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Goodbye To Berlin

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  3,374 ratings  ·  248 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.
Published 1987 by Methuen (first published 1939)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ivan
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

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
...more
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
Mel Bossa
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
ΑνναΦ
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
C.
Mar 07, 2010 C. rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
Kristin
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
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
Lucrezia
"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
...more
Ally
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gosia
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
...more
Ali
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
...more
Josh Ang
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
...more
Russell George

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
...more
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
Sara
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
Laura
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
David
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs5bnV...

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,
...more
Fabian
"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
Simona
"Io sono una macchina fotografica con l'obiettivo aperto; non penso, accumulo passivamente impressioni".

Leggere questo romanzo equivale a sfogliare un album di foto. E grazie a quell'obiettivo che è sempre aperto non solo sulla sua vita, ma verso il mondo intero, Isherwood immortala attimi, immagini, emozioni, sensazioni, odori, profumi, ricordi.
Isherwood si improvvisa fotografo e scatta per noi le foto più belle e importanti del suo soggiorno a Berlino negli anni 1930 - 1933. Un soggiorno che
...more
Denis
This is the book that has inspired Cabaret, but it is actually quite different from the stage musical and the movie. First, the chapters centering on Sally Bowles consist of just one segment: the novel is made of different connected short stories, and Sally's story is only one of them, and not necessarily the most important. Second, Sally Bowles in the book is a very different character than the one we've come to know and love : as Isherwood has created her, Sally reminded me in some ways of Hol ...more
Priyanka
Aug 19, 2013 Priyanka rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Priyanka by: Grauniad
Shelves: lit
This book consists of a series of fictional sketches written by Christopher Isherwood inspired by the time he had spent in Berlin in the early 30s. As the fictional narrator of these sketches, he provides an outsider's point of view to the lives of the characters as well as the political atmosphere of the city while Nazism was still nascent.

The demographically varied central characters - German and foreign, rich and poor, gay and straight, male and female, glamorous and sleazy - are vivid, some
...more
Núria
Ambientado en el Berlín de los años 30, antes del ascenso del nazismo, relata las experiencias de un narrador, llamado también Christopher Isherwood, que vive como huésped en un piso compartido y se dedica a dar clases particulares de inglés. Aunque, en realidad, el narrador actúa como un simple observador y más que su vida nos cuenta la de una serie de personajes que también malviven como pueden en la ciudad, entre ellos una chica que sueña con ser una mantenida pero también un chico que sueña ...more
Lishesque
Solemn, chilling, beautiful. I was reminded of my own two days in this city. I don't think I would have liked the book half as much if I hadn't been there.

Bits and pieces that jumped out at me:

"The lights of Hell are shining brightly this evening." (p. 122)

"All the poetry in the world is in that face." (p. 159)

"But the real heart of Berlin is a small damp black wood - the Tiergarten. At this time of the year, the cold begins to drive the peasant boys out of their tiny unprotected villages into
...more
Peter N.
Hmmm. It was readable and engaging enough, yes; it had one or two interesting vignettes on pre-Nazi Germany, yes... but dear me, what a flagrant misogynist! He wasn't capable of introducing a single female character without describing and judging her physical appearance, and his judgements are invariably damning - all women are somehow grotesque, or otherwise could be good looking were it not for some minor fault (dutifully analysed in detail by him) that lets them down completely and makes them ...more
sevda
Книгата е ценна, защото представя образът на берличаните преди (и за кратко - по време на) войната. Баровете и кабаретата, в които се запознава с най-различни и необичайни хора, моментите на бедност, които го карат да живее в отвратителен апартамент с пет други човека, ми въздействаха силно. Лаконичният стил на Ишъруд, докато в края на книгата описва идването на нацистите на власт, арестуването на приятелите му, разрухата на всичко, което е познавал, ме кара да изживявам страниците много по-тежк ...more
Stone
I put this aside for a long time after the more long-winded Mr Norris Changes Trains, but I finally thankfully discovered this is an amazing set of stories. Exuberantly flawed Berlin is falling apart as the Nazis rise to power and Mr Issyvoo captures the spirit and paints the picture wonderfully by writing about the realistic interactions he has with people who are ordinary and at the same time as unique as the time and place.

i read a lot of reviewers who are disappointed this book doesn’t have
...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
This is a great collection of happenings and people in the 1930s in Berlin.
The book is told in six chapters and each chapter focuses on a different person, or group of people, Isherwood met. He talks about his life in Berlin and about his friends and the struggles they have with life and later on with the political changes.

I thought this book showed a really authentic and realistic picture of Berlin in the years shortly before the Nazis took over power in Germany. It shows normal people and ever
...more
Helen
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
GONZA
After I read "A single man" I thought that Isherwood was pretty boring, but I really appreciated the stories in this volume, most of all because they are set in Berlin in the years short before the nazi. A pecualiar point of view of a special time in history.

Dopo aver letto "A single man" ero convinta che Isherwood fosse noioso, mortalmente a volte, ma le storie raccolte in questo volume sono belle, soprattutto perché ambientate in una Berlino che in breve vedrá l'avvento dei potere nazista, e q
...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
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More about Christopher Isherwood...
A Single Man The Berlin Stories: The Last of Mr Norris/Goodbye to Berlin Christopher and His Kind Mr Norris Changes Trains Prater Violet

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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.” 68 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.” 18 likes
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