlin. A Berlin that changes from person to perso ...more
Jun 01, 2012 ΑνναΦ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Solo un fine narratore può rendere per fermi immagini, acquerelli, note diaristiche apparentemente prive di pathos e distaccata ironia, prima il crescente disagio economico della popolazione (mirabile la scena dei cittadini davanti alla prima banca fallita, chiusa, in vana attesa con le borse di cuoio) e poi l'inarrestabile, orribile ascesa della violenza nazista. La vita al tempo della Repubblica di Weimar scorre perfino lieta, anche brillante tra café, locali notturni, gite sul Wannsee, i rest ...more
Mar 07, 2010 C. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody, really
Recommended to C. by: Glenda
Shelves: own-or-access, 2009
I actually finished this book four days ago but had to fly to Sydney before I had a chance to write up a review, and then I come home and it's 39-freaking-degrees. Stupid Melbourne weather. Anyway, I didn't think about this book once while I was lounging by the pool or frolicking in the surf like the good little Australian that I am (the stereotype broke down when I took out my copy of Great Expectations, but it was nice while it lasted), which goes to show that it wasn't really that great. Inde ...more
I had mixed feelings about this book. I found it to be important and, at times, interesting, but not what I expected. It also had this derivative quality, reminding me of other books I've read. Unfortunately for the author, these were books written after this was published and so no fault of his own. But yet it still felt that way. The character of Sally Knowles is Holly Golightly. Bernhard Landauer was Gatsby, particularly in the scene where he has a garden party and plays as though he's having ...more
Steve Kettmann
May 07, 2010 Steve Kettmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2010
If it wasn't for the movie "Cabaret," which made the Sally Bowles character famous, I don't think I would have found her even close to the most memorable character here. This is a British edition of the material on which - through various steps along the way - the musical and then movie of "Cabaret" were based, but only somewhat. Living in Berlin as I do, I of course took extra interest in the details of the Isherwood character's interactions with Germans in Berlin from a colorfully eccentric bu ...more
May 19, 2012 Ally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 01, 2013 Lucrezia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Io sono una macchina fotografica con l' obbiettivo aperto"

Berlino 1930 un giovanotto arriva a Berlino, un distinto giovanotto straniero come ce ne sono tanti, senonché questo giovanotto scriverà molti anni più tardi un libro come "A single man".
Ma per il momento non lo sa e si aggira tranquillo per la città con la sola idea di scrivere e di registrare qualsiasi cosa possa essergli utile, senza fare alcuna distinzione e senza avere inutili pregiudizi.
E sempre così che si fanno le conoscenze migl
Jan 17, 2016 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Powinno się rozdać tę książkę wszystkim ludziom w Europie. Wait! Przecież już prawie nikt nie czyta...
Feb 18, 2015 MJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
To na podstawie tej książki powstał scenariusz filmu Boba Fossa "Kabaret" (z Lizą Minnelli w roli głównej), a dokładniej na podstawie tylko jednego epizodu. Dzieło Isherwood'a nie jest bowiem powieścią, lecz właśnie zbiorem epizodów - wspomnień autora i narratora jednocześnie, które jednak tworzą spójną i bardzo ciekawą opowieść o Berlinie z początku lat 30 ubiegłego wieku.

Ponieważ autor zarabia na utrzymanie udzielaniem korepetycji z angielskiego i nie ma stałego lokum, możemy zajrzeć wraz z ni
Aug 29, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodbye to Berlin

Goodbye to Berlin was chosen by my book group to read during August, we meet later this evening to discuss it. My first Christopher Isherwood book, and I don’t know what I was expecting, but it surprised me for a number of reasons. Although the book is a novel, it reads more like a personal travelogue, the narrator sharing a name with the author. Obviously there is a large autobiographical element to the book which is based upon Isherwood’s travels in the Weimar republic of Germ
Jun 23, 2016 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Berlin is a skeleton which aches in the cold: it is my own skeleton aching. I feel in my bones the sharp ache of the frost in the girders of the overhead railway, in the iron-work of balconies, in bridges, tramlines, lamp-standards, latrines. The iron throbs and shrinks, the stone and the bricks ache dully, the plaster is numb.

I read this book on the way to, while in, and saying goodbye to Berlin. (And, eerily enough, was heading to Rügen on the train while reading the chapter on Rügen...) A bea
Paige Reiring
A book has not left me emotionally wrecked like this in years — maybe ever. Isherwood sets up this book as a recollection of his time spent in Berlin before the first World War. The book is sort of a “Based on a True Story” type deal, where everything he writes is rooted in truth, which makes it all that much better and worse.

Isherwood’s writing is clean and beautiful, with just enough detail to set you in the scene but not so much as to drive you to boredom. The short stories are interlinked in
Josh Ang
Mar 06, 2012 Josh Ang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A document or diary of the last days of Weimar Germany seen through the eyes of 'Christopher Isherwood', whom the author is careful to call "a convenient ventriloquist's dummy, nothing more", effectively distancing himself from it being autobiographical in his preface of sorts.

However, despite these famous lines, "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking", what unfolds is a very personal perspective of the families he lives with, friends and acquaintances he me
Russell George
Jan 13, 2012 Russell George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I loved this. It’s a series of four vignettes describing various characters the author meets whilst living in Berlin, teaching English and trying to write a novel, in the early 30’s. I began thinking it lacked a bit of substance because it’s so focussed on character rather than any real plot, but after meeting more people, the effect is that you understand the context in which it is written and, teasingly, something of the author himself. By context, of course, this means the onset of Nazism. Bu
Nick Jones
Although I had not read any of his works, I always had a prejudice against Christopher Isherwood. I placed him amongst the British writers who played at being communist in the 1930s, but then resorted to their class background during the Cold War and became pillars of the establishment. Maybe they were serious writers, but they were dilettantes at life. I read Goodbye to Berlin because it was on the shelves of the house I stayed in while on holiday and I found that I enjoyed it. Isherwood had or ...more
I find Weimar-era Germany to be a fascinating period. It's right before Hitler comes to power, the gulf between rich and poor is the size of the Grand Canyon, and everybody smokes a lot of cigarettes. I saw the movie Cabaret years ago, which lifts a few characters and incidents from this book, but to my initial disappointment, Sally Bowles does not play a huge role in the proceedings here. In fact there's very little plot to speak of. Isherwood's narrator, a thinly veiled version of himself, say ...more
Jan 01, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work is a collection of several long stories set in Germany in the years before and at the beginning of the Holocaust. The first stories were filled with characters so vapid and painfully unlikable (including, in my opinion, Sally, the character made famous by Cabaret)that I was unable to connect with their stories in any way. Knowing what horror was building in Berlin as they went about their shallow, selfish, ugly little lives made the self-centered characters even more unlikable. Then Is ...more
"even now i can't all together believe that any of this has ever happened . . ."

in a series of interlocking vignettes, isherwood the author writes poignantly about isherwood the character's experiences in berlin, just as it begins its tragic slide into arguably the darkest part of the twentieth century. its concise and character-driven, peopled with bewitching (and doomed) personalities throughout.

reader warning, however: don't go into it expecting a literary version of cabaret. it's a far cry f
Sep 16, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book. Isherwood's Berlin reminded me mightily of New York, filled with wildly varied characters all living on top of one another in a tightly crowded city; gossipy, worldly, generous, humorous, crafty, just trying to get by, prejudiced in one moment and open-hearted in the next. And that's what makes for such haunted reading. Throughout the stories, there are passing mentions of Hitler, and what he will do to the Jews when he gets his chance. After all, this was written in 1931, ...more
Jun 19, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The sentiment of all idiots everywhere, every shithead who crawls out of the woodwork as they inevitably do. Lovely original idea of course but always manipulated by the truly satanic although they never suspect it. God is forever on their side, and he always hates just what they hate and they're too thick to see the conection. I didn't think a great deal of the book or the movie but this scene always seemed to get to the heart of the matter, a la Greene,
Hannah Smith
Goodbye to Berlin is one of the books on my reading list for University therefore I picked it up for that reason. I really struggled to get into this as it's not my usual type of book and it seemed very descriptive with little happening, I started to enjoy it a little bit more when I was 100 pages in.

Christopher Isherwood gives you 4 accounts of the situation in Germany during the Nazi's rise to power and just after. Half the time the characters seem to be naive and often argue that Hitler didn
May 14, 2014 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Berlin Stories" all contain so many colors and emotions that the whole desolate grey Berlin of our dreams is gone. Well... sort of. The writer's autobiographical anecdotes are inspiring-- this is precisely what a foreigner writing in a strange land should write like. He is mystified, he is the average onlooker, but he participates often and with polarizing results (even his sexual identity is a big ?), usually saying one thing to a character (lying, inventing, distorting...) and meaning ano ...more
This is such a wonderful read celebrating odd little characters. But it's also rather sad as it's saying goodbye, not just because this is from the 1930s and most of them will have passed on, but because through the book the Nazi movement starts to creep in, and you realise these people are either going to change, or are going to have to leave the country if they're to survive. It is a little creepy how there's tiny side notes to the Nazis to begin with, like they're just some lunatic fringe no ...more
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Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen-writer, autobiographer, and diarist. He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing. He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.

Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privile
More about Christopher Isherwood...

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“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.” 90 likes
“But seriously, I believe I'm a sort of Ideal Woman, if you know what I mean. I'm the sort of woman who can take men away from their wives, but I could never keep anybody for long. And that's because I'm the type which every man imagines he wants, until he gets me; and then he finds he doesn't really, after all.” 21 likes
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