SUMMARY Mr Norris Changes Trains 107

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Mr Norris Changes TrainsArthur Norris Norris is a man of contradictions lavish but heavily in debt excessively polite but sexually deviant First pub. A captivating novel about a duplicitous friendship set against the backdrop of a country in turmoil'Mr Norris Changes Trains' was the first book I have read by Christopher Isherwood since my teens back in the 1970s and I am delighted to report that Christopher Isherwood is every bit as good as I had remembered 'Mr Norris Changes Trains' was published in 1933 and along with 'Goodbye to Berlin' is drawn from Isherwood's experiences as an expatriate living in Berlin during the early 1930s William Bradshaw an English teacher in Berlin has a chance encounter on a train with the slightly sinister Arthur Norris On the surface Norris is a charming if highly strung and down at heel English gentleman As the reader realises and well before Bradshaw Norris’s charm masks a morally bankrupt personality The character of Arthur Norris was based on a real life character who Christopher Isherwood befriended in Berlin called Gerald Hamilton Apparently Gerald Hamilton went through life managing to amass a large number of distinguished and not so distinguished friends despite being a liar a thief and completely two faced A man guaranteed in any political situation to choose the most repellent side and who fabricated almost every detail of his life Hamilton would sell a friend down the river for the smallest amount of money Despite being permanently bankrupt he freuently managed to live a life filled with five star hotels fine wines and good food whether in Weimar era Berlin or London in the swinging sixties All this and is so I understand contained in 'The Man Who Was Norris The Life of Gerald Hamilton' by Tom Cullen a book as the title suggests devoted to The Man Who Was Norris and a book I plan to read soonCoincidentally Gerald Hamilton also appeared in another book I recently enjoyed the stunning 'Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms The Spyhunter the Fashion Designer the Man From Moscow' by Paul Willetts which is also well worth readingI heartily recommend 'Mr Norris Changes Trains' it’s an engaging tale which is also historically fascinating through its powerful evocation of the atmosphere of Berlin during the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s Towards the novel’s conclusion politics dominates the story as the plot strands cleverly come together Just as William Bradshaw realises that he has been duped so the German people are also being taken in by their Nazi leader Unlike Hitler in the 1930s Norris’s own plans never seem to uite work out and as the tragic ending presages the horrors that were to follow so it also signals hasty departures from Berlin for both Arthur Norris and William Bradshaw I’ll leave you to discover Norris’s fate for yourselves it is an entertaining and apt conclusion for one so despicable depraved and corruptOverall 'Mr Norris Changes Trains' is a captivating novel about a duplicitous friendship set against the backdrop of a country in turmoilThe next book I will read is 'Christopher and His Kind' an autobiographical account of Christopher Isherwood's life from 1929 when he left England to spend a week in Berlin and decided to stay there indefinitely to 1939 when he arrived in America I hope 'Christopher and His Kind' will give me new insights into both Berlin in the 1930s and also the events related in 'Mr Norris Changes Trains'45EDIT I've now finished 'Christopher and His Kind' by Christopher Isherwood Click here to read my review

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SUMMARY Mr Norris Changes Trains 107 Ã ❮Reading❯ ➽ Mr Norris Changes Trains Author Christopher Isherwood – After a chance encounter on a train the English teacher William Bradshaw starts a close friendship with the mildly sinister Arthur Norris Norris is a man of contradictions; lavish but heavily in debt After aLished in Mr Norris Changes Trains piuantly evokes the atmosphere of Berlin during the rise of the Mr Norris eBook #211 Nazi. This novel begins with William Bradshaw a young English tutor meeting the slightly ridiculous Mr Arthur Norris on a train to Berlin Mr Norris is nervous at having to present his passport elusive about what he does and with his rather obvious wig and odd habits does not seem as though he is a character to take seriously at first However this chance meeting results in a firm friendship and fairly soon William is visiting his new friend freuently and becomes involved in his disreputable life and associates; including his bullying secretary Herr SchmidtMr Norris is a man who lives well despite his soon obvious lifestyle of debts despair and dodgy dealings The novel is set in 1930’s Berlin and so it is impossible to ignore the political situation unfolding there Mr Norris is keen to shine at the local Communist Party meetings but these activities also lead to him being uestioned by the authoritiesI have never read Christopher Isherwood before but I liked the way that the author allowed us to interpret events for ourselves He trusted the reader to keep up and so it is enough to infer certain things or show us glimpses so that we can make our own assumptions The style of the novel seems deceptively slight but this is a very clever book – beautifully written it flows wonderfully and is filled with great characters and has an excellent setting

Christopher Isherwood Å 7 SUMMARY

After a chance encounter on a train the English teacher William Bradshaw starts a close friendship with the mildly sinister. ”What repels me now about Mr Norris is its heartlessness It is a heartless fairy story about a real city in which human beings were suffering the miseries of political violence and near starvation The wickedness of Berlin's night life was of the most pitiful kind; the kisses and embraces as always had price tags attached to them but here the prices were drastically reduced in the cut throat competition of an over crowded market As for the monsters they were uite ordinary human beings prosaically engaged in getting their living through illegal methods The only genuine monster was the young foreigner who passed gaily through these scenes of desolation misinterpreting them to suit his childish fantasy” Christopher Isherwood Christopher IsherwoodIsherwood wrote the above uote in the forward to a book by Gerald Hamilton aptly called Mr Norris and I that was published in 1956 Isherwood based the character of Mr Norris on his friend Gerald Hamilton Isherwood was being hard on himself He originally went to Berlin in the 1930s to experience the deviant sexual lifestyle that was available to a young Englishman in search of expressing his sexual preferences preferences that may have been considered deviant in the community he grew up in In 1935 when this book was published very few people knew just how horrible things would become and those that could imagine some of it could not imagine the worst of it William Bradshaw names that come from Isherwood’s middle names comes to Berlin in search of adventure He meets the enigmatic Arthur Norris on the train and despite the best efforts of the subject of his interest to warn him that all was not as it seemed Bradshaw becomes fast friends with Norris As Bradshaw learns about Norris’s nefarious affairs all revolving around Arthur’s frivolous use of money when he had some and a penchant for criminal behavior when he needed William expects to be kept abreast of the rise and fall of Norris’s fortunes After all Norris and his peculiar behavior are a major form of entertainment for him When Arthur is called away on “business” in Paris or actually running away from a problem that has becomewelltoo problematic William realizes that he has formed an unnatural attachment to his friend ”My first reaction was to feel perhaps unreasonably angry I had to admit to myself that my feeling for Arthur had been largely possessive He was my discovery my property I was as hurt as a spinster who had been deserted by her cat And yet after all how silly of me Arthur was his own master; he wasn’t accountable to me for his actions I began to look round for excuses for his conduct and like an indulgent parent easily found them Hadn’t he indeed behaved with considerable nobility Threatened from every side he had face his troubles alone He had carefully avoided involving me in possible future unpleasantness with the authorities”Norris is a survivor so despite whatever noble characteristics that Bradshaw wishes to naively attach to Norris ultimately if need be he would trade anyone or anything to avoid pain unpleasantness or imprisonment Now on the other hand Bradshaw is basically a tourist on extended vacation in Berlin tutoring people to keep himself in pocket money He can feel some of the thrill of associating with criminals communists and people engaging in “perverted” behavior but at the end of the day when the chips are down he can ring up the embassy and find himself safely back on a train to England As Norris’s friends begin to disappear some turning up dead and others providing information that tightens the net around Norris’s activities Bradshaw begins to feel uncomfortable The game has become all too real Norris has a predilection to being dominated and beaten A severe young lady named Anni with long boots and an assortment of whips provides him with the euivalent of sexual release in the form of controlled torture To Norris Anni is a beauty beyond earthly compare ”Do you think it’s an exuisitely beautiful face uite perfect in its way Like a Raphael Madonna The other day I made an epigram I said Anni’s beauty is only sin deep I hope that is original Is it Please laugh”Isherwood decided not to make Bradshaw gay He did not want to distract the reader or give the reader a reason not to identify with the character He basically made him asexual He is subject to an occasionally pawing or a game of footsy from time to time but overall he is an observer a keen observer of the behavior of others You can almost sense the stories that Isherwood wanted to tell about his experiences in Berlin They are there in this book just barely off stage If you listen closely you might even hear an occasional muffled scream or cry of pleasure coming from a back bedroom or sifting through the floorboards from downstairs The book did remind me of a class I had in sixth grade The teacher’s first name was Francis which I remember because I had an Aunt named Frances and I couldn’t figure out why this guy was named Francis He decided as a lesson in discrimination to take the most Aryan among us blond and blue eyed prefered and drap construction paper billboards around us graffitied with anti aryan rhetoric We also had to wear dunce caps and for the length of the school day one day only we had to walk to all our classes wearing these ridiculous raiments Students continued to scrawl their own thoughts of our unworthiness on us as the day progressed I of course was an Aryan poster child a bit gaunt but you know the artist could have plumped me up a bit to promote a healthy version of Hitler youth It was one of the longest days of my life I will never forget the feeling of being held apart unable to escape even for a moment that I had been singled out for persecution It was horribleIt scared the crap out of meAnd it made me a better person ”They were suddenly proud to be blonde And they thrilled with a furtive sensual pleasure like schoolboys because the Jews their business rivals and the Marxists a vaguely defined minority of people who didn’t concern them had been satisfactorily found guilty of defeat and the inflation and were going to catch it”This was really just an entertainment a very good one with witty prose and interesting characters Mr Norris in his assortment of vanity wigs and his troubles with an irate butler intent on his destruction will reside in my memory forever Bradshaw shadowy though he was still provided us with a view of events filled with awe and excitement He was a puppy let loose from his society shackles to explore whatever scent caught his attention I do wonder what kind of gritty novel this would have been if Isherwood had not been afraid of losing the monetary sponsorship of an indulgent Uncle or of incurring the ire of his friends William receives a message from Arthur that may just sum up the whole novel ”Tell me William his last letter concluded what have I done to deserve all this”If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at