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Prater Violet

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  903 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Originally published in 1945, Prater 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 ironic counterpoint to tragic events as Hitler annexes the real Vienna of the 1930s. The novel features the vivid portraits of imperious, passionat ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published March 20th 2001 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1945)
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Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: isherwood
A brief novella with no chapters published in 1945; Isherwood is as good as ever. It is autobiographical and the main character is called Christopher Isherwood. It describes Isherwood’s time as a screenwriter on the film Little Friend in 1934. The central character is a film director Friedrich Bergmann (based on Berthold Viertel). It is set at the time of the rise of Nazism, just before the Anschluss; Bergmann is an Austrian Jew. It is a satire of the film industry, but it also depicts a time an ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inghilterra
Scrive Manganelli nella nota finale: “Se Isherwood scrivesse musica, la sua predilezione - ha qualcosa di infantile - andrebbe ai fiati: romanzi per oboe, clarinetto, per corno di bassetto. Il corno di bassetto è aereo di quella ariosità serale e boschiva che s’accompagna ad una solitudine insieme pittoresca e irreparabile; un precario sorriso custodisce una delicata risonanza, l’allucinazione dell’eco, una sonorità pensosa, e insieme elegante; la sonorità delicata di una angoscia ostinata ma in ...more
Michael Flick
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best
A masterpiece. Does in 128 pages what contemporary (or recently deceased) "masters" can't do in a thousand pages. Every word, every 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 seve
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Isherwood, himself in the novel as novice scriptwriter, and his new acquaintance the German film director Bergmann, during their first lunch with the studio head Chatsworth:

The cigar somehow completed Chatsworth. As he puffed it, he seemed to grow larger than life-size. His pale eyes shone with a prophetic light.

‘For years I’ve had one great ambition. You’ll laught at me. Everybody does. They say I’m crazy. But I don’t care.’

He paused. Then announced solemnly: ‘Tosca. With Garbo.’

Bergmann turned
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found PRATER VIOLET an engaging novella that effectively satirizes the making of movies in the 1930s. The first-person narrator, "Christopher Isherwood," is a close adjunct to the author, and not above having a bit of fun with the making of a cloying studio movie set in "Olde" Vienna whose director is worried sick about the onslaught of fascism in the real Vienna, where his close relatives are marooned. The movie studio is set in London but much of the plot could apply to the Hollywood studios ...more
Rachel Brown
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: england, mainstream
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
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A gemlike novella with a satiric tone that belies the existential heft at its center. Isherwood's language is fresh, his characters well-drawn, and the sociopolitical context is incorporated into the plot without didacticism or expository language. At the very end the narrator engages in a bit of woo woo existential pondering that would be cringe-worthy in lesser hands, but Isherwood handles it perfectly. Prater Violet really is flawless.
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

If you liked this, make sure to follow me on Goodreads for more reviews!
Shawn Thrasher
How do you make art when the world is collapsing into ruin? With the perspective of hindsight, Christopher Isherwood fictionalizes his experience of working as a writer on a film directed in England by an Austrian film director in the midst of the Nazi unrest (and ultimate Nazi takeover) in Austria. In the typical Isherwoodian style (sharp studies of odd characters, complex plots, "I am a camera" style of observation; a blend of fiction and nonfiction; sharp wit), Isherwood explores art and crea ...more
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
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Atmospheric and encapsulated in situations that are often deeper than implied. This book is an interesting study about the connection between art, politics and personnel relationships.
Manal Omar
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, literature, fiction
Witty and entertaining. Such a masterpiece.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it

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 wr

Scout Maria
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Prater Violet is a short, sharp read. I think I may have read it a bit too fast, actually. Isherwood's prose is charming and economical, and he does a good job keeping the story's smaller players distinguishable. I loved how, in addition to the central interactions between Bergmann and the fictionalized Isherwood, a whole world behind this brief story is hinted at, is fed to the reader sideways-- the further vast workings of the film industry, the interior lives of each technician and secretary, ...more
Mar 19, 2011 added it
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
Oct 27, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Öyle arka kapak yazısında yazdığı gibi bir akıcı dille yazılmış bir kitap değildi.. Özellikle hikayenin durağanlığı yazım dilini de etkilemiş bence... Bazı yerler içiçe geçiyor ve olaylar bir anda hem kopuyor gibi hem de kopmuyor gibiydi...
Okudum ama kitap ince diye bitirdim yoksa devam etmezdim...
Evan Hernandez
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Man, have I missed Isherwood. I love his barely-there-fictionalizations and his veiled nonfiction and everything in between. Prater Violet is a super quick read, and mostly a light one, until the end, when WWII begins to steam into view and Isherwood allows himself the commentary and empathy we've all been waiting for. More, please.
Karlo Mikhail
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A wonderful wonderful novella satirizing the film and writing industries. Why didn't I read this gem of a book earlier?
Henry Sturcke
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novella is only the second book of Isherwood’s that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it even more than the first, Goodbye to Berlin. It’s an interesting feature of his work that he blurs the line between memoir and fiction.
As in Goodbye to Berlin, in Prater Violet Isherwood writes in the first person as a character named Christopher Isherwood and bases the tale on his own experience, in this case, his first foray into film. Nevertheless, it is a novel that reads like a novel. It has the freedom and
Sergio Caredda
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Un libro strano per certi versi, che però sottolinea la grandezza di Isherwood come autore. Ambientato a Londra poco prima dello scoppio della seconda guerra mondiale, narra del modo con cui viene girato un film. E si incentra su un personaggio strano, un regista austriaco. Il racconto si muove veloce, in uno ritmo di commedia che a tratti diventa quasi umorismo puro. Se non fosse che il tutto avviene sullo sfondo dei fatti che porteranno all’Anschluss dell’Austria da parte di Hitler. Ed è quest ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short, insightful read. It's fascinating to hear about the film making process of the thirties in London. The more serious underlying narrative is the growing unrest due to the rise of Hitler, accessed through Bergmann's worries about his country and family, and, by the end, Isherwood's reaction to this looming catastrophe. But again you're left feeling that Isherwood has erased or deliberately disguised himself. He's a conduit for the story, not to be looked at. The reader is more looking thr ...more
Entertaining, light, funny. Quick listen. Isherwood is a fine author capturing a moment in the English film industry of the 1930s.

As a classic film fan, I loved the inside jokes. Example: "...I've seen the Russian film. It is the classic sex triangle between a girl with thick legs, a boy, and a tractor."
Seher Andaç
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher'ın kelimeleri sayesinde okurun Bergman ile kuracağı kurgusal dostluk bir ayrıcalık! Sayfalar ilerledikçe Lawrence'ın da katılımıyla kitabın düşüncesi iyice zenginlik kazandı. Anlaşılır kısa cümleler, açık ve net anlatım. Okur dünyasının her zaman buna ihtiyacı var. O yüzden;
Herkese menekşeler benden!
Dec 12, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
ben bu kitabi sevemedim. Halbuki Cumhuriyet' in kitap ekinin 2016 yilinin kitaplarinin arasindaydi. Bir eksiklik var. Yani bu kitabi okumadan once birseyi bilmek gerekiyormus gibi geldi. Googreads de diger yabanci okurlarin yorumlarina baktim herkes bayilmis. Ama farkli kulturlerde ortak degerler yada ortak hisler bence cok onemli. Yarim biraktim hic keyif vermedi. Belki sonra...
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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
“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.” 3 likes
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