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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping character studies by a great storyteller
I bought this book to give me a "feel" of Germany, and especially Berlin in the period before the Second World War. The reason - I'm to direct the musical "Cabaret" early in 2001. I found that Isherwood's simple style of storytelling with no pretentious nonsense is truely a pleasure to read. The stories are told from the point of view of an observer -...
Published on 5 Dec 2000

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Berlin" novels?
I had just read books by Philip Kerr and David Downing, who both describe pre- to post- WW2 Berlin very vividly and convincingly. I then came across this by book by Isherwood and read the Amazon reviews - but not carefully enough it seems. It seemed like a book that might provide a feel for the pre-WW2 atmosphere i Berlin. Well. I found it totally ridiculous, shallow and...
Published 5 months ago by balsaworks


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric read, 4 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Berlin Novels (Kindle Edition)
I wasn't sure what I was going to make of this at first but I have been pleasantly surprised. It is a fairly easy read and draws you into the time quickly. A good read if you are interested in the politics and oppression that rose up in Germany pre-second world war.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 13 Sep 2014
By 
Jane Naylor - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Novels (Kindle Edition)
Personally couldn't relate to caracters or context
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16 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A whiff of decadence, 28 Nov 2009
By 
John Irons-patterson (Vienna, Austria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Novels (Paperback)
The Berlin Novels.
This is first a note for Amazon. The Berlin Novels includes Christopher Isherwood's two Berlin novels "Mr. Norris Changes Trains " and "Goodbye to Berlin". I brought this volume and a separate copy from Amazon of "Mr Norris " because l didn't realise they were together in the same volume. I live in Vienna and returning anything to the Uk is not a simple matter.
I first read both these books while l was studying European history at university forty years ago.I was enormously impressed then by sense of the yawning catastrophe, which is palpable in both books of the decadence and economic dislocation which faciliate the Nazi takeover of the Weimar republic. The realism of Isherwood's characters is vividly drawn from life, in "Mr Norris " (1935) there is tissue of difference between the narrator and Isherwood, but "In Goodbye " he speaks with his own voice.
"Goodbye to Berlin " is dedicated to Isherwood's personal friend A. H. Auden in the 1930s' these two youngmen represented a critical point of view of western society and they spoke of the dangers it faced from the radical right.In the 1930s'they were both "Fellow Travellers ", which ultimately destroyed Auden's reputation when he failed to appreciate the threat posed by left-wing totalitarianism.
Both Isherwood and Auden were relatively openly gay, and although the theme is not made explicit in the Berlin novels . It is clearly implicit to the reader. In addition these gay portraits are often far from positive, in fact there are no angels, not even the author. The writing is often funny and cruel, but touching,without being sentimental and this includes Isherwood's most famous character "Sally Bowles ". The play "I am a Camera " and the enormously successful film "Cabaret " (1972) are based on "Goodbye " with Lisa Millnelli and Michael York playing Bowles and Isherwood.
Isherwood said he intended to write a series of novels based upon his Berlin experiences. He meant it to be his Opus, but the Nazi takeover and his subsequent life in Europe and America cut the inspiration for this great work. We are left with a kind of detailed draft of what the great novel might have looked like. The characters flit across the deck of the sinking Weimar ship and although they are often amusing and poignant. They are very much sketches, which lack the depth needed for these stories to be a great novel. Further Isherwood wrote "Goodbye " in 1939 as a "siren call " about the Nazi menace,but he was already moving on to a transcendental life in California far from the Nollendorfplatz and indeed from the privations of wartime Britain. There is more than a little whiff of meeting the publishers demand before the ship sails.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Berlin Novels (Paperback)
Great. Arrived quickly.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic novels, 3 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Berlin Novels (Kindle Edition)
I've always wanted to read Christopher Isherwood's Berlin novels and having them available on the kindle was a real bonus. If you want a flavour of pre-war Berlin you can't go wrong with these rather quirky novels.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very dissapointed, 7 Feb 2013
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I suppose it depends upon ones expectations. I was expecting ang hoping that the book would provide a feel of what was happening and the atmosphere of Berlin at the time. For me, the stories were drab and uninspiring.
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1 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A curiosity of propaganda by a sad little poof, 25 Sep 2013
By 
Rerevisionist (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Berlin Novels (Paperback)
It's quite interesting to read this curiosity, clearly written as a propagandist 1930s thing, and published by Hogarth Press, of Bloomsbury.

One of the reviews or blurbs here described this as about 'pre-war Berlin' - probably whoever scribbled that hadn't heard of the 'first World War'.

The whole thing is not credible and in fact I have to wonder whether Isherwood spent any time in Germany at all; the descriptions are so utterly devoid of anything characteristic of Germany that one has to wonder if in fact the whole thing was made up, with a bit of guidebook backing. I can't remember, for example, a single street or building being named; and the German language extracts are exiguous and barely exist.

And it's amusing to see from these Amazon reviews how Americans in particular, doped by their Jewish controllers, think in terms of films rather than facts.

Thus Isherwood presumably liked anal sex (there's a school reference suggesting this). And, therefore, Germans were decadent! Mr Norris is shown as a violence fetishist; this of course means that Germans are fetishists! Isherwood's narrator presents himself as a neutral observer; in fact, after naval blockades during which many Germans starved, it's unlikely they would be as well-disposed to him as this novel suggests. (He's put forward as a teacher of English, with pupils, but with nothing to suggest this was in any way genuine).

For some reason many reviewers think the descriptive writing is excellent; in fact it's rather laughable, and mainly concerned with peoples' faces; Norris is described in rather painful detail, mostly in conflicting ways as the book drags on. However he does just manage to emerge from one dimension into one and a bit. He has zero plausibility: a man with an inheritance, which he squandered, and which Isherwood is careful not to trace to any roots, with obvious character and money problems, is not credible as a spy; the plot in fact can only be held together by withholding essential evidence.

Isherwood's grasp of the politics (this was a time when Stalin's murder machine, funded by Jews, was building arms factories, tanks, and so on, preparing to invade Europe) is infantile. It's conceivable that Jews might have decided to change sides; if for example Germany had offered to guarantee Palestine. But of course there's nothing in this book of possible twists of history.
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1 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I can't recommend this book - it was not my type of reading., 30 April 2012
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This review is from: The Berlin Novels (Kindle Edition)
I deleted this book from my Kindle after the first chapter. I just couldn't persevere with it any longer. It was not my type of book at all. I must admit I was very disappointed as I thought it would be enjoyable - it was not!
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0 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bought for my daughter, 7 Jun 2011
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J. Cole - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Novels (Paperback)
I have bought these books for my daughter who saw the drama on Christopher Ishwerwood, and was interested in reading his books. She hasn't had time to read them yet,as she is doing her GCSEs. However, the service on receiving them was excellent.
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The Berlin Novels by Christopher Isherwood
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