Josh Ang's Reviews > Goodbye to Berlin

Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
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Mar 06, 12

really liked it
Read in March, 2012

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 meets in Berlin, the most notable of whom is Sally Bowles, who has been immortalised in the various stage and screen versions, and perhaps most indelibly etched in the moviegoer's mind as Liza Minnelli, who played this role in the 1972 flim, "Cabaret".

The sense of decadence and excess in the characters' lives foreshadows the approaching rule of the Third Reich, and Chris, the narrator seems to remain the cynical and often passive observer, even when hints of homoerotic relationship between two of his friends Peter and Otto surface in "On Ruegen Island". He becomes more prominent in the later entries, like in "The Laudauers", especially when he writes of his ambivalent friendship with Bernhard, but again he reserves his comments when he learns of Bernhard's fate, and he returns to his role as a passive camera.

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