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Isherwood in Transit

2020

James J. Berg and Chris Freeman, Editors

Isherwood in Transit

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. Isherwood in Transit brings together diverse Isherwood scholars to understand the challenges this writer faced as a consequence of his travel.

“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 Transitconsiders 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.

Isherwood in Transit

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.
Isherwood in Transit

Contents



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


Acknowledgments


Index