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Mr. Norris skifter tog by Christopher…
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Mr. Norris skifter tog (1945)

by Christopher Isherwood, Werner Svendsen (Translator)

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1,456205,141 (3.97)35
Member:2810michael
Title:Mr. Norris skifter tog
Authors:Christopher Isherwood
Other authors:Werner Svendsen (Translator)
Info:[Kbh.] : Signet, 2002.
Collections:Your library, 2012 (inactive)
Rating:****
Tags:Berlin, Tyskland, Nazisme, Mellemkrigstiden, 1930-1939, Britisk litteratur, Skrevet 1930-1939, Roman

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The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood (1945)

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English (19)  Danish (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
If we want to be technical about it, The Berlin Stories is actually two novels in one. The first, Mr. Norris Changes Trains (American title: The Last of Mr. Norris) is just under 200 pages while Goodbye to Berlin is just over (207). The Last of Mr. Norris contains the famous line, "I am a Camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking" (p 1). Even though both stories are connected, I will review each story on its own.

The Last of Mr. Norris - Mr. Norris is a mysterious man. Wealthy one minute, impoverished the next. A sexual deviant with prim and proper manners. Shady friends. He is the focal point and the most developed character of The Last of Mr. Norris. Indeed, Isherwood wanted his readers to focus solely on the character of Mr. Norris throughout the entire novel. The subtleties of this complex character needed to be teased out somehow. Isherwood found that vehicle through the first person narrative of Norris's English friend, William Bradshaw. From Bradshaw you learn there is something sinister and cunning yet beguiling about Norris. The only other "character" is Berlin in the 1930s. Hitler is beginning to gain power. Communism. Spies. Alliances. Blackmail. How Norris moves through this world is what makes the story interesting.

Goodbye to Berlin - Isherwood explained that in order to have the reader truly focus on Norris every other character needed to be culled from The Last of Mr. Norris. In Goodbye to Berlin those orphaned characters have found a home. Characters like Sally Bowels, Frl. Schoeder, Otto Nowak, and Peter ----. As an aside, the composition of Goodbye to Berlin is a little different from The Last of Mr. Norris. This time the chapters are titled: A Berlin Diary (1930), Sally Bowles, On Ruegen Island (Summer 1931), The Nowaks, The Landauers, and A Berlin Diary (Winter 1932 -3). Favorite lins, "With a mere gesture of wealth he could alter the whole course of our lives" (p 48) and "The political moral is certainly depressing: these people could be made to believe in anybody or anything" (p 90). ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 29, 2015 |
I'm very glad to have read this, and am glad to have read it all the way through. The people, the voices accumulate in such a way that the whole is, as they say, somehow more than the sum of its parts. Had I just read the Sally Bowles sections (I mostly wanted to see where _Cabaret_ came from), I think I would have dismissed it as too light & frivolous—didn't he •see• what was happening? But of course he did see, and the horror and nausea of the lived experience is there. It just grows inevitably.

I think I will be reading more Isherwood. ( )
  JoePhelan | Dec 14, 2014 |
These are clever stories written by an Englishman between 1933 and 1938. I classify this as historical Fiction because, though not written retrospectively, they are mined by the current writers of historical fiction looking for trenchant details. And they are well worth reading just as they were made, conjuring up a vision of the end of a liberal state and its replacement by a fascist one. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Aug 14, 2014 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2299180.html

They are fascinating for a Berlinophile like me; these are familiar streets, distanced from the present by eight decades and the Third Reich. On the one hand, there is the depiction of young and somewhat irresponsible expats spending and shagging their way around an exciting city, a situation which, while not exactly universal, has none the less been replicated in many other places and times (as a glance around Place Luxembourg in Brussels most Thursday evenings will demonstrate); on the other hand, there is the fact that this amazing city was the centre of a society that was turning on itself and about to turn on the rest of Europe. Nobody sees the Nazis coming, and yet everyone does; they are like frogs in a heating saucepan.

The two books are actually very different from each other in structure. Mr Norris Changes Trains is the less polished work, a character study of Mr Norris whose pretensions of respectability are overshadowed by his history of dubious business dealings, his unorthodox sexuality and his activism with (but not quite in) the Communist Party. Goodbye to Berlin is a collection of several shorter stories which were never quite combined into a single novel, so that there are characters in common but less of a coherent thread. Yet Isherwood is more ready to let his sæva indignatio show, and it's a better read if more disjointed.

One last point: Mr Morris Changes Trains is dedicated to W.H. Auden. Goodbye to Berlin is dedicated to John and Beatrix Lehmann - that's the same Beatrix Lehmann who played Professor Amelia Rumford in The Stones of Blood shortly before she died, and her brother. ( )
  nwhyte | Jun 14, 2014 |
Could not engage. So disappointing that instead of wanting Cabaret to be more like the book, I ended up wanting the book (and its bland narrator and uninviting characters) to be more like the movie. For its historical significance alone it gets a satisfactory rating. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
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My first impression was that the stranger's eyes were of an unusually light blue.
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Both the UK and US versions of the title (Mr Norris Changes Trains & The Last of Mr Norris) are combined in this work when coupled with Goodbye to Berlin.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0811200701, Paperback)

Christopher Isherwood was a diverse writer whose accomplishments included The Mortmere Stories (Edward Upward Series), A Single Man and a translation of The Song of God (Bhagavad Gita). But many critics hailed The Berlin Stories, the reissue of two of his best novels, as his finest. In the book, a man named Christopher Isherwood, who is and is not the author, writes a story of exile, combining the best of Isherwood's real life with the best of the life he imagined.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:14 -0400)

A two-in-one volume containing the works The Last of Mr. Norris and Goodbye to Berlin finds the characters of Sally Bowles, Frulein Schroeder, and the doomed Landauers caught up by the nightlife, danger, and mystique of 1931 Berlin.

(summary from another edition)

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