Download The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann by Ritchie Robertson PDF

By Ritchie Robertson

Key dimensions of Thomas Mann's writing and existence are explored during this choice of in particular commissioned essays. as well as introductory chapters on all of the major works of fiction and the essays and diaries, there are 4 chapters interpreting Mann's oeuvre when it comes to significant subject matters. a last bankruptcy seems on the pitfalls of translating Mann into English. The essays are good supported by way of supplementary fabric together with a chronology of the interval and specific publications to additional examining.

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Where Disorder sketched a present with roots trailing back into the past, Mario and the Magician (1930) describes a present containing seeds of a dark future. It is one of Mann’s finest narrative performances, moving deftly from the domestic and trivial to the demonic and tragic, from the heat of an Italian seaside resort to a chilling end where a hypnotist is shot by the young man his performance has humiliated. The story moves just as deftly from the literal to the allegorical, capturing first the beach-level nationalism of an Italy puffed up with fascist pride, then Cipolla’s brutal mastery over his audience, a mastery which already exploits the techniques of charismatic control used in larger tyrannies.

To this modern pathology Mann adds the second meaning of a pact with the devil (hence the novel’s title, Doctor Faustus). By much the same technique that had half-hidden myth under a realistic surface in Death in Venice, he gives the diabolical elements an always plausible garb: the devil may be no more than a figment of the hero’s mind, the traditional twenty-four years of the pact are the natural term of the disease. An evil more fundamental than streptococci is nonetheless powerfully suggested.

The past of academic history, though, is a safe haven, especially if the subject is a distant period. Abel Cornelius is an ¨ expert on the Spain of Philip II (there are echoes of Tonio Kroger here) and for him there is something reassuringly fixed in its pastness. It has finished happening, in contrast to the uneasy present of social change and galloping inflation. Tellingly, the story uses the present tense throughout, which is normally a narrative trick to make us feel that a climactic event is happening before our very eyes.

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