Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories consists of two popular books, loosely based upon his own experiences in Germany. These books first appeared separately as short novels: The Last of Mr. Norris, essentially a strongly plotted thriller, and Goodbye to Berlin, a roughly continuous narrative comprising six stories set in the early 1930’s, during Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.
The Last of Mr. Norris introduces narrator William Bradshaw (Isherwood’s middle names), a young writer who encounters a bewigged fellow Englishman named Arthur Norris on a train bound for Berlin. As they converse, Bradshaw, despite his companion’s nervousness at the German border, agrees to meet for tea at Norris’s Berlin flat. At the flat, he is briefly confused by two entrances, one marked as an office and the other marked private. Once inside, he sees that the office is separated from the living quarters only by a heavy curtain, a confusing duplicity.
Bradshaw encounters Herr Schmidt, Norris’s sinister secretary, who controls his employer by confronting creditors and doling out Norris’s pocket money. Bradshaw also discovers that Norris, a masochist, enjoys pornography, but he refuses to judge him. Together they spend New Year’s Eve amid Berlin’s notorious nightlife with the wealthy baron von Pregnitz; they also visit a brothel.
Fraulein Schroeder, Bradshaw’s aging...
(The entire section is 1877 words.)
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