Christopher and his Kind: 1929-1939 by Christopher Isherwood


[Edit: Originally published April 28, 2016]

Christopher and his Kind, a memoir detailing Christopher Isherwood’s time in traveling abroad from England, is delightfully frank and honest. Christopher Isherwood has no qualms in saying which parts are unreliable because he doesn’t remember them or how the opinion of his younger self might be biased. He treats young Christopher Isherwood as if he is a different person from the Isherwood who is now writing this memoir, and in a sense he is. 

I found it fascinating the way he talked about how he fictionalized the people that he met, particularly Jean Ross who was the inspiration for beloved character Sally Bowles. This ties in with Isherwood acknowledging himself as an unreliable narrator. He remarks on several occasions in the book that over the years what was Jean Ross and what was Sally Bowles has become blurred.

The queer history that this book provides was wonderful. I was particularly intrigued by the Hirschfeld Institute. It’s something I definitely want to research further. Aside from that it was a wonderful glimpse into how homosexuality was thought of and how gay and bisexual men (though they weren’t called that in the book) lived their lives, and how despite the tendency for history to get straight-washed, queer people have always been there and will always be there.

There is also a movie of the same name, starting Matt Smith, and while it is good, it doesn’t really give you the full feel of Isherwood’s time traveling or the full nature of his relationship with Heinz, or Isherwood’s other friends for that matter. On it’s own the movie is good, and if you’ve seen it but haven’t read the book you should go out and get the book ASAP.

The book can be found here.

Related Reviews: A Single Man, Mr. Norris Changes Trains, Goodbye to Berlin, Queer, There, and Everywhere



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