Top 69 Quotes & Sayings by Christopher Isherwood

Explore popular quotes and sayings by an American novelist Christopher Isherwood.
Christopher Isherwood

Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood was an Anglo-American novelist, playwright, screenwriter, autobiographer, and diarist. His best-known works include Goodbye to Berlin (1939), a semi-autobiographical novel which inspired the musical Cabaret; A Single Man (1964), adapted as a film by Tom Ford in 2009; and Christopher and His Kind (1976), a memoir which "carried him into the heart of the Gay Liberation movement".

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Absent Absolute Absurd Accepted Ache Aches Acquired Acting Addict Advertisement Hide All Afraid Aircraft Alexander Alive America Angeles Answer Answered Answers Anxiety Appetite Arrive Arrived Artists Asked Atmosphere Attitude Awake Aware Awful Back Bad Taste Bad Writing Balconies Bathroom Be Good Bear Beard Beat Beautiful Beautiful Creatures Beauty Becoming Obsolete Begins Belief Belongs Berlin Bill Billboards Blackness Bland Blood Bodies Body Bomb Bones Book Books Borrowers Boulevard Bricks Bridges Brother Burning California Camera Campus Capable Carefully Ceiling Celebrated Central Changed Character Charms Chart Chemical Child Cigarettes City Clarity Class Cling Clock Clue Coincidence Cold Colleagues Colon Compound Compromised Condemn Conditioned Conscious Constantly Conversation Converts Cooking Couch Counter Country Courage Crazy Creature Creatures Cruel Cult Cultivate Culture Date Day Night Days Dead Deep Deep Water Deeply Delight Demon Desire Developed Diaries Dictated Died Difference Disappointed Dislike Disliked Disturbing Divorce Doer Doubt Dragging Dreamer Drink Drunken Dungeon Dying Eager Easily Easy Echoes Education Effort Elbow Embrace Energy Enjoy Entertainment Entertainment Industry Entire Entity Environment Epic Essentially Eternal Evening Exhausted Exist Existence Expected Experience Expression Extent External Face Faces Fact Factories Fade Fall Familiarity Fast Fear Fears Feel Feelings Felt Fever Fight Fights Fill Find Finds Firing Firmly First Impression Five Years Fixed Flesh Forever Forgive Forgotten Fortune Fossils Found Free Free Will Frequent Fresh Friend Friends Front Frost Fruit Full George George W Germans Gigantic Give Gold Gold Rush Good Good Loser Gossip Gradually Great Hair Hands Happen Happened Happening Hate Hated Hates Hating Haven Heart Helping Hermit History Hollywood Home Homeless Honor Honored Hooked Horror Hours Houses Humankind Humdrum Husband Hypnotic I Am Alive I Am Crazy Idea Ideal Ideal Woman Imaginary Imagination Imitate Impermanence Impression In My Opinion Industries Industry Injustice Innocence Instance Intelligent Interested International Invisible Iron Jews Jogging Kenny Kimono Kind Kinds Kisses Knew Labeled Lamp Land Landscape Language Last Year Laws Layers Lazy Learn Leave Lecturing Left Lies Life Life Is Lifetime Lights Likes Limits Listening Live Lived Living Living Together Local Locked Long Long Shot Long Shots Los Angeles Losers Love Loved Lovers Luck Lust Lying Lying Down Machines Made Major Majority Make Makes Makeup Making Many Faces Marrow Meant Meant To Be Melancholy Message Midnight Militant Mind Minor Minorities Minority Minutes Mirror Mistake Mistakes Moment Moments Months Mood Morning Most Beautiful Motive Mouth Movie Movies Moving Mushroom Muttering My Life Mystery Myth Nagging Naked Named Narrow Nasty Nationalism Nationalistic Nazi Necessarily Never Stop Newspapers Nice Night No Time Noise Nonsense Nowadays Nuance Numb Nursing Observation Obsolete Open Opinion Opposite Orbit Order Orientation Orthodox Overhead Pacific Pacifist Pale Palestine Part Pass Passive Past Path People Persecuted Persecution Person Personally Persuaded Phony Physical Physique Picking Plants Plaster Play Plenty Polar Poor Potentially Precisely Predicament Presence Present Preserved Pretending Printed Probe Progress Promised Promised Land Prophetic Proud Psychological Public Pull Purely Purpose Puts Quality Question Questions Radio Rage Railway Rapidly Read Reading Real Realize Reasons Reassuring Recognise Recognize Recognized Recording Reduced Reflexes Regions Relationship Relax Reliable Religion Remember Reminder Rendering Repertoire Reputation Resist Respectful Return Rich Right Questions Role Romantic Romantic Feelings Room Roulette Rush Rushed Sand Sandals Satisfaction Saturday Saturday Night Seasons Seconds Secret Seemingly Sees Seldom Self-Conscious Self-Satisfaction Send Sentiment Service Sexual Shakespeare Sharp Shaving Shock Short Shorts Shots Shouting Shrinks Shutter Sign Silence Silliness Simply Six Months Skeleton Skill Sleepy Slip Slogan Sloth Small Smells Smiles Smiling Some Things Someday Song Sooner Sort Soul Space Speak Spiritual Spiritual Progress Spoken Spooky Squad Squandering Squeezing Stairs Standards Standing Staring States Staying Steadily Sticks Still Smiling Stirring Stone Stop Stop Trying Story Stove Strangest Strength Strides Students Subjects Substitute Subversive Suddenly Suggestions Summer Sunshine Surprised Suspect Sympathy Takes Talent Talk Taste Telephone Tells Ten Minutes Terminal Terrifying Terror Themes Thing Things Thinking Thinks This World Thought Thoughts Thousand Threat Throw Throwing Till Time Times Tissues Tongue Tony Torture Total Town Tracks Tragic Translated Trick Tricks Trigger Twenty Twenty-Five Two People Type Types Understand Understanding Uneasy United United States Universally Unsuccessful Utter Vanity Variations Veteran Visitor Voices Waking Waking Up Warm Wartime Washing Water Wear Whisky Whispering Wholesome Wife Wildly Window Wise Wives Woman Women Work World Worse Worst Write Writer Writing Wrong Year Year Later Years Years Ago Yesterday Young Young Man Less More Hide All See All
I'll bet Shakespeare compromised himself a lot; anybody who's in the entertainment industry does to some extent.
Life is not so bad if you have plenty of luck, a good physique, and not too much imagination.
I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. — © Christopher Isherwood
I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.
One should never write down or up to people, but out of yourself.
California is a tragic country - like Palestine, like every Promised Land.
What irritates me is the bland way people go around saying, 'Oh, our attitude has changed. We don't dislike these people any more.' But by the strangest coincidence, they haven't taken away the injustice; the laws are still on the books.
She is sighing deeply now with sympathy and delight - the delight of an addict when someone else admits he's hooked, too.
In the eternal lazy morning of the Pacific, days slip away into months, months into years; the seasons are reduced to the faintest nuance by the great central fact of the sunshine; one might pass a lifetime, it seems, between two yawns, lying bronzed and naked in the sand.
No one ever hates without a cause.
The past is just something that's over.
The Nazis hated culture itself, because it is essentially international and therefore subversive of nationalism. What they called Nazi culture was a local, perverted, nationalistic cult, by which a few major artists and many minor ones were honored for their Germanness, not their talent.
Only those who are capable of silliness can be called truly intelligent.
Horror is always aware of its cause; terror never is. That is precisely what makes terror terrifying. — © Christopher Isherwood
Horror is always aware of its cause; terror never is. That is precisely what makes terror terrifying.
We live in stirring times- tea-stirring times.
To live sanely in Los Angeles ... you have to cultivate the art of staying awake. You must learn to resist (firmly but not tensely) the unceasing hypnotic suggestions of the radio, the billboards, the movies and the newspapers; those demon voices which are forever whispering in your ear what you should desire, what you should fear, what you should wear and eat and drink and enjoy, what you should think and do and be.
His life has been lived, so far, within narrow limits and he is quite naïve about most kinds of experience; he fears it and yet is wildly eager for it. To reassure himself, he converts it into epic myth as fast as it happens. He is forever play-acting.
Someone has to ask you a question," George continues meaningly, "before you can answer it. But it's so seldom you find anyone who'll ask the right questions. Most people aren't that much interested.
Bad writing is bad not just because the language is humdrum, but the quality of the observation is so poor.
For other people, I can't speak - but, personally, I haven't gotten wise on anything. Certainly, I've been through this and that; and when it happens again, I say to myself, Here it is again. But that doesn't seem to help me. In my opinion, I, personally, have gotten steadily sillier and sillier - and that's a fact.
For a few minutes, maybe, life lingers in the tissues of some outlying regions of the body. Then, one by one, the lights go out and there is total blackness. And ifsome part of the non—entity we called George has indeed been absent at this moment of terminal shock, away out there on the deep water, then it will return to find itself homeless.
In ten minutes they will have arrived on campus. George will have to be George; the George they have named and will recognise. So now he consciously applies himself to thinking their thoughts, getting into their mood. With the skill of a veteran, he rapidly puts on the psychological makeup for this role he must play.
The sea only drowns its lovers.
But now isn’t simply now. Now is also a cold reminder: one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year. Every now is labeled with its date, rendering all past nows obsolete, until — later of sooner — perhaps — no, not perhaps — quite certainly: it will come.
I'm very militant, you know, in a quite way.
Every writer has certain subjects that they write about again and again, and . . . most people's books are just variations on certain themes.
The talk of pale, burning-eyed students, anarchists and utopians all, over tea and cigarettes in a locked room long past midnight, is next morning translated, with the literalness of utter innocence, into the throwing of the bomb, the shouting of the proud slogan, the dragging away of the young dreamer-doer, still smiling, to the dungeon and the firing squad.
I'm like a book you have to read. A book can't read itself to you. It doesn't even know what it's about. I don't know what I'm about.
I doubt if one ever accepts a belief until one urgently needs it.
A minority is only thought of as a minority when it constitutes some kind of threat to the majority, real or imaginary. And no threat is ever quite imaginary.
A few times in my life I've had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp. And the world seems so fresh as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.
The prefect evening...lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself sleepy...Jim lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence.
The more I think about myself, the more I'm persuaded that, as a person, I really don't exist. That is one of the reasons why I can't believe in any orthodox religion: I cannot believe in my own soul. No, I am a chemical compound, conditioned by environment and education. My "character" is simply a repertoire of acquired tricks, my conversation a repertoire of adaptations and echoes, my "feelings" are dictated by purely physical, external stimuli.
If it’s going to be a world with no time for sentiment, it’s not a world that I want to live in.
I often feel that worse than the most fiendish Nazis were those Germans who went along with the persecution of the Jews not because they really disliked them but because it was the thing.
The landscape, like Los Angeles itself, is transitional. Impermanence haunts the city, with its mushroom industries--the aircraft perpetually becoming obsolete, the oil which must one day be exhausted, the movies which fill America's theatres for six months and are forgotten. Many of its houses--especially the grander ones--have a curiously disturbing atmosphere, a kind of psychological dankness which smells of anxiety, overdrafts, uneasy lust, whisky, divorce and lies.
Staring and staring into the mirror, it sees many faces within its face - the face of the child, the boy, the young man, the not-so-young man - all present still, preserved like fossils on superimposed layers, and, like fossils, dead. Their message to this live dying creature is: Look at us - we have died - what is there to be afraid of? It answers them: But that happened so gradually, so easily. I'm afraid of being rushed.
Waking up begins with saying am and now. That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognized I, and therefrom deduced I am, I am now. Here comes next, and is at least negatively reassuring; because here, this morning, is where it has expected to find itself: what’s called at home.
The town is an advertisement for itself; none of its charms are left to the visitor's imagination. — © Christopher Isherwood
The town is an advertisement for itself; none of its charms are left to the visitor's imagination.
George smiles to himself, with entire self-satisfaction. Yes, I am crazy, he thinks. That is my secret; my strength.
What’s so phony nowadays is all this familiarity. Pretending there isn’t any difference between people —well, like you were saying about minorities, this morning. If you and I are no different, what do we have to give each other? How can we ever be friends?
In order to get the worst possible first impression of Los Angeles one should arrive there by bus, preferably in summer and on a Saturday night.
I must honor those who fight of their own free will, he said to himself. And I must try to imitate their courage by following my path as a pacifist, wherever it takes me.
The Quito telephone service is about as reliable as roulette.
By helping yourself, you are helping humankind. By helping humankind, you are helping yourself. That's the law of all spiritual progress.
Sometimes awful things have their own beauty.
I am a camera, with its shutter open. Someday, all of this will be developed, printed, fixed.
But seriously, I believe I'm a sort of Ideal Woman, if you know what I mean. I'm the sort of woman who can take men away from their wives, but I could never keep anybody for long. And that's because I'm the type which every man imagines he wants, until he gets me; and then he finds he doesn't really, after all.
Do you think it makes people nasty to be loved? You know it doesn’t! Then why should it make them nice to be loathed? While you’re being persecuted, you hate what’s happening to you, you hate the people who are making it happen; you’re in a world of hate. Why, you wouldn’t recognize love if you met it! You’d suspect love! You’d think there was something behind it—some motive—some trick.
I feel it's so easy to condemn this country [the United States]; but they don't understand that this is where the mistakes are being made - and made first, so that we're going to get the answers first.
I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.
As they embrace, she kisses him full on the mouth. And suddenly sticks her tongue right in. She has done this before, often. It’s one of those drunken long shots which just might, at least theoretically, once in ten thousand tries, throw a relationship right out of its orbit and send it whizzing off on another. Do women ever stop trying? No. But, because they never stop, they learn to be good losers.
I'm horrified to find, as I look at these diaries of twenty-five years ago or more, that I don't remember who the people were. "Bill and Tony were constantly in and out. We went to La Jolla" - or something. I haven't the bluest idea who they were!
The paternalist is a sentimentalist at heart, and the sentimentalist is always potentially cruel. — © Christopher Isherwood
The paternalist is a sentimentalist at heart, and the sentimentalist is always potentially cruel.
Berlin is a skeleton which aches in the cold: it is my own skeleton aching. I feel in my bones the sharp ache of the frost in the girders of the overhead railway, in the iron-work of balconies, in bridges, tramlines, lamp-standards, latrines. The iron throbs and shrinks, the stone and the bricks ache dully, the plaster is numb.
California is a tragic country — like Palestine, like every Promised Land. Its short history is a fever-chart of migrations — the land rush, the gold rush, the oil rush, the movie rush, the Okie fruit-picking rush, the wartime rush to the aircraft factories — followed, in each instance, by counter-migrations of the disappointed and unsuccessful, moving sorrowfully homeward.
We must remember that nothing in this world really belongs to us. At best, we are merely borrowers.
Think of two people, living together day after day, year after year, in this small space, standing elbow to elbow cooking at the same small stove, squeezing past each other on the narrow stairs, shaving in front of the same small bathroom mirror, constantly jogging, jostling, bumping against each other’s bodies by mistake or on purpose, sensually, aggressively, awkwardly, impatiently, in rage or in love – think what deep though invisible tracks they must leave, everywhere, behind them!
The Nazis were not right to hate the Jews. But their hating of Jews was not without a cause. No one ever hates without a cause.
It seems to me that the real clue to your sexual orientation lies in your romantic feelings rather than your sexual feelings. If you are really gay, you are able to fall in love with a man, not just enjoy sex with him.
I am alive, he says to himself, I am alive! And life energy surges hotly through him, and delight, and appetite. How good to be in a body - even this old beat-up carcass - that still has warm blood and live semen and rich marrow and wholesome flesh!
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