The Berlin Stories: The Modern State?

Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories, is a novel about the changing pace of Germany during the late Weimar Republic. Set in 1931 the story follows Isherwood’s alias, William Bradshaw, and his relations with Arthur Norris, who is a member of the German Communist Party. As their friendship blossoms the reader is introduced to Berlin slowly under Nazification, through meeting many of Bradshaw’s acquaintances.

The book particularly shows an evolving Germany in the sense of the modern state that we have been examining. The cultural changes seen with in the cafes and discussion of women or education continue to show the progression that has been developing since the 1920s. Also between the Marxism and Nazism the idea of statism, and nationalism, and homogeneity are often found throughout the story pushing for those greater ideals. However I found that the story while a demonstration of what pre war Berlin was, also mocked the Nazis attempts to create the modern state. The intricate character Mr. Norris often goes against the grain of a homogeneous state and Bradshaw recognizes and enjoys that. Mr. Norris also goes against the classic conceptions of communists being wealthy, somewhat fiscally irresponsible, and a masochist. Also I could not tell if there was a serious homosexual undertone in the whole work between Arthur and Bradshaw.

Does this work represent the changing progression to the modern state as we have been studying? Does it mock the Nazi changes in Germany through its characters?

2 thoughts on “The Berlin Stories: The Modern State?

  1. I think there were serious homosexual undertones in that Isherwood appears throughout the novel as completely asexual in a time and a city known for their bawdiness. I’m sure this would probably surprise some readers acquainted with the city.

  2. Berlin Stories definitely represents the move of Germany moving towards a modern state. Culture changes and changes within the education system have been changed to bring Germany closer to a modern state. At the same time, I do agree with you that there is mockery of the Nazi system through the characters.

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