The World in the Evening

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The World in the Evening
First edition
Author Christopher Isherwood
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Methuen
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 333

Christopher Isherwood writes another quasi-fictional account of love, loss, and regret in 'The World in the Evening'. As in many Isherwood novels, the main character of 'World...' is caught in a contest between his personal egoism and the needs of friends and lovers. This novel is highly popularized because of the narrator's definition of high and low camp—significant concepts to homosexuals.[citation needed]


'The World...' is narrated in the first person by the protagonist Stephen Monk. His life experiences are broken into three sections in the novel: An End, Letters and Life, and A Beginning. Frequently, Monk experiences flashbacks triggered by other characters or the letters of his deceased wife, Elizabeth.

Plot introduction[edit]

Marital problems cause Stephen Monk to return to his birthplace in Philadelphia. While there Monk undergoes a cathartic period of introspection. Though a member of the American jeunesse dorée, Monk is an emotional and observant man. 'The World in the Evening' chronicles his bric-a-brac search for love.

Characters in "The World in the Evening"[edit]

Monk is a traditional Isherwood protagonist in that he is self-absorbed, emotionally indiscriminate, and handsome. Elizabeth Rydell -- Monk’s first wife, author of books, including The World in the Evening (pp.

   38 – 9)

Jane Armstrong (p. 226) – Monk’s second wife Aunt Sarah - Quaker friend of Monk, just called Monk’s “aunt” as an old friend of the family (p. 30) Gerda Mannheim – late 20’s, refugee from Nazi Germany (p. 31) Peter – Gerda’s husband (p. 39), feared dead in Germany but escaped from death camp (p. 270) Charles Kennedy – lover of Bob Wood (p. 105) Bob Wood – gay lover of Charles Kennedy, discusses pacifism with Monk (pp. 101 – 107) Alexander Stives – friend of Elizabeth who Monk sees as a competitor for Eliz.’s love (p. 86) Michael Drummond – German 18-year-old Monk meets (p. 153) and becomes lovers with Martha Chance – Quaker friend of Sarah Dr, & Mrs. Harper – Quaker friends of Sarah Mary Scrivener – friend of Elizabeth Rydell, recipient of letters (p. 42) Mr. Frosch – Monk’s lawyer (p. 46) Cecilia de Limbour – Elizabeth’s sister, recipient of letters (p. 65) Warren Geiger – American Monk meets at university (p. 69) Marie – Woman Monk picks up in France, his sexual tutor (p. 73) Annette – friend of Marie’s Monk dates briefly (p. 74) Trude – gives Monk gonorrhea (p. 76) Adrian – Elizabeth’s name for Monk (?) (p. 77) Terrence Storrs & Isabel - characters in Elizabeth’s World in the Evening novel (p. 118) Mariano Galdos – Elizabeth’s lover (& character in novel named Gurian), (pp. 129 – 31) Mary Scriven – correspondent with Elizabeth (p. 138) German doctor – emergency surgeon of Elizabeth in Greece (pp. 159 – 60) Lee, Dale, Ben, Jo, Joyce, Glen, Pierre -- friends of Jane (p. 217) Henri – Michael’s best friend, killed in war (p. 219) Shirley – Jane’s friend who introduces herself to Monk (p. 227) Martin Gates – one of Jane’s friends Monk suspects is the real father of their child (p. 258)

Major themes[edit]

Homosexuality. Bisexuality. Infidelity. Quakerism. Pacificsm.

External links[edit]

Book reviews[edit]