Liberation: Diaries Vol 3
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In this final volume of Christopher Isherwood’s diaries, capstone of a million-word masterwork, he greets advancing age with poignant humour and an unquenchable appetite for the new. Isherwood journeyed and changed with his century, until, by the 1980s, he was celebrated as the finest prose writer in English and the Grand Old Man of Gay Liberation. The mainstays of his mature contentment, his Hindu guru, Swami Prabhavananda and his long term companion, Don Bachardy, draw from him an unexpected high tide of joy and love.
Gifted friends both anonymous and infamous take a turn through Isherwood’s densely populated human comedy, sketched with ruthlessness and benevolence against the background of the Vietnam War and the Nixon, Carter and Reagan White Houses. Bachardy’s burgeoning career pulled Isherwood into the 1970s art scene where we meet Rauschenberg, Ruscha, and Warhol (serving fetid meat for lunch) as well as Hockney (adored) and Kitaj. Frpm Hollywood and the worlds of music and letters enter John Huston, Merchant and Ivory, John Travolta, John Voight, Elton John, David Bowie, Joan Didion and Armistead Maupin.
These are the most concrete and the most mysterious of his diaries, candidly revealing the fear of death that crowded in past Isherwood’s fame, and showing how his life-long immersion in the day-to-day lifted him, paradoxically, toward transcendence.