Prater Violet

Prater VioletPrater Violet Is The Most Charming Novel I Have Read In A Long Time Diana TrillingOriginally Published In , Christopher Isherwood S Prater Violet Is A Stingingly Satirical Novel About The Film Industry It Centers Around The Production Of The Vacuous Fictional Melodrama Prater Violet, Set In Nineteenth Century Vienna, Providing An Ironic Counterpoint To Tragic Events As Hitler Annexes The Real Vienna Of The S The Novel Features Vivid Portraits Of The Imperious, Passionate, And Witty Austrian Director Friedrich Bergmann And His Disciple, A Genial Young Screenwriter The Fictionalized Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen writer, autobiographer, and diarist He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privile

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  • Paperback
  • 128 pages
  • Prater Violet
  • Christopher Isherwood
  • 03 May 2018
  • 9780374535247

10 thoughts on “Prater Violet

  1. says:

    A brief novella with no chapters published in 1945 Isherwood is as good as ever It is autobiographical and the main character is called Christopher Isherwood It describes Isherwood s time as a screenwriter on the film Little Friend in 1934 The central character is a film director Friedrich Bergmann based on Berthold Viertel It is set at the time of the rise of Nazism, just before the Anschluss Bergmann is an Austrian Jew It is a satire of the film industry, but it also depicts a time and place and captures the general indifference to the rise of Nazism Isherwood explores the tension between creative artists and the insidiousness of commerce Friedrich Bergmann is the stand out character, dominating the novella, a typical demanding and outrageous director often self important and unpredictable, but also charming and generous Bergmann s family are in Austria and this adds to the tension The ongoing human tendency to avoid reality is at the centre But for Isherwood the future was clear Like all my friends I believed a European war was coming soon I believed as one believes one will die It was unreal because I couldn t imagine anything beyond it I refused to imagine anything just as a spectator refuse to imagine what is behind the scenery in the theatre, The outbreak of war, like the moment of death crossed my perspective of the future like a wall it marked the instant, total end of my imagined world Isherwood s description of life in a film studio is also telling It will interest you, as a phenomenon You see, the film studio of today is really the palace of the sixteenth century There one sees what Shakespeare saw the absolute power of the tyrant, the courtiers, the flatterers, the jesters, the cunningly ambitious intriguers There are fantastically beautiful women, there are incompetent favourites There are great men who are suddenly disgraced There is a most insane extravagance, and unexpected parsimony over a few pence There is enormous splendour, which is a sham and also horrible squalor hidden behind the scenery There are vast schemes, abandoned because of some caprice There are secrets which everybody knows and no one speaks of There are even one or two honest advisers These are the court fools, who speak the deepest wisdom in puns, lest they should be taken seriously They grimace, and tear their hair privately and weep The novel drifts along at a good pace, very enjoyable until the last ten pages and they are brilliant Isherwood at his best There is a coded description of his love life and then there is this There is one question that we seldom ask each other directly it is too brutal And yet it is the only question worth asking our fellow travellers What makes you go on living Why don t you kill yourself Why is all this bearable What makes you bear it Could I answer that question about myself No Yes Perhaps I supposed, vaguely, that it was a kind of balance, a complex of tensions This is a little gem of a novel.

  2. says:

    Scrive Manganelli nella nota finale Se Isherwood scrivesse musica, la sua predilezione ha qualcosa di infantile andrebbe ai fiati romanzi per oboe, clarinetto, per corno di bassetto Il corno di bassetto aereo di quella ariosit serale e boschiva che s accompagna ad una solitudine insieme pittoresca e irreparabile un precario sorriso custodisce una delicata risonanza, l allucinazione dell eco, una sonorit pensosa, e insieme elegante la sonorit delicata di una angoscia ostinata ma inafferrabile l imprecisa, cattivante angoscia dell esistenza Londra, anni Trenta Chatsworth sogna di realizzare una Tosca scritta da Maugham, con Greta Garbo come protagonista, invece alle prese con La violetta del Prater A dirigerlo il regista ebreo tedesco Friedrich Bergmann, sceneggiatore il giovane e promettente scrittore Christopher Isherwood Si lavora in un clima di esaltazione, di entusiasmo, ma in Europa incombe la catastrofe A Berlino in corso il processo per l incendio del Reichstag in Austria gli scontri con le masse operaie sono aspri, seguono arresti, condanne, uccisioni Gli inglesi non vogliono credere Non ancora Meglio illudersi che non accadr Meglio non pensare allo scoppio di una guerra europea Meglio vivere nell inconsistenza della finzione Questo rispettabile ombrello la bacchetta magica con la quale l inglese cercher di fare scomparire Hitler Quando poi Hitler rifiuter di scomparire, allora l inglese aprir il suo ombrello e dir Dopo tutto, che pu farmi un po di pioggia Ma la pioggia sar una pioggia di bombe e di sangue L ombrello non a prova di bomba .Solo Bergmann pare inquieto Sente la guerra avvicinarsi L Austria, dove ha lasciato moglie e figlia, non pi sicura E mentre fra le macchine dell illusione volteggia la leggerezza, si scivola, dolcemente, verso il baratro della follia nazista La favola bella pretesto per riflettere Perch certa leggerezza tanto leggera non Che cosa ti spinge a vivere Perch non ti ammazzi Perch si riesce a sopportare tutto Che cosa te lo fa sopportare Potevo rispondere a una domanda del genere No S Forse Supponevo, vagamente, che fosse per una sorta di equilibrio, un complesso di tensioni Si fa la cosa che viene dopo nell elenco Un pasto da consumare Il capitolo undici da scrivere Il telefono che suona Si esce in taxi, diretti in un posto qualunque Il proprio lavoro I divertimenti La gente I libri Le cose che si possono comperare nei negozi C sempre qualche cosa di nuovo Deve esserci Diversamente, l equilibrio verrebbe interrotto, la tensione spezzata La morte, bramata, temuta Il sonno, tanto desiderato Il terrore del sopraggiungere del sonno La morte La guerra La vasta citt addormentata, destinata alle bombe Il rombo degli aeroplani incursori Le batterie contraeree Le urla Le case sbriciolate La morte universale La mia morte La morte del mondo visto, conosciuto, assaporato, tangibile La morte col suo esercito di paure Non le paure che tutti conoscono, le paure cui si fa pubblicit , ma quelle pi terribili le paure segrete dell infanzia Paura del tuffo dal trampolino, del cane del fattore e del cavallino del parroco, paura degli armadi, dei corridoi scuri, paura di spaccarsi un unghia con un taglierino E, al culmine, la pi indicibilmente temibile, la paura prima quella di aver paura Forse avrei potuto volgermi a Bergmann e chiedergli Chi sei E io, chi sono Che cosa facciamo qui Ma gli attori non possono rivolgersi domande simili durante lo spettacolo Libri sul divano dei pigri

  3. says:

    A masterpiece Does in 128 pages what contemporary or recently deceased masters can t do in a thousand pages Every word, every sentence perfect.The narrator, Christopher Isherwood, who is not the author but is the author, is hired to work on a film that is directed by an Austrian Jew in London during the fall of his country to Hitler This slim book shows you everything that s wrong and that s right in the times and tells you all you ll ever need to know about making a movie The last seven pages are one of the greatest poems albeit in prose ever written.I cannot recommend this book highly enough It s past amazing Read it.

  4. says:

    Isherwood, himself in the novel as novice scriptwriter, and his new acquaintance the German film director Bergmann, during their first lunch with the studio head Chatsworth The cigar somehow completed Chatsworth As he puffed it, he seemed to grow larger than life size His pale eyes shone with a prophetic light For years I ve had one great ambition You ll laught at me Everybody does They say I m crazy But I don t care He paused Then announced solemnly Tosca With Garbo Bergmann turned, and gave me a rapid, enigmatic glance Then he exhaled, with such force that Chatsworth s cigar smoke was blown back around his head Chatsworth looked pleased Evidently this was the right kind of reaction Without music, of course I d do it absolutely straight He paused again, apparently waiting for our protest There was none.Very funny and very sad In the mid30s, Bergmann has fled to Vienna with his family, leaving all his money and possessions in Nazi Germany He s come to England in 1938 to prostitute his art in directing a corny musical Prater Violet, leaving his wife and daughter in Vienna he needs the money Mid film, the Germans take over Austria Bergmann, already as amazed and frustrated as Zweig was that these English can t see the evil and duplicity of Hitler, is frantic about his family.All Bergmann s pent up anxiety exploded The picture I s____ upon the picture This heartless filth This wretched lying charade To make such a picture at such a moment is definitely heartless It is a crime It definitely aids Dollfuss and Starhemberg, and Fey and all their gangsters It covers up the dirty syphilitic sore with rose leaves, with the petals of this hypocritical reactionary violet It lies and declares that the pretty Danube is blue, when the water is red with bloodI am punished for assisting at this lie We shall all be punished___ I had just spent two days at the Deutsches Historiches Museum in Berlin when I found this in an charity shop Two days and much recent reading submerged in images of the two world wars, and the stories of the people who started and suffered from them Touring the gleaming new glass dome of the Reichstag that replaces the one damaged in the probably Nazi set fire of 1933 and again later in the Allied bombing So this felt like a continuation of living as much in the last century as in this one Our horrific news from Sudan and Yemen and Afghanistan mirrored by news from Belgium and Austria and Poland andpeople continuing to make movies like take your pick.Isherwood wrote or at least published this right after the war, and his Bergmann predicts all the disaster that looms in front of Europe That part of the story is icy and fierce But it is just as much a droll send up of the movie business, filled at the top with crass but cagy executives, assisted by Cambridge boys with amused, well paid nonchalance, and staffed by skilled crew members quickly but individually sketched The writing is excellent until the last two or three pages, when Isherwood inexplicably devolves into a personal remembrance that melts away the power of his story So definitely read it to page 98, and then stop.

  5. says:

    A wafer thin parable Isherwood in London writes, on assignment, a trite film script while Europe prepares for W2 Get the irony His writing is clean and crispy clear, as usual, but only the last couple of pages crack anything personal or profound The real irony about Isherwood, whose reputation continues to rise today, is that until a hit 60s musical Cabaret was produced from a play by someone else based on his Berlin Stories, no one in America or anywhere else was even aware of him He says he never saw the musical But it suddenly made him rich and famous Now that s a far better story than Prater Violet.

  6. says:

    This is one of my favorite books My uncle gave me a copy when I was in high school, and I have re read it every couple years, ever since.Isherwood is better known for Berlin Stories, a semi autobiographical work on pre Nazi Germany which became the basis for Cabaret.Prater Violet is a semi autobiographical account of the young Isherwood was hired to write the screenplay for a relentlessly fluffy Ruritanian musical comedy, Prater Violet, to be shot in London in 1934.The director, Friedrich Bergmann, is a Jewish intellectual who has left his family back in Austria Upon first meeting Isherwood, Bergmann remarks, I am sure we shall be very happy together You know, already, I feel absolutely no shame before you We are like two married men who meet in a whorehouse Prater Violet, the novel, is largely a character study of Bergmann, who sees both the tragedy and absurdity of his situation, pouring his energy into a ridiculous comedy while danger looms over his family and the world It is also, quite genuinely, a hilarious backstage comedy about filmmaking, so the movie within the book and the book itself are perfect reflections of each other The character sketches are dead on, and the prose is marvelous.If that was all the book was, I would have liked it a lot But it s than that I ll put what made me fall in love with it, and makes it endlessly re readable, behind a cut It s not a plot twist in any conventional sense, but it did surprise me I d love to keep it a surprise, to allow you to discover it for yourself.Since I know what you re all thinking nobody in the book dies in the Holocaust, or dies at all It s surprising for stylistic and thematic reasons view spoiler All through the book, we learn a great deal about Bergmann, but less of Isherwood He turns his observant eye on others, but not himself An early line in Berlin Stories is I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking In the very last pages of the book, Isherwood lets us catch a glimpse of his life, his self, his soul, and what his relationship with Bergmann really means to him After an entire book skating over bright surfaces striped with dark shadows, it s like a sudden plunge into deep waters, startling and revelatory and beautiful.The last page returns to the original tone, sparkling and funny and understated But now we know what was beneath what is always beneath all our surface interactions and appearances and silly projects and casual chat The actual text is a letter from a friend, about how much audiences are enjoying Prater Violet and snubbing a politically superior and very serious indeed Soviet movie about the proletariat.The very last line informs us that Bergmann moved to America with his family The implication is that the success of Prater Violet got him a Hollywood job and so enabled him and his family to escape the Holocaust The silly comedy that Bergmann reluctantly poured his creative energies into didn t turn out to be a great work of art But it did save lives.Those last few pages, together with the rest of the book, suggests to me that the frustratingly absurd, shallow, everyday work and interactions are also necessary and important Though Bergmann and Isherwood discuss serious things, their relationship is built not only on that, but on sharing the absurdities of Hollywood and writing their fluffy movie Similarly, the sparkling body of the book is what makes the depth of the climax work hide spoiler

  7. says:

    I found PRATER VIOLET an engaging novella that effectively satirizes the making of movies in the 1930s The first person narrator, Christopher Isherwood, is a close adjunct to the author, and not above having a bit of fun with the making of a cloying studio movie set in Olde Vienna whose director is worried sick about the onslaught of fascism in the real Vienna, where his close relatives are marooned The movie studio is set in London but much of the plot could apply to the Hollywood studios of the Thirties as well A quick read pay attention to the denouement Not a major Isherwood novel but so much fun it doesn t matter Originally published in 1945 Thanks for the copy, Chris

  8. says:

    First Line Mr Isherwood Yes, the protagonist of this book is Mr Isherwood himself Quite unusual, but also quite brilliant The story takes place in London just before WWII, where Isherwood is working on a screenplay with Friedrich Bergmann We follow the writing process and part of the movie production of Prater Violet probably inspired of Isherwood s i.e the real Isherwood own experience as a screenwriter in the 1930s.The story is also about the friendship between Isherwood and Bergmann Their relationship was very amusing to follow What a character we have in Bergmann Just take a look at what Bergmann utters after meeting Isherwood for the first time I am sure we shall be very happy together You know, already, I feel absolutely no shame before you We are like two married men who meet in a whorehouse. I LOVE Isherwood s writing To me, he s one of the best And I always love his description of the 1930s and 40s He knows how to create a interesting setting about to be destroyed by the Nazis lurking in the background Take another look at what he says about the Nazis again, speaking through Bergmann That is how they wish you to imagine them, as unconquerable monsters But they are human, very human, in their weakness We must not fear them We must understand them It is absolutely necessary to understand them, or we are all lost. Isherwood is a true master of setting, tone, characters and writing His characters are always so real And amusing One of the things that really cracked me up was his description of himself as a fictional character An arrogant, whiny, lazy little prat But we love him for his honesty And aren t we all whiny, lazy and arrogant from time to time And don t we all know this feeling I was feeling temperamental and sulky that day, chiefly because I had a bad cold My conscience had driven me to Bergmann s flat, and I felt that my sacrifice wasn t being properly appreciated I had expected to be fussed over and sent home again. That one made me laugh So all in all, Prater Violet was an entertaining and unusual little story But I m still glad it was only 122 pages I think I would have tired of the story had it been longer.For reviews, visit my blog The Bookworm s Closet a blog about fashion and literature.

  9. says:

    POST READ Christopher speaks There is one question that we seldom ask each other directly it is too brutal And yet it is the only question worth asking our fellow travellers What makes you go on living Why don t you kill yourself Why is all this bearable What makes you bear it Could I answer that question about myself No.Yes Perhaps And so Christopher does answer the question s In that lucid, revelatory and directly simple fashion of his But you will have to read it for yourself in the final few pages of this brief but varied novel.Hitler s war is looming England dithers Austria faces social unrest and a voracious Germany The Jews exist perilously posed And a trite Viennese musical is undergoing production in London under the baton of a larger than life Austrian Jew who detests his fairy floss creation,while his wife and daughter face peril in the real Vienna Disparate worlds co exist and Christopher is our observer and guide.Isherwood never disappoints Humour and drama tilt in the scales.Read it PRE READ This is a reward book given to myselfshort and well written, by a favourite author who has never disappointed.Having just read The Hare With Amber Eyes ,I feel I am in very familiar territory with this one,since it concerns an Austrian Jew, Friedrich Bergmann,a larger than life character,who is in England directing a film with a Viennese setting.He is in semi exile from the Vienna of Dollfuss which fell to a bullying Nazi takeover and a very quickly organised Jewish persecution since anti semitism was rabib there as The Hare With Amber Eyes chillingly illustrates.When a workers socialist uprising occurs in Austria, the film director, whose wife and daughter are in Vienna, is naturally thrown into despair.Within the context of the film making and the Nazi threat,nestles the delightful relationship between the young writer Christopher and the fatherly, dynamic,creative and generous European director.Isherwood plays a role very reminiscent of the French writerand a BIG favourite of mine, Colette, who often introduces herself into her stories playing a supportive role.Her Chance Acquaintances is such a novella which I never tire of reading and whose merits I have of course proclaimed on Goodreads.Another bonus is Isherwood s clear and lucid style.In comparison to The Spartacus Road whose gnarled style is exhausting, yet intriguing and challenging,I feel I am riding on a slippery dip with my old mate Chris.Thanks Chris wherever you are

  10. says:

    This book completely revitalized me It s economy of language and precise plotting were refreshing and educational I highly recommend it to anybody interested in novels that revolve around a central absence, here the impending outbreak of WWII as told through the sieve of a meaningless romantic comedy.If you liked this, make sure to follow me on Goodreads for reviews

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