The Road to the Second World War
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A. J. P. Taylor has described the early work of Christopher Isherwood (1904–86) as ‘uniquely representative of the thirties’. Isherwood belonged to the generation whose childhood saw the First World War (his father was killed in action). He was at school with W.H. Auden; later they became close friends, travelled to China together, and, just before the beginning of the Second World War, went to America together. Earlier, from 1929 to 1933, Isherwood lived in Germany, working as a teacher of English. His novels Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935; titled in the US The Last of Mr Norris) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939) are the only completed portions of what was intended to be (as Isherwood later said) ‘a huge episodic novel of pre-Hitler Berlin’ titled The Lost. Both are set in the period 1930–33 and present a portrait — part autobiographical, part documentary, part fictional — of Berlin in the years just before Hitler seized power.
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