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Prater Violet (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Christopher Isherwood
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

31 May 2012 Vintage Classics

'A deliberate historical parable. Prater Violet resembles episodes in Goodbye to Berlin and keeps up the same high level of excellence' - Edmund Wilson

An impatient phone call from the temperamental Austrian director, Friedrich Bergmann, introduces a young Christopher Isherwood to the film industry. Isherwood's job is to rescue the script of an idiotic love story set in nineteenth-century Vienna, a film called Prater Violet. In the real Vienna of 1934 the Austrian Right crushes a socialist uprising. Bergmann is distraught and his prophecy of the coming war goes unheeded. As tensions on set grow, studio intrigues and competing egos threaten to derail the whole project.

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Prater Violet (Vintage Classics) + The Memorial (Vintage Classics) + Down There on a Visit (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (31 May 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0099561131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099561132
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"That young man holds the future of the English novel in his hands" (Somerset Maugham)

"Isherwood's prose fizzes and bubbles lightly like an alka-seltzer in water before sinking like a brick in the pit of your stomach. It sits with you and stays with you." (Dust for

Book Description

A classic novel about the golden age of film.

It is based on Isherwood's experience of co-writing the 1934 Berthold Viertel film Little Friend.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Violets amidst violence 15 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Based on Isherwood's experience of working with director Berthold Viertel on the 1934 film, 'Little Friend', 'Prater Violet' is an often likeably subtle and evocative novel, set in a London which has not yet begun to understand the seriousness of the Third Reich. Isherwood portrays a semi-fictionalised version of himself, as the primary character (a wonderfully postmodern touch), in a text which deals with the twin developments of cinema and of politics. 'Prater Violet' analyses expertly both the attitudes and mechanisms of pre-war cinema, with its curious blend of modernising technologies on film sets, amidst the casting of the ex stage-ham Arthur Cromwell in the movie 'Prater Violet'. Isherwood's exploration of the cinema is also written in a characteristically balanced vein, celebrating both the appeal and scope of the art form, whilst criticising the beauracrats whom exploit cinema for selfish gain, at the expense of art (represented here primarily through the sneering, cynical figure of Sandy Ashurst). Isherwood's satire in the novel is also generally successful, though whilst the protagonist's dry one-liners, amongst others, hit the spot, portrayals such as that of temperamental screen-star Anita, are rather one-dimensional.

Written around the close of World War II, the political commentary of Isherwood's novel is rather more questionable. 'Prater Violet''s exploration of the laissez-fair attitude of the British, in relation to the rising German subjugation of Austria, and the initial British indifference to the Jewish Plight, is both spot-on and startlingly brave. The novel's focus of Isherwood's problems as almost overshadowing the war, however, smacks of a kind of insensitivity which the rest of the text manages to refrain from.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Old-fashioned, extremely modern 27 Feb 2013
By glencora - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is a pleasure to read Isherwood's smooth, clear prose. It is the achievement of a great writer, something more and more difficult to find in most contemporary authors, especially the best-selling ones. This book is for readers who love the English language and cinema. It focuses on Europe on the verge of WW2, on the incomprehension of the events in Germany and Austria by the British. As to Isherwood's technique, it anticipates several aspects of post-modernist fiction. A fully satisfying read.
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