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Mr Norris Changes Trains

Goodbye to Berlin

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Edgar Mittelholzer Biography to Mr Norris Changes Trains

a novel by Christopher Isherwood, published by the Hogarth Press in 1935, which firmly established his reputation as a novelist of importance. Set in Berlin, it is strongly informed by Isherwood's experiences of living in the city from 1929 to 1933, Hitler's ascendancy becoming increasingly apparent in the latter stages of the narrative. The book draws its episodic structure from the encounters of William Bradshaw, Isherwood's semi-autobiographical narrator, with Arthur Norris, a ruthlessly unprincipled but eccentrically charming con-man who introduces Bradshaw to Berlin's criminal and political underworld; the dissolute homosexual journalist Gerald Hamilton, whom Isherwood met in Berlin in 1931, was the model for the figure of Norris. Bradshaw's moral sensibility develops in the course of the narrative towards the realization that private and public morality are not readily separable, an awareness that frees him from his admiration for Norris. Stylistically, the work marks a considerable advance on Isherwood's earlier novels, initiating the fluently straightforward and objectively economical manner that is sustained in its sequel Goodbye to Berlin (1939).

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