Diaries Vol 1: 1939-1960, By Christopher Isherwood (ed Katherine Bucknell)
Sunday 16 January 2011
Republished to coincide with the second volume of diaries (and last year's film of A Single Man wouldn't have done any harm), Christopher Isherwood's personal thoughts show an engagement with the world rarer with writers than politicians, say, or celebrities.
"I like to feel myself alone in a crowd and yet part of it, more than I ever did: it's the way a writer should live," he wrote in October 1943, four years after leaving England for the US in the company of W H Auden. He headed for New York, then settled in Los Angeles. Before he knew it, that "crowd" he liked to be part of, yet apart from, was to occupy his thoughts more than his writing.
Reading Isherwood's diaries is like peering into a lost world: Garbo pops up, as do Truman Capote and Gore Vidal, Dodie Smith and Bertolt Brecht. When he runs out of present stars, he records memories of Dylan Thomas. Close friends number Aldous Huxley, like Isherwood earning money from Hollywood while working on novels and short stories. It's a starry life where he can dabble in drugs, drink too much, and chase handsome and willing young men, but in the midst of it all are the usual writer's fears that he's not good enough and not working hard enough, and that what he really wants to do might not be achievable. Always he is haunted by his lack of participation in the war: an essay by his friend Cyril Connolly, which criticised Isherwood's staying in the US, received a swift and acerbic reply.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 City traders pay £200 for a quick hangover cure
- 3 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election