Liberation: Diaries, Volume 3

Front Cover
Random House, Oct 31, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 928 pages

In this final volume of Christopher Isherwood's diaries, capstone of a million-word masterwork, he greets advancing age with poignant humour and an unquenchable appetite for the new. Isherwood journeyed and changed with his century, until, by the 1980s, he was celebrated as the finest prose writer in English and the Grand Old Man of Gay Liberation. The mainstays of his mature contentment, his Hindu guru, Swami Prabhavananda and his long term companion, Don Bachardy, draw from him an unexpected high tide of joy and love.

Gifted friends both anonymous and infamous take a turn through Isherwood's densely populated human comedy, sketched with ruthlessness and benevolence against the background of the Vietnam War and the Nixon, Carter and Reagan White Houses. Bachardy’s burgeoning career pulled Isherwood into the 1970s art scene where we meet Rauschenberg, Ruscha, and Warhol (serving fetid meat for lunch) as well as Hockney (adored) and Kitaj. Frpm Hollywood and the worlds of music and letters enter John Huston, Merchant and Ivory, John Travolta, John Voight, Elton John, David Bowie, Joan Didion and Armistead Maupin.

These are the most concrete and the most mysterious of his diaries, candidly revealing the fear of death that crowded in past Isherwood’s fame, and showing how his life-long immersion in the day-to-day lifted him, paradoxically, toward transcendence.

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About the author (2012)

Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. He left Cambridge without graduating, briefly studied medicine and then turned to writing his first novels, All the Conspirators and The Memorial. Between 1929 and 1939 he lived mainly abroad, spending four years in Berlin and writing the novels Mr Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin on which the musical Cabaret was based. He moved to America in 1939, becoming a US citizen in 1946, and wrote another five novels, including Down There on a Visit and A Single Man, a travel book about South America and a biography of the Indian mystic Ramakrishna. In the late 1960s and '70s he turned to autobiographical works: Kathleen and Frank, Christopher and His Kind, My Guru and His Disciple and October, one month of his diary with drawings by Don Bachardy.

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