Isherwood on writing

These days Christopher Isherwood is probably best remembered as the author of The Berlin Stories, which eventually served as the basis for the musical Cabaret. This probably explains why Isherwood on Writing, a collection of lectures Isherwood delivered in the Fifties and Sixties, ended up being published by a university press, and why I didn’t know about it before reading this column:

It is also very important not to tell the young that fame or celebrity is nothing. Of course, it is something! As a matter of fact, it is a most valuable and chastening experience, and for every one person whom I have known who has been, as they say, spoiled by celebrity, I have known at least ten who have been enormously improved by it. It’s very sobering to have even a little praise, and it turns the eyes inward, and the true quality of one’s work is apt to be seen in a much humbler perspective.

I’ll have to remember that, when I become famous. (Cue laugh track.)

The book consists of deep-dish craft talk, much of which will probably be of interest only to other writers. Personally, I love craft talk, so I’m going to make it my business to read this book.

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