Prater Violet concerns the filming of an unashamedly romantic and commercial musical about old Vienna. It is a stinging satirical novel about the film industry, trifling studio feuds, and the fatuous movie Prater Violet, which, ironically, counterpoints the tragic events on the world stage as Hitler's lengthening shadow falls over the real Vienna of the thirties. At its center are vivid portraits of the mocking genius Friedrich Bergmann, the imperious, dazzlingly witty Austrian director, and his disciple, a genial young screenwriter-the fictionalized Christopher Isherwood.
When it first appeared in 1945, Prater Violet caused a fury of critical speculation and acclaim. Edmund Wilson called it "a deliberate historical parable," and Diana Trilling's Nation review said, "Prater Violet is the most charming novel I have read in a long time... It is a book written in the author's own person, yet utterly without ego; it is a novel about movie writers which is yet a novel about the life of every serious artist; it is a book without a political moral, but a profound moral-political statement; it is gay, witty, sophisticated, but wholly responsible.