Christopher and His Kind, 1929-1939 (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
In January, 1934, W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood faced the embarrassing questions of the British customs officials at Harwich, attempting to get Christopher’s German lover, Heinz, into England. The officials found Christopher’s letter of directions “the sort of letter a man might well write to his sweetheart.” Entry was refused; Heinz was shipped back to the Continent. Auden analyzed the situation at a glance. The officials had taken sadistic pleasure in parting the two lovers because “he’s one of us.”
The phrase “one of us” echoes through early twentieth century fiction. Marlow recognized Jim as “one of us” in Lord Jim (1900). Brett Ashley calls Count Mippipopolous “one of us” in The Sun Also Rises (1926). Ronny Heaslop is “one of us” in A Passage to India (1925). The most obvious examples occur in The Great Gatsby (1925). Whether the referent was the British in the Far East, the war-wounded, or the very rich, “us” is always a select minority, a secret society.
In Christopher and His Kind, the secret society is the world of intellectual homosexuals, all well-educated and very British. Isherwood’s “others” are the established British society, whom he is continually trying to outrage without ever becoming completely socially unacceptable. Unlike Oscar Wilde, his lovers were never upper-class Englishmen. If this autobiography had covered the...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
America. CXXXV, October 2, 1976, p. 195.
New York Review of Books. XXIII, December 9, 1976, p. 10.
New York Times Book Review. November 28, 1976, p. 31.
New Yorker. LII, December 27, 1976, p. 68.
Village Voice. XXI, December 6, 1976, p. 96.
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