Poet W.H. Auden (1907-73) and novelist Christopher Isherwood (1904-86) were lifelong friends, literary collaborators, and occasional lovers. They met at school as small boys, saw each other frequently during their university years (Auden attended Oxford, Isherwood was at Cambridge), lived in Berlin during the rise of Nazism, and in 1939 emigrated together to America, where they spent the rest of their lives, Auden eventually settling in New York and Isherwood in California. In the 1930s, the influence of the left-leaning “Auden group” in political and literary circles was profound. Later, the two would be seen as inspirational figures by the nascent Gay Liberation movement.
In this class we will read extensively from Auden’s Collected Poems, his array of brilliant essays and his travel book Letters from Iceland. The Isherwood books we will read will include his famous Berlin Stories as well as The World in the Evening, Prater Violent, Christopher and His Kind, A Single Man, and Down There on a Visit.