“Fear, after all, is our real enemy. Fear is taking over our world. Fear is being used as a tool of manipulation in our society. Itʼs how politicians peddle policy and how Madison Avenue sells us things that we donʼt need.” (A Single Man)
Sara Teasdale, 1884 – 1933
A diamond of a morning
Waked me an hour too soon;
Dawn had taken in the stars
And left the faint white moon.
O white moon, you are lonely,
It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
Only the lonely are free.
Bob Fosse’s Broadway show and film Cabaret had its birth place in Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 novel Goodbye To Berlin, which is often published with other stories under the name Berlin Stories. As a writer, Isherwood earned far more over his lifetime writing plays and for Hollywood movies than for his novels. What is interesting is the multiple stage and movie adaptations of Goodbye To Berlin were created by other people, who found inspiration in Isherwood’s work. The success of the stage version of Cabaret continues to generate income for his estate. Isherwood loosely modeled Sally Bowles from a real life character Jean Ross, but the stage and movie depictions would evolve to have little connection to the real life Ross. Isherwood was quoted towards the end of his life that he could barely remember Jean Ross, Sally Bowles a true creation of Isherwood’s imagination.
Isherwood wrote Berlin stories at a time when he and Auden were frequent traveling companions. They were both gay and Berlin offered intellectual and physical stimulation that suited their adventurous natures. Isherwood’s writing is viewed by some as the beginning of modern gay story telling in literature and the theater. Isherwood left Berlin and moved to Los Angeles, California, where he would remain for the rest of his life.
Isherwood was not a poet but he was a brilliant romantic. His greatest creation was his own avant-garde life, which reads like fiction, complete with evading authorities, on the run across Europe before WWII, his lover ultimately being arrested by the Nazi’s, seducing the great love of his life who was 30 years his junior in his late 40’s, immersing himself in India’s culture, his translation of the Bhagavad Gita with Swami Prabhavananda is considered the first fluid translation in English. Isherwood was a bit misogynistic, an anti-Semite, a hypochondriac, but also a kind and gentle human being. Isherwood lived a big life and left an iconic character in Sally Bowles to keep on singing.
by W. H. Auden
He watched with all his organs of concern
How princes walk, what wives and children say;
Reopened old graves in his heart to learn
What laws the dead had died to disobey;
And came reluctantly to his conclusion:
“All the arm-chair philosopher’s are false,
To love another adds to the confusion,
The song of pity is the Devil’s waltz.”
And bowed to fate, and was successful so
That soon he was the king of all the creatures:
Yet, shaking in an autumn nightmare, saw
Approaching down an empty corridor,
A figure with his own distorted features
That wept, and grew enormous, and cried Woe.