Down there on a visit by Christopher Isherwood
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New York : Simon and Schuster, 1962. First American edition. Hardcover. 318 pages ; 21 cm. $4.75 dust jacket with foxing on the backside of the dust jacket. There is also a few minor tears around the dust jacket edges and scratches on the dust jacket surface. Previous owner on the front free endpaper. No other markings within this book. Binding is firm.
Down There on a Visit is a novel in four episodes. The "Visitor" who links them together speaks in the first person and is called by the Author's name. But who, exactly, is he? The twenty-three-year-old Christopher Isherwood who visits Mr. Lancaster in Germany is not the same Christopher who spends the summer with Ambrose on his Greek island, five years later. A third and different Christopher witnesses the Munich Crisis of 1938 in London, with Dorothy and Waldemar. Yet another Christopher becomes involved with Paul in California, during the forties. And all these four Christophers are observed by a fifth, the middle-aged Author.
The words Down There refer to a nether world within the individual; a place of loneliness, alienation and hatred. Here are people shut up inside private hells of their own making, self-dedicated to a lifelong feud with The Others. The Author laughs at and with them often, for even a private hell can be funny; but he cannot sneer at them, knowing how much they and he have in common. His visits to them are also visits to the Down There inside himself.
About the Author
CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD was born at High Lane, Cheshire, England, in 1904. He left Cambridge without graduating, tried briefly to study medicine and, in 1928, published All the Conspirators, an unsuccessful first novel. From 1929 onward, he lived mostly out of England: four years in Berlin, five in various European countries, including Portugal, Holland, Belgium and Denmark. His Berlin experience produced two novels, Mr Norris and Goodbye to Berlin, both written during the thirties. In 1951, John van Druten made a play out of parts of the latter book. It was called I Am a Camera and was a hit both in New York and London; later, as a film, its success was repeated.
With W. H. Auden, a friend since their early school days, Isherwood wrote three plays and a travel book, Journey to a War, which describes China in 1938 during the Japanese invasion.
He also collaborated with his friend and teacher, Swami Prabhavananda, in translating three classic works of Hindu philosophy, including the Bhagavad-Gita. He is at present writing a biography of Ramakrishna, the nineteenth-century Indian mystic who founded the order of monks to which Prabhavananda himself belongs.
Isherwood worked with the American Friends Service Committee during part of World War Il. In 1946 he became a citizen of the United States. A few years later, he was elected to the U.S. National Institute of Arts and Letters. Since living in America he has written three novels—Prater Violet, The World in the Evening and Down There on a Visit—and a travel book about South America, The Condor and the Cows. He has also worked for the movies and lectured at the University of California. He is a member of the Wider Quaker Fellowship and the American Civil Liberties Union. His home is in Santa Monica, California. He is unmarried.