Gay Love Letters through the Centuries: W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman
A new biography of Christopher Isherwood. tired when He made this country,” Auden recalled the ten-year-old Isherwood saying as they It's not surprising that the sexual element of the relationship—an element that lasted. Auden, Christopher Isherwood and Stephen Spender were an inseparable trio The first couple of years of their relationship were fraught with acrimony and. Auden and Christopher Isherwood sailed to New York in January , faithful relationship, but he and Auden remained companions for the.
The troops of likely lads he sampled were all candidates for the role of "The German Boy, the representative of his race"; he wanted, literally, to embrace "the mystery-magic of foreignness".
When he and Auden emigrated to America inthe pederastic search resumed. A decade later, Isherwood calculated that his bedmates and casual lays numbered "somewhere in the four hundreds", but in he met his archetypal American Boy, Don Bachardy.
Isherwood was 48, Bachardy just over Despite the improbability of the union, they stayed together — after a long period of tantrums, trial separations and retaliatory sexual bouts with third parties, all part of a power struggle between two very self-willed men — until Isherwood's death in Bachardy still lives in the house, jutting out towards the ocean into Santa Monica canyon, that they acquired exactly 51 years ago.
It was all part of being young, not knowing who I was or what I wanted. He didn't want me to be an annex of his ego, as he says in his diary, and I had to find a way to be independent of him.
Eventually I settled down, and our last 10 years together were the best. Age is a reward, it's peaceful. I wouldn't go back to my youth for anything — except of course to be with him. He still looks that way at almost 80, though it's not sanctity he exudes but kindness — preserved throughout a life spent among brittle, bitchy Hollywood fakers — and a sense of fulfilment that derives from the memories stored inside him.
Auden, morosely secretive, ordered friends to burn his letters and forbade a biography. Isherwood had no such qualms about exposure.
I began to read through them on the evening of the day he died. I read in reverse order, very slowly, working backwards for six months until I got to the description of when we met. It was my way of keeping him alive; I could hear his voice in every sentence, and there were messages for me in the more recent volumes, since he was so concerned about leaving me alone.
At a time when Bachardy was intermittently deserting him, this was Isherwood's experiment in imagining himself alone and self-sufficient, which for the novel's hero proves to be intolerable. When it was Bachardy's turn to be single, Isherwood's diaries helped him get through his bereavement.
Then a strange existential transference occurred. I had the experience of reliving my first years with Chris, though now, as the older man, I was playing his part. I kept a diary while I was with Tim, and it was fuller of Chris than anything I wrote when he was alive.
- We're A Funny Pair
- W. H. Auden
- The Wrong Blond
With his school and university friend Edward Upward, he devised an imaginary world, Mortmere; its satirical, quasi-surreal mood colored their early work and leached into the writing of their contemporaries. With another school friend, Wystan Auden, he wrote three plays—The Dog Beneath the SkinThe Ascent of F6and On the Frontier —which clothed the psychological and political anxieties of their time in rackety schoolboy camp.
Isherwood, Upward, and Auden formed the early core of the Leftist literary thirties generation in England, and they gathered others to them, in particular Stephen Spender.
Isherwood tells the story of these culture-shaping friendships in his first autobiography, Lions and Shadows: An Education in the Twenties InIsherwood was asked to leave Cambridge University after writing joke answers on his second-year exams. He took part-time jobs—as secretary to a musical group and as a private tutor—briefly attended medical school, and progressed with his first two novels, All the Conspirators and The Memorial Inhe moved to Berlin where he taught English, dabbled in communism, and enthusiastically explored his homosexuality.
His experiences there, notably his friendships with Gerald Hamilton, the real-life original of Mr. Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlinstill his most famous book. In Berlin inhe also began an important relationship with a young German, Heinz Neddermeyer, with whom he fled the Nazis in Neddermeyer was refused entry to England on his second visit inand the pair moved restlessly about Europe until they were finally separated when Neddermeyer was arrested by the Gestapo in May They returned to England by train across the United States, and, inspired by the promise there of professional opportunities and private freedom, they emigrated for good in January Auden made his home in Manhattan; Isherwood went on to Hollywood to look for movie-writing work.
He also wanted advice from Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley about becoming a pacifist, and, like them, he became a disciple of the Ramakrishna monk, Swami Prabhavananda, head of the Vedanta Society of Southern California. During World War II, Isherwood returned east for some months to work with a Quaker organization in Pennsylvania helping to resettle German-speaking refugees, and then he lived in the Hollywood monastery as a trainee monk.
W. H. Auden - Wikipedia
With Prabhavananda, he made a new English translation, published inof the Bhagavad Gita. He decided not to take monastic vows, but he remained a Hindu for the rest of his life, serving, praying, and lecturing in the temple every week and performing many literary chores for the order, including writing a biography, Ramakrishna and His Disciples Christopher Isherwood right and Edward Upward, c.
He made large salaries writing for the studios, and he had many love affairs, but he spent the start of the s fighting his way free of a destructive five-year affair with an attractive and undisciplined American photographer, William Caskey.
When this opened on Broadway inactress Julie Harris became a star as Sally Bowles, and Herr Issyvoo, first created by Isherwood as a literary device, was launched on a new and vital trajectory of his own. There followed a film of I Am a Camera and then the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaretproduced and directed by Hal Prince, which won eight Tony Awards and played to sold out houses for nearly three years 1, performances. Finally, the film of the musical in made Liza Minnelli a superstar.
She was the first person ever to appear simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek, and the film won eight Academy Awards in March Something far more important was happening in his private life. Inhe fell in love with Don Bachardy, an eighteen-year-old college student born and raised in Los Angeles.
Bachardy had worked as a grocery boy at a Hollywood market and, like Isherwood in youth, spent much of his free time at the movies. He and his mother and his older brother Ted were obsessive fans, and he and Ted learned how to attend movie premieres with the stars they adored simply by slipping over the velvet rope, finding their way to empty seats, and acting as though they belonged; their dark, glamorous looks and sharp dress sense made the illusion utterly plausible.