10 January 2018
Anglo-American writer Christopher Isherwood in 1930-33 he worked as an English teacher in Germany. Memories of Germany formed the basis of the most famous work of the writer – the novel "Farewell to Berlin", on the basis of which the film "Cabaret" was shot, and also reflected in the novel "The Works and Days of Mr. Norris" which is included in the list of books that must be read.
# 72: The Works and Days of Mr. Norris / Mr Norris Changes Trains
With the name of Christopher Isherwood I am partly familiar with the adaptation of The Lonely Man, which left me indifferent. But for some reason I always sinned on Tom Ford, the designer said, he stressed the stylish picture. But it turned out that Ford perfectly conveyed the author's style on the screen. Isherwood's prose is just as contemplative, where behind beautiful words lies an absolutely stark plot, like water in Lake Baikal. It's easy to read, but to dive into the whirlpool of events does not pull at all. It was only in the beginning that I was curious to find out what kind of fruit Mr. Norris was, who was jerking nervously at customs, like an inexperienced virgin on a marriage bed. And the author was dragging this intrigue almost the whole novel, hinting with half-tones and scraps of conversation that Norris's activity is not entirely legal. But in fact, as the original title says, Mr. Norris only changed trains, traveling around the world with an unknown mission. There were no grandiose scams or political intrigues to carry this novel to the genre of the picaresque. And the rogue himself is not so charismatic, so he looks like a dilettante in his business.
Honestly, I still do not understand which message the reader should take from this book. The main action takes place in Germany in the early 1930s, when the government gradually moves on to the National Socialists, which is the beginning of the era of the Third Reich. One could assume that the author will give his assessment of what is happening and express his civic position, writing off the image of an English teacher acting as a narrator. But he only cites specific well-known facts about the elections, about the loss of votes from the Nazi party, about the adoption of the Law "On Emergency Powers," etc. Although it seemed to me that he was more sympathetic to the Communists, emphasizing that the affairs of this cute little crook Roger Norris are getting worse by the hour, and his former servant acts more harshly and aggressively, using blackmail and brute force. But this conclusion from the series "If you look long into the abyss …" In any case, I was not able to immerse myself in the atmosphere of political events of that period. Yes, and the author quickly realized that his hut from the edge and safely sailed from Germany after Hitler came to power.
Also I can not say that the book is about male friendship. In general, William's interest in Arthur is beyond my understanding. He himself rolled up to him on the train, got acquainted, tried in every possible way to get into confidence, to sniff out some details about Arthur's affairs. But why should he bother with this old man? Just out of boredom? With incomprehensible pleasure, William is directly proud that he has a crook in his friends. Despite the warnings of his friends, he does everything to find Norris's location, tries to help him with words or deeds, but does not deny himself the fun of catching him in words, sometimes even with malicious glories learns about the new complications, sarcastic about the old man's quirks, and in the end still insulted that he was used for mercenary purposes. But the hedgehog was clear to what such requests can bring. In general, I have not decided whether Bradshaw is too naive, or simply stupid, like a cork. In other matters, this is not so important. All the same, the fate of the heroes did not interest me at all, so I did not want to empathize with anyone. Alas, the beautiful pot inside is completely empty.
Such times are today. You are prevented from living, and you are stirring tea with a spoon.
* * *
I always said: I want to have as my friends only three types of people – those who are very rich, those who are very smart, and those who are very handsome.
* * *
All apartment owners see the same happy dream: that in the apartment, except for them, no one lives.
* * *
Belated – by age – repentance is not capable of purifying or elevating the soul, it is humiliating and shameful as an old man's incontinence.
* * *
– Have courage, comrade Norris. Think of Lenin.
– I'm afraid, ha-ha, that I'm more likely to be inspired by the Marquis de Sade.