Christopher and His Quest

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Mr Isherwood Changes Trains: Christopher Isherwood and the search for the 'home self'by Victor Marsh Clouds of MagellanMr Isherwood Changes Trains: Christopher Isherwood and the search for the ‘home self’
by Victor Marsh
Clouds of Magellan
299 pages (paper), $27.

 

IN 1965 AT UCLA, I took a class from Christopher Isherwood, and I recall him saying, “All I can do is to tell stories about my life.” He noted that he found support for this idea in Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, which had been translated recently into English. And he pointed to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” in which “every flower … dreamed its own fairy tale, or its story.” Victor Marsh begins Mr. Isherwood Changes Trains with a discussion of the postmodern concept that the self doesn’t really exist until one tells stories and constructs an identity. He points out that Isherwood, on the surface the most transparent of 20th-century writers, presaged postmodern theory by creating a “narrative self” and integrating his homosexual and spiritual lives.

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