DOWN THERE ON A VISIT by Christopher Isherwood


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The visit is to a weird sub-world and it is progressively revealed through a group of related character sketches. In the first, young Christopher, on his first voyage observes a fantastic and pompous old man. Much of this is madly funny, but the old man turns out to be impotent and lonely and later shoots himself. Later Christopher and a young German from the first story get involved in perverse sexual practices and orgies, and they go to stay on an island in Greece which is an outcast kingdom of homosexuals, ruled over by a young man named Ambrose. So far, there is a young, cool objectivity- and the island scenes, in spite of the incredible amorality, also have an exotic detached beauty, of singular individuals who are almost mythic in their detachment from ordinary life. However, older Christopher, in London, is presently attacked by the realities, war, and a failed heterosexual relation between his German friend and a girl Communist. He flees to Hollywood where deviates now come solidly into the center of his real life. He is taken up by an international, any-sexed gigolo named Paul who threatens suicide; Christopher takes him to a yoga and lives with him in a kind of jealous, domestic, one-upmanship of sainthood, in which they become involved with a wild assortment of do-good-salvationists. Paul finally turns to opium and dies.... The homosexual's fantastic but slanted awareness of people, the bitchery, jealousy, loneliness and Everyman's desperate search for a way out, all combine to make this a frantic, fascinating, unsettling book- in spite of its skill and sophistication.

ISBN: 0816633673
Publisher: Simon & Schuster