Understanding Thomas Mann (Understanding Modern European and by Hannelore Mundt

By Hannelore Mundt

Figuring out Thomas Mann bargains a finished advisor to the novels, brief tales, novellas, and nonfiction of 1 of the main popular and prolific German writers. as well as interpreting Mann’s most renowned works, together with Buddenbrooks, demise in Venice, The Magic Mountain, and general practitioner Faustus, Hannelore Mundt introduces readers to lesser-known works, between them Joseph and His Brothers, Lotte in Weimar, and The Black Swan. In shut readings, Mundt illustrates how Mann’s masterly prose captures either his time and the complexities of human lifestyles with a special mix of humor, compassion, irony, and ambiguity. Mundt takes readers chronologically from Mann’s literary beginnings in 1894 to his final novel, Confessions of Felix Krull, self belief guy. She considers the impression of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche at the emergence of Mann’s literary voice, his conflicted emotions approximately his bourgeois heritage, and his lifestyles as Germany’s consultant author within the Weimar Republic and in exile. Mundt locations Mann’s works within the reasonable and sleek traditions and discusses his routine thematic concerns—the individual’s uprising opposed to oppressive bourgeois conventions and antihumanistic ideas, the necessity for an unremitting wondering of authority and ostensibly absolute truths, and the antagonism among individualistic freedom and social accountability. In mild of the new ebook of Mann’s diaries, disclosing his gay tendencies, Mundt additionally identifies the textual techniques he followed for revealing and concurrently covering his mystery sexuality. Mann emerges from Mundt’s research as a author who performs with opposing views in his fictional renderings of either the alienated person and Germany’s cultural and political historical past. Mundt means that the openness of his works, paired together with his deep insights into human life, explains his stature as a literary determine whose value extends world wide.

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Coincidentally, and realistically, Asuncion dies of heart failure. Symbolically, and in the Count’s mind, “fine and mysterious happenings” (GW 8 75) have led to his daughter’s death. Has he been successful in willing her death, as he will be successful in willing his own? With this incident Mann addresses the asocial behavior of the outsider whose self-interest is destructive to others, yet he leaves open the question of whether the Count is actually guilty. The Count expects death to be “grand and beautiful and of wild majesty” and “a moment of enrapture and unspeakable sweetness” (GW 8 74).

23 UNDERSTANDING THOMAS MANN The story juxtaposes Selten, a cynic whose experiences have left him with nothing but ironic contempt for the world, with the economist Laube, whose name recalls to mind the liberal writer Heinrich Rudolf Laube (1806–1884). Laube is an idealistic liberal who lashes out at the rigid, nonemancipatory norms and misogynist conventions of bourgeois society. In reaction to Laube’s criticism that men can take sexual licenses while sexually free women are ostracized as “fallen” women, Selten tells his three friends a story about a good-hearted, twenty-year-old man.

Mann’s character turns everything into an aesthetic delight, even the death of his mother. He is physically shaken when attending Wagner’s opera Lohengrin. 4 With the arrival of Gerda von Rinnlingen, the wife of the new local commandant, passion enters the monotonous, controlled life of Friedemann. In the next five chapters of the narrative, Mann shows how fragile the construction of an ascetic and aesthetic identity can be. Everything that Friedemann had sublimated since his youth resurfaces. Despite the knowledge that passion will bring misery and destruction, he is “obedient to the invincible, sweetly tormenting power from which there is no escape” (Stories 22).

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