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The young W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood spent, between them, the years 1928 to 1933 in Berlin. It was a period momentous in public history, witnessing the end of the Weimar Republic and the coming to power of the Nazis, but it was also a crucial stage in the development of the two young Englishmen as individuals and as writers. During their Berlin years, both discovered the paths along which the rest of their lives would be lived, including a gay identity and a sense of permanent exile from country and class. Drawing on much contemporary material, including Auden's remarkable unpublished diary, this book places personal experience in the context of the life of a great city; not only its political, artistic and cultural life, but the life of the streets, bars and cafes. It presents portraits of figures, often fascinating in their own right, with whom Auden and Isherwood came into contact, and it demonstrates how, especially in Isherwood's fiction, the raw material of daily existence was transformed into art. The wide scope of this study, which ranges from poetry and cinema to street violence and prostitution, provides a richly detailed context for its account of two writers engaged in the process of self-definition.
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