The tough-sounding title belies the cosiness of the correspondence – much of it devoted to the tireless elaboration, in nursery language, of a private mythology in which Isherwood is the plodding old nag Dobbin and Bachardy the capricious pussycat Kitty. This will not appeal to readers with an aversion to camp whimsy, and it is hard to picture even the most devoted fan having the stamina to read in their entirety every one of the letters that make up this bulky volume. When Kitty signs off a letter to Dobbin “with basketfuls of furred love and musical purrs” your response may be a shudder, or a snort, or something more emphatic. But archness aside (and there’s archness aplenty), this volume is rewarding in all sorts of unexpected ways and a welcome addition to our knowledge and understanding of two very complex, talented and ambitious men who became, almost accidentally, social and cultural trailblazers.
A brief scan of Isherwood's writing suggests 'cat' was a metaphor in his life, and not more. Which is interesting for the artist collaborated with Auden, big cat lover, and submitted works-in-progress to Dodie Smith (big cat lover). Perhaps this dialogue from his 1964 novel A Single Man --
You don't even have a cat or a dog or anything?"
"You think I should?" George asks, a bit aggressive. The poor old guy doesn't have anything to love, he thinks Kenny is thinking.
"Hell, no! Didn't Baudelaire say they're liable to turn into demons and take over your life?”
--is mere fictionalized biography.