Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Mr Norris Changes Trains

Mr Norris Changes Trains (original 1935; edition 1961)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6451514,980 (3.63)34
Title:Mr Norris Changes Trains
Info:Penguin (1961), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

Mr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood (1935)

  1. 00
    Christopher and his Kind by Christopher Isherwood (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: The real "Mr. Norris" is revealed in Christopher and His Kind

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 34 mentions

English (13)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Part of the basis for what became the long running Broadway musical "Cabaret" and the film of the same name, this is a not shallow look at Germany as Hitler fought for power. Isherwood, late in his life, thought that this early writing was shallow. It is a mostly amoral dispassionate look inside the decaying society. Looking back as Isherwood did, he recognizes that he lightly reported on the starvation and violence that cannot be described adequately anyway.

Isherwood actually delivers a self-censored look at a part of his life in the Weimer Republic in the early 1930's. It is really Berlin with the unspeakable parts probably wisely omitted. This is based greatly on actual people that he knew to varying degrees. The narrator is a not well disguised version of himself. In the related Berlin stories, he describes Sally Bowles, a lightly fictionalized portrait. Mixed in this and the other stories are actual named historical figures. If you want to be introduced to real characters in another place and time, isn't that one reason to read?

Isherwood is a superb writer and he could have intrigued with writing about the Cleavers in 1950's America, if he chose. But we met them in the TV series.

Life is a Cabaret, my friend. Life is a Cabaret. ( )
  Forthwith | May 6, 2015 |
I went to the Beryl Cook print shop in the Barbican in Plymouth, and the crafty Folio Society had retained copyright of
the superb illustrations in this edition - what a pity!
  captbirdseye | Apr 28, 2014 |
Dark, ironic and atmospheric, Mr. Norris Changes Trains is an intriguing character study - not only of Mr. Norris himself, but also the strange crowd who follow his every movement. But most fascinating of them all is William Bradshaw, our first-person narrator, who finds himself drawn to Norris.

My complete review is on my book blog, Book to the Future:

http://booktothefuture.com.au/?p=1498 ( )
  BooktotheFuture | Mar 30, 2013 |
Written in 1935 as the first of his ‘Berlin Novels’ (Goodbye to Berlin being the second) Isherwood writes the story of his alter-ego, teacher William Bradshaw who, on a train travelling from Holland into Berlin, encounters and subsequently forms an intriguing friendship with Arthur Norris; a hilarious, evasive, effeminate and often rather sinister middle aged man.

As the mystique surrounding his new found friend and his occupation grows, Bradshaw follows Arthur around pre-war Berlin. From party to restaurant to communist hub, this story is imbued with tension and populated with characters whose appearance seemed so grotesque as to be rather cartoon-like at times:

‘There was no mistaking his warmth. He had a large blunt fleshy nose and a chin which seemed to have slipped sideways. It was like a broken concertina. When he spoke, it jerked crooked in the most curious fashion and a deep cleft dimple like a wound surprisingly appeared in the side of it. Above his ripe red cheeks, his forehead was sculpturally white, like marble. A queerly cut fringe of dark grey hair lay across it, compact, thick, and heavy. After a moment’s examination, I realised, with extreme interest, that he was wearing a wig.’

(Bradshaw meets Arthur Norris) p.3

Having little time to concentrate on anything major this month (a nightmare of a mood to be in when you’re trying to read Salman Rushdie!) Christopher Isherwood proved to be the perfect antidote. His prose is neat and evocative, his characters unusual and the setting exciting. However, it appears that that is all there really was to it! Although a couple of our book group members found Arthur Norris a difficult character to get along with, spoiling the book somewhat for them, the majority found this to be an entertaining read but were unable to elaborate as to exactly why it was so enjoyable, myself included!

Although William Bradshaw is supposed to be Isherwood’s alter-ego (Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood) the author very cleverly ensures that his narrator is as neutral, unexciting and asexual as possible; allowing the big personalities of the novel to shine and for us, as readers, to easily place ourselves in Bradshaw’s position. Hobnobbing with Arthur, his communist ‘associates’ and the fishy Baron Pregnitz in the cafés and bars of 1935 Berlin, it is fascinating to see Isherwood effectively portray the danger and tension of the place at the time, particularly given what we all know about what happened next…

Isherwood criticised himself intensely later on in life for what he felt was a naive portrayal of this historically significant and harrowing period. I personally feel he was rather harsh on himself. Although the tension we all picked up on in the novel may have been amplified by our own knowledge of Germany under the Nazis; despite the amusing characters and bizarre situations they find themselves in, behind the action in Mr Norris Changes Trains lies a disarming honesty and darkness that betrays genuine acknowledgement of the very real danger lurking in the background. After all, how was he to understand the full extent what would eventually happen come 1939…!?

Isherwood has been introduced to me at the perfect time in my life (thank you Jess!) Writing with simplicity and a unique sense of style, Goodbye to Berlin and A Single Man have now taken pride of place on my wish list.

http://relishreads.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/mr-norris-changes-trains/ ( )
  Lucy_Rock | Sep 9, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
W. H. Auden
First words
My first impression was that the stranger's eyes were of an unusually light blue. They met mine for several blank seconds, vacant, unmistakably scared.
"...the countries of Europe are nothing more or less than a collection of mousetraps. In some of them, the cheese is of superior quality, that is the only difference."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Copies with the US title - The Last of Mr Norris - are combined with this work.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099771411, Paperback)

First published in 1933, the novel portrays a series of encounters in Berlin between the narrator and the camp and mildly sinister Mr. Norris. Evoking the atmosphere in Berlin during the rise of the Nazis, the novel has achieved the status of a modern classic.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:39 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After a chance encounter on a train the English teacher William Bradshaw starts a close friendship with the mildly sinister Arthur Norris. Norris is a man of contradictions; lavish but heavily in debt, excessively polite but sexually deviant. 'Mr Norris Changes Trains' evokes the atmosphere of Berlin during the rise of the Nazis.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
21 wanted
3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.63)
2 5
2.5 5
3 27
3.5 18
4 38
4.5 5
5 11

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 99,123,048 books! | Top bar: Always visible