on my nightstand

Nice days were still nice.  “The sun shines,” wrote Christopher Isherwood in his Berlin Stories, “and Hitler is the master of this city.  The sun shines, and dozens of my friends . . . are in prison, possibly dead.”  The prevailing normalcy was seductive.  “I catch sight of my face in the mirror of a shop, and am shocked to see that I am smiling,” Isherwood wrote.  “You can’t help smiling, in such beautiful weather.”  The trams moved as usual, as did the pedestrians passing on the street; everything around him had “an air of curious familiarity, of striking resemblance to something one remembers are normal and pleasant in the past–like a very good photograph.”


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