Dienstag, 15. Mai 2018

Christopher Isherwood Taught Me to Live Unapologetically / Jason Tougaw in: Lit Hub Daily May 15, 2018

Since age 20, I’ve had a crush on Christopher Isherwood, both his books and his person, or my fantasy of him. I met him—his books—in LA’s A Different Light bookstore. I recognized in his work an outlaw quality I’d encountered in other writers I met on those same shelves: John Rechy, James Baldwin, André Gide, Gore Vidal, Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet. But the worlds these writers built were full of degradation and tragedy. Reading them was giving me panic attacks.
This was the early 1990s, I was in college, and queer literature courses were in sudden vogue in universities. I took three, the first with famous literary historian Lillian Fadermen. I was thrilled, like a new energy was buzzing through me. At the same time, however, friends started to test positive for HIV. I ended up in Faderman’s office, a panicked puddle of queer history. “My friends are having sex without condoms,” I told her. “I love these books, but everybody is broken, ostracized, and dying. I can’t stop picturing my blood.” She made a call, and I got to a therapist’s office that day.
It was at that moment that I met Christopher Isherwood, a writer who did not torture his characters. Over the course of a few weeks, I bought everything I could find by him. In Christopher and His Kind, Isherwood’s third-person autobiography, I found this: “Christopher’s relations with the boys became easy and intimate. Perhaps they recognized and were drawn to the boyishness in him.” I certainly was.
Christopher and His Kind—like A Single Man and A Meeting by the River—felt like an invitation to a life I couldn’t have imagined previously. The books were tender, they were sexually frank, and they were weirdly narrated. Isherwood defied the “Know thyself” edict of capital-A autobiography, treating his self like a mysterious creature he wanted to dissect but not destroy. He wrote about himself in the third person, which seemed like a bold philosophical experiment to me; it allowed him look at his life from the outside, something I was doing constantly at that age. ... [mehr] https://lithub.com/christopher-isherwood-taught-me-to-live-unapologetically/

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