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The American Isherwood$
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James J. Berg and Chris Freeman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816683611

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816683611.001.0001

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Isherwood and Huxley

Isherwood and Huxley

The Novel as Mystic Fable

(p.121) 9 Isherwood and Huxley
The American Isherwood

Robert L. Caserio

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the role played by the novel in Christopher Isherwood’s attitudes toward mysticism as well as his writing’s relation to Aldous Huxley. To this end, it considers the place of religion in Anglo-American modernism, with particular emphasis on G. R. S. Mead’s modernist journal The Quest, one of the transnational conduits whereby Eastern religions, including Vedanta, entered the background that nurtured Isherwood. Isherwood’s statements about his fiction’s relation to religion are not the whole story of the ties that his novels—and the novelistic genre itself—might have to mystical experience. This chapter also looks at Huxley’s hostility to the novel form and Isherwood’s 1980 book My Guru and His Disciple. Finally, it discusses the novelistic form’s relation to contemplation and to timelessness by offering a reading of Isherwood’s Down There on a Visit.

Keywords:   novel, Christopher Isherwood, mysticism, Aldous Huxley, religion, modernism, G. R. S. Mead, The Quest, My Guru and His Disciple, Down There on a Visit

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