New perspectives on Christopher Isherwood as a searching and transnational writer
“Perhaps I had traveled too much, left my heart in too many places,” muses the narrator of Christopher Isherwood’s novel Prater Violet (1945), which he wrote in his adopted home of Los Angeles after years of dislocation and desperation. In Isherwood in Transit, James J.Berg and Chris Freeman bring together diverse Isherwood scholars to understand the challenges this writer faced as a consequence of his travel.
Based on a conference at the Huntington Library, where Isherwood’s recently opened papers are held, Isherwood in Transit considers the writer not as an English, continental, or American writer but as a transnational one, whose identity, politics, and beliefs were constantly transformed by global connections and engagements arising from journeys to Germany, Japan, China, and Argentina; his migration to the United States; and his conversion to Vedanta Hinduism in the 1940s.
Approaching Isherwood’s rootlessness and restlessness from various perspectives, these essays show that long after he made a new home in California and became an American citizen, Christopher Isherwood remained unsettled, although his wanderings became spiritual and personal rather than geographic.
Contributors: Barrie Jean Borich, DePaul U; Jamie Carr, Niagara U; Robert L. Caserio, Penn State U, University Park; Lisa Colletta, American U of Rome; Lois Cucullu, U of Minnesota; Jaime Harker, U of Mississippi; Carola M. Kaplan, California State U, Pomona; Calvin W. Keogh, Central European U, Budapest; Victor Marsh; Wendy Moffat, Dickinson College; Xenobe Purvis; Bidhan Roy, California State U, Los Angeles; Katharine Stevenson, U of Texas at Austin; Edmund White.
James J. Berg is associate dean of faculty at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, and editor of Isherwood on Writing (Minnesota, 2008).
Chris Freeman is professor of English and gender studies at the University of Southern California. They are coeditors of The American Isherwood (Minnesota, 2014), Conversations with Christopher Isherwood, and The Isherwood Century.
Christopher Bram is author of nine novels, including Gods and Monsters. He was a 2001 Guggenheim fellow and winner of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. His recent books include Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America and The Art of History: Unlocking the Past in Fiction and Nonfiction.
"The seventeen essays resulted from a conference after the opening of Isherwood’s vast archive at The Huntington, and approach Isherwood in light of his peripatetic days and his continuing spiritual, Vedantic explorations of the spirit. Be sure to read Christopher Bram’s excellent foreword."—Lavender Magazine
"The book does not try to dissimulate Isherwood’s hesitations and occasional mistakes, related to issues of class (for instance in his perhaps somewhat exploitative relationships with working class, that is unemployed and hungry hustlers in his Berlin years) or race (for instance in his contacts with Mishima). This is a very courageous and mature approach, and I think a very healthy stance in the current context of revenge culture."—Leonardo Reviews
"Anyone with an interest in Isherwood or in Japanese culture and sexual patterns will find this book a worthwhile acquisition."—Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide