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Prater Violet

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  771 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
"Prater Violet is the most charming novel I have read in a long time." —Diana Trilling

Originally published in 1945, Christopher Isherwood's 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 an ironic counterpoint to tragic even
Paperback, 128 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1945)
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Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Me encanta cómo escribe Christopher Isherwood, y este libro no ha sido una excepción.

Es muy cortito, pero en muy pocas páginas hace una sátira brillante del mundo del cine, tan centrado en recrear una Viena del siglo XIX que ya no existe; mientras la Viena actual se hace pedazos y Hitler lo observa todo desde Alemania. El ambiente que se respiraba en la Europa de los años 30 se refleja en cada página del libro.

Isherwood tiene un don para narrar todo esto, y para crear una brillante comparación
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rachel Brown
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainstream, england
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
Michael Flick
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best
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
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
Manal Al Nadabi
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Witty and entertaining. Such a masterpiece.
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
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
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
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
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!
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful wonderful novella satirizing the film and writing industries. Why didn't I read this gem of a book earlier?
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.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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

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...
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A delightful novella about the compromise and collaboration of filmmaking. Isherwood is a master of the simple, introspective observation, and his meditations on working with an artist he admires gives one hope that the magic of mentorship is perpetually just around the corner.
Richard Jespers
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prater Violet is a short novel about the film industry of 1933 London. The movie being made, Prater Violet, is set in pre-1914 Vienna, where a young woman named Toni sells violets in the streets. Soon she meets a handsome young man, who, at first, seems like a student but turns out to be Rudolf, the Crown Prince of Borodania. As Isherwood does in other fictional works, his persona becomes a character in this work. The novel draws upon his experience as a scriptwriter, a role that he will later c ...more
Roniel Tessler
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
A pretty weak book. The last four pages start to sound profound, but those are the last four pages.
Yuri Faenza
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isherwood depicts with irony and perceptiveness the various processes of film-making and the characters orbiting around a blockbuster. Hired to help an Austrian director writing the screenplay of a British movie, Isherwood shrinks his role to little more than an observer, and presents a roundup of hilarious characters: an exuberant producer, who is much smarter than he shows; a disillusioned technician with a fake leg, longing for a word ruled by technocrats; a sensitive secretary; most interest ...more
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
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
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.” 3 likes
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