Title: Thomas Mann: A Life
Book Condition: New
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA 1995-11-16
0198158610 / 9780198158615
Seller ID: 20070912122459
Author of such classics as Buddenbrooks, Death in Venice, Doctor Faustus, and The Magic Mountain, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature not half-way through his career, Thomas Mann was without doubt the leading German novelist of his era and one of the three or four great writers of our century.
Now, in Thomas Mann: A Life, celebrated biographer Donald Prater illuminates the life and work of this gifted writer, from his upbringing in Lubeck, through his years in Munich, his exile in the United States, and his last years in Switzerland. Prater discusses Mann's tumultuous relationship with his novelist brother Heinrich, which Mann called, "the hardest of my existence," his homosexuality, his career as a prolific essayist, the vast achievement of his novels, and his love of music. Prater writes that as Mann's passion for the gramophone grew almost to a vice, the music became an important motif for his text and a stimulus in its composition. Indeed, Mann conceived of such books as The Magic Mountain as symphonic constructions, interweaving its themes in strict counterpoint. Prater also reveals the personal side of Mann, from his marriage to Katia and his relationships with their six children, all of whom remained marginal to his firmly dedicated life as a writer, to his obsession with the minor ups and downs of his health. Mann's seventy-fifth birthday, for example, found him in typical form: pursuing the usual daily routine of morning work, afternoon correspondence, evening relaxation with the gramophone, and considering the year's lecture tour; but depressed over ailments, which were more or less minor, of ear and throat. But, the particular strength of the biography is the attention Prater devotes to Mann's political thinking and his role in the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. In Mann's development from a nationalistic conservative to a vigorous, anti-Nazi humanist, Prater recognizes a fascinating and crucially important illustration of the "German problem" still so relevant to the Europe of today. Mann could hardly bear even to mention the name of Adolf Hitler, still less to write about the horrors of the concentration camps. And later in his life while still in exile, he admitted it was no easy matter to be a German writer, with conflicting feelings towards one's country "of rage, revulsion, the desire for its destruction, yet an attachment that is inalienable."
Elegantly written and always stimulating, Thomas Mann depicts a man whose life and writing continue to impact our lives today. It will take its place as the major biography of Mann, and as a compelling portrait of 19th- and early 20th-century Germany and the political metamorphosis that country saw during Mann's lifetime.