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Prater Violet: A Novel

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  466 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Prater Violet is the most charming novel I have read in a long time.” —Diana Trilling

Originally published in 1945, Christopher Isherwood’sPrater Violet is a stingingly satirical novel about the film industry. It centers around the production of the vacuous fictional melodrama Prater Violet, set in nineteenth-century Vienna, providing anironic counterpoint to tragic events
Paperback, 144 pages
Expected publication: February 10th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1945)
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Nov 04, 2011 Wayne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Isherwood's and lucid prose
Recommended to Wayne by: Isherwood's other books
Christopher speaks:
"There is one question that we seldom ask each other directly: it is too brutal. And yet it is the only question worth asking our fellow-travellers. What makes you go on living ? Why don't you kill yourself ? Why is all this bearable ? What makes you bear it ?
Could I answer that question about myself ? No.
Yes. Perhaps..."

And so Christopher does answer the question/s.
In that lucid, revelatory and directly simple fashion of his. But you will have to read it for yours
Prater Violet is the best book about being Jewish (except perhaps for Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl...) Also, it's the finest Isherwood book I've read, and I'm a lover of his words. A Single Man and A Meeting by the River are small, late works, full of brilliance, but incomplete. My Guru and His Disciple is a masterpiece of yogic truthfulness, but has no real ending. Isherwood was -- it's now believed -- a great diarist, but couldn't create literary structure. Here he does. On one le ...more
Hamad Al-Failakawi
"The whole beauty of the film" I announced to my mother and Richard next morning at breakfast, "is that it has a certain fixed speed. The way you see it is mechanically conditioned. I mean, take a painting — you can just glance at it, or can stare at the left-hand top corner for half an hour. Same thing with a book. The author can't stop you from skimming it, or starting at the last chapter and reading it backwards. The point is, you choose your approach. When you go into a cinema, it's differen ...more
еще одно произведение ишервуда – на этот раз небольшая повесть странного содержания и не менее странной формы, смысл которой, тем не менее, лежит где-то на уровень выше «трудов и дней мистера норриса»: снова это время прихода гитлера к власти, но увиденное и через временное расстояние, и с отдаленного пространства – из великобритании.

здесь ишервуд – сам себе альтер эго, который оказывается втянутым в киноисторию и киноиндустрию: из австрии в англии появляется режиссер бергманн, которому поручаю
Rachel Brown
This is one of my favorite books. My uncle gave me a copy when I was in high school, and I have re-read it every couple years, ever since.

Isherwood is better known for Berlin Stories, a semi-autobiographical work on pre-Nazi Germany which became the basis for Cabaret.

Prater Violet is a semi-autobiographical account of the young Isherwood was hired to write the screenplay for a relentlessly fluffy Ruritanian musical comedy, Prater Violet, to be shot in London in 1934.

The director, Friedrich Bergm
Although Prater Violet is a quick read which might seem inconsequential next to the resonating I-Was-There-When Berlin Stories, it nevertheless retains the stylistic attributes that characterize Isherwood's engaging talents as an author. Set, as with The Berlin Stories, during Hitler's rise to power, Isherwood (the character--not the writer) is able to observe from the sidelines, involved in, but never truly of the action. He is the consummate observer--well-informed, empathetic but still relati ...more
Quinn Slobodian
Isherwood is the weird third in a trio with Sebald and Bolaño. Like them, he watches the faces of his characters for the ripples of world events, convinced that they have some access to authentic experience that he lacks. Like them, you wonder about his humility sometimes, whether he doesn't secretly think that he, as the chronicler, is the one with privileged access to the authentic. Here he experiences the suppression of the socialist movement in Vienna and the beginnings of the Second World W ...more
I really enjoy Isherwood's swift character portrayals and crisp prose. Despite the comedy of much of this short book, the story is powerful for its portrayal of Europeans gradually realizing that war (WWII) is approaching.

My experience reading this was moving in that the copy I borrowed from the library happened to have been issued in 1945. It was a very small hardcover edition with very thin pages; the inside cover declared:

It is manufactured under emergency conditions and
Michael Flick
A masterpiece. Does in 128 pages what contemporary (or recently deceased) "masters" can't do in a thousand pages. Every word, ever sentence perfect.

The narrator, Christopher Isherwood, who is not the author but is the author, is hired to work on a film that is directed by an Austrian Jew in London during the fall of his country to Hitler. This slim book shows you everything that's wrong and that's right in the times--and tells you all you'll ever need to know about making a movie. The last seven
This book completely revitalized me. It's economy of language and precise plotting were refreshing and educational. I highly recommend it to anybody interested in novels that revolve around a central absence, here the impending outbreak of WWII as told through the sieve of a meaningless romantic-comedy.
A truly delightful read, with enticing insight into Art and the process of creation in relation to Man, the roles he plays under cold, artificial lights, the paths he moves along, and the chill mathematics of show-business and of the falling dominoes of history that tamper with the artistic temperament.
Gripping questions related to the human condition such as love and friendship are explored in more depth on a few pages than they usually are in thick volumes.
Bittersweet truths about who we might

First Line: “Mr. Isherwood?”

Yes, the protagonist of this book is Mr. Isherwood himself. Quite unusual, but also quite brilliant. The story takes place in London just before WWII, where Isherwood is working on a screenplay with Friedrich Bergmann. We follow the writing process and part of the movie production of "Prater Violet" – probably inspired of Isherwood’s (i.e. the real Isherwood) own experience as a screenwriter in the 1930s.

The story is also about the friendship between Isherwood and Be
I was happily surprised by this book. I mean, I had already read (and loved) The Berlin Novels by Isherwood but I guess I didn't expect so much from this book.
First, it describes the writing of a script (with a very peculiar director) and the making of the movie, set in the 30's in the UK. So it's kind of hilarious and interesting to read, the relationship between the writers and the producers, and the media, and the actors.
But I guess, what's more important is the relationship between th
"He had already ordered champagne. 'Never drink anything else before sunset.' There was a little place in Soho, he informed us, where he kept his own claret. 'Picked up six dozen at an auction last week. I bet my butler I'd find him something better than we had in the cellar. The blighter's so damned superior, but he had to admit I was right. Made him pay up, too.'" (17)

From this single snippet of dialog, we know so much about the pompous director, Chatsworth. He considers himself decadent and a

Published by Methuen & Co Ltd

This was my first experience of Christopher Isherwood. Or rather, of his writing. I was well aware of him before now. My close friends had read his work and always talked highly of him. I had seen the movies “Cabaret” (1972) and “A Single Man”(2009) – both of which were based on his novels and both of which I had thoroughly enjoyed. I knew that he was a great friend of the poet W.H. Auden and I knew that Gore Vidal had described him as “The best prose writ

Eva Mandy
I was going to give it 3 stars, but I kind of really loved like the last 10 pages or so, so it's a 3.5 now. And that's a lot, considering I'm not into short novels, truth to be told.

I read this just because the other day I ended up watching Christopher and His Kind (this BBC film, you know) just cause I love Matt Smith. And after that I just needed to read something written by Mr. Isherwood (although I couldn't find that book).

The film industry, what was happening in Vienna... It was an interest
This is my first experience with Isherwood, and after reading Prater Violet, I'm thirsty for more. The first thing that stands out for me is the dialogue. Isherwood is masterful, yet gentle, in his ability to write the exchange of words among characters and imbue them with honesty. I'm also struck by the characterizations. I particularly love Bergmann. Isherwood writes him in a way that allows the reader to experience his frantic energy and gentle charm as though it is we who are in the scene. I ...more
Keilana Decker
"...he looked deeply, affectionately, into my eyes. 'I am sure we shall be very happy together. You know, already, I feel absolutely no shame before you. We are like two married men who meet in a whorehouse.'"

This is how I felt when I was messaged on OkCupid by my soon-to-be boyfriend.
Evan Hernandez
The world is always in transition and we are always confronted with the impossibility of feeling everything that assaults is through media, friendships, journalism and our own experience. This novel tackles those deep and desperate frustrations with wise and tired eyes, alternately bringing comfort and pain. A deeply powerful read for so short a book.
Benjamin Kahn
I was fairly excited about reading this book, but I found it to be disappointing. I expected more of a sharp satire but it was actually more just about the making of a movie. Although very readable, it was by no means a great book.
This is a decent book about a writer with artistic aspirations who is hired to write a screenplay for a mainstream, lowest common denominator 1930s movie. Some aspects are good, including an entertaining description of a day on the movie set. However, the crux of the narrative revolves around Bergmann, a temperamental, tormented director who also has artistic aspirations. The enigmas of his character are clearly intended to drive the story, but I found him rather banal, whiny, and conventional. ...more
I was going to give this one three stars before I had read the last few pages which were absolutely wonderful.
Enjoyable read inside the film industry UK 1930's against a backdrop of the growth of the Nazi's in Europe ...
The main character, Christopher Isherwood himself, is hired to write the script for a film named Prater Violet, and befriends the director, Friedrich Bergmann.

The book is a casual story with irregular pace. The speed of narration reflects obstacles in the process of creating the film, while touching the issues of social class, Nazism, collective responsibility, and the approaching war. Although Isherwood is the leading character, he is careful not to reveal too much about his personal life, and
Marty Mayer
Clever and intriguing - any aspiring filmmaker should read it.
Kathleen Hagen
Prader Violets, by Christopher Isherwood, narrated by J. Paul Boehmer, Produced by Highbridge Company, downloaded from

Isherwood's story centers on the production of the vacuous fictional melodrama Prater Violet, set in 19th-century Vienna, providing ironic counterpoint
to tragic events as Hitler annexes the real Vienna of the 1930s. The novel features the vivid portraits of imperious, passionate, and witty Austrian director
Friedrich Bergmann and his disciple, a genial young screenwri
Jun 12, 2014 Ted marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Kristen Menger-Anderson rec
The last five pages alone make this a worthwhile read. Pairs well with Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon.
Continuing my new love affair with Isherwood, this novella was fabulous. It's so singular that I can't think of anyone outside of fans who would even pick it up to read, but I certainly enjoyed the thing. This was the first time I noticed his prose improved remarkably, and this, when he was already a genius. I can't get enough of the man's prose. Okay so this was less a review than a gush fest, but oh well.
Cesar Alvarez
Isherwood gets hired by an Austrian filmmaker to work as a writer for the production of his film Prater Violet in the 1930s. Sounds like this will be boring, but nope, Isherwood makes the story amazing with his wonderful character portrait of the filmmaker. Like A Single Man, I could read this again and again.
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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 had failed him; I knew it. But I could do no more. It was beyond my strength.
That night, I think, he explored the uttermost depths of his loneliness.”
“The pain of hunger beneath everything. At the end of all love-making, the dreamless sleep after the orgasm, which is like death.” 1 likes
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