Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Transgressive Travels

Homosexuality, Class, Politics and the Lure of Germany in 1930s Writing

Rainer Emig

‘Berlin meant Boys.’ Christopher Isherwood’s retrospective summary of the appeal of Germany for some of the writers of the 1930s set the tone for the rather limited critical evaluation of a very interesting feature of 1930s writing that was to follow. Almost every critical study of Auden, Isherwood and Spender feels obliged to make at least cursory reference to the fact that Germany represented some kind of libidinous homosexual nirvana. Atelling example is Valentine Cunningham’s British Writers of the Thirties. There he writes: ‘Germany was now the place to be: for artistic progressivism, but also because there sunshine and cocaine and sex, especially homosex, were up until Hitler’s intervention in 1933 so freely available. Berlin was a mythic sodom, and a sodomites’ mythic nirvana. The British homosexuals excitedly went there to ‘live’.’ I would like to add to this narrow and biased view some important and less simplistic aspects. I will try to show that the lure of Germany also touches on issues of class, politics and nationality. I will try to present the related transgressions that result from this entanglement not so much as biographical achievements or failures, but explore how they feature in the literary production of the writers of the era.

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or log in to access all content.