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Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935)

by Christopher Isherwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Berlin Stories (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9572517,933 (3.64)1 / 79
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. First published in 1933 Mr Norris Changes Trainspiquantly evokes the atmosphere of Berlin during the rise of the Nazis.… (more)
  1. 00
    Christopher and His Kind by Christopher Isherwood (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: The real "Mr. Norris" is revealed in Christopher and His Kind
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» See also 79 mentions

English (22)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Like Goodbye to Berlin I'm not entirely sure what this was about but it was likewise well written and intriguing. ( )
  Stephen.Lawton | Aug 7, 2021 |
Christopher Isherwood is now best remembered for his stories set in Berlin during the demise of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazis. This book, the novella 'Sally Bowles' and the collection of stories published as 'Goodbye to Berlin' inspired John van Druten's play, 'I Am a Camera' which in turn inspired the memorable 'Cabaret' which so poignantly captured the simultaneous decadence and political volatility of Berlin in the early 1903s.

The book is narrated by William Bradshaw, a young Cambridge graduate who has moved to Berlin where he survives by teaching English to a succession of pupils. On the train from The Hook of Holland he meets and befriends Arthur Norris, a larger than life opportunist who has been living off his wits in Berlin for some years. Norris is a superb creation, a cheery amalgam of Arthur Daley, Falstaff and Mr Pickwick. At first sight cripplingly effete, he is on occasion prepared to live fairly dangerously, although he also suffers from a crippling squeamishness about some of the bleaker realities of life. Like Pickwick, he is slave to an incurable vanity about his appearance, thinning his eyebrows three times a week and revelling in his selection of wigs. I don't, however, recall Pickwick being addicted to robust flagellation delivered by a red-booted dominatrix (though perhaps it's just that my school favoured a bowdlerised version of Dickens's novel to protect our simple country boy innocence).

The novel is clearly drawn from Isherwood's own experiences, catalogued more factually (though less entertainingly) in his memoir 'Christopher and His Kind'. Interestingly, while other aspects of the character remain essentially unchanged, William Bradshaw does indeed become Christopher Isherwood in the subsequent stories.

He pulls off a masterly performance. The story is by turns hilarious, sad and chilling, against the backdrop of bitter street fights between the Nazis and the Communists, with episodes of ghastly anti-semitism in the background. Bradshaw relates events in a manner similar to Nick Jenkins in Anthony Powell's saga 'A Dance to the Music of Time'. Although he tells the story, we learn almost nothing about him apart from the odd hint gleaned from other characters' passing comments. Events happen around him rather than to him, but his observation is clear and wry.

Isherwood writes with an attractive simplicity - his prose is clear and engaging, and a joy to read. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Jun 4, 2021 |
The narrative is very fast-paced and engaging. Arthur Norris tries everything to stay afloat and then sinks with his least-favorite weight strapped around his leg. The other characters don't get as much attention as of course Kuno. Ludwig Bayer was decent. I think it was the woman characters (few as they were) that lacked depth- especially Anni. Fraulein Schroeder wasn't too bad.
Nothing remarkable abut the book except it telling the tale of its times. ( )
  zasmine | Mar 13, 2021 |
When I read Goodbye to Berlin, I innocently thought that the anti-semitism in it belonged to the characters. Now, reading Mr Norris Changes Trains, I see that isn’t so. The anti-semitic comments are gratuitously those of the author. Still, I wondered. If he were living in Germany, was it that he felt it made him safe throwing in just a few words in a few places to prove his credentials?

But now I see that his private words have always been littered with this abhorrent attitude, the more so since he lived in Berlin and must have known what was happening.

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/mr-norris-changes-trains-... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
When I read Goodbye to Berlin, I innocently thought that the anti-semitism in it belonged to the characters. Now, reading Mr Norris Changes Trains, I see that isn’t so. The anti-semitic comments are gratuitously those of the author. Still, I wondered. If he were living in Germany, was it that he felt it made him safe throwing in just a few words in a few places to prove his credentials?

But now I see that his private words have always been littered with this abhorrent attitude, the more so since he lived in Berlin and must have known what was happening.

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/mr-norris-changes-trains-... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isherwood, Christopherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cook, BerylIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eisermann, WolfgangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fortunato, MarioContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hynes, Samuel LynnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leoni, PietroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toorn, Willem vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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.
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"...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."
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Copies with the US title - The Last of Mr Norris - are combined with this work.
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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. First published in 1933 Mr Norris Changes Trainspiquantly evokes the atmosphere of Berlin during the rise of the Nazis.

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Haiku summary
Berlin en trente-trois,
Il trahit les communistes,
Perruque sur la tête
(Tiercelin)

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