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Roman clef made up of 4 novellas all with the narrator Christopher hard not to get that key But it s a Christopher who is almost a stranger to me We still share the same skeleton, but its outer covering has altered so much that I doubt he would recognize me on the street We have in common the label of our name, and a continuity of consciousness there has been no break in the sequence of daily statements that I am I But what I am has refashioned itself through the days and years, Roman clef made up of 4 novellas all with the narrator Christopher hard not to get that key But it s a Christopher who is almost a stranger to me We still share the same skeleton, but its outer covering has altered so much that I doubt he would recognize me on the street We have in common the label of our name, and a continuity of consciousness there has been no break in the sequence of daily statements that I am I But what I am has refashioned itself through the days and years, until now almost all that remains is the mere awareness of being conscious And that awareness belongs to everybody it isn t a particular person Thus memoir becomes novel in that the author is his own fictional character, himself from his own past And as a fictional character, he can have a fictional past.The most interesting is the last of the novellas, Paul Why names other than Christopher s have been changed escapes me Paul is Denham Fouts and Augustus Parr is Gerald Heard, two of Isherwood s most important friends between 1940 and 1953 Augustus introduced Isherwood to oriental philosophy, which became central to his life There are three kinds of bondage, aren t thereaddiction, preten s ion, aversion what I crave, what I pretend to the world that I am, and what I fear Here and, of course, throughout his life and writing Isherwood deals with addiction and pretensionsuccessfully that with aversion, his fear of the future, dread of the past Paul is a complex and fascinating character, fictional and real He sees things with stunning clarity Oh, darling Chrissikins You re exactly like a tourist who thinks he can take in the whole of Rome in one day You know, you really are a tourist, to your bones I bet you re always send post cards with Down here on a visit on them That s the story of your life And it s the story in this and all his other writings.To Isherwood s great credit, he saw himself with clarity That s why this book is titled as it is and tells the stories that it does, of being a tourist in your own life And that life, of course, is a fictional life (((DOWNLOAD KINDLE))) ☊ Down There on a Visit ↱ Christopher Isherwood originally intended Down There on a Visit to be part of The Lost, the unfinished epic novel that would also incorporate his famous Berlin Stories Tracing many of the same themes as that earlier work, this novel is a bemused, sometimes acid portrait of people caught in private sexual hells of their own making Its four episodes are connected by four narrators All are called Christopher Isherwood, but each is a different character inhabiting a new setting Berlin in , the Greek Isles in , London in , and California inDown There on a Visit is a major work that shows Isherwood at the height of his literary powers I loved most of this book The build up to WWII, as in his otherfamous writing, is fantastic, and the characters especially Waldermar are empathetically but clearly drawn, as are their individual private hells.I have trouble with the final section though and I m still not sure what to think about it I can t help read it as Christopher falling prey first to spiritual guff which is fine, just a bit boring and then to a manipulative narcissistic child abuser, Paul, to the point where I loved most of this book The build up to WWII, as in his otherfamous writing, is fantastic, and the characters especially Waldermar are empathetically but clearly drawn, as are their individual private hells.I have trouble with the final section though and I m still not sure what to think about it I can t help read it as Christopher falling prey first to spiritual guff which is fine, just a bit boring and then to a manipulative narcissistic child abuser, Paul, to the point where he and his spiritual guff emitting friends enable and cover up for that abuse.The trouble is that if the narrator wasn t called Christopher Isherwood, there s enough information here for me to see it as deliberately unreliable narrating For example, other people warn him about Paul, and I think you re invited to contrast Christopher s refusal to help the fardeserving but needy Waldermar out of Communist East Berlin, with his easy supply of money to fund Paul s Opium addiction.On the other hand, I m not convinced the author because of the world he lived in would see Paul s abuse for what it was, and so it s the author that s unreliable At one point Paul tells Christopher he reduced a mother to tears for objecting to his seduction of her prepubescent daughter he actually said she seduced him , by saying people like you want sexual liberation for everyone except your own children.Anyway, I d be interested to hear what people think I can t see it discussed anywhere, and all references to Paul irl Denham Fouts just glamorise him as a playboy who died young Am I supposed to sympathise with this tortured soul, or see him as an exploitative monster, or both 11 12 16 I was already rereading this for a paper when it gained unfortunate relevance Still too good.3 31 13 It s a rare memoir that grows with its author The minutely shifting styles across Mr Lancaster, Ambrose, Waldemar, and Paul mirror Isherwood or Christopher s own development Early on, Isherwood looks back on young Christopher, setting out for Germany and not even Berlin for the first time I think about him and I marvel, but I must beware of romanticizing him I must remem 11 12 16 I was already rereading this for a paper when it gained unfortunate relevance Still too good.3 31 13 It s a rare memoir that grows with its author The minutely shifting styles across Mr Lancaster, Ambrose, Waldemar, and Paul mirror Isherwood or Christopher s own development Early on, Isherwood looks back on young Christopher, setting out for Germany and not even Berlin for the first time I think about him and I marvel, but I must beware of romanticizing him I must remember that much of what looks like courage is nothing but brute ignorance I keep forgetting that he is as blind to his own future as the dullest of the animals As blind as I am to mine His is an extraordinary future in many ways far happier, luckier, andinteresting than most And yet, if I were he and could see it ahead of me, I m sure I should exclaim in dismay that it wasthan I could possibly cope with.How lucky we are that he couldn t see into his future Down There on a Visit tells incredibly specific stories that are nonetheless widely and wildly relevant There s Geoffrey, the straight, white, British guy who goes to an island where he is the minority and still finds a world catered to him There s Waldemar, who hates what s happening to his country, and yet can t help but be drawn back, because it s his home And there s Christopher When I got a good look at myself in the mirror at the hotel in Chalkis, I was quite startled to see what these last few months had done to me My hair was long and matted, my beard had started to grow, I was sunburned nearly black, my face was puffy with drinking and my eyes were red All that, of course, could soon be tidied up But there was also a look in my eyes which hadn t been there before By the time I got back to England, no one could have had any difficulty in recognizing me as my familiar self Only I caught glimpses of that look now and then while shaving.And every so often, at a loud party or while listening to bad news on the wireless or on waking up to find myself in bed with someone I scarcely knew, I would think of Ambrose out there alone He was right, I would say to myself I didn t belong on his island.But now I knew that I didn t belong here, either.Or anywhere.First, he was almost synonymous with Berlin Then he had to leave, and wandered to Greece and the above transformation In London, he got caught up in the prewar anxiety, and the inside knowledge he had only made it worse He finds pacifism because his friend Waldemar is somewhere in Germany and, given the chance to end the war by blowing the entire country sky high, he knows he wouldn t do it In America, even farther removed from the war, he goes on camping trips, situating his readers in time with literally parenthetical asides like this It was the day the Nazis invaded Crete Is it that he doesn t belong anywhere, or that he belongs in too many places The latter, I would say There s the place he wants to be, the place he should be, and the place he ought to be Sometimes, these places intersect, but other times he s torn between them and nothing feels right Toward the end of the book, he claims he doesn t want a family He doesn t want to be anyone s uncle It strikes me that what he s been describing throughout the entire book is a kind of family the kind Mona and Michael glorify in Tales of the City Perhaps he s selling himself short, remaining purposefully aloof from these people Perhaps not Perhaps it s just self preservation.I ve said before that Isherwood presents his own life remarkably insightfully Perhaps it s the light fictionalization and the distance he imposes between himself and Christopher Visiting Berlin again, this time after the war, he wanders through the wreckage In the morning light it was all as raw and frank as the voice of history which tells you not to fool yourself this can happen to any city to anyone to you Is his conclusion that it s better not to belong anywhere, or to anyone That certainly seems to be his take on himself, and Paul sums the view up pretty damningly He s talking about smoking opium, but it s easy to make the leap You re exactly like a tourist who thinks he can take in the whole of Rome in one day You know, you really are a tourist, to your bones I bet you re always sending post cards with Down here on a visit on them That s the story of your lifeI ll tell you what d happen if you smoked one pipe nothing Nothing would happen It s absolutely no use fooling around with this, unless you really want to know what s inside of it, what it s all about And to do that, you have to let yourself get hooked Deliberately Not fighting it Not getting scared Not setting any time limits Christopher gives these words to Paul, but he doesn t bother offering a rebuttal Between this and I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking, from Berlin Stories I am starting to think he protests too much After all, why else write about these people and places with such love and such detail Isherwood knows that Christopher is full of hot air Thank goodness I found this book on a table of throwaways, brought it home, and read it I lack the insight to understand why some people choose to keep some of the things they do and throw away things like this If it was left with the hope that someone would come and enjoy it then I say thank you I appreciate the gift.Anyone who liked Isherwood sBerlin Storieswill probably appreciate parts of this collection that blends memoir with roman a clef, though I suspect that different people will be drawn to I found this book on a table of throwaways, brought it home, and read it I lack the insight to understand why some people choose to keep some of the things they do and throw away things like this If it was left with the hope that someone would come and enjoy it then I say thank you I appreciate the gift.Anyone who liked Isherwood sBerlin Storieswill probably appreciate parts of this collection that blends memoir with roman a clef, though I suspect that different people will be drawn to different parts and aspects of the book, which flushes out Isherwood s life experience before and after those Cabaret days in Weinmar Germany we all tend to first think of when hearing his name The book has four sections, each dedicated to a different and distinctive strong personality that impacts his life First is Mr Lancaster, who opens up new experiences to Isherwood by inviting him to Germany for the first time to Hamburg, in 1928 Mr Lancaster also represents an older generation s dedication to social s and the Empire, and the personal sacrifices such dedication demands Ambrose is the focus of the second section, an odd eccentric who sets up his own little world on a Greek isle and provides the narrator the place and space to ponder if and how he could or should fit in, and just where that might be and on what terms This is as war draws ever near in Europe, and Waldemar, the German youth the narrator met through Mr Lancaster and with whom he went to visit Ambrose s island, gets his own section that relates the numbing of the British class system against those who would ignore it as day by day the inevitability of the coming war affects life in London The most precocious of the four personalities is, without a doubt, Paul, who enters Isherwood s life when he has become a screenwriter in L.A., escaping the travails of war in Europe and lunching with folks in the film industry Once there, Isherwood made a conscientious commitment to try to follow a path of vedic self examination laid out by a philosophical mystic the book refers to Augustus Parr and who is based on, for those interested, real life Gerald Heard How Paul comes into his life, joins his life, and leaves a major lasting impact is the purpose of this section I think it is the most revealing of the four sections, for while Mr Lancaster might come across as pathetic, Ambrose as resolute in his hermetic determination, and Waldemar as a na ve beefcake whose openness of what he wants makes him easily manipulated, it is Paul who has the most power and influence over Isherwood in the end I am not clear whom he specifically represents in Isherwood s real life during the WW II years, or if he is a composite character, but he certainly is memorable.Fans of Isherwood for his elegance of language, his sometimes cutting psychological appraisals, and his dark humor used as a tool to cope in a world that can be so unjust will find elements of all three here She is the sort of monster who is often miscalled a good sport The most monstrous thing about her is her good humor She never pouts or sulks She is always cheerful and as tactless as an elephant Seems like whether you like this will depend on what you think it is It s not a short story collection, or four separate novellas, or a connected four part concoction that only makes sense when you get to the bottom line Even if you re ready for some loose, multi form story blending ala GShe is the sort of monster who is often miscalled a good sport The most monstrous thing about her is her good humor She never pouts or sulks She is always cheerful and as tactless as an elephant Seems like whether you like this will depend on what you think it is It s not a short story collection, or four separate novellas, or a connected four part concoction that only makes sense when you get to the bottom line Even if you re ready for some loose, multi form story blending ala Goodbye To Berlin, etc , or some esoteric period travel writing ala Journey To A War and I was, for either this still doesn t stack up What I think we have here are some random diary memoir style entries that got interrupted by the world war And later got reworked, repackaged, as interconnected autobiography Isherwood himself says he intended these to take their part in a larger work This would all still be fine, if the tone of the work or any aspect, really could be seen to be carried through all four segments Even with some twists, a little necessary morphing, the narrative could still progress In the early going, we get some large characters, and we hope they ll go the distanceAnd that s how you spend your life I asked.Maria smiled teasingly That shocks you You think I should make myself active in some profession Or become passionate for the politics No, but does this kind of thing really interest you Unfortunately, no not often For the most time, it is quite ennuyant , because, you see, people are doing still what they did before They do not change So then you leave them again Then I leave them Yes I suppose you ll be leaving us soon Oh, here I am not bored Here there is much to interest me But I think perhaps I must leave soon, all the same Because I make so much trouble, no Maria gave me a glance of truly vintage coquetry not a day younger than 1914 from under her sky blue eyelids And yes, that whole feeling harks back to the Berlin Cabaret vibe that this collection seeks to update, perhaps to transcend But time and events have moved on, and what was then gets left behind pretty quickly We re off to Central Europe, to Greece, to England and then, somewhat interminably, to California In the process we lose the voice we had come to love, the quietly observant fellow traveler, and we lapse into a grand Finding Oneself sort of epic Kind of reminiscent of the ponderous Somerset Maugham forays into self exploration And too bad, the best thing about Isherwood was always his discreet distance, his modesty, his willingness to stay at the party so we all could watch Never a combatant, often enough an enabler, but always a raised eyebrow, and a trusted narrator In California, that all goes wobblyThat s very heartless, Maria But monsters are heartless, mon vieuxYou know this do not be so hypocrite You cannot hold a monster by his emotion, only by puzzling him As long as the monster is puzzled, he is yours I finally read Down There on a Visit and I did enjoy it overall As I have said 1000 times, his writing style is so enjoyable I think he could write about anything and I would enjoy it to some extent I really enjoyed how this was broken down into sections based off of the main characters life Also, this wrap up proves the point that you will not always love every book by an author you love and that is okay. So, I picked up this book a year or two ago and absolutely loved its first story Then, for some reason unknown to me, I set it aside and only got back to it a month ago as I was heading to Berlin because, what else would one read there, right Right I re read the beginning and was evenenthralled by Isherwood s amazing ability to say complex things in a very simple yet elegant manner, he reminded me of reading Hemingway s Moveable Feast in some ways a book I also regard as one of my all t So, I picked up this book a year or two ago and absolutely loved its first story Then, for some reason unknown to me, I set it aside and only got back to it a month ago as I was heading to Berlin because, what else would one read there, right Right I re read the beginning and was evenenthralled by Isherwood s amazing ability to say complex things in a very simple yet elegant manner, he reminded me of reading Hemingway s Moveable Feast in some ways a book I also regard as one of my all time favorites The style was certainly lacking in no way, and I found myself re reading some passages over and over, discussing them with friends and being generally stunned by his command of the English language As far as the plot goes, the different stories had somewhat different effects as they are, for the most part, not as related to one another except for some of the recurring characters I did wish by the end to have learnedabout say, Ambrose or the Greek gang and there were some parts I foundintriguing than others loved Mr Lancaster s story, Paul as well, the Augustus part of it not so much , but in the end it all worked as a whole and gave me, as the reader, an insight into Christopher s evolution which seemed natural, so I didn t find the book disjointed.All in all, I think this is a book I ll probably return to at some point as I always do to Hemingway a book that has a lot to offer a person at any stage in life they might find themselves in Can t wait to readfrom Isherwood is all I have to say Another compelling pseudo autobiography The movement of time from the twenty three year old Isherwood and his first exploration of Berlin to Isherwood in the fifties in America, his grasping at spiritualism, his explorations of life, are fascinating But really what sfascinating is the story that he chooses to omit The author is a viewer the camera, I suppose, that he refers to in the Berlin novels But having read Christopher and His Kind it s rather fascinating to read this mor Another compelling pseudo autobiography The movement of time from the twenty three year old Isherwood and his first exploration of Berlin to Isherwood in the fifties in America, his grasping at spiritualism, his explorations of life, are fascinating But really what sfascinating is the story that he chooses to omit The author is a viewer the camera, I suppose, that he refers to in the Berlin novels But having read Christopher and His Kind it s rather fascinating to read thisconstructed narrative and see how artfully Isherwood leaves his own sexual orientation out of the story He s happy to discuss the sexuality of thinly disguised actual persons, but refers to his sexual partners with initials only, and no gender mentioned Perhaps this was a wise move at that point in the twentieth century, but it s hard to reconcile this obfuscation with the proudly and openly gay man he presents himself as at other times Most interesting is how he portrays Waldemar through the filter of a woman who is going to marry him, when the reality of the affair was that Waldemar was his partner His tenderness for Waldemar shines through in the book, especially after they are separated by war and bureaucracy, and some of those passages feel like the most honest of the book I would love to be able to read the book without this veil coming down between author and reader Down There on a Visit was a book full of ups and downs for me If you like Isherwood as much as I do, then I m sure you ll find something that takes your fancy within it Parts of this book riff off his famous Berlin texts though none of its four sections are actually set in Berlin , parts of it arealigned with his late career turn towards self reflexive fictional and autobiographical works exploring gay identity, and some of the most interesting parts of this novel for me explored Isherw Down There on a Visit was a book full of ups and downs for me If you like Isherwood as much as I do, then I m sure you ll find something that takes your fancy within it Parts of this book riff off his famous Berlin texts though none of its four sections are actually set in Berlin , parts of it arealigned with his late career turn towards self reflexive fictional and autobiographical works exploring gay identity, and some of the most interesting parts of this novel for me explored Isherwood s involvement with Vedanta In taking the structure that it does four separate parts which each focalise on different character and effectively read like individual short stories Down There on a Visit kind of feels like it offers something for everyone However, as none of these things were sustained for long, it s easy for interest to wane The innovative structure proves to be both a blessing and a curse So, whilst I certainly believe that this is worth the read, I wouldn t count it amongst Isherwood s best or most worthy works.I also found this book difficult to deal with in places due to some of the subject matter I ve been trying to work out how to articulate this for a long time, because I don t believe that any of the people in this book are flat out irredeemable, awful people, and I m also fully aware that Isherwood depicts characters who are just as bad if not worse in Goodbye to Berlin and Mr Norris Changes Trains, both of which I liked a whole lotthan this one Whilst it was obvious to me that an entire time, place, and political system was being critiqued in the characterisation of the two Berlin novels, however, I could never quite work out exactly what was being placed into the microscope in Down There on a Visit, if anything at all Even after having read lots of very good scholarship on this novel if nothing else, Down There on a Visit is an excellent gateway into all of Isherwood s other works , I m still not sure As a result, I m not fully convinced that there was a genuine purpose for depicting paedophilia, animal rape, and rampant misogyny in this book, and I m unable to properly reconcile the discomfort I felt reading about them The paedophilia in particular does not sit well with me The animal rape incident only spans a couple of pages even though it feels completely unnecessary, and I already knew that Isherwood was misogynistic In contrast, paedophilia is given muchnarrative attention, and I couldn t tell exactly how I was supposed to feel about the episode involving it That may well simply be my issue Though I find the text interesting and acknowledge its literary merit, Lolita makes me unbearably uncomfortable too, and I ve become increasingly convinced as I ve gotten older that it s not as necessary a classic text as most people make it out to be If I can t handle that, then I was never going to be able to handle this, which handles the matter with much less direction So, basically, the contents of Down There on a Visit do not sit particularly well with me, and that s the main reason why I liked it a lot less than I thought I would I m still not convinced that I ve articulated this well, but hopefully the reasons for my discomfort come through clearly enough.There are many good reasons to read Down There on a Visit If any one Isherwood work exemplifies his style and concerns, it is this one, so, if you re interested in him as a writer at all, definitely give this one a read It s also very pleasing open and frank about male homosexuality considering that it was written in 1962 Whilst it s not quite A Single Man, this incarnation of Christopher Isherwood the narrator s honesty about his sex life still felt quite radical to me, so I d say that this book is also well worth reading if you re at all interested in the evolution of gay literature However, do be aware going into it that it is not perfect