Goodbye to Berlin  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Goodbye to Berlin is a short novel by Christopher Isherwood. It is often published together with Mr. Norris Changes Trains in a collection called The Berlin Stories.

The novel, a semiautobiographical account of Isherwood's time in 1930s Berlin, describes pre-Nazi Germany and the people he met. It is episodic, dealing as it does with a large cast over a period of several years from late 1930 to early 1933. It is written as a connected series of six short stories and novellas. These are: "A Berlin Diary (Autumn 1930)", "Sally Bowles", "On Ruegen Island (Summer 1931)", "The Nowaks", "The Landauers", and "A Berlin Diary (Winter 1932-3)".

Moving to Germany to work on his novel, Isherwood soon becomes involved with many different German citizens: The caring landlady, Frl. Schroeder; the "divinely decadent" Sally Bowles, a young English woman who sings in the local cabaret and her coterie of admirers; Natalia Laundauer, the rich, Jewish heiress of a prosperous family business; Peter and Otto, a gay couple struggling to accept their relationship and sexuality in light of the rise of the Nazis.

The book, first published in 1939, highlights the groups of people who would be most at risk from Nazi intimidation. It was described by contemporary writer George Orwell as "Brilliant sketches of a society in decay".

The novel was adapted into a Broadway play by John Van Druten (1951), which was then adapted for a film under the name I Am A Camera (1955) with Laurence Harvey and Julie Harris, with screenplay by John Collier and music by Malcolm Arnold. The title is a quote taken from the novel's first page ("I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking."). This adaptation earned the infamous review by Walter Kerr, "Me no Leica". Interestingly, the word cabaret is derived from the Latin camera, meaning a small room.

The book was then adapted into the musical Cabaret (1966) and film Cabaret (1972). The title I Am A Camera was also used for a 1981 song I Am A Camera by The Buggles.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Goodbye to Berlin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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