Portrait: The German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist and essayist Thomas Mann

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
Reading Time:  6 minutes

Thomas Mann at Hotel Adlon in Berlin, 1929 © Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0-de

Thomas Mann at Hotel Adlon in Berlin, 1929 © Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0-de

Paul Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature 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’s work influenced many future authors, including Heinrich Böll, Joseph Heller, Yukio Mishima, and Orhan Pamuk.

Mann was a member of the Hanseatic Mann family from Lübeck and portrayed his family and class in his first 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 Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Mann fled to Switzerland. When World War II broke out in 1939, he moved to Pacific Palisades (Thomas Mann House), a coastal neighborhood of Los Angeles, returning to Switzerland in 1952. Thomas Mann is one of the best-known exponents of the so-called Exilliteratur, literature written in German by those who opposed or fled the Hitler regime.

Thomas Mann with Albert Einstein in Princeton, 1938 Thomas Mann in Weimar, 1949 © Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0-de Thomas Mann at Hotel Adlon in Berlin, 1929 © Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0-de Thomas Mann, 1932 © Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0-de
<
>
Thomas Mann at Hotel Adlon in Berlin, 1929 © Bundesarchiv/cc-by-sa-3.0-de
The outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, prompted Mann to offer anti-Nazi speeches (in German) to the German people via the BBC. In October 1940 he began monthly broadcasts, recorded in the U.S. and flown to London, where the BBC broadcast them to Germany on the longwave band. In these eight-minute addresses, Mann condemned Hitler and his “paladins” as crude philistines completely out of touch with European culture. In one noted speech he said, “The war is horrible, but it has the advantage of keeping Hitler from making speeches about culture.” Mann was one of the few publicly active opponents of Nazism among German expatriates in the U.S. While some Germans claimed after the war that in his speeches he had endorsed the notion of collective guilt, others felt he had been highly critical also of the politically unstable Weimar Republic that preceded the Third Reich.

Thomas Mann’s works were first translated into English by H. T. Lowe-Porter beginning in 1924. Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929, after he had been nominated by Anders Österling, member of the Swedish Academy, 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. 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 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, and 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. Throughout his Fyodor 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 Edgar Degas who said that an artist must approach his work in the spirit of the criminal about to commit a crime.” 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.”

Read more on NobelPrize.org – Thomas Mann, FamousAuthors.org – Thomas Mann, Thomas Mann House and Wikipedia Thomas Mann (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Humboldt University of Berlin

Humboldt University of Berlin

[caption id="attachment_163702" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Christian Wolf - www.c-w-design.de/cc-by-sa-3.0-de[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Humboldt University of Berlin (German: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, HU Berlin) is one of Berlin's oldest universities, founded on 15 October 1811 as the University of Berlin (Universität zu Berlin) by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt. The Humboldt university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities. From 18...

[ read more ]

Dubai Festival City

Dubai Festival City

[caption id="attachment_224274" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Festival Bay at Dubai Festival City Mall © Teeraza88/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Dubai Festival City is a large residential, business and entertainment development in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, owned by Al-Futtaim Group. Dubai Festival City is the Middle East's largest mixed-use development: all elements for work, living, and leisure will be contained within the project. Once completed Festival City will comprise a series of residential co...

[ read more ]

Zaragoza, capital of Aragon

Zaragoza, capital of Aragon

[caption id="attachment_160671" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar © flickr.com - Paulo Brandao[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Zaragoza, also called Saragossa in English, is the capital city of the Zaragoza Province and of the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. It is situated on the Ebro river and its tributaries, the Huerva and Gállego, near the centre of the region, in a valley with a variety of landscapes, ranging from desert (Los Monegros) to thick forest, meadows and mountains. On 1...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Ulster - Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Theme Week Ulster - Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

[caption id="attachment_153136" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Flight of the Earls sculpture in Rathmullan © geograph.org.uk - Willie Duffin/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Ulster (Irish: Cúige Uladh) is one of the provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths (Irish: cúige) ruled by a rí ruirech, or "king of over-kings". Northern Ireland is often referred to as 'Ulster', despite including only six of Ulster's nine counties. This usage is most common amongst p...

[ read more ]

Portrait: Emperor Titus

Portrait: Emperor Titus

[caption id="attachment_192456" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Château de Versailles - Bust of Titus © Coyau/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Titus was Roman emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman emperor to come to the throne after his own biological father. Prior to becoming emperor, Titus gained renown as a military commander, serving under his father in Judea during the First Jewish–Roman War. The campaign came to ...

[ read more ]

Meran in South Tyrol

Meran in South Tyrol

[caption id="attachment_160585" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Palms in Tyrol © Tappeiner[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Merano is a town and comune in South Tyrol, Italy. Generally best known for its spa resorts, it is located within a basin, surrounded by mountains standing up to 3,335 m (11,000 ft), at the entrance to the Passeier Valley, the Vinschgau and the Ulten Valley. In the past the town has been a popular place of residence for several scientists, literary people, and artists, including Franz Kafka, Ezra Pound and Paul ...

[ read more ]

Besarabsky Market in Kiev

Besarabsky Market in Kiev

[caption id="attachment_185639" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Tiia Monto/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Besarabsky Market, also referred to as the Besarabka, is an indoor market located in the center of Kiev on the Bessarabska Square at the southwest end of the city's main thoroughfare, the Khreshchatyk. Its name originates from Bessarabia, a region conquered by the Russian Empire during the Russo-Turkish Wars and now partially located in southwestern Ukraine on the territory of the Odessa Oblast (provi...

[ read more ]

Whitstable Oyster Festival

Whitstable Oyster Festival

[caption id="attachment_160460" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Whitstable Oysters © The Crab and Winkle Restaurant / seewhitstable.com[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Whitstable is a seaside town in Northeast Kent, Southeast England. It is approximately 8 kilometres (5 mi) north of the city of Canterbury and approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) west of the seaside town of Herne Bay. It is part of the City of Canterbury district and has a population of about 30,000. Whitstable is famous for its oysters, which have been collected in the...

[ read more ]

The Paris Beaches

The Paris Beaches

[caption id="attachment_24618" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © flickr.com - Sharat Ganapati/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Paris-Plages is a plan run by the office of the mayor of Paris that creates temporary artificial beaches each summer along the river Seine in the centre of Paris, and, since 2007, along the Bassin de la Villette in the northeast of Paris. Every July and August, roadways on the banks of the Seine are blocked off and host various activities, including sandy beaches and palm trees. French city-dwellers...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Dordogne - Trélissac

Theme Week Dordogne - Trélissac

[caption id="attachment_211414" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Père Igor/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Trélissac is a commune in the Dordogne department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in France. Administratively, it belongs to the Arrondissement Périgueux and is part of the canton of Trélissac. The inhabitants are called Trélissacois. The River Isle forms the southern boundary of the municipality, which is a banlieue of Périgueux. Trélissac is surrounded by the neighboring municipalities of Cornill...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
Catedral de Santo Domingo © Berposen/cc-by-sa-4.0
Theme Week Ecuador – Santo Domingo de los Colorados

Santo Domingo de los Colorados, simply referred to as Santo Domingo, is a city and seat of the canton that...

A vicuña, one of two wild South American camelids. In the background the point on the Earth's surface that is farthest from the Earth's center, Chimborazo volcano © David Torres Costales/cc-by-sa-3.0
Theme Week Ecuador

Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east...

© flickr.com - Minke Wagenaar/cc-by-sa-2.0
Theme Week Amsterdam – The Rembrandt Square

Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) is a major square in central Amsterdam, named after the famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn who owned...

Close