Stewart, R (2011) '‘I was obsessed by a complex of terrors and longings connected with the idea “War”’: World War I in the early writing of Christopher Isherwood.' First World War Studies, 2 (1). pp. 121-130. ISSN 1947-5039

Official URL:


Christopher Isherwood focuses on the self within his writing. The importance of identity is closely associated with what he calls his ‘complex of terrors’ connected to war. Isherwood presents a mythologized self-analysis that engages with images of the First World War, especially the heroics of war. Thinking in paradoxical terms of the Truly Strong Man and the Truly Weak Man, Isherwood felt inferior because he had not faced the ‘test’ of war. This paper engages with Isherwood's early novel The Memorial and his ‘autobiography’ Lions and Shadows. It looks at questions of identity, weakness and strength, as well as Isherwood's rebellion against a generation whom he not only blames for the war that took his father from him, but also for his feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing.

Item Type: Article

A paper of the same name was presented at a conference at King's College, University of Cambridge entitled 'The First World War: Literature, Music, Memory' on 11 - 12 July 2009.

Keywords: Christopher Isherwood, masculinity, First World War, literature and psychology
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2015 00:07
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 13:28
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)