Thomas Mann

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Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann 1937.jpg
Mann in 1937
BornPaul Thomas Mann
(1875-06-06)6 June 1875
Free City of Lübeck, German Empire
Died12 August 1955(1955-08-12) (aged 80)
Zürich, Switzerland
OccupationNovelist, short story writer, essayist
Period1896–1954
GenreNovel, novella
Notable worksBuddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain, Death in Venice, Joseph and his Brothers
Notable awards

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For other people named Thomas Mann, see Thomas Mann (disambiguation).
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann 1937.jpg
Mann in 1937
BornPaul Thomas Mann
(1875-06-06)6 June 1875
Free City of Lübeck, German Empire
Died12 August 1955(1955-08-12) (aged 80)
Zürich, Switzerland
OccupationNovelist, short story writer, essayist
Period1896–1954
GenreNovel, novella
Notable worksBuddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain, Death in Venice, Joseph and his Brothers
Notable awards

Signature

Paul Thomas Mann ([paʊ̯l toːmas man]; 6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist and 1929 Nobel laureate. His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Mann was a member of the Hanseatic Mann family and portrayed his family and class in the novel Buddenbrooks. His older brother was the radical writer Heinrich Mann and three of his six children, Erika Mann, Klaus Mann and Golo Mann, also became important German writers. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Mann fled to Switzerland. When World War II broke out in 1939, he emigrated to the United States, returning to Switzerland in 1952. Thomas Mann is one of the best-known exponents of the so-called Exilliteratur.

Life[edit]

Mann was born Paul Thomas Mann in Lübeck, Germany and was the second son of Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann (a senator and a grain merchant) and his wife Júlia da Silva Bruhns (a Brazilian of German and Portuguese ancestry who emigrated to Germany when seven years old). His mother was Roman Catholic but Mann was baptised into his father's Lutheran religion. Mann's father died in 1891 and his trading firm was liquidated. The family subsequently moved to Munich. Mann attended the science division of a Lübeck Gymnasium (school), then spent time at the Ludwig Maximillians University of Munich and Technical University of Munich where, in preparation for a journalism career, he studied history, economics, art history and literature.[1]

Mann lived in Munich from 1891 until 1933, with the exception of a year in Palestrina, Italy, with his novelist elder brother Heinrich. Thomas worked with the South German Fire Insurance Company in 1894-95. His career as a writer began when he wrote for Simplicissimus. Mann's first short story, "Little Mr Friedemann" (Der Kleine Herr Friedemann), was published in 1898.

In 1905, Mann married Katia Pringsheim, daughter of a wealthy, secular Jewish industrialist family. She later joined the Lutheran church. The couple had six children.[2]

Children[edit]

NameBirthDeath
Erika9 November 190527 August 1969
Klaus18 November 190621 May 1949
Angelus Gottfried Thomas "Golo"29 March 19097 April 1994
Monika7 June 191017 March 1992
Elisabeth24 April 19188 February 2002
Michael21 April 19191 January 1977
Mann's summerhouse in Nida (German: Nidden), today a museum.

In 1929, Mann had a cottage built in the fishing village of Nidden (Nida, Lithuania) on the Curonian Spit, where there was a German art colony and where he spent the summers of 1930–1932 working on Joseph and His Brothers. The cottage is a cultural center dedicated to him, with a small memorial exhibition. In 1933, while traveling in the South of France, Mann heard from Klaus and Erika in Munich, that it would not be safe for him to return to Germany. The family (except the two oldest children) emigrated to Küsnacht, near Zurich, Switzerland but received Czechoslovak citizenship and a passport in 1936. He then emigrated to the United States in 1939, where he taught at Princeton University.

In 1942, the Mann family moved to Pacific Palisades, in west Los Angeles, California, where they lived until after the end of World War II. On 23 June 1944 Thomas Mann was naturalized as a citizen of the United States. In 1952, he returned to Europe, to live in Kilchberg, near Zurich, Switzerland. He never again lived in Germany, though he regularly traveled there. His most important German visit was in 1949, at the 200th birthday of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, attending celebrations in Frankfurt am Main and Weimar, as a statement that German culture extended beyond the new political borders.[citation needed]

Death[edit]

In 1955, he died of atherosclerosis in a hospital in Zurich and was buried in Kilchberg. Many institutions are named in his honour, for instance the Thomas Mann Gymnasium of Budapest.

Mann is buried at Kilchberg, Zurich

Work[edit]

Mann in the early period of his writing career

Thomas Mann's works were first translated into English by H. T. Lowe-Porter beginning in 1924.[3] Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929, principally in recognition of his popular achievement with the epic Buddenbrooks (1901), The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg, 1924) and his numerous short stories. (Due to the personal taste of an influential committee member, only Buddenbrooks was cited at any great length.)[4] Based on Mann's own family, Buddenbrooks relates the decline of a merchant family in Lübeck over the course of three generations. The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg, 1924) follows an engineering student who, planning to visit his tubercular cousin at a Swiss sanatorium for only three weeks, finds his departure from the sanatorium delayed. During that time, he confronts medicine and the way it looks at the body and encounters a variety of characters, who play out ideological conflicts and discontents of contemporary European civilization. The tetralogy Joseph and His Brothers is an epic novel written over a period of sixteen years, which is one of the largest and most significant works in Mann's oeuvre. Later, other novels included Lotte in Weimar (1939), in which Mann returned to the world of Goethe's novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774); Doktor Faustus (1947), the story of composer Adrian Leverkühn and the corruption of German culture in the years before and during World War II and Confessions of Felix Krull (Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull, 1954), which was unfinished at Mann's death.

Mann's diaries, unsealed in 1975, tell of his struggles with his bisexuality, which found reflection in his works, most prominently through the obsession of the elderly Aschenbach for the 14-year-old Polish boy Tadzio in the novella Death in Venice (Der Tod in Venedig, 1912).[5] Anthony Heilbut's biography Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature (1997) uncovered the centrality of Mann's sexuality to his oeuvre. Gilbert Adair's work The Real Tadzio (2001) describes how, in the summer of 1911, Mann had stayed at the Grand Hôtel des Bains on the Lido of Venice with his wife and brother, when he became enraptured by the angelic figure of Władysław (Władzio) Moes, a 10-year-old Polish boy (see also "The Real Tadzio" on the Death in Venice page).

"Modern Book Printing" from the Walk of Ideas in Berlin, Germany – built in 2006 to commemorate Johannes Gutenberg's invention, c. 1445, of movable printing type

Handling the struggle between the Dionysiac and the Apollonian,[citation needed] Death in Venice has been made into a film and an opera. Blamed sarcastically by Mann’s old enemy, Alfred Kerr,[citation needed] to have made pederasty acceptable to the cultivated middle classes, it has been pivotal in introducing the discourse of same-sex desire into general culture.[6] Mann was a friend of the violinist and painter Paul Ehrenberg, for whom he had feelings as a young man (at least until around 1903 when there is evidence that those feelings had cooled). The attraction that he felt for Ehrenberg, which is corroborated by notebook entries, caused Mann difficulty and discomfort (given the cultural values of the time) and may have been an obstacle to him marrying an English woman, Mary Smith, whom he met in 1901.[7]

Throughout his Dostoyevsky essay, he finds parallels between the Russian and the sufferings of Friedrich Nietzsche. Speaking of Nietzsche, he says: "his personal feelings initiate him into those of the criminal ... in general all creative originality, all artist nature in the broadest sense of the word, does the same. It was the French painter and sculptor Degas who said that an artist must approach his work in the spirit of the criminal about to commit a crime."[8] Nietzsche's influence on Mann runs deep in his work, especially in Nietzsche's views on decay and the proposed fundamental connection between sickness and creativity. Mann held that disease is not to be regarded as wholly negative. In his essay on Dostoyevsky we find: "but after all and above all it depends on who is diseased, who mad, who epileptic or paralytic: an average dull-witted man, in whose illness any intellectual or cultural aspect is non-existent; or a Nietzsche or Dostoyevsky. In their case something comes out in illness that is more important and conductive to life and growth than any medical guaranteed health or sanity... in other words: certain conquests made by the soul and the mind are impossible without disease, madness, crime of the spirit."[9]

Cultural references[edit]

Several literary and other works make reference to Mann's book The Magic Mountain, including:

Harry MulischThe Discovery of Heaven.
Andrew Crumey's novel Mobius Dick (2004), which imagines an alternative universe where an author named Behring has written novels resembling Mann's. These include a version of The Magic Mountain with Erwin Schrödinger in place of Castorp.
Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood, in which the main character is criticized for reading The Magic Mountain while visiting a friend in a sanatorium.
The song "Magic Mountain" by the band Blonde Redhead
The painting "Magic Mountain (after Thomas Mann)" by Christiaan Tonnis (1987). "The Magic Mountain" is also a chapter in Tonnis's 2006 book "Illness as a Symbol" as well.
The 1941 film 49th Parallel, in which the character Philip Armstrong Scott unknowingly praises Mann's work to an escaped World War II Nazi U boat commander, who later responds by burning Scott's copy of The Magic Mountain.

Several literary and other works make reference to Death in Venice, including:

The 2006 movie A Good Year directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe and Albert Finney, which features a paperback version of Death in Venice; it is the book Christie Roberts is reading at her deceased father's vineyard.
Philip Roth's novel The Human Stain (2000).
Joseph Heller's 1994 novel, Closing Time, which makes several references to Thomas Mann and Death in Venice.
Alan Bennett's play The Habit of Art, in which Benjamin Britten visits W. H. Auden to discuss the possibility of Auden writing the libretto for Britten's opera version of Death in Venice.

Other:

Hayavadana (1972), a play by Girish Karnad was based on a theme drawn from The Transposed Heads and employed the folk theatre form of Yakshagana. A German version of the play, was directed by Vijaya Mehta as part of the repertoire of the Deutsches National Theatre, Weimar.[10] A staged musical version of The Transposed Heads, adapted by Julie Taymor and Sidney Goldfarb, with music by Elliot Goldenthal, was produced at the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia and The Lincoln Center in New York in 1988.
Mann's 1896 short story "Disillusionment" is the basis for the Leiber and Stoller song "Is That All There Is?", famously recorded in 1969 by Peggy Lee.
In a 1994 essay, Umberto Eco suggests that the media discuss "Whether reading Thomas Mann gives one erections" as an alternative to "Whether Joyce is boring".[11]
In the television series The Simpsons, Waylon Smithers attempts to teach the children at Springfield Elementary to read Death in Venice.
Thomas Mann's life in California during World War II, including his relationship with Heinrich Mann and Bertolt Brecht is a subject of Christopher Hampton’s play Tales from Hollywood. BBC video performance Tales from Hollywood (1992), staged by the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012.

Political views[edit]

During World War I, Mann supported Kaiser Wilhelm II's conservatism and attacked liberalism. Yet in Von Deutscher Republik (1923), as a semi-official spokesman for parliamentary democracy, Mann called upon German intellectuals to support the new Weimar Republic. He also gave a lecture at the Beethovensaal in Berlin on 13 October 1922, which appeared in Die neue Rundschau in November 1922, in which he developed his eccentric defence of the Republic, based on extensive close readings of Novalis and Walt Whitman. Hereafter his political views gradually shifted toward liberal left and democratic principles.[12]

In 1930, Mann gave a public address in Berlin titled "An Appeal to Reason", in which he strongly denounced National Socialism and encouraged resistance by the working class. This was followed by numerous essays and lectures in which he attacked the Nazis. At the same time, he expressed increasing sympathy for socialist ideas. In 1933 when the Nazis came to power, Mann and his wife were on holiday in Switzerland. Due to his strident denunciations of Nazi policies, his son Klaus advised him not to return. But Thomas Mann's books, in contrast to those of his brother Heinrich and his son Klaus, were not among those burnt publicly by Hitler's regime in May 1933, possibly since he had been the Nobel laureate in literature for 1929. Finally in 1936 the Nazi government officially revoked his German citizenship.

During the war, Mann made a series of anti-Nazi radio-speeches, Deutsche Hörer! ("German listeners!"). They were taped in the USA and then sent to Great Britain, where the BBC transmitted them, hoping to reach German listeners.

Literary works[edit]

  • 1893 Vision
  • 1894 (Gefallen)
  • 1896 The Will to Happiness
  • 1896 Disillusionment (Enttäuschung)
  • 1897 Death (Der Tod)
  • 1897 Little Herr Friedemann ("Der kleine Herr Friedemann"), collection of short stories
  • 1897 "The Clown" ("Der Bajazzo"), short story
  • 1897 The Dilettante
  • 1897 Tobias Mindernickel
  • 1897 Little Lizzy
  • 1899 The Wardrobe (Der Kleiderschrank)
  • 1900 Luischen
  • 1900 The Road to the Churchyard (Der Weg zum Friedhof)
  • 1901 Buddenbrooks (Buddenbrooks – Verfall einer Familie), novel
  • 1902 Gladius Dei
  • 1903 Tristan, novella
  • 1903 The Hungry
  • 1903 Tonio Kröger, novella
  • 1903 The Child Prodigy ("Das Wunderkind")
  • 1904 A Gleam
  • 1904 At the Prophet's
  • 1905 Fiorenza, play
  • 1905 A Weary Hour
  • 1905 The Blood of the Walsungs ("Wälsungenblut"), novella (withdrawn)
  • 1908 Anekdote
  • 1907 Railway Accident
  • 1909 Royal Highness (Königliche Hoheit (de)), novel
  • 1911 The Fight between Jappe and the Do Escobar
  • 1911 "Felix Krull" ("Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull"), short story, published in 1922
  • 1912 Death in Venice (Der Tod in Venedig), novella
  • 1915 Frederick and the Great Coalition (Friedrich und die große Koalition)
  • 1918 Reflections of an Unpolitical Man (Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen), essay
  • 1918 A Man and His Dog (Herr und Hund; Gesang vom Kindchen: Zwei Idyllen), novella
  • 1921 The Blood of the Walsungs ("Wӓlsungenblut"), (2nd edition)
  • 1922 The German Republic (Von deutscher Republik)
  • 1924 The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg), novel
  • 1925 Disorder and Early Sorrow ("Unordnung und frühes Leid")
  • 1930 Mario and the Magician (Mario und der Zauberer), novella
  • 1930 A Sketch of My Life (Lebensabriß)
  • 1933–43 Joseph and His Brothers (Joseph und seine Brüder), tetralogy
    • 1933 The Tales of Jacob (Die Geschichten Jaakobs)
    • 1934 The Young Joseph (Der junge Joseph)
    • 1936 Joseph in Egypt (Joseph in Ägypten)
    • 1943 Joseph the Provider (Joseph, der Ernährer)
  • 1938 This Peace (Dieser Friede)
  • 1938 Schopenhauer
  • 1937 The Problem of Freedom (Das Problem der Freiheit)
  • 1938 The Coming Victory of Democracy
  • 1939 Lotte in Weimar: The Beloved Returns, novel
  • 1940 The Transposed Heads (Die vertauschten Köpfe – Eine indische Legende), novella
  • 1943 Listen, Germany! (Deutsche Hörer!)
  • 1944 The Tables of the Law, a commissioned novella (Das Gesetz, Erzählung, Auftragswerk)
  • 1947 Doctor Faustus (Doktor Faustus), novel
  • 1947 Essays of Three Decades, translated from the German by H. T. Lowe-Porter. [1st American ed.], New York, A. A. Knopf, 1947. Reprinted as Vintage book, K55, New York, Vintage Books, 1957.
  • 1951 The Holy Sinner (Der Erwählte), novel
  • 1954 The Black Swan (Die Betrogene: Erzählung)
  • 1954 Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: The Early Years (Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull. Der Memoiren erster Teil), novel expanding upon the 1911 short story, unfinished

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Thomas Mann Autobiography". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 25 January 2008. 
  2. ^ Kurzke, Hermann (2002). Thomas Mann: Life as a work of art: A biography. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691070695.  Translation by Leslie Willson of Thomas Mann: Das Leben als Kunstwerk (München C. H. Bick'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1999).
  3. ^ Horton, David (2013), Thomas Mann in English. A Study in Literary Translation, London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-4411-6798-9
  4. ^ Nobel Prize website. Retrieved 11 November 2007
  5. ^ Mann, Thomas (1983). Diaries 1918–1939. A. Deutsch. p. 471. ISBN 0-233-97513-6. , quoted in e.g. Kurzke, Hermann; Wilson, Leslie (2002). Thomas Mann. Life as a Work of Art. A Biography. Princeton University Press. p. 752. ISBN 0-691-07069-5.  For a discussion of the relationship between his homosexuality and his writing, also see Heilbut, Anthony (1997). Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature. Humanity Press/prometheus Bk. p. 647. ISBN 0-333-67447-2. 
  6. ^ Ritchie Robertson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann, p. 5.
  7. ^ Mundt, Hannelore (2004). Understanding Thomas Mann. The University of South Carolina Press. p. 6. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Mann, Thomas (1950). Warner Angell, Joseph, ed. The Thomas Mann reader. New York: Knopf. p. 440. Retrieved 15 May 2009. 
  9. ^ Mann, Thomas (1950). Warner Angell, Joseph, ed. The Thomas Mann reader. New York: Knopf. p. 443. Retrieved 15 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Awards: The multi-faceted playwright Frontline (magazine), Vol. 16, No. 03, 30 January – 12 February 1999.
  11. ^ Eco, Umberto (30 September 1994). "La bustina di Minerva". L'espresso. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  12. ^ See a recent translation of this lecture by Lawrence Rainey in Modernism/Modernity, 14.1 (January 2007), pp. 99–145.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]