Tuesday, November 3, 2009

1930s Berlin

The Berlin StoriesI’m currently reading Christopher Isherwood’s Christopher & His Kind. I read his Berlin Stories two years ago and liked them a lot. Then I saw Cabaret recently, having never seen it before, but one of the Catalan newspapers was giving it away for only one euro as a promotion. Since it was an original language version with subtitles (rather than the dubbing they mostly like to do here), I bought it. Strange that it took so many years for me to see Cabaret, it being such a successful movie and one of my mother’s favorites. Well, maybe it wasn’t really a favorite, but she had a video of it and played it over and over during her last few years when she was in the senior residence. Maybe that was only because she had no other video that that she liked or that was a musical?
Christopher and His Kind
Later, I’m not sure how or where, I became aware of this book by Isherwood called Christopher & His Kind. I thought his writing excellent, and I tend to gravitate to things European, so I found a used copy on the internet and bought it. Then, recently, I saw a documentary on BBC TV about Cabaret and the Berlin cabaret scene and pre-war culture that the music and the story were based on. That reminded me of Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera, and so I asked Manel to borrow his CD that I had given him after he performed two of the songs from it in a theatrical performance in Tarragona a few years ago. Hearing it was intriguing so I looked on the internet to find out more about the Threepenny Opera. It turned out that I knew one of the songs (Jenny’s pirate song) from somewhere – I must have had a recording of someone (who?) singing it in English when I was young. Now that I've heard it again, I can hear it over and over again in my head. I don't think I liked the rought gruff style of singing all those years ago, but I do like it now. And compared to the original, the American version was sweet stuff.

So one thing led to another and here I am reading the Isherwood that I have no idea how I heard about and bought used from some AmazonUK supplier. He is a very good writer and it is amazing to me how open he is (this was written in the late 70s) about his homosexuality, not just the fact of it, but all the erotic details.

I love how the internet enables you to find information. If not for that, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue this little interest of Berlin cabaret, and Isherwood’s writing.

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