Christopher Isherwood was only twenty-one when he began his first novel, All the Conspirators, in 1926; it was published in England two years later. In his introduction to the first American edition (published by New Directions in 1958), the author explained: "[All the Conspirators] records a minor engagement in what Shelley calls 'the great war between the old and young.'" In many ways this novel (like the classic Berlin Stories) is a "period piece" growing out of a particular historical situation--clashes between parents and children are still just as deadly but they are no longer invariably polite and restrained, and there are no longer (as Cyril Connolly once put it) "atrocities witnessed at tea in the drawing-room." But Isherwood's singular perceptions of the older generation holding on and the younger trying to wrench free are as valid today as they were half a century ago.
by Alexandre Dumas
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