In Search of the Doppelganger: Homecoming from Exile

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Irina Golovacheva, in her chapter on Christopher Isherwood, places his
exile from England in the context of other British authors and artists, including
Aldous Huxley, W. H. Auden, and Benjamin Britten, all of whom emigrated
from England to the United States before or during WWII. As Golovacheva
notes, despite their common pacifist views, the feelings of these self-exiles
changed depending on their individual fates in the US. The composer Britten
and his collaborator and partner, the tenor Peter Pears, preferred to return
home in 1942. Others—like Huxley and Isherwood for whom immigration
was a part of a personal quest—stayed to meet the American challenge. For
his part, Isherwood admitted: “His final ritual act of breaking free from her
[his mother] was to become a citizen of the United States, thus separating
himself from Mother and Motherland at one stroke.”6
Yet, while he claimed to
love the United States, he also suffered prolonged depressive episodes while
in exile there. Golovacheva argues convincingly that the story of Isherwood’s
Preface xix
homecoming from exile in his memoir, Lost Years, uncovers his ambivalence
and frustration during a short visit to England in 1947, and thus may constitute
the single best source of his true exile experience. Fearing a hostile
response to his California exile from family and friends, Isherwood adopted,
in Lost Years, the technique of the “international” Doppelganger invented
by Henry James in “The Jolly Corner.” As Golovacheva demonstrates, the
book revealed the divided consciousness of the displaced Anglo-American
and constitutes, in and of itself, an excellent commentary on “the (European)
writer in exile” theme.
Translated title of the contributionВ поисках двойника: возвращение домой
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Writers in Exile
EditorsRobert C. Hauhartand, Jeff Birkenstein
Place of PublicationLanham, (Maryland)
PublisherRowman & Littlefield
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4985-6024-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-4985-6023-8
StatePublished - 12 Sep 2018

Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Exile, European refugees, British Literature, Christopher Isherwood, Henry James


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