Christopher and his kind by Christopher Isherwood

(The image is from the BBC tv adaptation starring Matt Smith.)

I really liked this book and thought that Christopher Isherwood comes across as a generous, warm, funny and self-depreciating character. His love for his friends shines through despite the odd bitchy argument.

He is much more interesting character here than in either of his fictional versions of the period (Mr Norris Changes Trains or Berlin Stories). As he says himself, when he wrote those he was much more guarded about the gay aspects of himself and his characters and here he is more open about it.

That is a strong reflection of the different eras in which the books were written – by the time this was published in the seventies it was the beginning of the gay liberation movement. Also interestingly Christopher mentions the film Cabaret – in which his character is bisexual and the play I am Camera in which his character was straight. The recent adaptation for the BBC of Christopher And His Friends which used scenes from this and The Berlin Novels was very explicitly gay – more so than the book. So all these versions go to show how acceptance has changed over the years.

The truer versions of the characters sexuality also helps make the characters more rounded than the earlier books. Though I would still recommend reading those first as he quotes chunks of them here.

He writes beautifully about this period just before the war and gives an account of the tribulations and the happiness that he encountered in Berlin and England and Europe during these tumultuous times.

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