Reading Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories (1935–39) through an important debate in the Marxist aesthetics of the period between Sergei Tretiakov and Georg Lukács, this article argues that Isherwood’s famous statement “I am a camera” should be reimagined as a declaration of radical antihumanism with key implications for both Marxist and queer theory. In so doing, it proposes that Isherwood’s literary praxis of self-instrumentalization advances a definition of the human that refuses both property ownership and heterosexual monogamy. In light of this new reading, Isherwood’s place in the leftist and queer canons must be reconstituted, as should the relationship between certain strains of Soviet Marxism and queer writing of the period. Far from a lukewarm socialist in his youth who later became a middlebrow bourgeois figure in gay literature, Isherwood offers a queer Marxist contribution to radical literary history; reading him through Tretiakov reveals, moreover, a striking cultural-historical possibility: the queer potential of the First Five-Year Plan (1928–32).

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