Rediscover: The Berlin Stories

English-American author Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) is best known for The Berlin Stories, a book of two semi-autobiographical novellas, Goodbye to Berlin and Mr Norris Changes Trains, based on Isherwood's time in the Weimar Republic. The Berlin Stories were the basis for John Van Druten's play I Am a Camera (1951), which was adapted into a film in 1955, and was the basis for the 1966 musical Cabaret, which itself became a film in 1972.

Goodbye to Berlin is an episodic account of Weimar Berlin's diverse residents, many of whom would become targets for the Nazis: a Jewish heiress, a gay couple, a kindly landlady and the famous Sally Bowles, an English cabaret performer who remained a centerpiece of The Berlin Stories' many adaptations. Mr Norris Changes Trains follows a fictionalized version of British communist Gerald Hamilton on a variety of shady business and political adventures in Berlin and throughout Europe.

After fleeing Weimar Germany, Isherwood moved to Hollywood, Calif., where he spent much of the rest of his life with his partner, the portrait artist Don Bachardy. The most famous of Isherwood's many later works is A Single Man (1964), about a discontented gay British professor in Los Angeles, which became a film starring Colin Firth in 2009. The Berlin Stories was last published in 2008 by New Directions ($17.95, 9780811218047). --Tobias Mutter

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