Isherwood in Transit

Isherwood in Transit

Edited by James J. Berg and Chris Freeman

New perspectives on Christopher Isherwood as a searching and transnational writer

296 Pages, 6 x 9 in

  • Paperback
  • 9781517909109
  • Published: June 9, 2020
  • eBook
  • 9781452963280
  • Published: June 9, 2020
  • Hardcover
  • 9781517909093
  • Published: June 9, 2020


Isherwood in Transit

Edited by James J. Berg and Chris Freeman

ISBN: 9781517909109

Publication date: June 9th, 2020

296 Pages


8 x 5

"The seventeen essays resulted from a conference after the opening of Isherwood’s vast archive at The Huntington, and approach Isherwood in light of his peripatetic days and his continuing spiritual, Vedantic explorations of the spirit. Be sure to read Christopher Bram’s excellent foreword."—Lavender Magazine

"The book does not try to dissimulate Isherwood’s hesitations and occasional mistakes, related to issues of class (for instance in his perhaps somewhat exploitative relationships with working class, that is unemployed and hungry hustlers in his Berlin years) or race (for instance in his contacts with Mishima). This is a very courageous and mature approach, and I think a very healthy stance in the current context of revenge culture."—Leonardo Reviews

"Anyone with an interest in Isherwood or in Japanese culture and sexual patterns will find this book a worthwhile acquisition."—Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 

New perspectives on Christopher Isherwood as a searching and transnational writer

“Perhaps I had traveled too much, left my heart in too many places,” muses the narrator of Christopher Isherwood’s novel Prater Violet (1945), which he wrote in his adopted home of Los Angeles after years of dislocation and desperation. In Isherwood in Transit, James J.Berg and Chris Freeman bring together diverse Isherwood scholars to understand the challenges this writer faced as a consequence of his travel. 

Based on a conference at the Huntington Library, where Isherwood’s recently opened papers are held, Isherwood in Transit considers the writer not as an English, continental, or American writer but as a transnational one, whose identity, politics, and beliefs were constantly transformed by global connections and engagements arising from journeys to Germany, Japan, China, and Argentina; his migration to the United States; and his conversion to Vedanta Hinduism in the 1940s.

Approaching Isherwood’s rootlessness and restlessness from various perspectives, these essays show that long after he made a new home in California and became an American citizen, Christopher Isherwood remained unsettled, although his wanderings became spiritual and personal rather than geographic.

Contributors: Barrie Jean Borich, DePaul U; Jamie Carr, Niagara U; Robert L. Caserio, Penn State U, University Park; Lisa Colletta, American U of Rome; Lois Cucullu, U of Minnesota; Jaime Harker, U of Mississippi; Carola M. Kaplan, California State U, Pomona; Calvin W. Keogh, Central European U, Budapest; Victor Marsh; Wendy Moffat, Dickinson College; Xenobe Purvis; Bidhan Roy, California State U, Los Angeles; Katharine Stevenson, U of Texas at Austin; Edmund White. 

James J. Berg is associate dean of faculty at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, and editor of Isherwood on Writing (Minnesota, 2008). 

Chris Freeman is professor of English and gender studies at the University of Southern California. They are coeditors of The American Isherwood (Minnesota, 2014), Conversations with Christopher Isherwood, and The Isherwood Century.

Christopher Bram is author of nine novels, including Gods and Monsters. He was a 2001 Guggenheim fellow and winner of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. His recent books include Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America and The Art of History: Unlocking the Past in Fiction and Nonfiction


Foreword: A Fan’s Notes

Christopher Bram

Introduction: Christopher’s Kind

Chris Freeman and James J. Berg

1. Christopher Isherwood and the California Dream 

Sara S. Hodson

2. “Rejecting the Real World Outright”: The Shared Fantasy of Mortmere 

Katherine Stevenson

3. “A Faith of Personal Sincerity”: Christopher Isherwood’s Debt to the Individualism of E. M. Forster

Xenobe Purvis

4. The Archival “I”: Forster, Isherwood, and the Future of Queer Biography 

Wendy Moffat

5. A Queer Progress: Christopher Isherwood, Sexual Exceptionalism, and Thirties’ Berlin 

Lois Cucullu

6. Fellow Travelers 

James J. Berg and Chris Freeman

7. Isherwood as Travel Writer 

Lisa Colletta

8.The World in the Evening: Character in Transit

Robert L. Caserio

9. Isherwood’s “Jolly Corner” in Down There on a Visit: The Christopher Who Was Encounters the Christopher Who Might Have Been 

Carola M. Kaplan

10. Grumbling in Eldorado: A Single Man in the American Utopia 

Calvin W. Keogh

11. Pacific Rimming: Queer Expatriatism, Transpacific Los Angeles, and Christopher Isherwood’s Queer Sixties

Jaime Harker

12. Becoming Gay in the 1960s: Reading A Single Man 

Edmund White

13. We Can See the Hilld from Our Bed: Christopher and His Nonfictions 

Barrie Jean Borich

14. In Search of a Spiritual Home: Christopher Isherwood, the Perennial Philosophy, and Vedanta 

Bidhan Chandra Roy

15. “Enlarging Their Clearing in the Jungle”: The Political Significance of Christopher Isherwood’s My Guru and His Disciple 

Victor Marsh

16. “The Aim of Art is to Transcend Art”: Writing Spirituality in My Guru and His Disciple 

Jamie Carr

17. A Conversation with Christopher Isherwood, 1979 

Dennis Bartel