I should like to see him forcibly shaved

Christopher Isherwood in 1938
Photo: National Media Museum via Wikimedia

Born in Manchester, England, in 1904, Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who left an indelible mark on 20th-century literature with novels like Goodbye to Berlin and A Single Man. He was also a keen diarist and since his death in 1986 multiple volumes of those diaries have been published, filled with astute observations, philosophical musings, and moments of humour. He wrote the following entry in October of 1962, on the final day of the Cuban Missile Crisis came to an end—a 13-day standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union that had the world on the brink of nuclear war.

The Diary Entry

October 28. According to the news today, Russia is going to remove the missiles from Cuba. This seems rather too good to be true. But of course it is just one move in the long wrestling match. I feel such a curiously strong loathing of Castro—something to do with his beard, his sincere, liquid-eyed beard. I should like to see him forcibly shaved in the U.N.

Further Reading

Christopher Isherwood’s diaries now live at the Harry Ransom Center in Texas along with his other papers. They have been published in three volumes, all edited brilliantly by Katherine Bucknell:


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