Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Goodbye to Berlin

Rate this book
Here, meine Damen und Herren, is Christopher Isherwood's brilliant farewell to a city which was not only buildings, streets, and people, but was also a state of mind which will never come around again.

In linked short stories, he says goodbye to Sally Bowles, to Fraulein Schroeder, to pranksters, perverts, political manipulators; to the very, very guilty and to the dwindling band of innocents. It is goodbye to a Berlin wild, wicked, breathtaking, decadent beyond belief and already -- in the years between the wars -- welcoming death in through the door, though more with a wink than a whimper.

~from the back cover

208 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1939

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Christopher Isherwood

110 books1,226 followers
British-born American writer Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood portrayed Berlin in the early 1930s in his best known works, such as Goodbye to Berlin (1939), the basis for the musical Cabaret (1966). Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, autobiographer, and diarist.

With W.H. Auden he wrote three plays— The Dog Beneath the Skin (1932), The Ascent of F6 (1936), and On the Frontier (1938). Isherwood tells the story in his first autobiography, Lions and Shadows .

After Isherwood wrote joke answers on his second-year exams, Cambridge University in 1925 asked him to leave. He briefly attended medical school and progressed with his first two novels, All the Conspirators (1928) and The Memorial (1932). In 1930, he moved to Berlin, where he taught English, dabbled in Communism, and enthusiastically explored his homosexuality. His experiences provided the material for Mister Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1938), still his most famous book.

In Berlin in 1932, he also began an important relationship with Heinz Neddermeyer, a young German with whom he fled the Nazis in 1933. England refused entry to Neddermeyer on his second visit in 1934, and the pair moved restlessly about Europe until the Gestapo arrested Neddermeyer in May 1937 and then finally separated them.

In 1938, Isherwood sailed with Auden to China to write Journey to a War (1939), about the Sino-Japanese conflict. They returned to England and Isherwood went on to Hollywood to look for movie-writing work. He also became a disciple of the Ramakrishna monk, Swami Prabhavananda, head of the Vedanta Society of Southern California. He decided not to take monastic vows, but he remained a Hindu for the rest of his life, serving, praying, and lecturing in the temple every week and writing a biography, Ramakrishna and His Disciples (1965).

In 1945, Isherwood published Prater Violet, fictionalizing his first movie writing job in London in 1933-1934. In Hollywood, he spent the start of the 1950s fighting his way free of a destructive five-year affair with an attractive and undisciplined American photographer, William Caskey. Caskey took the photographs for Isherwood’s travel book about South America, The Condor and The Cows (1947). Isherwood’s sixth novel, The World in the Evening (1954), written mostly during this period, was less successful than earlier ones.

In 1953, he fell in love with Don Bachardy, an eighteen-year-old college student born and raised in Los Angeles. They were to remain together until Isherwood’s death. In 1961, Isherwood and completed the final revisions to his new novel Down There on a Visit (1962). Their relationship nearly ended in 1963, and Isherwood moved out of their Santa Monica house. This dark period underpins Isherwood’s masterpiece A Single Man (1964).

Isherwood wrote another novel, A Meeting by the River (1967), about two brothers, but he gave up writing fiction and turned entirely to autobiography. In Kathleen and Frank (1971), he drew on the letters and diaries of his parents. In Christopher and His Kind (1976), he returned to the 1930s to tell, as a publicly avowed homosexual, the real story of his life in Berlin and his wanderings with Heinz Neddermeyer. The book made him a hero of gay liberation and a national celebrity all over again but now in his true, political and personal identity.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,650 (26%)
4 stars
6,211 (45%)
3 stars
3,238 (23%)
2 stars
512 (3%)
1 star
90 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,118 reviews
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,535 reviews1,793 followers
January 26, 2020
I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking (p.1)
I catch sight of my face in the mirror of a shop, and am horrified to see that I am smiling. You can't help smiling, in such beautiful weather. The trams are going up and down the Kleiststrasse, just as usual. They, and the people on the pavement, and the tea cosy-cosy dome of the Nollendorfplatz station have an air of a curious familiarity, of striking resemblance to something one remembers as normal and pleasant in the past - like a very good photograph.
No. Even now I can't altogether believe that any of this really happened...

So the idea of a camera and of photography frames this little book, my first thought was 'no, you are not a camera, nor can you be' any such assertion always giving rising to the opposite thought. But it seems a key idea - the author pretends he is not the author just a camera, and his stories just photographs, instantly we wonder why does he pretend not to be human, to be a device? And recall that even a camera has to be pointed and clicked, the film wound on, even if there isn't a photographer, there must be a person who sets up the camera trap and that implies any number of conscious and unconscious decisions. A photograph we know isn't always just a true image, it can be manipulated in various ways. The 'camera' decided to be in Berlin, to arrive in 1930 and to leave in 1933. The negatives are only finally developed in 1939, reading the stories one notices that they intersect each other, time has been sacrificed to preserve unity of place, the illusion of a camera present at one location taking a picture, and then we can inspect the scenes captured by the camera in so far as they are careful staged and arranged of posers the whole thing is about performance the book is a game between ideas of theatre and veracity.

I think we can easily say that Isherwood is trying to hide behind the image of the camera and a theme is him playing hide and seek with the reader, he tells us about his life and experiences and yet tries to hide from our view. Some clues as to why occur early on in the third paragraph he talks of the boys whistling to their girlfriends to let them in, he doesn't like this because eventually a whistle so piercing, so insistent, so despairingly human, that at last I have to get up and peep through the slats of the Venetian blind to make quite sure that it is not - as I know very well it could not possibly be - for me (p.2) The man desires to be treated by a young man as his girlfriend. A transgression of sexuality and class (and nation too, if you are of patriotic inclinations). We might understand then why he might hide from his 1939 audience, but then we have to wonder why he reveals so much, this isn't a strip tease, more a compulsive taking off and putting back on the same garment.

My reaction was to imagine that what Isherwood needed was Earnest Hemingway, specifically in Spain, as I recall from Death in the Afternoon Hemingway was obsessed with men having sex with men - he sees it everywhere from the paintings of El Greco to a pair of Americans in a Paris Hotel, with Hemingway providing the Gaydar surely Isherwood would be cosy in another man's arms in no time, but no, this was a false conclusion for in the 15th paragraph, just pages 5 into 6 ,we have the Herr Rittmeister, the riding master who specialises in riding women, overturning the coffee cups as he does so - staining the wallpaper - with coffee allegedly. One has a sense of Isherwood as ambivalent about sexuality, he desires to be desired, and to hear his boyfriend whistling for him from the street, at the same time he is a camera in the zoo, photographing the uncontrollable animal behaviours of the non-cameras, the humans. Separate from them, safe from emotional involvement.

Indeed later Otto is described as an animal, but Isherwood observes the good effects the animal behaviour has on Peter Wilkinson, but also Peter's descent into jealousy whenever Otto looks at a woman, or a poster. Sexual life may have its satisfactions, but Isherwood appears to fear the power of the emotions, I wonder if in part this is because 'Peter Wilkinson' and 'Sally Bowles' are alter egos of Isherwood rather than real people. No doubt the fanciful utterance of a sick person and the relationship between Isherwood and those others not so direct, though when Sally Bowles says that painting her toe nails makes her feel sensual I imagine Isherwood admires her open sensuality, Wilkinson in counterpoint to her is a warning, if you step into a sexual life this is what you'll become - a jealous obsessive. Perhaps because of this the book reminded me of the film La Dolce Vita, which is anything but to its protagonists the politics of the two works is also similar. Here in the legendary hedonistic last years of the Weimar republic no one seems to be having a good time.

The same triad repeats itself through the book - in politics there is communism, Hitler, or indifference - passing on by while wringing the hands. Since Isherwood is a camera, we might expect him to take the third choice and indeed that is the best description of his inactions. During the Sally Bowles chapter Isherwood observes the funeral procession for Social democracy pass under his window - after this he begins to describe himself as a socialist, by extension associating himself with a dead cause, later he is described as a communist, this defined as a belief in equality, and as an anti-fascist. So we ask if the camera is not ideologically neutral, but in fact ideologically committed, do a series of pictures of Berlin's demi-monde and scrapers and strivers barely keeping their heads above water, some of whom support Hitler, most of whom are politically uncommitted amount to a political picture?

There is an implicit warning, if you don't take sides, you don't get to choose and eventually you'll be discussing the nature of death by 'natural causes' (pp.222-224). If you're not involved in politics , politics will involve itself with you. This this emphasised by the visit to the Reformatory, the boys there can see through the windows their options for their future life, the prison or the factory. And the factory has closed down. They aren't locked in because where can they run to? The borstal is a social service, a refuge from home life. Isn't there a kind of natural instinct for freedom? Isherwood asks, there is, but the boys soon lose it (p.239). This appears to be a political commentary, given the choice between work or concentration camps people will be quiet and quickly accept the loss of freedom, and writing in 1939 plainly there are international implications to this. Peace is indivisible, as Molotov said, without a cocktail in his hand.

Why, I wondered did Isherwood stay so long in Berlin - he doesn't seem to have liked it, not even the gay bar and the nightclub, but then the whole book comes down to performance and staging, the art of being a photographer perhaps is in knowing when to take a picture, and I suspect at some point he is staying to collect stories. At the Nowak's he writes of working on a novel about unhappy people in a large country house with unearned incomes while living among unhappy people in a small rented apartment where there is Kein Auskommen mit dem Einkommen, no outcome with this income, one can imagine that at some point the pfenning dropped.

The politics was nicely handled, the Nazi presence builds up and with the eruption of the Americans into the Queer club we sense that the Nazis are street theatre, they are just another form of performance, carefully staged, while in the background is the succession of unsuccessful chancellors as the political process grinds towards failure.

It is a much more miserable and alienated work than I had imagined it might be. But then I suppose when a person aspires to being a camera, what can one expect?

Profile Image for Luís.
1,827 reviews478 followers
March 17, 2023
The author prefers introspection to action in this novel, fed by his memories. He positions himself as a "cameraman," observes the characters, and graciously unfolds their stories while sharing their daily lives.
In a historic pre-war period marked by the financial crisis and drastic changes from the calm before the storm, Christopher Isherwood weaves a subtle story, colorful and poetic.
With funny anecdotes, blows of fate, disillusionment, and fears, Berlin saw his last moments of recklessness before the arrival of the Nazis in power.
Built on the art of nuance, Christopher Isherwood relies on empathy, clarity of looks, and the ability to capture collective history in unique destinies, offering us a rare and valuable book.
Profile Image for Steven Godin.
2,322 reviews2,196 followers
February 9, 2017
Goodbye to Berlin indeed!, at least as it was, and the rest of Europe for that matter, as storm is growing within the German establishment, a storm that will go on to wreak havoc across the land and neighboring Poland as Hilter sets in motion the beginning of the darkest time for humanity in the twentieth century. Originally planned as a huge novel titled "The Lost" covering the years of pre-Hitler Berlin, but was deemed to grandiose for the short stories and diaries written during this time, Christopher Isherwood uses six sketches here forming roughly a continuous narrative between 1930 and 1933, spending this period in Berlin he mixes the decadence and people of high society with also those fearful few who can foresee trouble ahead. From his landlady and the tenants who stay in their apartment, young wannabe socialites trying to make it big, and time spent on Ruegen Island with two male friends who's sexual desire causes conflict during their spell together, these individuals stories are told almost like confessions, where Isherwood himself is just lingering in the background listening a hell of a lot but with just the occasional comments made with a wry sense of humour and his prose has a distant style to it, meaning that even though you are intimate and close with those involved there is also a sense of detachment. Considering what lies around the corner the reading is humorous far more than I expected, but this actually helps make it pleasurable and light rather than dark. Isherwood's "Mr Norris Changes Trains" was also to be part of "The Lost", and there are contradicting overlaps between that and "Goodbye to Berlin" which would have come together had he decided on the full length novel. The Nazi's in general only get mentioned briefly here and it's not until the later stages that the mistreatment of Jews becomes more apparent. "A Single Man" in my eyes is one of greatest small novels of the twentieth century, and I would be lying to say this is better, because it isn't, however in terms of exposing German life prior to war it's carried through with startling ability and deft touch.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,179 reviews9,241 followers
November 23, 2014

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 all, in Dickens Fagin doesn’t sing "You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two" but he is there for the duration - so what a disappointment when Sally turns up only for 66 pages and it’s just kind of mentioned that she’s a got a 2 week gig as a nightclub singer and there’s no Kit Kat Club at all, so no outrageous MC and no camp drag acts, and after 66 pages no Sally Bowles. And while she’s around all she does is irritate by moaning about how she’s always spending too much time with the wrong gentlemen and drinking prairie oysters which Isherwood mentions like a million times. Right at the end he trawls around a few Berlin night spots and one gay bar is mentioned in one paragraph, and that I guess paragraph was pounced upon by the scriptwriters as their excuse to invent the Kit Kat Club.

Nothing happens in this novel because it’s a thinly fictionalised diary, and not that fictionalised either because he gives his own character the name Christopher Isherwood, which is a bit of a give-away. So we just get a dreary succession of Berlin characters who are kind of there for a bit and then not there, just like people are in life.

It’s all a bit bleurhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

When this was turned into a play it was re-titled I Am a Camera and a critic came up with a great one line review, "Me no Leica" which is one of two one-line reviews I can remember, the other being of Pink Floyd's movie The Wall : "All in all it's just another flick to appal."

Oh well.

What use is sitting alone in your room
Goodbye to Berlin?
Life is a cabaret old chum
So sling it and let’s get a drink.

Profile Image for Guille.
741 reviews1,445 followers
January 8, 2020

Una novela que no está nada mal y en la que lo mejor, sin duda, es el personaje de Sally Bowles y el capítulo a ella dedicado.
Profile Image for Jacob Overmark.
202 reviews9 followers
August 5, 2017
"Even now I can´t altogether believe that any of this has really happened ..."

But it did happen. All of it.
Although the Goodbye to Berlin is only semi autobiographic it gives a fine picture of Berlin between wars.
The poor staying poor, the rich getting richer, the intellectuals turning communists and the working class looking for a strong leader to set everything right.
In between the class struggle is "Herr Christoph", a foreigner, an upcoming writer, teaching English to spoiled upper class kids for a penny and once in a while free riding in high society.
It´s not that easy to make a lasting impression as a writer in your threadbare clothes and old shoes, when your last (and only) novel sold just 5 copies.
So why are you here, Herr Christoph?
"To find myself", seems to be the answer. "To get away from the bonds of English aristocracy, explore my true nature, and not least my sexuality".

"But I´m also here to observe. 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.”

And the observations are nothing but sublime. The everyday life in all layers of society, the growing political tension and the dekadence Berlin was then known for.

A delightful look into a Berlin that is no more.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
January 16, 2021
”Everybody stared at Sally, in her canary yellow beret and shabby fur coat, like the skin of a mangy old dog.

‘I wonder,’ she was fond of remarking, ‘what they’d say if they knew that we two old tramps were going to be the most marvelous novelist and the greatest actress in the world.’

‘They’d probably be very much surprised.’”

I was watching the Rick Stein travel show Long Weekends, and he was in Berlin. As with most of his shows, he incorporates books that correspond with his travels and many times produces memories of his youth, travelling about Europe with a knapsack full of books. In this episode, he discussed Christopher Isherwood’s book Goodbye to Berlin and of course Sally Bowles obsession with a concoction she called Prairie Oyster. ”Dexterously, she broke the eggs into the glasses, added the Worcester sauce and stirred up the mixture with the end of a fountain-pen.” Sally practically lived on them and soon has Christopher craving them as well, or maybe he just craves them as part of the Sally mystique.

I’m sure almost everyone on the planet has seen the 1972 film Cabaret, based on this book, or the stage play. If you haven’t, you must. Sometime in the early 1990s when I was still hanging about the University of Arizona campus trying to finish up a degree in English Literature, a young woman asked me to go see the stage play Cabaret with her. My budget at the time was more in the range of $1 movies than $60 for a seat to see a play, so I readily said yes and would have said yes if she had sported a moustache and a raging case of BO, but to add to my enjoyment, the young lady was not only attractive but intelligent and a huge fan of Cabaret. We arrived, and I felt constricted in my borrowed suit and self conscious about my skinny tie, which I felt that if the embarrassment reached too high a level at least I could strangle myself with it, quietly, somewhere in the back of the theatre where I wouldn’t intrude on the events on stage.

Before things could begin, a woman came out on stage moving in that self-conscious way that people do who are uncomfortable speaking before a large audience. I thought to myself, shit, she’s going to tell us that the show has been cancelled due to unforeseen disasters, which I was prepared to yell...but the show must always go on. She tapped the mic, always a delaying tactic for the self-conscious, and said, “We have a problem ladies and gentlemen; the lead actor playing the Emcee has become ill and can’t perform.”

I looked over at the stricken face of my companion as groans emanated from the crowd around us. The woman’s voice brightened, “But, and I can’t hardly believe this, but we called Joel Grey to see if he could possibly stand in...and he said, yes!”

A pandemonium of clapping broke out, led by my ecstatic companion. You’d have thought that a Beatle had wandered on stage as Joel Grey poked his head out the curtain for a moment to soak in the applause. For those who don’t know, Grey was the actor who played the role on Broadway and in the film version, so this was a real treat indeed. At the time, it was a great experience, but of course, as time has gone by, I’ve grown in my own cultural awareness, and my memories of that experience have only become edged in more vibrant colors.

So the poignancy of this book is that it is set in the 1930s, just as the Nazis are coming to power. The gorgeous decadence and extravagant creativity that is exploding out of Germany is about to be stomped with jackboots. Isherwood and Sally Bowles are living in the last few moments of this period and are trying to discover ways to break through and have enough money to leave their hand to mouth existence behind them. They try to shake down a rich American, but discover that they aren’t quite as clever as they thought, nor is he quite as doltish as they hoped. Sleeping with ”dirty old Jewish producers” isn’t really getting Sally anywhere either. She does like to shock people, and when Christopher introduces her to his girlfriend, things do not go well.

”’Haven’t you any small-talk except adultery?’

‘People have got to take me as I am,’ retorted Sally, grandly.

‘Finger-nails and all?’ I’d noticed Natalia’s eyes returning to them again and again, in fascinated horror.

Sally laughed: ‘Today, I specially didn’t paint my toe-nails.’

‘Oh rot, Sally! Do you really?’

‘Yes, of course I do.’

‘But what on earth’s the point? I mean, nobody--’ I corrected myself, ‘very few people can see them…’

Sally gave me the most fatuous grin: ‘I know, darling...But it makes me feel so marvellously sensual….’”

There is this great moment in the book, one of many great moments, when Christopher is talking to a friend about belonging to a place and how Berlin has become that place for him that he can feel most like himself. I think most of us seek such a place our whole lives and have to settle for finding a place that at least allows us an opportunity to mostly be ourselves, but actually finding the Shangri-La, the place that best speaks to our soul, is an elusive discovery. If you have found such a place, don’t let wild horses pull you away from it, but then sometimes, like in the case of Berlin, something happens that changes the place from what you need it to be. The magic is crushed beneath the marching feet of a coming tide of faux-moralistic, bombastic rhetoric.

The rise of Hitler is starting to intrude on their lives, and one of Christopher’s friends makes an observation that could apply to politics today.”The political moral is certainly depressing: these people could be made to believe in anybody or anything.”

There is lots to enjoy in this novel, but I must confess that when Sally Bowles is off stage, I pine for her return. What is most appealing about her is her freedom to really be herself, and if you must love her, it will be because you know everything there is to know about her. Shame is a foreign concept to her. Impulses are to be embraced, and life must be squeezed until the last drop of joy or pain can be extracted.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten and an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/jeffreykeeten/
Profile Image for Ivan.
708 reviews15 followers
May 20, 2012
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-read it for the first time in twenty-five years.

I have always been a vicarious traveller. I’ve been to Italy with James and du Maurier, France with Stein and Baldwin, Spain with Hemingway, China with Pearl Buck, Burma with Orwell, and India with Ackerley and Forster; all memorable trips, but Germany with Isherwood has been a special treat.

I love the interaction of the characters and how Isherwood introduces them to us. I thoroughly enjoyed the milieu of the boarding-house, and the decadence of Berlin circa 1930. Yes, there were Nazis, but their presence added a sense of tension and romance to Isherwood’s grand adventure.

Sally Bowles is an exasperating creature. One loves and loathes her simultaneously. Is she endearing or a nuisance? Both. Is she wicked? No. Self-absorbed? Yes, quite so. One is left with the impression that poor Sally is never going to amount to much as an actress or a singer. She lacks talent, discipline and the requisite commitment to her craft. Instead she seems content to sleep her way to success, only the poor creature hasn’t the good sense to sleep with the appropriate people. She is a good-time girl with delusions of grandeur. It is her imperfections that make her such a memorable character (indeed, actresses as diverse as Julie Harris, Judi Dench, Liza Minnelli and Natasha Richards have played her in dramatizations for stage and screen).

I laughed out loud when Sally commented that her lover's underclothes wear was so old and raggedy that they could have belonged to John the Baptist.

The scenes with Chris, Peter and Otto on the island were truly inspired. Ah, Otto. Who hasn't known an Otto? He's a taker. But then Peter is a user too, isn't he, in his own way? I mean in the end, you get what you pay for. Perhaps if Peter had been more of a man and less of a fishwife...but this was always going to be a short lived relationship.

I found the ending of the "The Nowaks" moving. The images of the patients standing around the bus as it readies for departure are indelibly etched in my mind. Otto really became quite annoying; it’s a wonder he lived passed puberty. I think I could have lived in that house for about an hour.

“The Landauers” section was particularly fine. Natalia is a great character. I loved the scene where Natalia met Sally and they didn’t hit it off – Sally stuck her foot in her mouth after only having said hello. Christopher seems to be the only non-anti Semite he knows. Bernhard is an emotional cripple; manipulative, mysterious and creepy at the same time.

Sally, Otto, Peter, Bernhard…does Christopher seek out neurotic, wayward people because he “likes” them or because as a writer he finds them fascinating?

The final diary entries deftly capture the sense of foreboding and dread as Berlin became the epicentre of a political earthquake that precipitated the Second World War. The descriptions of driving through Berlin with the doomed Weimar police chief, the workers taking to the streets singing The International, and the author's smiling reflection in a shop window are the work of writer of genius.

I read this slowly - savoured it - lazed about Frl. Schroeder's listening to the gossip, hoping she'd make me an omelette.
Profile Image for Francesc.
382 reviews193 followers
September 13, 2020
Leído hace muchos años. Lo recuerdo como un paseo de su autor, Christopher Isherwood, por el Berlín de las entre guerras. Fue una lectura agradable.

Read many years ago. I remember it as a walk by its author, Christopher Isherwood, through interwar Berlin. It was a pleasant read.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
June 1, 2019
Goodbye to Berlin (The Berlin Novels #2), Christopher Isherwood
Goodbye to Berlin is a 1939 novel by Christopher Isherwood set in Weimar Germany. It is written as a connected series of six short stories and novellas. These are: "A Berlin Diary (Autumn 1930)", "Sally Bowles", "On Ruegen Island (Summer 1931)", "The Nowaks", "The Landauers" and "A Berlin Diary (Winter 1932-3)".
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه فوریه سال 2012 میلادی
عنوان: خداحافظ برلین؛ نویسنده: کریستوفر ایشروود؛ مترجم: آرش طهماسبی؛ تهران، فرهنگ جاوید؛ 1390، در 293 ص؛ شابک: 9786009174324؛ چاپ دوم 1391؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی - سده 20 م
فهرست کتاب: دربارهٔ نویسنده؛ مقدمهٔ نویسنده؛ «خاطرات روزانهٔ برلین (پاییز 1930 میلادی)»؛ «سالی بوولز»؛ «در روگن آیلند (تابستان 1931 میلادی)»؛ «خانوادهٔ نوواک»؛ «خانوادهٔ لاندائر»؛ «خاطرات روزانهٔ برلین (زمستان 1932 و سال 1933 میلادی)»؛
خداحافظ برلین، تصور او از این شهر گمشده است؛ خیال نگارگر از آپارتمان‌های استجاری، و کافه‌ های مناطق حاشیه ی شهر، به ویلاهای خیره کننده ی ثروتمندان می‌رسد. هر صفحه از این کتاب رویدادهای باورنکردنی، تراژیک، و خنده دار دارد، با استادی در کنار هم با هم کنار می‌آیند. این جلوه‌ ها از برلین، در روزهای پیش از روی کارآمدن رژیم هیتلری، تصویری از تاریخ است، و نیز تابلویی نیز از یک نوشته ی بیادماندنی بدست می‌دهد. شش قطعه‌ ای که در این سری گنجانده شده‌، همگی یک روایت پیوسته را شکیل شکل می‌دهند. این قطعه‌ ها تنها قسمت‌های برجای مانده از چیزی هستند که برای یک رمان شکوهمند چند قسمتی در برلینِ پیش از روی کار آمدن هیتلر، در نظر گرفته شده بودند. «ایشروود» گفته: «می‌خواستم نام رمان را گمشده بگذارم، با این وجود عنوان را عوض کردم. به‌ نظرم این نام برای مجموعه‌ ای از خاطرات و طرح‌های روزانه ی کوتاه و پرآب‌ و تاب که ارتباط ضعیفی با یکدیگر دارند، نامناسب آمد.»؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fabian.
940 reviews1,546 followers
April 17, 2019
"The Berlin Stories" all contain so many colors & emotions that the whole desolate grey Berlin of our dreams is pretty much obliterated. 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 another. Isherwood knows that his naivete only takes him so far-- he seeks out experience and then we are all the richer for it.

"Goodbye to Berlin" is a twofold title in personal and historic terms. Isherwood never left Berlin-- he entertains and proves to be an astute, intrepid travel companion. But when his physical person DID manage to get out, it was just in the nick of time: Hitler's rise is seen as the very death of German bohemia. Isherwood is present at this pivotal & revelatory instant of the 20th century, but only at the margins; this is a compelling, fascinating, far-more-than-just-"interesting" travelogue.
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,898 followers
March 11, 2020
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 Hitler that they didn't recognize what they were surrendering.

Particularly chilling is the section at the end called A Berlin Diary, Winter 1932-33. Here Isherwood describes the various incidents that led him to leave Berlin for good. The violence and political unrest became more prevalent, and it was too dangerous to stay. Knowing of the horrors to come, I could not keep the tears from flowing as I read of Isherwood's last morning in Berlin:

"To-day the sun is brilliantly shining; it is quite mild and warm. I go out for my last morning walk, without an overcoat or hat. The sun shines, and Hitler is master of this city."
Profile Image for João Barradas.
275 reviews32 followers
January 21, 2019
Quando a sorte presenteia alguém com uma vida travada em tempos de cólera, qual será a melhor atitude a tomar? Enfrentar os eventos vindouros, que não auguram ganhos proveitosos mas apenas feridas impossíveis de sanar, ou aceitá-los e participar neles como um actor secundário, submisso a um papel menor?

Em “Adeus a Berlim”, Isherwood cria uma persona que, segundo o próprio, não é ele mas a ele se assemelha – um britânico aspirante a escritor, em visita a Berlim, que, tal como defendido por uma personagem, adopta uma postura de “uma máquina fotográfica com o obturador aberto, totalmente passiva, que regista e não pensa”. Na nota introdutória desta edição, o autor refere-se às diferentes partes que compõem a obra como “peças”. De facto, não têm o poder narrativo de um conto ou novela mas também não aspiram a esse patamar. São antes relatos de uma cidade em ebulição, num ringue de boxe do civismo, onde a cada canto pode surgir a violência, a condenação, o desprezo e a discriminação cega.

Sente-se o frio da sombra, cheira-se a futilidade materialista e saboreia-se a decadência social. Há referências à perseguição aos judeus e às querelas políticas, a que se contrapõem os ambientes descontraídos mas sempre conspirativos dos cafés, espetáculos e cabarets (ou não tivesse este livro servido como argumento para o filme “Cabaret”), onde planos eram engendrados, contactos feitos e olhares cruzados, numa clara afronta às normas estabelecidas (de antes mas ainda tão vincadas actualmente). De facto, para a purpurina brilhar necessita de um foco de luz e, nesta época, reinava mais um negrume que consumia o fruto interior que designa o ser humano como tal. O que fica desta amálgama? Uma involução do quotidiano, tão bem retratada no ímpeto dos tísicos arredados em sorverem ao máximo a vida de quem os visitava no sanatório.

Tal como o destino “escreve direito por linhas tortas”, também aqui o tempo é desconexo e não linear. Mas nada disso impede a entrega de um retrato frio e indesejado de uma sociedade em queda, onde imperam a desconfiança, a ambição e a disciplina. Tudo à lei da força e da bala, ambas repressoras de qualquer liberdade, inclusivamente daquela que permite ler nas entrelinhas.
Profile Image for Isidora.
249 reviews106 followers
June 2, 2016
This was not quite what I expected and I wish I had ended up liking it more than I did.

The famous sentence from the first page is “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking". Christopher Isherwood created the novel out of his diaries he kept in Berlin in the early 1930s. Towards the end, Hitler was rising, the city gradually changing and the writer decided to leave Berlin for good. This is the section I really liked. The rest, excepting the character of Sally Bowles (played by Liza Minelli in the movie "Cabaret"), left me rather indifferent. I acknowledge the writing, honest and clear, but the camera was way too passive and distant.
Profile Image for Mel Bossa.
Author 32 books192 followers
September 22, 2015
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 person, depending on who they are and what side of the storm they stand. Will they be watching it roll by from afar, or will they be ruthlessly picked up by its cruel, maniacal winds?

There's a haunting in this book. A ghost in every corner. It felt a little like walking through Pompei, knowing that what you are seeing is a fleeting moment of life captured in death forever.

But then again, every day should be lived that way.

It's a grey day here in Montreal, and this book made it even more grey and gloomy. But as I was walking through town this morning, I thought of the characters of Isherwood's Berlin of the thirties and thought how sad that a city so full of glitz and art and culture and promise could be wrecked and turned into the heart of a beast in a matter of a few years.

It could happen here. It could happen anywhere.

On a happier note...

Wait, actually, there isn't a happy note in this book. Even Sally, the "Upper Class Waif" is terribly tragic in her own funny way.

Well, Goodbye to Berlin and Goodbye to sad, lonely books.
Profile Image for foteini_dl.
418 reviews117 followers
April 19, 2018
Όχι.Ακόμα και τώρα δεν μπορώ να πιστέψω πως κάτι από όλα αυτά συνέβη στ’ αλήθεια…

Μ’ αυτή την πρόταση κλείνει ο συγγραφέας αυτό το γλυκόπικρο,νοσταλγικό-και εν μέρει αυτοαναφορικό-βιβλίο.Ένα βιβλίο που προϊδεάζει για τα πρώτα σημάδια του ναζισμού που έρχεται το 1933 και θα ταράξει όχι μόνο την Γερμανία,μα και ολόκληρη την Ευρώπη.

Άνθρωποι που έχουν κλειστεί σε μια γυάλα (ψευτο)ευτυχίας νιώθουν κάτι ν’αλλάζει.Ο συγγραφέας φωτογραφίζει τους έρωτές τους,τα όνειρά τους,τις αδυναμίες τους.˙Όλα αυτά σ’ένα Βερολίνο που από την πόλη της (σεξουαλικής και όχι μόνο) ελευθερίας και των πειραματισμών της δεκαετίας του ’20 αρχίζει να γίνεται άγριο.

Ο Isherwood αποχαιρετά το Βερολίνο που ήξερε και,όσο και να μην μπορεί να το πιστέψει,τα χειρότερα ήρθαν.Και εκείνη η άγρια περίοδος εμφανίζεται ξανά.Αχ,και να ‘ξερε…
Profile Image for piperitapitta.
944 reviews326 followers
November 18, 2015
Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye.

Ora che ho appena finito di (ri)vedere Cabaret (ma chi lo sapeva, allora, che Cabaret era - quasi - Addio a Berlino e viceversa!)
nella mia mente le parole di Isherwood si sovrappongono alle immagini del film di Bob Fosse.
La Berlino e il tono di Christopher Isherwood sono più pacati, il clima non è così rutilante e gaudente com'è nel film, né la mia immaginazione mi aveva portato a immaginare l'esuberante e disnibita Sally Bowles con gli occhi bistrati, le labbra laccate a forma di cuore e il seducente reggicalze nero sulle cosce bianco latte della divina Liza Minnelli.
Ma Christopher Isherwood sì, forse lo immaginavo proprio con gli occhi acquosi e cangianti, spalancati per lo stupore, di Michael York, anche se tutto, nei capitoli (più simili a fotografie che racconti) che tendono a identificare l'autore con il suo personaggio, è filtrato più dallo sgomento che dalla meraviglia.
Sgomento verso una città e una nazione che Isherwood saluta, ma che descrive a posteriori, quando ormai la follia nazista non è più una minaccia (Una promessa? Un'epifania?), ma una certezza che spinge l'Europa intera verso il baratro del secondo conflitto mondiale.
È un addio alla Berlino dei primi anni Trenta, gli anni dell'angelo azzurro e di Marlene Dietrich, dunque, la Berlino dei grammofoni e delle stanze in affitto, dei kabarett e dei caffè, delle ragazze a caccia di successo, degli avventurieri e dei ricchi commercianti ebrei, delle Fräulein Schroeder e del suo mondo crepuscolare (l'incipit che descrive il salotto e i dettagli dell'arredo dell'appartamento è memorabile tanto quanto è impressionante la resa fotografica), dei Nowak e della loro miseria, dei Landauer e del loro tramonto (Natalia, la bellissima Marisa Berenson nel film, e il di lei zio Bernhard: impossibile dire se è più bella la figura della rigida e compassata di Natalia o quella del rassegnato e ambiguo, mai dichiarato apertamente omosessuale, Bernhard), quella delle lezioni di inglese per stranieri che mantengono Christopher e gli aprono le porte di tutte le Berlino possibili: ricca, misera, conservatrice, avanguardistica, ebrea, nazionalista, comunista, nazista.
Quella della Gioventù hitleriana e del morbo che la anima, che irrompe e consuma come un virus una città che era simbolo della libertà, del peccaminoso e del godimento, che rinuncia alla sua libertà fino a diventare uno zoo che mette in mostra il lato peggiore dell'animale umano.
Fino all'addio, malinconico e struggente, ma al tempo stesso compassato e rassegnato - «Domani parto per l'Inghilterra. Tornerò qui tra qualche settimana, ma solo per prendere le mie cose prima di lasciare Berlino per sempre.
La povera Fräulein Schroeder è inconsolabile: «Non troverò mai un altro gentiluomo come lei, Herr Isservut, sempre così puntuale con la pigione... Non capisco proprio perché vuole andarsene da Berlino, così, tutt'a un tratto...».
È inutile cercare di spiegarglielo o parlare di politica. Lei si sta già adattando, così come si adatterà a ogni nuovo regime. Stamane l'ho sentita persino nominare con tono riverente
«der Führer», ciacolando con la moglie del portiere. Se qualcuno provasse a ricordarle che alle elezioni dello scorso novembre ha votato comunista, con tutta probabilità negherebbe con veemenza, e in perfetta buona fede. Si sta semplicemente acclimatando, in ossequio alla legge naturale, al modo di un animale che cambia il pelo ai primi freddi. Migliaia di persone come Fräulein Schroeder si stanno acclimatando. Dopotutto, chiunque sia al governo, sono condannate a vivere in questa città.» - ultima fotografia, in bianco e nero, di una città e di un tempo tramontato nell'ascesa di Hitler.
E se a lettura ultimata c'è un motivo per cui, nonostante lo splendido sguardo fotografico di Isherwood che scatta un'istantanea dopo l'altra del periodo - «Io sono una macchina fotografica con l'obiettivo aperto» dichiara l'alter ego di Chris­topher Isherwood arrivando nell'autunno del 1930 a Berlino, dove resterà fino al 1933. -, nonostante la splendida scrittura limpida e raffinata, non mi fa considerare "Addio a Berlino" un capolavoro (cosa che invece mi viene di pensare del film e dell'interpretazione di Liza Minnelli), forse questo va ricercato in quell'eccessivo distacco, in quel compassato atteggiamento (molto inglese) che Isherwood stesso sceglie di tenere, in cui preferisce mantenere la distanza dagli eventi così come dalla celata sessualità del suo alter ego, e apparire più spettatore che attore: distanza che ha impedito, anche a me, di avvicinarmi tanto quanto avrei desiderato fare.



Profile Image for Sakshi Kathuria.
77 reviews58 followers
January 19, 2019
Isherwood’s writing is absolutely poetic and yet so lucid. His goodbyes to a horde of eccentric yet interesting characters in his life spent in Berlin, during the Weimar Republic supremacy, is described most phenomenally. His narrative binds the reader to these characters brusqueness and curtness which is most fascinating. The characters in all the five stories are described in a sort of poetic manner and in a very delicate yet brisk tone in the thick of change in the tide during the political dispensation of the time when the rise of ‘Der Führer’ was raking havoc across Deutschland. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed his writing.
Profile Image for Ratko.
215 reviews56 followers
November 12, 2021
„Збогом Берлину“ је кратки роман или скуп од шест међусобно повезаних прича, а заправо интимистички дневник самог писца о годинама које је провео у немачкој престоници.
На самом почетку он ће написати „Ја сам камера...“, тако да ћемо све време кроз његове очи и размишљања пратити живот у вајмарском, предратном Берлину тридесетих година. Ишервуд пише импресионистички, са смислом за детаљ и атмосферу. Додуше, нема овде узаврелости и звукова улице и подрумских биртија попут оних у Деблиновом „Берлин, Александерплацу“ или декадентних сцена на које смо навикли у серији „Вавилон, Берлин“. И поред тога, свакако ћемо, кроз дијалоге и описе искуства самог аутора, осетити атмосферу сиротињских четврти, претрпаних станова, спајања краја с крајем и пустих снова кабаретских певачица, а у реалном животу само обичних проститутки. У позадини, тек понеком реченицом или дијалогом промиче сенка нацизма која се почетком тридесетих година ХХ века све више надвија над Берлином и целом Немачком. Тек на последњим страницама биће више речи о успону нациста и урушавању Вајмарске републике и тај део ми је био и најзанимљивији.
Свакако дело вредно пажње, посебно за заљубљенике у декадентни Берлин двадесетих и тридесетих година ХХ века или за љубитеље Берлина уопште.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,666 reviews440 followers
February 2, 2016
Christopher Isherwood lived in Berlin in the early 1930s, recorded his experiences in his diaries, and later created the fictional "Goodbye to Berlin". Although Isherwood was raised in an upper middle class home in England, he had a more frugal life in Berlin as an English tutor. To stretch his money, he lived in boarding houses where he met some memorable characters. This book is composed of six chapters (or interconnected short stories) that should be read in order.

He tells us about the narrator's role as an observer: "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking....Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed." In stories occurring over three years we are introduced to characters from all segments of society, and see the deep division between the wealthy and the poor. As the stories move on to 1933 there is an increase in unemployment, poverty, and homelessness, banks are closing, and there is an escalation in violence. People were looking for scapegoats, and someone to lead them out of desperate times. There were clashes between different political factions.

His characters are unforgettable, and often sleazy, unlikable people. Sally Bowles, a self-centered cabaret singer who was trying to sleep her way to success, was later made famous by Liza Minelli in the movie "Cabaret". Otto Nowak is an annoying adolescent, a "user" of both men and women. The wealthy Jewish Landauer family own a huge department store, and are a potential target for the Nazis. Motherly Fraulein Schroeder, his gossipy landlady, has little interest in politics and is just trying to survive in a changing world. Isherwood uses very different dialogue for each character so they seem like unique individuals.

Isherwood left Berlin in 1933 as the city became dangerous and violent. The Nazis were rising to power in Germany. It was the end of an era, and time to say "goodbye" to Berlin.
Profile Image for Dimitri.
106 reviews73 followers
November 2, 2019
Un giovane scrittore inglese descrive da una giusta distanza, fra tragedia e ironia, non lasciandomi volutamente capire quanto siano reali o quanto inventate, le persone che incontra a Berlino nei primi anni Trenta: operai e disoccupati, cantanti e baristi, ebrei e nazisti, comunisti e borghesi in rovina. Ecco a voi la borghesia in rovina.

Poi è scoppiato un piccolo litigio domestico perché Herr Bernstein non voleva che nel pomeriggio sua moglie andasse a far spese con l’auto; negli ultimi giorni in città i nazisti avevano provocato un sacco di disordini.
“Sarebbe meglio che andassi in tram” ha detto Herr Bernstein. “Non vorrei che mi rovinassero la mia bella auto prendendola a sassate”.
“E se prendessero me a sassate?” ha rimbeccato Frau Bernstein.
“Ach, che sarà mai? Se ti fanno un’ammaccatura, ti compro un bel cerotto, spesa minima cinque Groschen e tanti saluti; ma se mi ammaccano l’auto, minimo son cinquecento marchi, non so se mi spiego.”

E poi c’è Sally Bowles, la cantante del “Lady Windermere”. Senza di lei la Holly di “Colazione da Tiffany” – così come la conosciamo – forse non sarebbe mai esistita.

“Oh, ciauuu, Chris, gioia mia!” gridò Sally dalla soglia. “Come sei stato dolce a venire! Mi sentivo super super sola”.
“Mi sa” diceva Sally “che deve essere favoloso, fare il romanziere. Un sognatore, un idealista privo di senso pratico … La gente crede di poterti fregare quando vuole, senonché poi ti metti a scrivere un libro su di loro, dimostrando che razza di porci sono, e hai un successo pazzesco e fai i soldi a palate …”
“Ho idea che il mio problema sia di non essere abbastanza sognatore …”
“Ah, se solo potessi diventare l’amante di un uomo ricco sfondato. Farei qualsiasi cosa, ora come ora, per diventare ricca.”
“Ma Sally!” Mi fermai. La fissai a bocca aperta. Fui costretto a ridere: “Be’, sei davvero la creatura più straordinaria che abbia mai incontrato in vita mia!”

318 reviews5 followers
November 27, 2017
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 originally planned to write a larger, more ambitious work about Germany in the early 1930s and what remains feels as though it is a series of fragments of a larger novel. The opening and closing chapters are entitled A Berlin Diary, the first describing the characters who share the narrator’s digs, the last is a series of descriptions of events during the months of the Nazi takeover. In between are four chapters focusing on a series of characters. Although there is a rough chronology there is not a straightforward progression. It feels very much like a series of reminiscences, each focusing on the narrator’s relationship with a single or couple of characters. One of the most annoying responses to literature is when the reader becomes obsessed by the relationship of the events described to the life of the author, when fiction is treated as autobiography, but Isherwood asks for such a response: not only is the narrator named Christopher Isherwood, he shares the author’s biography. To constantly worry about the autobiographical standing of the work is probably trivial, but I find the function of the narrator within the text problematic. The second paragraph of the book begins with the statement, “I am a camera,” but I find the passivity of such a stance to be limiting. While the narrator dominates the text he has little dramatic or thematic purpose. As a watcher and recorder of events he remains an outsider, a tourist to Berlin and the political changes: outer events happen but he has no way of responding other than a passive description: the rise of the Nazis, for instance, is just something nasty that occurs. The strength of the book, however, is in the vignettes. The Sally Bowles chapter is perhaps the most vivid, but I am unsure how much of that is due, as least for those who know the film Cabaret, to the writing and how much to Liza Minnelli’s charisma overflowing from the film: although the character in the book is English I have problems in hearing her dialogue in anything but Minnelli’s American voice. Perhaps the most ambitious section is that about the narrator’s relationship with a Jewish family, the Landauers, but it is here that the limitations of the book are most obvious: the book seems to be striving for a grander significance than it achieves, to be summing up its times, but it doesn’t get beyond its vividly described moments. But maybe I am being unfair, maybe I should be contented with a series of atmospheric short stories rather than finding an unsatisfactory novel.
Profile Image for P.E..
753 reviews508 followers
October 2, 2019
Dreary, callous, and somewhat slanted portrayal of underprivileged Germany and underground Berlin from Autumn 1930 to Winter 1933.

- Hans Baluschek, Arbeiterstadt (1920)

British writer Christopher Isherwood lends his name to the homonymous hero of this narrative. This is already somewhat unnerving. But what is unsettling in this story, early on? The narrator's position in his retelling the events.
'I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.'
Is that so? What about intention? Here is a link to Jan-Maat's review on the book, dwelling on this specific subject :

A tenant in an impoverished neighbourhood who makes a living teaching English to children from affluent families, Isherwood soon gets acquainted with Sally Bowles, a boisterous 18-y-o, entertaining an ambiguous relationship with the former, who becomes her love confident, himself living vicariously, as a sponge. Sally is kept by patrons.
Their muddled relationship smacks of unspoken minds... This is eerily reminiscent of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's
All along, our elusive hero meets many a reveller and many hopeless destitute families.
Sometimes both.

True, Isherwood is cautious not to appear too much in the frame of his narrative, and always stays at a distance. But, insisting so often on not being a part of the scenery he so liberally describes... he appears all the more present.

'Berlin is a skeleton which aches in the cold: it is my own skeleton aching.' - p.230

With the narrator acting as a whistleblower regarding the squalor, petty thefts, randiness, shabbiness, the vulgarity and universal prostitution ruling over Berlin (indeed, a lot of characters are exerting themselves to please patrons, leading them on more or less openly), at the end of the day, the narrative is all the more disturbing as Isherwood does not give away his reasons for lingering around here. Telling the story of other people, he avoids telling his. Quite convenient.

'I helped her, putting firewood and pieces of coal into her hands; she took them from me, blindly, without a glance or a word. Feeling, as usual, that I was only in the way, I went into the living room and stood stupidly by the window, wishing that I could simply disappear.' - p.161
Profile Image for Aggeliki.
275 reviews
March 13, 2018
Το Αντίο Βερολίνο είναι ουσιαστικά μια συναισθηματική, ημιαυτοβιογραφική εξιστόρηση γεγονότων και εμπειριών που μοιράζεται μαζί μας ο Isherwood που έτσι κι αλλιώς προέκυψε από τις καταγραφές του συγγραφέα στο ημερολόγιό του κατά την εκεί διαμονή του την δεκαετία του 30. Εξ ου και οι ζωντανές εικόνες μιας πόλης στην πλέον παρακμάζουσα εκδοχή της καταρρέοντας οικονομικά και κοινωνικά την ίδια στιγμή που ο φασισμός εξαπλώνεται δημιουργώντας το μοναδικό συναίσθημα που ούτως ή άλλως επεδίωκε: τον φόβο.
Στα διηγήματα του Isherwood συναντάμε τα πάντα: καταπιεσμένους από κάθε άποψη κυρίους της καλής κοινωνίας, νεαρές αμφιβόλου ηθικής αλλά και από εκείνες της αυστηρής ανατροφής, ηθικά διλήμματα, κρυμμένες και συνεπώς καταπιεσμένες σεξουαλικότητες, κλασσικά πρότυπα ανδρών και γυναικών αλλά και τα αντίθετά τους καθώς και όλους τους κοινωνικούς, ηθικούς και όχι μόνο κανόνες και τις εξαιρέσεις τους. Μια κοινωνία ολόκληρη ξεδιπλώνεται στις σελίδες αυτού του βιβλίου που ενώ προσφέρει ζωντανές εικόνες, ωστόσο δεν καταφέρνει να κρατήσει εξίσου ζωντανό το ενδιαφέρον του αναγνώστη του. Ίσως λόγω αργής πλοκής, ίσως γιατί το κεντρικό μας πρόσωπο φαίνεται να στερείται συναισθημάτων περνώντας από την μία ιστορία στην άλλη χωρίς να τον έχει αγγίξει το παραμικρό.
«Όχι. Ακόμα και τώρα δεν μπορώ να πιστέψω πως κάτι από όλα αυτά συνέβη στ’αλήθεια».
Profile Image for Maila.
42 reviews41 followers
June 17, 2020
Io sono una macchina fotografica con l’obiettivo aperto, scrive Isherwood all’inizio di questo romanzo a episodi. Ed è proprio così. Non so nemmeno spiegarmi come abbia fatto la sua narrazione a coinvolgermi tanto. Il modo che Isherwood ha di descrivere i personaggi, i loro atteggiamenti e le loro interazioni tra loro e col narratore, dai più eccentrici ai più sempliciotti, è semplicemente magnetico.
Ogni capitolo si concentra su una o più frequentazioni dello scrittore inglese nella Berlino dei primi anni Trenta, tra finzione e realtà. Ci sono ricchi borghesi e proletari, cantanti di cabaret e toy boy nullafacenti, ebrei dall’atteggiamento imperscrutabile e comunisti. Nell’indimenticabile Sally Bowels si riconosce persino l’antesignana della Holly di Colazione da Tiffany, pur con sostanziali differenze.
Sullo sfondo si fa lentamente avanti la minaccia del nazismo, dapprima guardato anche con distaccato sdegno e persino a tratti deriso dalla popolazione berlinese, poi accolto passivamente. Questo libro è stato pubblicato la prima volta nel 1939 e scritto nella prima metà degli anni Trenta, il che dimostra la capacità dello scrittore di osservare con attenzione gli avvenimenti che lo circondano e di guardare lontano. La Berlino che ama è cambiata e sta cambiando e non resta che dirle addio.
Ve lo consiglio spassionatamente.
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,017 reviews1,168 followers
October 14, 2015
Whilst in Berlin recently we went to see Cabaret in German in a spiegeltent. Splendid. Naturally I was looking forward to reading about the very same Sally Bowles in this book, but it turns out that Sally Bowles is a complete English Arse. Utterly unbearable. I think it would be fair to say she's been thoroughly fixed up for the musical and bravo for that decision. Certainly this book improves on the pages in which she is not to be found.

There is much to separate this book from Kästner's Going to the Dogs . Partly it is a matter of style - Isherwood's humour, when it arises, is entirely ordinary, whilst Kästner's is odd to say the least. Then again there is the care Kästner has for his subject, the ruination of his country and his continent. One can equally feel, as Isherwood himself acknowledges, that he, in contrast, is an outsider, floating in a flotsam sort of way through his German period, knowing he can and will leave when it gets too tough.

rest here:

Profile Image for Sebnem.
53 reviews30 followers
September 22, 2019
İkinci kez okuduğumda anladım ki, Isherwood o dağınık kamera açısıyla aslında yükselen Nazizm'e dair koskoca bir bütünü çok erken bir tarihte Batılı perspektife sokmuş.
Profile Image for Steve Kettmann.
Author 11 books90 followers
May 7, 2010
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 but somehow very human family he lives with in the tenements of Hallesches Tor - in today's hip district of Kreuzberg - to a wealthy Jewish family. Maybe it has to do with British reserve, or with things changing in the eighty years or so since Isherwood was collecting this material, but his character seems oddly diffident and detached at times. Maybe that shouldn't be a surprise in a book whose major focus is not Berlin, or Sally Bowles, but a young writer's search for a voice, search for a subject appropriate to his attentions. One sees a young writer wrestling with himself, something I for one quite enjoy, and often the writing is wonderful. Here's a passage from an intentionally confusing scene in which a member of the wealthy merchant family, Bernhard, invites "Christopher Isherwood" for a drive: "The car whirled along the black Avus, into the immense darkness of the winter countryside. Giant reflector signs glittered for a moment in the headlight beams, expired like burnt-out matches. Already Berlin was a reddish glow in the sky behind us, dwindling rapidly beyond a converging forest of pines. The searchlight on the Funkturm swung its little ray through the night. The straight black road roared headlong to meet us, as if to its destruction. In the upholstered darkness of the car, Bernhard was patting the restless dog upon his knees."
Profile Image for Ourania Topa.
122 reviews27 followers
April 22, 2021

"Διαβάζοντας αυτό το βιβλίο νιώθει κανείς σαν να κρυφακούει ανέκδοτα σε ένα κατάμεστο μπαρ ενώ η ιστορία χτυπάει ανυπόμονα την πόρτα" γράφει ο Guardian για το βιβλίο του Christopher Isherwood, και πράγματι δεν θα μπορούσε να ειπωθεί επιτυχέστερα.
Έχω ήδη γράψει την άποψή μου τελειώνονταςτο πρώτο βιβλίο αυτής της διλογίας του βρετανού συγγραφέα που μετακόμισε στο Βερολίνο της θνήσκουσας δημοκρατίας της Βαϊμάρης στα τέλη του 1929 και υπήρξε μάρτυρας της ανόδου των Ναζί στην εξουσία τον Ιανουάριο του 1933, οπότε και αποφασισε να εγκαταλείψει για πάντα το Βερολίνο. Σε σύγκριση με το μυθιστόρημα Ο ΚΥΡΙΟΣ ΝΟΡΙΣ ΑΛΛΑΖΕΙ ΤΡΕΝΑ (το πρώτο της Βερολινέζικης διλογίας), εδώ ο τίτλος μιλάει από μόνος του. Εκπεφρασμένη η θλίψη για μια πόλη που, μπρος στο επερχόμενο ΚΑΚΟ
"απλώς εγκλιματίζεται, υπακούοντας στους νόμους της φύσης, όπως το ζώο που αλλάζει γούνα για το χειμώνα. Χιλιάδες άνθρωποι σαν την φροϊλάιν Σρέντερ το ίδιο κάνουν. Στο κάτω κάτω, όποια κυβέρνηση κι αν είναι στην εξουσία, εκείνοι είναι καταδικασμένοι να ζήσουν σε τούτη την πόλη".
Σπάνια ο αναγνώστης συναντά τόσο ευαίσθητους παρατηρητές των ανθρώπινων αδυναμιών, τέτοια διάθεση κατανόησης απέναντι σε όλες τις ταυτότητες (κοινωνικές, ιδεολογικές, έμφυλες, εθνικές) όσο ο νεαρός άγγλος με το όνομα Christopher Isherwood, ήρωας-alter ego του συγγραφέα, που κερδίζει τα προς το ζην παραδίδοντας μαθήματα αγγλικών ενώ ταυτόχρονα περιγράφει σκηνές της βερολινέζικης ζωής των αρχών της δεκαετίας του 30.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,118 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.