I wanted to ask your opinion of Forster’s Maurice, which was so heavily criticized, even attacked, in the British press when it came out last year. Everyone had a go at it.
What I loved about it was its passion. There Forster really spoke.
More than elsewhere? He always spoke in a very passionate way, wouldn’t you say?
Yes, there’s a great underlying passion. But this is the only time he spoke about homosexuality, which he felt very strongly about. He had a burning indignation about the way homosexuals were treated during much of his lifetime. That I love. I love works written in passion by great writers even when they’re a bit silly. I love Tolstoy’s furious essays.
People have called Maurice sentimental.
So it is, in places. But it’s a daring sentimentality. It does honor to Forster as a man. We’re not afraid of what’s called pornography, but we are terribly afraid of what we call sentimentality—the rash, incautious expression of feeling. And yet that sort of sentimentality is something an awful lot of us need to practice. Have you seen any of Forster’s homosexual stories? They’re going to be published—a man wrote to me asking if the ones I had were the same as he’d seen. There’s one—it’s quite late—that’s a tremendous melodrama of passion and fury … It takes place on a liner coming back from India. It’s very moving, quite beautiful.
Yet we have people like Muggeridge saying he “can’t imagine” who reads him now.
Forster is still Forster, and he will be read. He’s someone about whom I feel Thomas Hardy’s lines on Meredith apply: “No matter, further and further still thro the world’s vaporous vitiate air, his words wing on, as live words will.” I feel that he wings on.
Toward the end of their visit, Wystan and Christopher began taking afternoon holidays from their social consciences in a bathhouse where you were erotically soaped and massaged by young men. You could pick your attendants, and many of them were beautiful. Those who were temporarily disengaged would watch the action, with giggles, through peepholes in the walls of the bathrooms. What made the experience pleasingly erotic was that tea was served to the customer throughout, even in the midst of an embrace, the attendant would disengage one hand, pour a cupful, and raise it tenderly but firmly, to the customer’s lips. If you refused the tea at first, the attendant went on offering until you accepted. It was like a sex fantasy in which a naked nurse makes love to the patient but still insists on giving him his medicine punctually, at the required intervals.
I feel I always wanted to be a writer. My father, without, I think, realizing what he was doing, made me think of writing as play rather than work. He was always telling me stories, encouraging me, taking an interest in my toy theater, and so on. And it seems to me that writing has been a game that I have gone on playing ever since. I am inclined to think of writers who bore me as being “workers.
When Aldous Huxley died, he took LSD, I believe.
An incredibly weak dose. His wife asked the doctor, and he said, “Sure, what does it matter?” Needless to say, rumors got around until people were talking as if she’d performed a mercy killing or something, which was idiotic. I urged her, among other people, to print it, to stop all this nonsense. People talk about him as if he were an absolute hophead, but she told me—and she knows a good deal about drugs—that in many cases the kids who are really into this thing might take more in a single week than Aldous took in his entire life. He used very, very small amounts and almost always under scientific conditions … because it began as a scientific thing. A scientist from Canada asked if he would submit to it as a scientific experiment. He was very much against indiscriminate use, and he believed that everybody took far too much.
There are people you miss instantly after parting, and then gradually less and less; and there are a few - a very few in a lifetime - you become slowly and then increasingly aware of missing.
—Christopher Isherwood (Diaries Volume Two: 1960-1969)
Si figura la sera che potrebbe passare comodamente a casa sua, a fissare il cibo comprato, poi a sdraiarsi sul divano accanto alla libreria per leggere fino a scivolare nel sonno. A prima vista, questa è una scena assolutamente convincente e affascinante di felicità domestica. Solo dopo pochi istanti George nota l’omissione che la renda priva di senso. Ciò che rimane fuori del quadro è Jim, sdraiato di fronte a lui dall’altro capo del divano; che legge a sua volta; entrambi assorti nei loro libri eppure così totalmente coscienti della presenza dell’altro.
Is writing pleasurable?
It’s almost beyond the question of pleasure, isn’t it? Is it pleasurable to work out at the gym? It is, and it isn’t, but you have the feeling while you’re doing it that it’s something on the plus side. You’re very absorbed in writing, and you don’t ask yourself if it’s pleasurable or distasteful. Making yourself write can be painful, and wonderful when you do. The will has asserted itself, and you feel good again.
The Man Who Was Norris.
It is mere vanity to pretend that the ego doesn’t come along every step of the way; it is there with you like your sinus and its instructions are no more shocking than sneezing.
—Christopher Isherwood (Diaries:1960-1969)
Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin
”(…) Y lo mismo los transeúntes que la cúpula en forma de tetera de la estación de la Nollendorfplarz guardan un aire curiosamente familiar, un vivo parecido con algo recordado, habitual y placentero, como en una buena fotografía. No. Ni siquiera ahora puedo creer del todo en todo lo ocurrido… “
Ciało patrzy i patrzy, wargi się rozchylają. Zaczyna oddychać przez usta. Wreszcie szare komórki beznamiętnie każą mu umyć się, ogolić, uczesać. Trzeba okryć jego nagość. Trzeba włożyć ubranie, ponieważ wychodzi z domu, idzie w świat innych ludzi, a ci inni powinni umieć je zidentyfikować. Jego zachowanie musi być dla nich do przyjęcia.
I want to be with people who think about themselves, not me. I don’t want to be loved or understood. I don’t want anybody’s sympathy.
—Christopher Isherwood, Down There On A Visit (via wellsocouldanyone)