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1. Death in Venice and Other Stories
2. Joseph and His Brothers: The Stories
3. The Magic Mountain
4. Death in Venice: And Seven Other
5. Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a
6. Doctor Faustus : The Life of the
7. The Magic Mountain (Everyman's
8. Thomas Mann: Metal Artist
9. Death in Venice
10. The Black Swan
11. Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers:
12. Doctor Faustus (Everyman's Library)
13. The Transposed Heads: A Legend
14. Georg Lukacs and Thomas Mann:
15. Rowohlt Bildmonographien: Thomas
16. Death in Venice
17. Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence
18. A Companion to the Works of Thomas
19. Death in Venice
20. Thomas Mann's Death in Venice:

1. Death in Venice and Other Stories (Signet Classics)
by Thomas Mann
Paperback: 336 Pages (2006-11-07)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451530322
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This translation of Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann's work includes his masterpiece, "Death in Venice," plus six of the author's short stories: "Tristan," "Tonio Kroger," "Man and Dog:An Idyll," "Hour of Hardship," "Tobias Mindernickel," and "The Child Prodigy." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mann's "Death in Venice" and More
Thomas Mann's masterful short novel "Death in Venice" (1912) tells the story of a distinguished German writer, Gustav Aschenbach, who, at the age of 53 while on holiday in Venice, develops a passion for a 14-year old boy named Tadzio.Mann's story sets the demands and powers of eros, human sexuality, in the form of Aschenbach's feelings for Tadzio, against the life, of intellect, discipline, artistic creation, and order which Aschenbach had, before his fateful passion, attempted to realize in his life.Mann's story is highly organized and beautifully controlled, meeting the artistic and intellectual demands of his protagonist, Aschenbach.Yet the story exudes passion and eroticism, in Aschebach's homosexual attraction for a young adolescent, the dank gondolas of Venice, the fetid epidemic that plagues the city, and the atmosphere of death and destruction that Mann captures in his work.The story is full of allusions to Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, to Plato's Phaedrus and Symposium and, I think, to the Bacchae of Euripides.Mann's story offers a disturbing picture of the claims of sexuality and eroticism, particularly on the life of the mind, and of the consequences of repressing them.

I was grateful for the opportunity to reread "Death in Venice" in a book group, and my understanding of the work was increased by this excellent collection of seven of Mann's early short stories in a volume edited by David Luke. It is available at a modest price.The six other stories in the volume were written earlier than "Death in Venice" and show a unity of theme with this great work. Each of the stories juxtaposes the life of the artist, the outsider trying to observe and understand,with the claims of passion. The artists involved, the passions, and the results differ among the stories, but the underlying theme remains the same.

"Tonio Kroger" (1903), an extended short story, shows an aspiring writer infatuated in his youth with a school friend and, subsequently, with the girl his friend marries. He years to be part of what he deems "the bright children of life, the happy, the charming, and the ordinary" while recognizing that this is not to be for him. "Tonio Kroger" was Mann's own favorite among his works and it presents the theme of "Death in Venice" -- intellect and passion in a different way and light.

The extended story "Tristan" (1903) also is based upon a conflict over a young woman, set in a sanitorium, between a dandified writer and her business-like matter-of-fact husband. Mann's love for Wagner and for music are also at the center of this story.

The remaining four stories also develop the theme of passion as a disturbing force in what appears to be a settled life. I particularly enjoyed the short opening work, "Little Herr Friedemann" (1897) in which a young man who becomes hunchbacked and reserved as a result of an accident in infancy is humiliated and rejected when he feels the stirrings of passion in the person of a beautiful 24 year old married woman.

In delving into the force eroticism exerts on human life, Mann's stories explore a theme which resonates deeply with me and with many readers.This book, with Luke's translation and introduction, is an excellent way of getting to know Mann's stories.

Robin Friedman

5-0 out of 5 stars Wagner never sounded so good
I know two Germans, both of whom read a great deal- one of them taught the language to me for two semesters; the other I know via the internet. Each of them seems to have very different ideas about their own culture. For instance, one insists that Goethe is over-rated and should not be read; the other promises me that he is the bedrock of that countries literature. Who to believe? I'm still trying to make my mind up...

However, both of them insisted that I read Thomas Mann.

They couldn't have been more right. To you, the potential reader, I want to pass on that advice: read Thomas Mann. Read him and reread him and study him. Do it with this book, the Bantam publication translated by David Luke.

Thomas Mann had an intelligence about his writing that can only be appreciated fully firsthand. This is not light material by any stretch of the imagination but neither is it so dense that it can't be understood or gotten through. The fact is that its perfect; it sits just right in your mind, beckoning you on page by page, intricately constructing the internal rhythm of its characters and their dilemmas in such a way that you find yourself hypnotized, pouring through the pages then digesting those over a period of several weeks as the moods he has created stick with you. The material haunts you; it grabs hold of your imagination in such a way that a deep footprint will be forever left.

Take the story of `Tonio Kruger' for example. Inside the material there are repetitions which occur, turns of phrases that are presented in happy times, then echoed later to recall to the reader, albeit almost subconsciously, those earlier moments. These little flourishes in the language are the craft of a man who took his work very seriously, presenting the writing as well as the subject as part of the experience. Anyone who has read Flaubert knows what pains some authors take in this striving for the bon mot; Mann is such an author, a person who writes at all levels; plot, character, technical presentation, and theme.

This is to say that the other pieces of the fiction (plot; characterization) work as well as these little technical echoes. The story `Tristan' is a good example: after finishing this one, try to erase from your mind the image of the writer pleading with the sickened wife to play the piano. Try to wipe away the lilt of language, the turn and tilt that bring to mind the piece by Wagner, a sound that you can almost hear in the just the words themselves. I assure you, it will stick to you. If you want to do any writing yourself you will find your mind wandering over this passage, trying to discern how it is that Mann achieved this feat in mere language.

And this brings me to another reason to buy this book- David Luke. Mr. Luke does a splendid rendering of the material, a translation that does not dumb it down, that is very conscious of the work and its brevity and that takes great pains to make sure to convey as many levels of the work to the reader as is possible. One good example- at one point a German word is used that can have more than one meaning in the context (Geist); this is noted at the bottom of the page instead of being accounted into the translation itself. Doing this instead of writing both contexts into the text gives the reader an appreciation for the original work that could not be had otherwise.

The introduction is splendid as well. In 50 pages Mr. Luke covers a brief synopsis of each of the stories, recounting to the reader what should be noted so that the brilliance of the work becomes more evident (I will admit, I did not notice the repetitions myself...). I would advise (as with any introduction) that this part should be read last; it contains spoilers that could curtail the experience of a fresh reading.

Bottom line: Add this to your collection of paperbacks. Each story is worth the price of the book as a whole and the fact that they can all be had so cheap leaves little reason not to buy it.


5-0 out of 5 stars The Sorrows of Youth
All of these stories were written when Mann was in his early twenties, and he always felt he would never surpass them.It is not hard to see why; they are suffused with the intensity and bitter-sweetness of despair that only youth can bring.By turns tragic and comic, the dark corners of Venice shall linger in the mind long after you have turned the page.

5-0 out of 5 stars Art as a way of life
This collection of Thomas Mann's novellas and short stories thematically exhibits the alienation of being a passionate artist in a bourgeois society."We artists despise no one more than the dilettante, the man of life who thinks that in his spare time, on top of everything else, he can become an artist," the title character tells a sympathetic friend in "Tonio Kroger," a story which seems at least partially autobiographical.Tonio, who has become a renowned writer as an adult, recalls an instance when he was a boy in which he tried to entice the interest of a friend -- a popular, athletic boy, everything that Tonio was not -- by enthusiastically explaining to him the plot of Schiller's "Don Carlos."The attempt was futile, however, and Tonio was left spiritually alone with his unusual love of literature.

"Tristan" takes the artist-bourgeois conflict to a setting that presages Mann's definitive novel "The Magic Mountain."The protagonist, an offbeat writer named Spinell confined to a tuberculosis sanatarium, takes an interest in a fellow patient, a businessman's wife who, he discovers, is a sensitive and tasteful amateur pianist.He writes her husband a derogatory letter, deploring him as a philistine who does not deserve to share his life with this secretly artistic woman, which results in a heated confrontation between the two men.In "The Child Prodigy," Mann's tone turns satirical as he focuses on an eight-year-old concert pianist giving an electrifying public performance to an audience whose various reactions -- wonder, jealousy, indifference -- are reflections upon themselves more so than on the performer.

"Death in Venice" is the boldest piece in this collection, unambiguously presenting homosexuality in an artistically positive light but also showing something of a German fascination with Italian culture and scenery.Gustav Aschenbach, the protagonist, again seems to reflect Mann to an extent as a middle-aged, widowed, respected author from Munich who becomes infatuated with a teenage boy while vacationing in Venice.Whether this love ever becomes mutual or physical is not as important as the mood Mann invokes about European cultural and moral decadence, possibly symbolized by the cholera epidemic that sweeps through the city.

"Man and Dog: An Idyll" is a brilliant meditation on the narrator's affectionate and occasionally difficult relationship with his pet pointer and also allows a glimpse of life in the industrialized and suburbanized Germany of the early twentieth century.To say that Mann gives the dog a human personality may seem a cliche, but few writers could achieve his level of empathy in relating a dog's behavior and desires in man's terms without resorting to outright personification. A disturbing inversion of this story is told in "Tobias Mindernickel," in which a lonely old man, given no personal background by Mann, ostracized in his neighborhood by adults and taunted by children, buys a dog and demands from it the obedience and respect he has never earned from people.

Mann is truly one of the most important figures in twentieth century literature.What he chose to portray, and the talent with which he portrayed it, brighten the legacy of a century that threatened to destroy art in so many ways for so many insane reasons.

5-0 out of 5 stars Art and Time in Italy
The shorter tales are good but are really like imperfect sketchesmade in study for the grand finale piece Death in Venice. Most of the tales deal with sensual longing which is never satisfied or consummated and that gets a bit tiring unless you see the sensual longing representing some higher longing as well, the sensual longing perhaps being one in the same with spiritual and artistic longing. That way you are more in the frame of mind to see that Death in Venice is not just about an older mans lust for a younger man but a prolonged meditation about time and art and all those highly valued goods. I have to confess I get tired of Mann pretty quick because he dwells on the same themes over and over again but if you are a student of fiction he really is one of those writers who has much to teach. Still it sometimes seems to me that Mann's characters would be better off if they occasionally just went ahead and did it. That may sound to be an awful oversimplification but I think they would feel better and their already instable identities and worlds would not constantly be shaken to the ground by those too long suppressed desires.As for the spirit and artistic sense, they too would be happier, much more contented, with the occasional release and renewal of energies, a bit of fleshen contact would connect them to something more real than their "thoughts" about things. Anyway if you haven't already read Death in Venice you are lucky because it is a great read, though a strange and sometimes disturbed one. If you like your main characters made of more earthy substance than Mann's suffering spirits read D.H. Lawrence who also loved Italy by the way and who contemplated time and art in a much more relaxed manner. ... Read more

2. Joseph and His Brothers: The Stories of Jacob, Young Joseph, Joseph in Egypt, Joseph the Provider
by Thomas Mann
Hardcover: 1492 Pages (2005-05)
list price: US$42.00 -- used & new: US$25.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400040019
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

This remarkable new translation of the Nobel Prize-winner’s great masterpiece is a major literary event.

Thomas Mann regarded his monumental retelling of the biblical story of Joseph as his magnum opus. He conceived of the four parts–The Stories of Jacob, Young Joseph, Joseph in Egypt, and Joseph the Provider–as a unified narrative, a “mythological novel” of Joseph’s fall into slavery and his rise to be lord over Egypt. Deploying lavish, persuasive detail, Mann conjures for us the world of patriarchs and pharaohs, the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Palestine, and the universal force of human love in all its beauty, desperation, absurdity, and pain. The result is a brilliant amalgam of humor, emotion, psychological insight, and epic grandeur.

Now the award-winning translator John E. Woods gives us a definitive new English version of Joseph and His Brothers that is worthy of Mann’s achievement, revealing the novel’s exuberant polyphony of ancient and modern voices, a rich music that is by turns elegant, coarse, and sublime. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised
I had to buy this book for class, and did not look forward to reading it.I enjoyed the book, and even though the professor only required specific parts, I am reading the whole thing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mann's reader as participant in the festival
It has been a pleasure reading the reviews of othersof this magisterial work. We form a kind of brotherhood across space and time in the task of praising to the outside world the grandeur of the work Mann himself considered his magnum opus. I once owned the previous Lowe-Porter translation and could get precisely nowhere with it. Now Mr. Woods has made it accessible to any literate spirit. I use the term "spirit" advisedly. For in the Prelude, entitled "The Descent into Hell," Mann sets forth a cosmogony derived from Gnosticism apparently, in which God permitted the soul, at its urgent request, to descend to earth to intermix with matter and then, in order to redeem the soul from this entanglement sent out a second emissary, as it were, the spirit, from the heavenly realm. But the spirit also got itself overengaged with this earthly compound of soul-matter, losing sight, one might say, of its original mission of rescue, much as an ambassador to a foreign land, if he stays there too long, loses the sense of his original representation and instead becomes an advocate for the foreign country, as Mann points out with exquisite irony. But then, gentle reader, the bombshell explodes, and Mann cuts through all of his own thick and multilayered ironies to set forth what I, at least, consider the strongest sentence I have ever encountered, anywhere:

[The spirit] remains, no matter how it presents itself, what it is: the messenger of
warning, the principle of opposition, umbrage, and wandering, which stirs up
within the breast of one individual, among all the great host of the lustily
complacent, an uneasiness at our preternatural wretchedness, drives him out
of the gates of the past and the given and into the extravagant adventure of
uncertainty, and makes him like the stone that, once it has broken away and
begins to roll, is destined to set in motion an ever-growing, rolling,
incalculable cascade of events.[pp. 35-6]

And from this immediately ensues the epic spiritual adventure of Abraham into the uncharted domain of grasping for an understanding of and relationship withthe sole and ultimate source of sovereignty in the universe. And if this weren't enough, Mann then goes on to equate Abraham's adventure with the adventure of the storyteller (!) in daring to reach out to compose a tale such as this one.
Obviously I could go on forever in this vein, but my sole object is to plant my flag with the other on-line reviewers here and perhaps by this to induce some innocent wandering passerby of a reader to get out there and buy the book and read it, and by that act of participation, under any view a daunting and time-consuming committment, to join in Mann's festival of life, of storytelling as high art, of recapitulating in himself or herself the tradition of absorbing one's own cultural roots at the deepest level of joy and satisfaction. So there.--Mark B. Packer

5-0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Delight, Comic Gesture
I'm at a loss about how to begin a review of the titanic marvel "Joseph and His Brothers" because of its being so many things, adding fright to the one who tries to properly bring forth what future readers are in store for upon opeing its first page and delving into "Descent into Hell."

I have never before and doubt ever will again read a 1,500 page 'tale,' let alone one that includes a continuous barrage of gripping stories alongside psychological insight of God-like proportions. What's icing on the cake as to this book's sheer power and unforgettableness is its comic charm. I did not know I was going to be reading what is pretty much a comedy when being pulled into this marvelous Old Testament narrative.

If you have read the biblical account of Jacob and Esau on down to Joseph in Egypt and are worried that its contents couldn't stay intriguing for this many pages, there is good news, because it, for the most part, very much is.

In the preface, translator John E. Woods accurately proposes he thinks that "Mann ... wanted to make sure he had readers worthy of him" while explaining that some portions of this interweaving jewel are prone to be more difficult to read than what is, thankfully, the majority. And it is this truth, in which I agree with this stirling translator, that I breifly dwell upon.

In several used bookstores I've been to, the only part of this story that I ever saw available, and in a volume all its own, was H.T. Porter's translation of "Joseph in Egypt." Given its apparent availability over the other three parts, I suspected it would be the best - which Mann himself thought to be true. But, solely from the perspective of, as Virginia Woolf would aptly call me, a 'common reader,' I bring forth that those trickier 'riddles' that Woods forwarns, or maybe just mentions, occur most often in this third volume. The feel of being sidetracked a little too much continues on into the beginning segments of "Joseph the Provider."

Do these, I will dare to say, overly descriptive, meandering pages that include some repitition detract all that much from the sheer pleasure that dominates most of what is nothing short of this literary feast and party? Hardly not. For outside of this minor qualm over the author perhaps going a little too far about content that probably didn't require as much attention, there is no book I have read up until now that has offered more to a reader than this. I guess "sublime" is not a bad word to use when measuring the result of Mann's cataclysmic efforts that encompassed a time span of 16 years, no less, including a 5-year absence between the third and fourth stories.

He touches on such juicy, delicious insights about mankind, helping to devour the notion that life is different now compared to then. And while it is entirely varied in custom, how could our experiences be all that different due to the fact that we all have one monstrous thing in common, our humanity.

Mann had me wondering if he wasn't something more than human, though, his elegance, wisdom, humor and charm are in such top form. And while it could have been one of the great many gods of Baal that Mann includes throughout who could have helped guide his pen, I'm more prone to believe it was the God of the wanderer who possessed his wrist on occasion.

5-0 out of 5 stars AN OUTSTANDING BOOK
One of the greatest books ever written.

Also the kind of service / support rendered by Amazon, when the first copy did not reach me, was truly touching and amazing. Within a fortnight of not having received the original book sent to me,I had the book finally in my hands ! Great customer service.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!
The new translation of Joseph and His Brothers is beautiful, as is the novel.Yes, it's long--about 1500 pages--but it's worth all the time it takes to read.Perhaps this isn't the place to start, if you haven't read Mann before, but if you already admire his work, you're going to love this book. ... Read more

3. The Magic Mountain
by Thomas Mann
Paperback: 720 Pages (1996-10-01)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$11.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679772871
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps--a community devoted exclusively to sickness--as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (91)

4-0 out of 5 stars different
The book is a new more beat up than I expected, but on the whole, everythings ok. Really good book

5-0 out of 5 stars Freedom from responsibility
T. Mann is not among my favorite writers, but I can't deny that he was a master of the German language. I can't find anything wrong with his style, other than that it is artificially complicated and inflated with redundancies and an excessive use of monstrous nouns.The German language is flexible in the construction of nouns. Mann's writing was overindulgent in this vice. (If he determined your impression of the German language, maybe during high school struggles, rest assured that Mann's usage was untypical. He was a comedian at heart, with a morbid sense of humor.)

Mann said himself, early in the book, that only long and detailed narrations can be entertaining. He surely strove hard to be entertaining in that sense.
His reputation as a serious writer and as a bore is unfair. He was quite amusing, if often annoying. His way of poking fun is not of the `nice' kind, he does not laugh `with' his victims, but destroys them with his scorn. His mean streak in satirizing people is not an endearing habit. He ridicules not only through descriptions of behavior, looks, and dress, but also by their names: Gerngross (would like to be great), Blumenkohl (cauliflower), Rotbein (red leg), Einhuf (one hoof), and so on and on and on. Real people sometimes have such names, but Mann amasses them and that is meant to be funny.

He mocks. He mocks the medical industry and psycho-analysis. He mocks humanism and progressivism and enlightenment. He mocks science and progress. Was he still stuck in his abominable nationalism of WW1 times or was he mocking himself?
The book has been called a Bildungsroman. Indeed, we follow Hans Castorp's mental development, we watch him discuss politics and philosophies and scientific concepts, we watch him read his way into modern science of the time. But is Mann really interested in the man? I don't think so. Castorp is just a pawn in the larger scope of un-serious world views. Mann never drops the attitude of the outsider who will not be part of anything.

A young man from a Buddenbrookian background, before WW1, visits his cousin in a pulmonary sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, for 3 weeks. The visit turns into months and years, when it is discovered that he is suffering from the same affliction as his cousin.
He soon becomes attracted to a Russian woman who reminds him of a boyish infatuation with a male classmate with similar `Kirgisian' eyes - the homoerotic element was omnipresent in Mann's work. Even the name of the woman (Madame Chauchat) indicates that Hans sees her as an ambivalent creature in the sexual sense: is she a tomcat to him? The chapter Walpurgisnacht (witches' ball) is one of the highlights: during a carnival party at the sanatorium, Hans loosens up under alcohol and starts a real conversation with his flame. She speaks little German, his French is shaky. We observe a hot flirt under precarious conditions. We don't really learn what happened that night. So much is certain: Hans manages to ask Clowdia to lend him her pencil... That was as far as he got with the boy at school 10 years ago. He manages to return Clowdia's pencil before she leaves for home (Daghestan) next day. Use your imagination!

The world of the sanatorium is a microcosm of ideologies and a ship of fools, wrecked on a mountain slope. How marvelous that this could provide material for nearly 1000 pages. A main theme of the ruminations is time. Another theme is the value and role of disease for life. Is it a form of immorality? The deputy chief doctor, with Eastern European accent, delivers lectures on Love and Disease.
Humanist Settembrini is employed by the project of an Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Suffering. His personal contribution will be about world literature and suffering.
Settembrini finds his ideological nemesis in a scholastic dialectician called Naphta, who also provides the occasion for various anti-semitic comments by other people. Mann was himself never quite free from that affliction, despite his own close family affiliation to German Jews.
Naphta turns out to be a prophet of terror, an apologist of totalitarianism. Youth does not want freedom, it wants instruction! Hans feels at home on the magic mountain, as Anselm Eibenschuetz in Joseph Roth's story felt at home in the army.
The Naphta passages are unsatisfactory. They turn the easygoing banter of the Settembrini dialogues into something rather too earnest considering that Mann was never seriously committing himself (other than to his success as a writer). They are cliché-ridden caricatures of the intellectually superior Jesuit of Jewish origin.

A great novel that I do not manage to like wholeheartedly.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book
Great Book, arrived early,in great condition. This is in the top 100 books you should read before you die. Read it! it will change your soul and you'll find yourself yelling at the characters to act!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I read this book about ten years ago when I was 21. Mann, Dostoevsky and some other writers of the late 19th and early 20th century posses a singular gift for rendering all that is drab and uninspiring interesting and even original. Mann's keenness as an observer strips the lives of his characters free of all pretense. Each of the characters is endowed with a rich personality, and, at least I think so, we come to see them all as our fellows in life's struggles. What is particularly noticeable is the nearly incomparable expressiveness of Mann's writing. This is definitely the work of a writer at the very peak of his powers as a builder of worlds. In this case, the world isan isolated sanatorium where people, whether there to die or simply to prove that their wealth knows no modesty, enjoy a sort of respite from all the humdrum demands of daily life. Here, in this fragile and moribund world, Mann's characters are free to step out of their customary roles and see whether a different life could agree with them more. Read this book if you want to experience a different world rather than read some words on a piece of paper.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magic Mountain Thrills Again
The book came in splendid condition in a short amount of time.I'm completely as engrossed in it as I was when I first read it at 17. ... Read more

4. Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories
by Thomas Mann
Paperback: 402 Pages (1989-03-13)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$5.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679722068
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Mann's bestselling work of fiction now appears in a trade paperback format with a striking new jacket. Sales of the classic have totaled over 800,000 copies and average 42,000 copies a year. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good price for good quality
Back cover a little bent and some page creases, but overall very happy with the product for the price. Seller did warn about the creases, so I knew to expect that. Shipped fast.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mann's skills do not translate
Thomas Mann's stories written in German simply do not translate into English. It is not possible in many cases to even guess what the author is saying when translated, much less an illustration the author's reputation as a superb writer.

Can anyone recommend a better translation that shows this author's skill??

I am interested in reviewing his work. I went to school where his son taught in English during the 1950's and Golo Mann was fluent in expressing his thoughts in English.


5-0 out of 5 stars A Mann for All Seasons: A festschrift of the Nobel Prize Winning author's best short works
Death in Venice is a novella published in 1911, The work has inspired an opera by Benjamin Britten and has been filmed. In it Mann tells the story of famous author Gustav Von Aschenbach. He is jaded, disillusioned with fame finding that writing has become difficult. He decides to visit Venice. In that decaying city he goes to the beach each morning. While there he discovers a young Polish lad who is named Tadzio., The two make eye contact and there is a homoerotic element in the relationship though they do not converse. The novella ends as Aschenback dies of the cholera epidemic sweeping the Italian city of canals.
Underneath this taut and beautifully written story there are many themes which resonate. We see how Venice is a symbol of death and decadence. All of the city is filled with disease, death and foul odors permeate the tale and town. The novella was published in 1911 as the old Europe of peace, relative prosperity and staid middle class morality was about to explode with the roaring of the guns of August igniting the Great War and the end of nineteenth century civilization. Mann often links love and death as he also does in his short story "Tristan." As in
"Tonio Kroger" we see in this tale the way an artist/intellectual is asked to relate to a society hellbent on business success and the accumulation of wealth. Aschenbach is a surrogate for Mann who wascold and reserved as a man but was a cauldron of seething Freudian emotions underneath the surface of his frigid persona.
This collection of short stories is a good introduction to the sober art of Mann whose long sentences and literary references will keep an alert reader's attention. Mann is not everyone's cup of tea but he is an important writer whose works should be wider read in America.

2-0 out of 5 stars Depressing German bourgeois narcissism
If you like short stories about grown men who are sexually attracted to boys, suicide, incest, and self-absorbed German narcissism, you'll love Death in Venice. Me, I don't much cotton to such themes in what I read, so I had trouble wading through this morass of early 20th century European bourgeoisie decadence. But as this book was the choice of our book club, I had to persevere.

Of the eight short stories contained in this book, I found only the three middle ones, Mario and the Magician (1929), Disorder and Early Sorrow (1925), and A Man and His Dog (1918) to be of any worth. The others--Death in Venice (1911), Tonio Kröger (1903), The Blood of the Walsungs (1905), Tristan (1902), and Felix Krull (1911)--range from simply tedious and uninsightful to gross and perverse. Interestingly, it is Mann's earlier stories that fall into that category. I suppose these stories were meant to have shock value in their day. But in an era when the most disgusting material imaginable is only a mouse-click away, they seem painfully trite and pedestrian today.

Mann's later stories are better, possibly because as he matured, Mann became a more skillful observer of the beauty and joy of everyday life. But if tinged with sentimentality, these stories don't really inspire. Of all the stories, Mario and the Magician is the only standout. It was the singular tale which kept me riveted with larger than life characters and underlying themes which got beyond the mundane or the merely sexual.

As a whole, this is exactly the type of work that made me dislike studying modern literature as a student. The prose is dense and despite Mann's impressive descriptive ability, the stories do little to uplift the human spirit. Instead, the reader is left encumbered with a myriad of very negative ideas and dreary observations about life. In short, this book was a depressing, annoying, and occasionally disgusting read.

If you want to read something interesting and uplifting, try Angels in Iron.

5-0 out of 5 stars Works of the Greatest German writerbut troubling human being.
Although his very name is synonymous with notoriously long novels such as"Buddenbrooks" and "Magic Mountain", Thomas Mann was prorific short story writer,too. he worked diligently and very punctually in quite disciplinary manner. Of course, above mentioned two book are true essense of his long literary life.However "Death in venice" and other short story that included in this book can be extremely helpful jumping point to explore this great but complext human being. There have been many authors whose works are basically nothing other than narration of their lives. But , in my humble opinion , no one could possibly surpass Thomas Mann. All his works are closely related to his reflections, experiences and his miseries( many might know what I mean),perhaps that's way he so merticulously kept his diary and put all his minute thought without self censoring .Among his numerous works, none are soconfessional than "Tonio Kroger" and "Death in Venice". It is well known fact that "Tonio Kroger" was Thomas Mann's favorite work , despite there have been many severe critics , including his own son Golo Mann. Golo Mann, who was a prominent historian wrote unforgettable book on "Wallenstein",remarked on this work " the most terrible work among my father's works and also the worst short story in the 20th centry German literature". In addition to Golo Mann's invective to his own father, there have been numerous critics who , in my opinion, severely disparage "Tonio Kroger". There are not many works that bring almost bi-polarized reaction from readers. Please judge yourself. It's worth it.
In addition to "Tonio Kroger", perhaps most famous Mann's short story " Death in Venice" is also highly recommened to read. the works will cause some outrage, disgust or utter boredom. But, it is unequivocally supreme work of art that should be free from scathing attack from both dilettanttes and philistines. other short stories are also fairly interesting works . "Mario and the Magician" , that show Mann's penetrating insight of the nature of Fascism, "Tristan", the work of cruel irony and grotesque humor,and "Felix Krull" , story that represent how Mann irony targetting himself.
Overall, the book delivers memorable experience. ... Read more

5. Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family (Everyman's Library)
by Thomas Mann
Hardcover: 784 Pages (1994-10-04)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$15.28
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Asin: 0679417370
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Introduction by T. J. Reed; Translation by John E. Woods ... Read more

Customer Reviews (40)

1-0 out of 5 stars Death in Lubeck.
On my recent visit to Lubeck, I have decided to see the famous "house of Buddenbrooks",being aware of the revered place this book occupies in the history of world literature, of the Nobel prize the author received for it , and the fame it still carries. The place isa 17th sentury house that at one time belonged tograndparents of Thomas Mann, and where the events and actions of the book supposedly happened.It is happily standing across Marienkirche (a phenomenal building, where Dietrich Buxtehude worked and is buried); indeed the house is in the best possible location, as could be expected from the richest people in town - close to the splendid Rathouse, major thoroughfare and the signature town gates.There is a museum now, completely devoted to the writer and his family, and the rooms are furnished in the period style.The atmosphere in the museum exudes awe and solemnity.

Naturally, it became necessary to read Buddenbrooks after that visit - I tried it before; it was impenetrably boring, but I thought that maybe I did not get the magic that seem to enthrall Mann's admirers and had captivated Nobel Prize committee.In the past, I tried "Joseph and his brothers" with equal success, and only "Death in Venice" was somewhat agreeable, although it was a difficult read nonetheless.

So I opened the sacred volume.The smell of sauerkraut and beef stew filled the nostrils; the conversation of family finance and inheritance nuances safely put to sleep in the bright sunny afternoon.What is this book?It seems to belong to the category of books written by absolutely idle repressed rich men who had nothing else to do in life as to spilling the ink oftheir neurosis and hypochondria,and for some unknown reason others chose to read this empty mix of words and sentences, possibly out of self-punishment.There is no action in this book; the style is devoid of any poetry, it is tremendously heavy, and again, it is just written from life, where the author really seem to have nothing to say on his own.Clearly the image of the 26 years old Thomas Mann, waken up in his opulent bedroom, served by numerous servants a lavish breakfast, shielded by his wife from any possible real-life trouble, retreating now into his luxurious office, listening very carefully to his digestion,finally taking the pen to describe another excruciatingly decent, honorable and respectful family event that happened yesterday, conjures up in mind.How stifling his mind is, how deathly is his total lack of imagination.

Who reads this book today? At best it seems to provide good information about customs of Lubeck upper class at the end of 19th century; it could be treasured by some local ethnographers, it seems.In fact, it makes one question the Nobel Prize committee motivation in awarding the prize in literature.It seems to be completely politicized, as one can easily see from the chronological list:in 1920, before the WWII, we see Knut Pedersen Hamsun; after the fall of Germany and its supporting block,and fall of Stalinism, we see in 1958Boris Leonidovich Pasternak ; then in 1968 there is Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov;we see other famous writers as William Faulkner, François Mauriac, and again and again one asks - who in the world would read most of these sunk into Lethe authors and their opus?

The Nabokov's quote from his afterword to the 1958 American edition of "Lolita" says all that can be said about this type of literature" :

"For me the story or novel exists only because it gives me what I will call simply aesthetic pleasure.Everything else is either journalistic trash, or, so to speak,Literature of Big Ideas, which, however, often does not differ from the usual rubbish, but it is served in a form of huge gypsum cubes, which are moved with great cautionfrom century to century, until some brave man comes with a hammer and smashesBalzac, Gorky, Thomas Mann to pieces."

5-0 out of 5 stars Life in a Northern Town (a young adult novel)
Thomas Mann was in his early 20s when he wrote this novel. It brought him huge success. It was the starting basis for a great literary career and he achieved many more great things, but, as he well knew himself, the Buddenbrooks remained his most popular book `at home'. Not that his home town Luebeck or his distinguished family of merchants, consuls and senators were too happy with the book. It was too flippant, not serious enough, it laid a blanket of mild ridicule over the surface of respect and veneration. Mann was certainly not a revolutionary, but neither did he fit in very well with respectability. He was something like an upper class bohemian. I doubt that he was ever really `young'.

Reading, or rather re-reading this novel is part of my tour through some of the great German writing. Some of the things that I had liked at the previous visit have faded a bit (like Grass' Tin Drum), others have staid on their peak (like Alexanderplatz), and yet others grow, like Radetzkymarsch. Buddenbrooks has also grown on me. It is a young book for aging people like me. It fits in well with the Victorian novels that I started reading lately.

What is it about? Published at the start of the 20th century, it takes us back to earlier decades of the 19th. It starts with a housewarming party at the new residence of Consul Buddenbrook, grain merchant in Luebeck, and on the upswing. The family has taken over a mansion from another family who was on the way down. Mann makes us expect a downward trend right from the start. Actually the book's subtitle announces it: Decline of a family.
The dinner is taking place in 1835. The respectable citizens discuss politics. A hot subject is the new German Tariff Union, dominated by Prussia. Should the independent northern cities join? Opinions are as divided as they are about new policies on pragmatic, industry-oriented education reform, as they are, with a look back, about the lasting effects of Napoleon: hero or villain?

From here we move through four decades with the change of generations: the leadership in the firm changes hands from the old Johann to the young Johann to first son Thomas, each with their different leadership styles and life outlook. The firm's luck waxes and wanes. Kids grow up and develop their individuality. People get married, some with luck, some not. One of the core stories is the history of mesalliances of Antonie, called Tony.

Politics are always in the background, since Mann is more a psychologist than a politician.1848 passes Luebeck by like a thunderstorm, with some excitement but little consequence. (What do you want, people? We want a republic! But you have a republic already! Then we want another republic!) We live through the 3 German wars in the 1860s: first Prussia and Austria together against Denmark, then the `brother war' of Prussia against Austria, then Prussia against France, which leads to the German Empire under the Hohenzollern dynasty.

The pace in this long tale (750 pages in my pocket book) is fast and never boring. Mann had not yet found his later habit of injecting his ponderous philosophizing, which can be quite trying. Mann already was a master psychologist at his young age. He was deeply inside the minds of his people. He was a mocker already. He mocked each and every one, and some were not happy to find their caricatures in the book.

His opinion of the moral fibre of the good wealthy people of the Hanse City is nicely summarized in the attitude of Consul Buddenbrook towards the emotional outbursts of his fraudulent son in law: when the young man threatens to kill himself if he can't have Tony for his wife, her father is moved enough to put pressure on her to marry the guy; when the son in law later threatens to kill himself unless his father in law saves his financial standing by injecting 120,000 Marks into his firm, father refuses. Which means Tony is worth less than 120,000 Marks. Clean calculation.

Another permanent theme is rumors, gossip, reputation. Tony enters into her second disastrous marriage because `people' make her feel pressure to clean up her image after a divorce. That must be whitewashed with come what may.
Tony is a main character in the novel. She is not in all respects a nice person, she is arrogant and conceited, but we can't but love her spirit of mockery, like when she teases her pious mother's many friends among pastors. There is more than one minor variation on the Elmer Gantry type. We also have to pity her, as after all she was pushed into both her debacles against her own instincts.

The Buddenbrooks are great fun by an author whose international fame is not so much resting on his ability to entertain.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Very Dull Read
The book is well written but it is a very dull read. Because I had paid money for my copy, I persevered and completed reading it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A magnificent masterpiece of literature. Amazing, he was but 24 when it was published!
A work of this depth, breadth and insight is usually attained and even then only rarely by authors of greater years.

There is enough in here for a dozen novels and for a dozen re-readings without fear of exhausting the contents in terms of food for thought.

5-0 out of 5 stars Decline and fall of a bourgeois family
French literature of or about the XIX Century deeply explored the rise of the bourgeoisie over the nobility. Think of Balzac and Proust. But it was this book, published at the turn of the XX Century, which first explored in a comparable depth the decline and fall of a bourgeois family, amidst social unrest. This is the epic story of the Buddenbrook family through four generations. This was a family who had greatly prospered in the free city of Lübeck, in Northern Germany. They were a family of merchants and naval entrepreneurs, deeply rooted in the Protestant ethics of Weberian fame. They were very religious and hard workers. The novel begins with a scene of family bliss: old Johann Buddenbrook has purchased a new house, a big, beautiful one, and the family is gathered. They are celebrating economic and social success. There is Jean, the son and partner, his distinguished wife, and their three children, their and their grandparents' joy and pride. Thomas is a serious and noble boy; Christian is a troublemaker; and little Tony is a hardnosed girl, also naughty but always good in the end. The novel continues telling the story of the upbringing of the three kids and the people around them. The old folk die, and the younger begin to go out to the world. Thomas reveals as an excellent businessman, in the tradition of his forebearers, has a good marriage and gets elected as senator of the city, which he celebrates by moving into a spectacular new house. Christian becomes a ne'er-do-well, a drunkard and a useless guy. In fact he becomes pathetic and hypochondriac. and the pretty Tony experiences tragedy and bad marriages. The decline continues.

There is no point in elaborating on the complex, tight plot. It is a multilayered bovel, with some side stories, but always a straight language and an easy to read style, with no experimentalisms. Mann is a very skilled narrator, and his first novel shows him already in full possession of his art. Character development is very good, and his Realism gives no quarter. Mann illustrates some fifty years, starting in 1835, in the life of this interesting city, one of the cradles of modern commerce, finance, and Capitalism in general. Along with the Buddenbrooks, we experience the profound changes the city undergoes. Business, politics, religion, music, family life and social relationships are all explored. A great fresco of life, by the guy who would later pen "The Magic Mountain" and "Doktor Faustus", philosophical and chornological sequels of this excellent novel. ... Read more

6. Doctor Faustus : The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn As Told by a Friend
by Thomas Mann
Paperback: 544 Pages (1999-07-27)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.48
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Asin: 0375701168
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"John E. Woods is revising our impression of Thomas Mann, masterpiece by masterpiece."  --The New Yorker

"Doctor Faustus is Mann's deepest artistic gesture. . . . Finely translated by John E. Woods." --The New Republic

Thomas Mann's last great novel, first published in 1947 and now newly rendered into English by acclaimed translator John E. Woods, is a modern reworking of the Faust legend, in which Germany sells its soul to the Devil. Mann's protagonist, the composer Adrian Leverkühn, is the flower of German culture, a brilliant, isolated, overreaching figure, his radical new music a breakneck game played by art at the very edge of impossibility. In return for twenty-four years of unparalleled musical accomplishment, he bargains away his soul--and the ability to love his fellow man.

Leverkühn's life story is a brilliant allegory of the rise of the Third Reich, of Germany's renunciation of its own humanity and its embrace of ambition and nihilism. It is also Mann's most profound meditation on the German genius--both national and individual--and the terrible responsibilities of the truly great artist. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars Satanic Maestro
Thomas Mann's magnum opus is a challenge in any language. Not only is it told in an old fashioned style of German, but it attempts to deal with political events in Germany leading to Nazi rule by inventing a fable of Satanic seduction, of misdirected genius, of evil in nature. This is one of the most complex books of the 20th century dealing with music, religion, history, nationalism. One could see it as a much too brainy ghost story or an overloaded political parable.

Let's start with being of a split mind and put the contradictory conclusions up front: this is a master piece of dark story telling. This is an aberration as a text of political interpretation. This is a somewhat contrived piece of musicology (on which I am not a qualified witness, but one of my main sources on music has told me that Mann is not to be taken very serious as a musicologist; anyway the man who ought to be mentioned as co-author is Theodor Adorno, who briefed and coached Mann in their Californian exile. Adorno does not receive the honor of seeing his name on the title page, but at least Mann condescended to make a little joke about his main source on pp 72/73, of my edition, by using the word Wiesengrund for the exemplification of a musical statement. That was Adorno's middle name.)

Mann was always a great one for inventing telling names. Here he invents a narrator with the lovely name Serenus Zeitblom: serene flower of time? Don't think for a moment that you can ignore the underlying meanings of Mann's word games.
Serenus is a contemporary and a temporary friend of the story's hero Adrian Leverkuehn (the man with the bold liver?). Adrian is a musical genius, a great composer who grew his genius by making a satanic deal, like the old Faustus of various literary traditions. He is a Faust, a Nietzsche, a Schönberg.
Serenus is a man of ancient tastes, of a stiff character, and of a medieval language. His stiffness means uprightness: he resigns his teaching position when the Nazis take power. He lacks the flexibility to ignore his values. His aged vocabulary and grammar takes us back to a time that the story is not set in: the story is set around the late 19th and first decades of the 20th century. The book was written in exile during WW2 and published in 1948.

In a way, SZ's archaic language seems unconvincing: it seems to stand for the fact that Germany was marching backwards to the dark ages. But that makes no sense, as SZ is the good guy. Does it imply that the past was better?
In an early chapter, SZ meditates about the meaning of the German word Volk, which is insufficiently translated by `people' or `nation' or `tribe'. It stands for a pre-civilized stage in history. SZ thinks that religion can not successfully contain Volk's darker forces. True, as we saw in real life. However then he falls into the trap of claiming that only humanism can do it. One would wish this to be so, but where were the forces of humanism when it mattered?
SZ whines about his problem with the war: should he wish for Germany to win or to lose it? He claims that this predicament is especially hard for Germans, though not unique in history. Why would it be especially hard for Germans? This always irritated me. Now, on re-reading, I had a Eureka moment: this is IRONY! And anyway, it is not TM who says it, but SZ.

SZ's biography of Boldliver stays well away from the trap of knowing all. He reports only what he knows first hand, or for what he has sources or plausible reasons for assumptions.
This is a Bildungsroman: we follow the intellectual development of the genius from school to university and to life as a composer. During school time, the main intellectual source and challenge is the young man's private music teacher (by the way, an American) who introduces him not only to music but also to literature and philosophy, with Beethoven and Shakespeare as double North Stars. At university in Halle, where AL begins as a theologian, we get an introduction into the spirit of the time both in class and in student talk. This would be near the turn of the century, and students are full of the special status of being German as opposed to Russian or Western. This is probably a realistic if repelling picture; it describes an important part of the soil that grew the evil of later years.

The devil begins to sneak into the story in Halle: a theology professor of Lutheran lifestyle habits throws a bread roll at him; another professor is a Mephisto impersonation, called Schleppfuss = Dragfoot, who teaches psychology of religion. He reminds of the Naphta character in Magic Mountain. When AL moves to Leipzig, he is played a hoax on by the next satanic incarnation: a porter cum tourist guide guides the prudish virgin into a brothel. Al finally takes the apple and attracts syphilis. In devilish ways his cures with two different doctors are sabotaged, the symptoms disappear, and the road to madness is open.
As the devil says to him: the fact that you can only see me because you are mad, does not prove that I do not exist.
This gets too long, otherwise I might start exploring the Don Quijote angle of AL's friendship with a Sancho Pansa character called Schildknapp (the word means the knight's helper). There is also a chapter where Mann puts in his mother and sisters as AL's hosts in Munich, an almost revoltingly disloyal chapter.

There is much more. Despite all the flaws and contradictions: this is superior prose and one of the great novels of the century. After re-reading Mann's three great novels (Buddenbrooks, Magic Mountain, Doktor Faustus) in the course of this year, I admit that my previous habit of talking him down was in error.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Almost Peerless Book
I haven't read all the other reviews, but I'm amazed at how well-informed and insightful the Dr. Faustus reviews are--much more than those for most of the other books reviewed via Amazon.I have a couple of points to make that I haven't seen, or just have missed.

First, this novel is a very odd instance of a Bildungsroman.As far as I remember [not having read the novel for quite a while], the focal character Adrian hardly changes a darn bit after his teen years, when he already shunned human relationships, laughed delightedly at misbegotten marriages of nature and reason, and was drawn by the alignment of compulsion and creativity in music.Yeah, new stuff happened after that, but it really just extended the clogged stagnation that led Adrian to contemplate a deal with the devil in the first place.On the plane of the soul, I don't see that he froze past his level as a 20-year-old.Admittedly, as he aged he did become more inclined to use and hurt people for his own ends.

Second, unlike some other reviewers, I can't find a trace of optimism in this book.In his early work, Mann explored the clash of art and everyday life.Art was the peak cultural value, opaque to the hearty bourgeois merchant, but essentially unhealthy and corrosive.Mann defended the German side in WWI as the side of humanistic culture as opposed to superficial rationalism.But intellectual work has broad undeniable value.In Dr. Faustus this contrast has shifted:Adrian's counterpoint Serenus Zeitblom represents humanistic values and classical knowledge as well as bourgeois everydayness.That side of the scale, holding traditional Kunstler plus Burger, is presented as a floundering self-critical joke.Serenus rarely achieves serenity, and this educated humanist can't produce a well-structured narrative or even, in some cases, a grammatical sentence.Nothing's left for the intellectual but condescension and self-destruction, parallel to Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment.

Now despair as subtly and evocatively developed as in this novel is still amazing and uplifting.For me, Dr. Faustus is matched only by the Brothers Karamazov.Dostoyevsky seems more accessible, perhaps because I'm less aware of my ignorance about Russian intellectual history than about German, so I can't even register the subtleties.Both repay rereading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Asking the Right Questions
1929 Literature Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann updated the essentially German Doctor Faustus legend in his 1948 novel of the same name.A well meaning composer sells his soul to the devil in order to produce music beyond any that has been composed before.The twentieth century is surely loaded with talented individuals tempted by the prospect of immortality through innovative works.The result is always disastrous.This book is not simple apologetics - for the Nazis, the Lutherans, the humanists, the university community or the folk.Instead, it is a detailed attempt at finding a way out of humanity's enlightened modern bind as noted on page 122: "the problem of the meaning and fulfillment of existence and a worthy conduct of life is left open, just as open as it is today."

Mann destroys all of the usual suspects and solutions:church, belief, reformation, university, theology, philosophy, individual genius/excellence, humanities, letters, music, science, technology, nation, class, revenge, friendship, abstraction, math, withdrawal, bourgeois culture, sensual pleasures, hedonism, nature, classicism, etc.There is NO simple solution for the masses or even for the enlightened elite!

The destruction of the German national/cultural solution is complete, with the devil entreating the composer on page 223 with "Speak only German!Only good old German without feignedness or dissimulation.I understand it.It happens to be precisely my favoured language."

Mann pecks away at the subjective/objective dimension without finding a solution.He generally ignores some potential modern solutions such as democratic politics, economic growth, trade, entrepreneurship, libertarianism, communities, volunteerism or mysticism.

The author invests many pages describing the potential musical solutions.As in Douglas Hofstadter's much later book on Escher, Gödel and Bach, Mann vaguely understands that extra dimensions and the link between infinity and finiteness provide an opening for a solution.The author suggests the solution of expressivism on page 485: "the highest and profoundest claim of feeling to a stage of intellectuality and formal strictness, which must be arrived at in order that we may ...".Indirectly, Mann posits the solutions of simple rural life, maternal embraces, a child's promise, music as a door opener, good and evil as a paired set, personal relations, paradoxical views, laughter and lamentations.

As noted by other reviewers, this is an extremely difficult and dense book.However, Mann, the mild-mannered philologist, raises the single most important question of his day and ours: "how do we live a life of goodness and meaning?"Mann provides the question, eliminates some false answers and highlights some potential answers.We have a sacred responsibility to find a meaningful answer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus" is a descent into hellamid the dance of thundering flames
Thomas Mann (1875-1955) was the 1955 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Mann came from the cultured German bourgeoise being raised in the North Sea port of Lubeck. Doctor Faustus is the final novel written by Mann and is the latest chapter in the Faustian legend. Dr. Faustus (the Devil) bargains with gifted but hubritic artists to give Hell their souls in return for a few years of life lived to the full. Previous incarnations of the Faust story have been seen in Christopher Marlowe's Elizabethan play; Goethe's Faust Part One and Part II and in Hector Berlioz's opera "The Damnation of Faust" as well as Charles Gonoud's opera "Faust." (the favorite opera of Great Britain's Queen Victoria).
Mann's Doctor Faustus is a long 534 page, densely printed, novel in the Vintage edition translated into readable Englishby John E. Woods. The book's theme is the destruction of the composer Adrian Leverkuhn as he barters his soul to the Devil in order to be given 24 more years of life. During that time AL becomes world famous as the father of the twelve tone method of musical composition (Mann states that AL is based on the Viennese twelve tone composer Arnold Schoenberg). The life span of the fictional AL is from 1885-1940 taking him from his college career as a theological student at Halle to Leipzig for philosophical and musical mentoring in Munich. Adrian is aloof, cold and obsessed with his art. His state of mind is parallel with that of Germany which fell into total defeat in 1945.
No big wig Nazis or Hitler are mentioned in the book but their sinister shadow oversees the slide
made by Al and Germany into the abyss of collapse.
The story is told by a fictional academic Dr. Serenus Zeitblom who is a teacher and lifelong friend of Adrian.
His narration contains chapters dealing with a wide range of topics from philosophy, theology, the demonic in art,
Zeitblom is, to this reviewer, a portrait of the cultivated German intellectual adrift in the stormy sea of Nazi tempest. Adrian, says Zeitblom, never married but was infatuated with the angelic beauty of his nephew who dies of disease much as all in German cultural lufe was infected by the black death of the black shirted SS thugs.
This is a difficult novel written in an erudite style. Mann is familiar with modern music, art, literature and ancient languages. His book is not for the easily bored or those looking for astory fueled by a good plot. I have read the book three times and have learned new things about life, love, evil and artistic ambition each time I have poured over this tragic tale of a tormented genius. The book is Mann's masterpiece.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous binding
Others can tell you what a good book this is. I have to tell you that it is printed on wonderful-feeling smooth paper with a dull-varnished cover and feels soft and weighty and absolutely delightful to hold. ... Read more

7. The Magic Mountain (Everyman's Library)
by Thomas Mann
Hardcover: 904 Pages (2005-06-21)
list price: US$27.50 -- used & new: US$16.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400044219
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

With this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Thomas Mann rose to the front ranks of the great modern novelists, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. The Magic Mountain takes place in an exclusive tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps–a community devoted to sickness that serves as a fictional microcosm for Europe in the days before the First World War. To this hermetic and otherworldly realm comes Hans Castorp, an “ordinary young man” who arrives for a short visit and ends up staying for seven years, during which he succumbs both to the lure of eros and to the intoxication of ideas.

Acclaimed translator John E. Woods has given us the definitive English version of Mann’s masterpiece. A monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, The Magic Mountain is an enduring classic. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Arrogant arrogance!l
Others here have given a good idea of what this novel is "about." And they have called attention to the fact that this translation is a great improvement over what previously existed.
I would like, however, to suggest a differing view of the novel than is generally found here.I suppose that over the last fifty years I've read this novel a half dozen or so times, both in the original German (when I was studying in Germany) and in translation.I find the whole idea of the drifting life of the classic Sanatoria to be intriguing, and hence go back the novel.
But I also find the whole work to be offensive, irritating, and over rated.What
most disturbs me (aside from the character of Setembrini who is a genuine ass), is the overweening superiority of the narrator (who is, I think it's fair to say, reliable, i.e., he speaks for Mann).What others find to be Han's learning processes (actually Hans learns nothing) I find to be Mann demonstrating -- showing off really -- the fact that he knows everything...art, literature, humanism, classicism, scholasticism, usw, usw. Everything.And he, the narrator/Mann, is SO superior to every character in the novel.Everyone is foolish or a fool but Mann.That is, perhaps characteristic of a certain kind of social satire, but when, say, Waugh does it, one feels the author/narrator enjoys his characters.When Mann does it, it communicates an arrogant distaste for everyone.
In the end it is an intriguing, sometimes enjoyable (how I would have liked to have spent my life on a balcony lying in a comfortable chair) but thoroughly unpleasant novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars One the 20th Century's Greatest Novels
Until recently, the English-reading world only knew Thomas Mann's magnificent rendering of European civilization on the eve of World War I, "The Magic Mountain," through H. T. Lowe-Porter's somewhat disjointed, idiosyncratic translation.Now, however, we have this new translation by John E. Woods that for the first time captures dialogue nuances, plot subtleties, and philosophical joyrides that German readers have relished all along.After reading this impressive Woods translation, it's easier to understand why Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929.Hans and Clavdia would be pleased to know their relationship has lost the artificial language restraints and constraints placed on it by Lowe-Porter and now blossoms passionately in the open under Woods's careful, exact rendering of German into English.If you only know the Berghof tubercular sanatorium and the lives of its denizens high in the Swiss Alps through the earlier translation, do yourself the great favor of reading this new one and discover "The Magic Mountain" all over again!

5-0 out of 5 stars Illness is life and death
"The Magic Mountain" is a lengthy extension of a comical short story of a passive, unremarkable upper middle class gentleman. World War I caused Mann to use the character as an observer of the decay of traditional German values and the political and social chaos that culminated in a "break" that changed Germany forever. Like Goethe's Faust, Hans Castorp takes a tour of life remaining passive as he explores the nature of time, the influence of art, the responsibility of social intervention, the obsession of passion, the intrusion of other cultures, and the direct confrontation of death.

This novel has a profound effect on readers as they are linked to and limited by Castorp's perceptions. We are passively exposed to ideas and events as Hans travels to the sanitorium for a brief stay. Weeks become months as Hans receives a vague diagnosis, and we share his fate. Time slows to a virtual standstill during some days and accelerates to another season a few pages later. Years go by as we are exposed to the cultural views of the era. Ultimately, Hans must accept responsibility for his own life and death as we do page by page. This is a remarkably life-changing novel, particularly for readers intimidated by life and death.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truly Marvelous
Thomas Mann's opus follows Hans Castorp's visit to a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, a stay which would last seven years. This immensely rich and complex novel is, at its core, about temporality. We are given numerous conversations between the primary actors about the plasticity of time, about the ways in which our sense of time shape our existence. What is particularly brilliant about Mann's prose in 'The Magic Mountain,' is his ability to provoke sensations in the reader that mirror the protagonist. For instance, during the scene early in the novel where Castorp decides to stay at the sanatorium, I found that I too had been seduced by the private world which Castorp had become embedded. It is during this scene that it is revealed that the patients are in fact intoxicated (both literally and metaphorically) by their environment; the accretion of bacteria on the spinal cord creates the effect of a subtle intoxication and euphoria. Remarkably, Mann does not fail to create this effect through the creation of his conversations, which achieve an extraordinary level of verisimilitude. This is a novel about ideas, not actions. We are thrown into an ongoing dialectic between the enlightenment and romanticism, between the hard sciences and psychoanalysis, between philosophy and religion, and so on. The characters, particularly Castorp, Settembrini, and Dr. Krokowski, pulse with realistic energy. 'The Magic Mountain' is a masterpiece of form and scale, it is truly one of the great literary works of its time. John Woods has provided a supremely readable translation, both in the beauty of its cadences and in the rich subtlety of the dialog.

4-0 out of 5 stars For serious readers...
It is almost pointless to assess a star rating to a book like this - a novel that breaks most of the conventions of the genre.I am a fan of Thomas Mann - I love Death in Venice and his short stories.This book however, taxed my abilities as a reader to the limit.It took me about two months to finish it.I don't pretend to have absorbed everything in it.It is an 854-page philosophical novel without any real plot.

It tells the story of Hans Castorp - an average Joe from Germany - who goes to visit his cousin in a health spa for three weeks and ends up staying for seven years.The trip isn't so much a vacation for him but a period of intellectual development - sort of like going to college.The bulk of the book is taken up with philosophical discussions with the humanist Settembrini and the radical Naptha.In all this, it is very difficult to tell where Mann's sympathies lie.

One of the joys of reading Mann is that his sentences evoke a Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century.This however, wears thin over 800 pages.As A.S. Byatt points out in her wonderful introduction, one tries to hurry along but the novel demands to be read at its own speed.At the end of the novel, there is the fear that you missed something and didn't get everything out of it.Mann's advice was to simply read it twice.John Irving loves the book and claims to have read it more times than he can count.I may read it again - but not for a long time.
... Read more

8. Thomas Mann: Metal Artist
by Andrei Codrescu, Lloyd E. Herman, Thomas Mann, Michael W. Monroe
Hardcover: 127 Pages (2001-10)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$27.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001QCXD0U
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Thomas Mann creates wordless pieces of metal art that speak volumes with beauty, character and humor. This breathtaking showcase of his work illustrates the story of how Thomas Mann came to reach such levels of creative genius. From counter-culture jewelry maker to modern "artrepreneur," Mann is profiled through both contributor essays and photos of his own extraordinary artwork. Written pieces include a fascinating assessment of Mann's work in the context of the contemporary craft movement from Lloyd Herman, founding director of the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery. A second essay, by National Public Radio commentator and novelist Andrei Codrescu, captures the essence of Mann's humor, vision and creativity. Through the eyes of these two exceptional authors, the reader learns how Mann maintains the individuality and creativity of his artworks, while overseeing a staff that produces more than 20,000 pieces each year. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing art, amazing artist
Mann's jewelry has a unique character. Depending on which pieces you look at, it has the depth and mystery of Joseph Cornell's shadow boxes, the layered complexity of Nick Bantock's artwork, and the mechanical cleverneess of Alexander Calder's mobiles - but with more sense of play and pure fun than I've seen in any of those other artists. And, in order to share that sense of fun with the largest number of people, Mann has done the nearly unthinkable in the world of jewelry: he keeps his work affordable by using steel, brass, and plastic in place of gold, platinum, and precious stones. To me, that seems like a revolutionary statement of the obvious: good design is what makes jewelry more enjoyable than a pricey lump of metal. Mann decided to eliminate the pricey metal, and to sell design and enjoyment.

These pieces have remarkable character. Most of his work, especially bracelet size and up, consists of a wide range of different shapes, structures, and textures, strung together with cheerful and pleasing dissonance. Faces, hands, loose beds in plastic channels, found pictures and objects -- all appear together in never-ending combinations. Many of the "found" objects aren't, really, since some of his clients (like QVC) want designs that can be fabricated repeatably and in quantity. Still, Mann manages to retain sense of uniqueness and age that make his pieces so distinctive. And, although Mann uses standard jewelry fabrication technique where appropriage, he uses miniature nuts, bolts, and rivets not just as fasteners, but as design elements as well.

Mann is a remarkable character in himself, too, as the biographical notes show. Both as personal growth and as response to the pressures changing markets, he seems to reinvent himself every decade or so - and often more frequently than that. If you just look at the happy variety within his artwork, you'll still keep coming back to this volume. Mann the man is at least as interesting, however.

-- wiredweird

5-0 out of 5 stars Thomas Mann metal artist
great book with wonderful jewelry examples plus an insight into the artists life and how his art work journey began

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply delicious - buy it before it is too late.
I confess, I am a Thomas Mann fan! This is a wonderful book that anyone who loves Mixed Media, found objects and unique jewellery will love. A wonderful variety of "essays" written by others about Mann at different times in his career, starting in the 1970's including pieces written by Mann on his creative process. It is a wonderful read and you can see clearly how his unique style has developed.

The glorious images that adorn the pages of his work are beautifully taken and reproduced in page after page of work that you can not help but gasp at, sigh at and hopefully appreciate this remarkable artist's talent. The book may be "old" in terms of publishing (2001) but you just have to track this book down and keep it before it is out of print. This book is one of my most loved.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Book!!!
This is a wonderful book. I was not familiar with Thomas Mann at all until I purchased this book. To say the man is a creative genius is almost an understatement.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pleasing to the Eye
A book well done for the fan of Thomas Mann.It gives LOTS of detailed photos of all his work through the years, as well as an account of his life.I'm glad he gives acknowledgement for all the people who contributed to his success.Well done! ... Read more

9. Death in Venice
by Thomas Mann
Hardcover: 160 Pages (2004-06-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$28.78
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Asin: B00076F0CU
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The world-famous masterpiece by Nobel laureate Thomas Mann -- here in a new translation by Michael Henry Heim

Published on the eve of World War I, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity, Death in Venice tells the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doom.

In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio. "It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom," Mann wrote. "But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist's dignity." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars A little repetative at times but no the less a Classic Read
A death in Venice is a classic story which I recommend to those seeking this literary category. The book gets repetative at times with Gustav's obsession over the boy, but that's what forces the reader to stay glued to the plot.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Plague on Both City and Artist
A famous German writer, Gustav von Aschenbach, a lonely intellectual, goes to the Lido in Venice to escape from his depressing, repetitive existence. In the luxurious Hotel des Bains where Mann wrote and set his story, Aschenbach sees a Polish family that has a fourteen year old boy who is a beauty, a work of art.
Having seen the hotel in my visit to Venice in November of 2007, I was anxious to reread the novella. I must say that I was disappointed. At times the story is like a philosophical treatise, essayistic, more abstract with less narrative drive than a fictional work usually possesses. The story gets bogged down at crucial junctures although the narrative velocity does accelerate and heighten toward the end.
The story is subtle, ambiguous, indeed murky at times. Bear in mind as you read that the book was written in 1913; it is not about a simple sexual attraction or licentiousness. The story is multi-leveled, a philosophical quest and pursuit of the ideal of beauty. The book is not an easy read with its mythological references, digressions, and overwrought prose style.
The city is infested; Aschenbach's brain is infected with thoughts of the boy Tadzio. The manner in which Mann describes the growing pestilence and the decay in the city and the conspiracy of silence by the merchants afraid to scare away the tourists is richly evocative, very well crafted. It is an overheated atmosphere and foul air is being brought by the sirocco, the wind coming in from Africa. The writer makes every preparation to leave after being told to do so, but it is the vision of the boy that draws him back. He is completely under a spell.
Aschenbach wants to get his own youth back; he has his hair dyed and curled, and wears lipstick and jewelry. The boy is aware of him, but does not flirt with him nor try to entice him. The vitality of the youth is in stark contrast to the writer's psychological impotence and physical decline.
Some readers may see in it a tragedy, but it is more akin to pathos. We never see Tadzio's inner persona; he is the person seen and admired from the writer's perspective for his godlike beauty, and that is an advantage. Aschenbach arrived in the Lido in a black coffin-like gondola, so we have a feeling that this trip to the Lido is going to be a transcendent journey for the artist.

5-0 out of 5 stars transcendant translation
A writer who undertakes to translate a complicated and nuanced work by an acknowledged literary master puts himself into an unenviable position, especially should the work have already been previously translated by another and be considered definitive.And yet Heim's update on the classic Lowe-Porter translation has made Mann's Aschenbach more fully human, more tragic and less comic, still every bit as pompous and self-justifying, more insidiously real.It's a triumph of the translator's art.

To me, anyhow, Mann's book has always been at least as much about the language, the inner self-talk of Aschenbach, as it has been about the story line or plot.It is fascinating to see how the author enters the mind of a man who has spent his life in rigid self-denial, self-deception really, and slowly - and not without considerable struggle from his ego against it - expands his consciousness.By book's end Aschenbach has not only found himself, he can no longer deny himself, he accepts himself as he is and then of course he dies.The journey he undertakes - not just from serious and constricted Germany to a holiday resort on the Lido in Venice, but from stuffy and self-important man living a lie, a life of 'despites', to allowing himself to be fully conscious of one true emotion and impulse and allowing it, even willing it to take him entirely over, to free him from himself, is the thing.

Well, it's a spellbinding book, and one which rewards close rereading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A 21st Century Facelift For a Classic (Ink Fresh But Dried)
I don't have much more to add to Grady Harp's effusive praise, except to say that I pretty much agree with his main points.I first read the classic H.T. Lowe Porter translation in college and liked it then . . . anything for a thorough expose of what it means--or necessarily used to mean--to be gay and aging.Even Lowe Porter's fusty Edwardian strains, imparting dignity and Olympian tragedy to the drama, seemed apt at the time for a life--in the middle of another pestilence--that seemed to offer no happy ending.

But since then we've had Will and Grace and countless gay characters, mostly minor, in films and on TV--and one of the great things is that it's okay to laugh about it all.Even at what we in the community used to call tragic and sometimes in our bitchier moments still do.This translation invites us to smile, and even occasionally howl.By giving Aschenbach an obsession with the Greek gods (toward the end he uses the words god and godlike about a dozen times in two pages), Mann not only shows us what was required at the time as a good alibi or cover for homosexual tendencies (not even "identities")--"classical culture" and "noble classicism" and so on: everything that involved nude boys and swimming hole frolics and attention served to youth and beauty in young beauties--but also gave us in the future (inadvertantly, I don't know, since I don't read German) the keys to understanding a period in which so-called bourgeois culture needed its literature and high art to justify the ancients' curious sexual habits.An almost neurasthenic obsession with youth and health and beauty being an ironic side feature of cultured life.

The result for Mann, in one instance, is a wonderfully dry scene in which the old writer goes to the barber and frowns at his "pinched face" in the mirror, thereby unleashing a torrent of rationales from the barber for working his own art on the aging artist: dye job, little curl here and there, rouge.It's an astoundingly paced and worded moment, and what it leads up to is more dramatic and complex than I remembered in the most famous version.It's not so much about loneliness and a necessarily tragic life, it turns out in this makeover, as about the way we hide ourselves, cloak ourselves, in the identities the world wants to see.That's the tragedy Mann's getting at.Now the yellowing lenses of post-Victorianism have been lifted to reveal this more clearly.

So, three cheers for Michael Henry Heim--and five stars!

5-0 out of 5 stars A New Translation: DEATH IN VENICE more radiant than ever!
For those legions of readers who consider Thomas Mann's DEATH IN VENICE one of the pinnacles of 20th Century literature, welcome to the feast!Michael Henry Heim has restudied and again translated this brief but poignant novella with an English version more in tune with Mann's novella and certainly, finally free from all the societal homophobic restrictions that have shrouded previous translations.This is thetale of a writer - Gustav von Aschenbach - in his fifties who feels the need for exotic travels to break his writer's block,and after many aborted attempts to find the right place, comes to Venice and not only falls under its spell but also finds his sublimated desires for pure beauty as focused on young men awakened in his encounter with the young Polish boy Tadzio.This story has been translated into other languages, transformed into film by Luchino Visconti and made into the last opera of Sir Benjamin Britten.But though the simple story has captivated our minds for many years, it has never been presented in so eloquent a fashion as in this Heim translation.To wit: "On a personal level, too, art is life intensified: it delights more deeply, consumes more rapidly; it engraves the traces of imaginary and intellectual adventure on the countenance of its servant and in the long run, for all the monastic calm of his external existence, leads to self-indulgence, over refinement, lethargy, and a restless curiosity that a lifetime of wild passions and pleasures could scarcely engender."When he first encounters Tadzio "...he was infused with a paternal affection, the attraction that one who begets beauty by means of self-sacrifice [a writer] feels for one who is inherently beautiful." And "Was it not common knowledge that the sun diverts our attention from the intellectual to the sensual?It benumbs and bewitches both reason and memory such that the soul in itselation quite forgets its true nature and clings with rapt delight to the fairest of sun-drenched objects, nay, only with the aid of the corporeal can it ascend to more lofty considerations."

Once von Aschenbach accepts the fact that he is in love with the idea of Tadzio he sets about to quash rumors of the threat that cholera is invading Venice to keep his Polish lad from leaving the city (and von Aschenbach) with his family."Thus the addled traveler could no longer think or care about anything but pursuing unrelentingly the object that had so inflamed him, dreaming of him in his absence, and, as is the lover's wont, speaking tender words to his mere shadow.Loneliness, the foreign environment, and the joy of a belated and profound exhilaration prompted him, persuaded him to indulge without shame or remorse in the most distasteful behavior, as when returning from Venice [to the Lido] late one evening he had paused at the beautiful boy's door on the second floor of the hotel and pressed his forehead against the hinge in drunken rapture, unable to tear himself away even at the risk of being discovered and caught."

Has Heim 'changed' Mann's story in to a more titillating one? No, indeed not! But he has rescued it from the mere Apollonian/Dionysian rhetoric with whichother translations have cloaked the sensual aspects of the story.Here von Aschenbach becomes a fully three-dimensional character, one whose life up to the entry into Venice is understood and appreciated as a writer of brilliance, and one whose epiphany of the Eros submerged in this intellectual psyche blossoms in the most credible, tender way that far from being transformed into a 'pedophile', he is instead in that wondrous plane where awakened emotions of love and longing dwell.

Michael Cunningham has written a beautiful introduction to this new translation and, as we have come to expect from this contemporary gifted man of letters, his words are warm and befitting his admiration for this work by Thomas Mann.This is a book to be read and read again, and should you have other versions of DEATH IN VENICE in your library, that is all the more reason to pleasure your mind with the genius of this translation.Highly recommended! ... Read more

10. The Black Swan
by Thomas Mann
Paperback: 155 Pages (1990-10-16)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$7.55
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Asin: 0520070097
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Thomas Mann's bold and disturbing novella, written in 1952, is the feminine counterpart of his masterpiece Death in Venice. Written from the point of view of a woman in what we might now call mid-life crisis, The Black Swan evinces Mann's mastery of psychological analysis and his compelling interest in the intersection of the physical and the spiritual in human behavior. It is startlingly relevant to current discussions of the politics of the body, male inscriptions of the feminine, and discourse about and of women. The new introduction places this dramatic novella in the context of contemporary feminist and literary concerns, bringing it to the attention of a new generation of readers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars Far too musty
THE BLACK SWAN was the last work of fiction that Thomas Mann completed. I had never even heard of it until it came up in a conversation a few days ago; the next day I chanced upon it in a used book store, so, hoping serendipity was at work, I bought and read it.No such luck.THE BLACK SWAN is little more than a well-written trifle.

Plot summary:In Dusseldorf, Germany, in the 1920s, Rosalie von Tummler is a post-menopausal widow, about 50.She has two children, a daughter Anna, about 30 and doomed by her clubfoot to be a spinster, and a much younger son Eduard.Rosalie falls in love with her son's English tutor, Ken Keaton, a strikingly virile and vigorous American of 24.Rosalie confesses her love to her daughter Anna, who tries, unsuccessfully, to remonstrate with her. Then Rosalie has a bloody discharge which she interprets as a return of menstrual flow and "Nature's" blessing of her lust for Ken.The three von Tummlers and Ken go on a Sunday expedition to a rococo castle along the Rhine, where they encounter a pair of black swans, one of which hisses at Rosalie, following which . . .At this point, I break off the summary so as not to give away the ending.

If one were inclined, one could write about such themes as age versus youth, bodily decay and the loss of sexual allure, the body vis-a-vis the spirit, self-delusion, etc., and no doubt numerous proposals have been made for the symbolism of the black swan.But all that, to me, is eclipsed by the fact that the novella is not very good.There are two extended conversations between Rosalie and Anna that are so stilted, so old-fashioned, so unrealistic as to defy belief for something written in 1953 (even if supposedly set in the 1920's).Rosalie natters on and on about "Nature", reflecting a romanticism that I find incongruous -- indeed, anachronistic -- for fiction written after World War II.In short, THE BLACK SWAN is far too musty.

5-0 out of 5 stars Search for Love
It is Mann's final novella.It is a twist on the matter of deceitfulness.The greatest deceit is self-deceit.The story was inspired by an anecdote given to Mann by his wife Katia according to the forward by Carlos Baker.

The setting of the story is the 1920's.Rosalie is a widow and a Rhinelander.Her daughter Anna, nearly age 30, is her dearest companion.Her son Eduard, considerably younger than Anna, wants his mother to hire Ken Keaton, a young American, as his English teacher.His mother accedes to his wish.Rosalie is vivacious in Mr. Keaton's presence.She is beginning to lose her heart to him.Rosalie possesses self-knowledge, she is ashamed.Rosalie comes to rejoice in her torment.Her son and daughter see the situation and her son says to her he has learned a sufficient amount of English and the services of Mr. Keaton are no longer required.

During the social season Ken Keaton is seen in other people's houses.Rosalie confesses to Anna that she loves Ken Keaton.Anna points out he has little to inspire such passion and suffering.She characterizes her mother's enchantment as absurd.Rosalie is led to use restraint so that under no circumstances would young Eduard feel compelled to defend her honor.

She misreads her own physiological state.She has come to believe that her love has wrought a change in her middle-aged condition.Her death is swift.During the last hospitalization she remembers the black swan.

The formality of the language employed is notable.The descriptions of Rosalie's malady may be held to be excessively clinical.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Beautifully Done Mann Masterpiece & Accessible TOO!
Perhap's the Master's shortest and most unusual novella, here we see yet another side to this early 20th Century Genius. A study of a middle aged woman slightly deluded about her aging charms with a daughter who seems to sympathize, but really knows better. As usual, some great descriptions of nature, medieval castles, and philosophical discussions between the two. Mann's seeming obsession with the hidden decay of the body, and perhaps German culture and society, are crystal clear. The writing, even inEnglish, is among his most mesmorizing. Really is there any doubt he is the GREATEST 20th Century Writer?!

5-0 out of 5 stars Is there a doctor in the house?
Although Thomas Mann is probably best known for writing about the conflict between the artist and the non-artist and death versus life in all of us, he is also fascinated by the concept of diesease and the way it treats the human psyche. When, at the end of this (very short) novel, the doctor cuts the protagonist open and sees she is dying of cancer, the "tea leaves" he looks at frightenly trace her roller coaster emotional life for the past six months. HOWEVER, the doctor also has some theories, about menopause, estrogen and cancer, which--largely because of the addition of two Latin words, I was UNABLE TO FOLLOW. In short, I only understand PART of the end of this book! At the end of his life, Mann has defeated me in both English and German.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not Mann's best but still excellent
The storyline of The Black Swan is simple: the widow Frau Rosalie vonTummler does not take well to menopause, seeing it as the loss of herwomanhood.She hires a young American to tutor her son in English, fallsin love (or at least lust) with the tutor, ...

The root of the story,however, is conflict with nature - Rosalie is enlivened with a love ofnature, a nature that betrays her in her daughter with a club foot, inmenopause, in uterine cancer ...

An excellent study of a subject that wassomewhat taboo when this book was initially published. ... Read more

11. Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers: Writing, Performance, and the Politics of Loyalty (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)
by William E. McDonald
Hardcover: 290 Pages (1999-07-02)
list price: US$60.00 -- used & new: US$34.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 157113154X
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McDonald's study offers fresh insights into Mann's Joseph tetralogy in two ways. Beginning with Mann's well documented love for public performance, he rereads the Joseph novels as a script, showing how performance figures prominently in the form as well as the substance of the narrative. Then he interprets several of the essay-lectures composed during the Joseph years (1926-1943), emphasizing their performative qualities and their conscious (and subliminal) interweavings with the novel. Mann's passionate re-enactment of Kleist's play "Amphitryon" in his 1927 lecture provided a model of identity that he developed fully in Joseph. The model also helped him contain the more pessimistic account of identity he encountered in Freud. The Freud lectures of 1929 and 1936 develop psychoanalysis as an Enlightenment project useful in combating the irrationalism of the Nazis, and carefully control its darker aspects. ... Read more

12. Doctor Faustus (Everyman's Library)
by Thomas Mann, H. T. Lowe-Porter
Hardcover: 580 Pages (1992-06-02)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$10.96
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Asin: 0679409963
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Introduction by T. J. Reed; Translation by H. T. Lowe-Porter ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Modern Library edition
This is a small format edition of this classic work, 4 3/4" x 7 1/8", 510 pages. Brief biography of Mann on the dust jacket, translator's note.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Monumental Work But Also A Heavy Read
Thomas Mann combines classical music, philosophy, social commentary, and fiction all in one impressive monumental work. This is a complex and time consuming read from the great writers and a Nobel laureate: Paul Thomas Mann (1875-1955), German novelist, short story writer, and social commentator. If you expect to finish this book and understand it, be prepared for a test of will power: you versus the author. It took me over two weeks to read it, maybe three. Was it worth it? I am still not certain, but it was an interesting novel. The book is very complicated, so complicated in fact, that Mann has second book out in which he describes the ideas he had in writing Dr. Faustus.

To quote another source, the following is a short description of the overall theme:

"The novel is a re-shaping of the Faust legend in the context of the first half of the twentieth century and the intellectual, moral and spiritual destiny of Germany and Europe in that period."

This is one of Mann's deeper works. For example, it is far more complicated than Magic Mountain. Here he uses ideas of of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer, then makes a fictional story based on the life of a composer, Adrian Leverkühn. He uses this vehicle to describe the downfall of German culture in the twentieth century - to the time of the writing of the book in the 1940s. He intertwines politics, religion, morality, and music.

The story is about a fictional German composer named Adrian Leverkühnas told by Serenus Zeitblom. Leverkühn has a complicated career as a composer including an unfortunate early infection with a venereal disease, and then a brilliant career followed by eventual destruction. How does he do it and what does it all mean? You will have to read it to understand the story and what Mann is trying to tell us.

The book is set in southern Germany, south of Munich, but has a different feel and a very different set of characters than Magic Mountain. Also, there is a high degree of complexity and sophistication in Mann's detailed descriptions of the composer's music.

An monumental work but not for the casual reader: 5 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Reckoning.
"Yes ... we are lost. That is to say: the war is lost, but that means more than a lost military campaign, in fact it means that *we* are lost, lost is our substance and our soul, our faith and our history. It is over with Germany; ... an unnamable collapse, economical, political, moral and spiritual, in short, all-encompassing, is becoming apparent, -- I don't want to have wished for what is looming, because it is despair, it is madness."*

Thus, the narrator of Thomas Mann's last completed and, I think, greatest novel sums up Germany's fate after the barbarities of national-socialism. But this is no mere character speaking: This is Mann himself -- the erstwhile self-proclaimed "Unpolitical Man," condemned to watch the Nazi tyranny's horrors from the distance of his Californian exile, taking up the mighty pen that had gained him his Literature Nobel Prize and, through the voice of a narrator named Dr. Serenus Zeitbloom (in itself, supremely ironic comment on Mann's own circumstances) composing his final reckoning with the country he left when the Nazis came to power, and where he never returned to live, although he finally did leave the U.S. in 1952, driven out by McCarthyism.

According to his diaries, as early as 1904 Mann had the idea of using a composer's temptation by the devil (and thus, updating the Faustian legend, *the* quintessential theme of Germany's cultural history at least since the Middle Ages) to illustrate the corruption of art by evil. Seeing the country's intoxication with the glorious promises of Hitler and his henchmen, seeing all of German society fall under the spell of evil, including the "Bildungsbürgertum," the educated middle class considering itself guardians of Germany's cultural tradition (and for whose acceptance the dark-haired merchant's son without a university education struggled throughout his life, much as they bought his books), reviving that idea first conceived forty years earlier was a logical choice; now further inspired by the personalities of Arnold Schoenberg, whom Mann met in exile and whose twelve-tone scale became that of his novel's protagonist Adrian Leverkuehn, and Friedrich Nietzsche, with whose writings and personal fate Mann had been fascinated early on. Philosophically and musically, the novel is also influenced by critical theorist Theodor Adorno, with whom Mann entertained an in-depth epistolary dialogue.

Blending together musical theory, the decline of humanist philosophy, the rise of fascism and the powers of black magic (most of which Mann had already explored in earlier works like "The Magic Mountain" and, very pointedly, in the 1930 short story "Mario and the Magician"), "Doctor Faustus" is thus simultaneously a comment on the political developments, a warning, an attempt to come to grips with Germany's high-flying, yet so easily destructible philosophical and moral compass - and, masterfully construed though it is, a cry of despair in the face of utter madness. For while the novel is brimming with references to the better part of German (and European) cultural history, from the medieval "Faustus" tale to Goethe, Weber's "Freischuetz," Martin Luther, Protestantism, and Thuringia and Saxony as focal points of all things German, Mann's central point remains the parallel between his country's fate and that of his novel's protagonist, both ending in ruin and madness-induced stupor after their deal with the devil has run its evil course.

Unlike Goethe, who places his Faust's temptation at his tragedy's beginning, leaving no doubt about the event's physical reality, Mann even narratively lifts Leverkuehn's temptation into the realm of allegory and imagination, by splitting it into two incidents, whose combined effect will only come to fruition in the novel's final part. On neither occasion Zeitbloom, the narrator, is present; for both we thus have only Leverkuehn's own words. Yet, even the first account, a letter describing how the would-be composer is mischievously led to a brothel and falls under the spell of a prostitute, already intimates the evil to come, the venereal disease that will later constitute the outward cause of his madness; and not only does Leverkuehn ask his friend to destroy that letter, he also closes it imploring him to pray for his soul.

Much later in the narrative -- although indicating that it was actually written earlier; thus employing yet another level of (temporal) abstraction -- Mann introduces Leverkuehn's transcript of his exchange with the devil; a dream-like sequence during which shape-shifting "Sammael," in language hearkening back to Goethe and even the Middle Ages, promises Leverkuehn nothing short of "the metamorphosis of a god": that by his name a whole generation of "receptively healthy boys"* will swear, "those who thanks to [his] madness will no longer have to be mad themselves;"* and that, indeed, his name will live forever. Still, at this point we have already witnessed Leverkuehn explaining the foundations of his twelve-tone scale, only to be challenged by Zeitbloom's question whether the strictness of his concept doesn't deprive the composer of all freedom (which Leverkuehn denies, rather seeing the composer as "bound by a self-imposed order, hence free").* And when in an exchange laden with symbolism Zeitbloom then presses whether the formation of harmony wouldn't be left to chance, Leverkuehn's response is, "Rather say: to constellation"* -- thus squarely introducing, as his friend will quickly note, concepts of black magic, which in addition to the dialogue's musical and political references again drive home Leverkuehn's exposure to the irrational and evil, long before the reader actually learns about his interview with the devil.

Doubtlessly among Mann's most intimately personal works, "Doctor Faustus" is also among his most complex ones; and while hardly any of his writings make for a leisurely read, the sardonic "Felix Krull," the near-humoristic "Royal Highness" and even his early masterpiece "Buddenbrooks" are foils to the older master craftsman's rapier that is drawn here. Demanding, certainly -- but also highly recommended!

*Translation mine.

Bob Zeidler, in friendship and grateful memory of an exchange that partly inspired the above. Bob's comments thereon are sorely missed.

Also recommended:
Faust I & II (Goethe : The Collected Works, Vol 2)
Doctor Faustus and Other Plays (Oxford World's Classics)
Mario and the Magician and Other Stories (Modern Classics)
The Magic Mountain
The Thomas Mann Collection (Buddenbrooks / Doktor Faustus / The Magic Mountain)
Correspondence: 1943-1955
Loyal Subject (German Library)
Schoenberg: Piano Concerto
Basic Writings of Nietzsche (Modern Library Classics)

5-0 out of 5 stars A shattering feast of despair
"What human beings have fought for and stormed citadels, what the ecstatics exultantly announced -- that is not to be. It will be taken back. I will take it back."

"I don't quite understand, dear man. What will you take back?"

"The Ninth Symphony."

5-0 out of 5 stars great and dark novel
Thomas Mann was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and this was his last and perhaps his greatest novel. Reading it is a daunting challenge as it merges history with philosophy and religion with music history and composition. This novel requires great concentration. Sustained reading is however greatly rewarded. I am still mulling over much that is in this novel. Written and presented against the backdrop of the closing years of World War II and the horrors of Nazi Germany, the novel is also clearly a statement against Hitler and the Nazis, and Mann from exile was a determined opponent of the Nazis. A very important work of literature on several levels!! ... Read more

13. The Transposed Heads: A Legend of India
by Thomas Mann
Mass Market Paperback: 128 Pages (1959-09-12)
-- used & new: US$7.50
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Asin: 0394700864
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Underappreciated Masterpiece!
This is among my favorite books, and is greatly underappreciated.

Other reviewers have emphasized the thoughtfullness of the story in plumbing the dichtomy between mind and body.But this is something many authors have sought to do, and what distinguishes Mann's treatment is the simplicity with which he imparts the story and the manner in which he brings the exotic story of India home and makes it easily accessible to all.

There is a grace to each sentance; the translation is wonderful.There is no attempt to overwork the writing or story, and its very profundity lies in its simplicity.I have told this as a bed-time story to my children, who are as fascinated as adults by it, and people whom I have recommended the book to continue to discuss it and refer to it when we talk.

This is quite short, and can be read in an evening.Most highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars In the heart and in the head
Thomas Mann's works are always full of dichotomies of various kinds: feeling vs intellect, freedom vs authority, immorality(decadence) vs morality(respectability), artistic or religious pursuits vs participation in everyday life. So it is not surprising that he wrote a book about two people who represent opposite ways of living. One character lives by the dictates of the reasoning head, the other by the dictates of the sensual body. In Mann's mystical India a wonderful accident allows for an interesting experiment. Don't want to give too much away for the fun is in not knowing exactly what happens. Suffice it to say that this is a unique kind of book of novella length, a form Mann was especially competent with.In a way this is Mann's Siddhartha though one informed with many dualites, including the east/ west one.This book attempts to unify all those oppositions once and for all but that is no easy task. This book has humor and humanity and that magic that only the simplest fables have, once you read it you will never forget it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dante, Meet Descartes; or, Two Heads in Conversation
Thomas Mann takes the Cartesian split--that endless war between mind andbody, galvanized on one side by Descartes' battle cry "I think, therefore Iam"--and illustrates the conflict using two characters, two young friends,in this Indian legend turned fantastical tale of the absurd. Nanda is afarmer and blacksmith, a strong, earthy youth rooted in his physical body,and the contemplative Shridaman is a merchant's son with priestly, Brahmanblood in his lineage. Though the young men are polar opposites, they have astrong friendship built on mutual admiration and a hint of healthenvy.

Their differences manifest during a journey together when thetwo men come upon the sight of a beautiful young woman at a remote, ritualbathing-place. They observe the woman secretly as she bathes, and Nandaenjoys the sight without shame.Shridaman, though, is by turnsembarrassed, then inspired.Mann launches the friends into a hushedphilosophical discussion--a frequent attribute of the novel.Shirdamansays, "Yet we are ... guilty if we simply feast on the sight of beautywithout inquiring into its being," and he promptly falls in love withthe young woman, Sita, languishing over her with the exaggerated fatalismof the smitten lover in a Shakespearean comedy. Eventually, Sita andShridaman are married.

From this scenario springs one of the mostbizarre love triangles in literature, leading to a confrontation with Kali,earth mother and patron of the body, and later to another meeting, at theother end of the spectrum, with an ascetic holy man. These powerfularchetypes impel the pendulum of fate back and forth above the threecharacters.Again and again the question is asked: Is it the head or thebody which is most closely linked with the Beloved? Tragedy isinevitable--visiting the trio more than once--and in the end all hope forthe future lies with Andhaka,Shridaman and Sita's young son. The boy is anearsighted introvert whose quiet innocence hints at some vague potentialfor change, for bridging this gap between mind and body.

Oneelement detracting from the book is the translation (copyrighted in 1941).While the translation is not entirely without merit--in chapter 5, forexample, the passage describing Shridaman's descent into Kali's dark,heady, womb-like temple begs to be read aloud--the novel's prose issometimes choppy with convoluted, problematic sentence structure.Thenovel's potential among English readers is certainly hampered by its beinglong overdue for a new translation.

5-0 out of 5 stars the dilema of whether "listening" to your heart or your head
This book is more than a love story, or a story about marriage or friendship.It is a story that addresses the ever present dilema of whether we ought to make decisions based on our feelings or our intelect. This book tells you exactly to whom you should listen to, and why.Thisalone is absolutely REFRESHING!I have used this book in creative writingworkshops, where I challange my students to think how their body wouldreact if it carried someone else's head.Or what song a piano would playif it had their head attached to it.This book has a strong under currentof morality, making the reader reflect on the "stuff that principlesand values are made of", and what makes us authentic human beings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Story of love, marriage and desire
Short novel packed with rich language and strong plot.Story is placed in India, which adds mysticism to already mystrious issue of sexual desire and marital responsibility between husband and wife. And since no real love story can have a happy ending, for most real loves are not the happy ones, the tragic ending only adds the strength to this magnificent novel. ... Read more

14. Georg Lukacs and Thomas Mann: A Study in the Sociology of Literature
by Judith Marcus
 Hardcover: 208 Pages (1988-03)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$40.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0870234862
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Judith Marcus uncovers the literary interaction between two of the great figures of 20th-century intellectual and cultural life, the creative artist Thomas Mann (1875-1955) and Georg Lukacs (1885-1971), the literary critic. It is based on their correspondence, and other archival material. ... Read more

15. Rowohlt Bildmonographien: Thomas Mann (German Edition)
by Klaus Schröter
Paperback: 186 Pages (1993-12-31)
-- used & new: US$19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 3499500930
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16. Death in Venice
by Thomas Mann
Paperback: 160 Pages (2005-05-31)
list price: US$12.99 -- used & new: US$6.50
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Asin: 0060576170
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The world-famous masterpiece by Nobel laureate Thomas Mann -- here in a new translation by Michael Henry Heim

Published on the eve of World War I, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity, Death in Venice tells the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doom.

In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio. "It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom," Mann wrote. "But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist's dignity."

... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thamas Mann's acclaimed masterpiece
Thomas Mann, who was born in Lubeck in 1875 and died in Switzerland in 1955, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is indisputably the greatest German writer of the 20th century.
'Death in Venice' is credited as his famous short masterpiece. It tells a tale of hopeless love and adoration for the unattainable, and its tragic consequences for the protagonist, Gustave Aschenbach - or von Aschenbach - who is said to be based on the great German composer Gustav Mahler. But the Aschenbach of the story is a writer of note, who is feeling overworked and in need of a holiday. There is a brooding intensity about him, when he goes for a solitary walk via a graveyard and mortuary chapel, places with mystical meaning. He feels apprehensive when the figure of a young man appears and meets his gaze, much to his dismay and consternation. He seems to be seeing, then pushing aside some malign or unwolesome thoughts that exist within his mind.
He decides to take a holiday, to get away from the demons which drive him. His first attempt at seeking a fresh scene on an island without associations proves unsatisactory due to rain and the class of people he meets. It becomes apparent that Aschenbach is something of a snob, as well as being a loner with a sense of his own superiority.
Almost on the spur of the moment he demands 'A ticket to Venice' on an 'ancient hulk belonging to an Italian line'. All on board, including the captain and passengers, are depicted as strange, even bizarre creatures, almost caricatures. He is particularly shocked to see one of the first class cabin group - to which he belongs - 'in a dandified buff suit, and rakish panama with a coloured scarf and red cravat, was the loudest of the loud: he outcrowed all the rest,' and not to be the apparent youth, he thought him to be, but to be an old man . . .
While Aschenbach sits on deck reading a book, 'strange shadowy figures passed and repassed.' The ship enters the canal di San Marco. Aschenbach orders a gondola, which is described as a 'singular conveyance, come down unchanged from ballad times, black as nothing else on earth except a coffin'. He is rowed by a surly unlicensed gondolier who has tried to deceive him but Aschenbach is saved - with his luggage - when the gondolier is eventually forced to flee.
So the scene is set for the final chapter at the Hotel des Bains. It is there he sees Tadzio, the beautiful youth who enchants him and whom he gazes at in adoration at every opportunity, at the hotel during meals, and on the beach. Then he begins 'to feel out of sorts'. While walking he becomes aware of 'a hateful sultriness in the narrow streets'. He feels feverish. 'Beggars waylayed him, the canals sicken him with their evil exhalations.' The next morning Aschenbach lingers over breakfast, until eventually Tadzio enters through the glass doors of the room and 'directed his full soft gaze upon Aschenbach's face, then was gone' . . .
Aschenbach is to leave on the steamer but his trunk has been mistakenly returned to the Hotel des Bains. Because he refuses to travel without his luggage he 'would go back and wait at the hotel. 'A reckless joy, a deep incredible mirthfulness shook him almost as with a spasm'. Yet disease is spreading and eighty out of a hundred people are dying . . .
The final scene takes place on the beach. Tadzio is there while Aschenbach sits and watches from his chair halfway between the cabins and the water. Tragically he collapses, and after a while is discovered and removed.The Learning Process: Some Creative Impressions

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Little Story
For being such a lauded book, DEATH IN VENICE sure is dreadful.I admire the structure of the book, how it begins stringent and disciplined like Aschenbach, and like Aschenbach, "waxes rhapsody" as it progresses further into the uncontrollable, the passionate; from the Apollonian to the Dionysian.How tragic it is to read Aschenbach's story: he cannot help but yearn for something impossible, something that seems to be brought upon by a hidden tormentor, the red-headed gentleman who appears myriad times.How entertaining it is to determine how reliable our narrator is concerning Tadzio's commiserate attitude.Some lines are even admirable: "It would lead him back, restore him to himself, but there is nothing so distasteful as being restored to oneself when one is beside oneself."

Yet, pardon, certain mistakes are unpardonable.Yes, I could describe long passages, dissect motivations, or dismiss events, but why do so if one sentence displays what my principle criticism is against Mann's work?"What one saw when one looked into the world narrated by Aschenbach was elegant self-possession concealing inner dissolution and biological decay from the eyes of the world until the eleventh hour; a sallow, sensually destitute ugliness capable of fanning its smoldering lust into a pure flame, indeed, of rising to sovereignty in the realm of beauty; pallid impotence probing the incandescent depths of the mind for the strength to cast an entire supercilious people at the foot of the cross, at THEIR feet; an obliging manner in the empty, punctilious service of form; the life, false and dangerous, and the swiftly enervating desires and art of the born deceiver."

I am not certain if I should punish Thomas Mann or Michael Henry Heim, the translator.One of the two, maybe both, would make horrid directors; they would use expensive effects when none would be needed, needlessly hire renown actors when the part called for somebody anonymous.The alacrity this book shows with wasting words is its biggest accomplishment.Why use the large words heedlessly?As a rule, a writer should only use the correct word, not the impressive one.If it does not add rhythm to a sentence, highlight a subtlety, or even save a word for later use when it can serve a paragraph better, why use it but to be an intellectual?It is the problem I have with writers considering themselves artists: they do not do it artfully.This is the first story I've read by Thomas Mann and I was exceedingly disappointed.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Prose. Creepy Content
Perhaps it is the beautiful writing and the setting that makes this a classic. It's content, at least to this modern reader, is creepy. I read with a Lit and Flick group which discussed it in conjunction with Visconti's 1971 filmDeath in Venice.

The protagonist, Auremback, a late career successful writer travels to Venice where he fixates on a 13 year old boy who is vacationing with his family of aristocrats from Poland. The family consists of 3 plainly dressed closely supervised sisters, the governess who watches over the sisters and a cold regal mother - a true grande dame. The boy, Tadzio, goes about playing by the sea as 13 year old boys do, totally unaware of the older man's fixation.

There are rumors of cholera in Venice, and Auremback watches for signs of it. As number of hotel guests gets smaller and smaller Auremback has an easier time in finding Tadzio on the beach, in the dining hall or on the city streets.

The Viscounti film made Auremback's stalking a bit more palatable by shaving years off him and adding a few to Tadzio. The most grotesque scene where a lovesick and desperate Aurembach hires a gondola to follow the 13 year old is omitted. Also, to soften the content in the film, Tadzio, seems to like the attention and smiles back at his admirer.

The book's descriptions of the hotel, the clothing, the dining and the dull passtimes on the beach are beautifully written. This wonderful prose stands in contrast to the seamy character and situation depicted.

Mann keeps you guessing as to who's death you're anticipating.

The book, strangely, is based on a real encounter of the author when he traveled to Venice with his wife. His trip and the book it inspired belong to a dying way of life. Unbeknownst to Mann and the overdressed aristocrats on the beach, this would be one of their last summers to "frolic" in this way.

4-0 out of 5 stars impending morality and its wish of rejuvination
Death in Venice is a great story of impending mortality and the wish of rejuvenation through an almost naive and socially unacceptable infatuation of a boy, Tadzio--that symbol of youth and extraordinary beauty, only matched by classic sculptures and Greek gods themselves.

To be sure, Mann's novella is made a failure when read on a superficial level; a level that renders Lolita as "that book about the pedophile" or Color Purple as "that African-American story" or Grapes of Wrath as "that proletariat novel" or any work that are condensed into some phrase that erases any of their redeemable quality. And I do not deem to establish that my review is more accurate than another because it is not.

Thomas Mann's celebrated work, Death in Venice, is rightfully given its hype. It is a tragic story, to be sure, about an author, so socially proper, to be tattered by such a queer passion. And for an obsession to relate to the twilight of his years highlights the tragedy of parting the world in the dawn of discovery of such painful beauty...

It is an exploration that is sure to enhance one's view of the unrelenting passion that consumes artistic minds. And its search despite the nearness of death. The hearty text that Mann provides allows for a multi-level comprehension of this tale that transcends a cry for foul--that this novella is an atrocious excuse for literature because it is about an old man's passion for a boy. Readers must allow themselves to set aside social convictions and digest this book as properly as possible, with much consideration to the Greek myths, classical references, and other similar allusions that duly oppose such a simplistic view of this novella.

Surely, Death in Venice is an acrobatic exercise. Commenting on the Dover Thrift Edition, this translation is heavy but rewarding to those who enjoy such style of writing. This reading is not for the faint-of-heart, but it's simple enough for those who have the will to trudge through. It makes me want to read the original text. The Dover Thrift Edition also have a short but insightful word about translation and commentary, well beyond the worth of its price.

4-0 out of 5 stars an odd little novella
It is interesting to see how people respond to stories differently. Here is another work of literatre that does not engage me emotionally, but is fascinating as a work of art. Mann the author as well as the narrator seemed to desire the reader to maintain a critical distance from the main character rather than to identify and sympathize with him.

Readers interested in a romantic experience, being wrapped up in the story, transported away from their mundane lives, and so on had probably better turn elsewhere. But readers willing or eager to work out a complicated allegory of the artist's quest for perfection will appreciate this cerebral work.

I suppose I've said enough; I don't intend to summarize the plot and I'm not sure I can offer a very insightful interpretation of the allegory yet. I'm probably a couple readings away from being able to do that. It's enough for now to alert prospective readers that the bare plot is not the heart of the matter, that this story is really all about its symbolism and the intellectual experience you will have working it out rather than the emotional experience you will have identifying with the joys and pains of the characters: most people probably won't, and I'd like to relieve you of the obligation of trying to. If you do have a strong reaction, it probably won't be pleasant. Either way, you will get a lot more out of the work if you keep its intellectual project in mind.

The one thing I can say is that the Norton Critical Edition is more than satisfactory for me. I might pick up another edition sometime; I'm interested in the introduction that so offended other readers. But the NCE comes with a few very nice little essays, so if you think you might read them I'd say it's worth the trouble to seek it out.

Finally, I'd suggest reading The Magic Mountain first. Although it is at least ten times as long as Death in Venice, I think most readers will enjoy it more, and on more levels; regardless of enjoyment, I'd frankly argue that The Magic Mountain is a more complete work of art and a more important cultural and intellectual experience. That kind of comparison may not be welcome to some people: by all means, read both in either order and make up your own mind! However, if you're only going to read one, read TMM; and if you haven't liked DiV, read TMM nevertheless. (And more than once!)
... Read more

17. Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: The Early Years
by Thomas Mann
Paperback: 400 Pages (1992-03-31)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$8.47
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Asin: 0679739041
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Recounts the enchanted career of the con man extraordinaire Felix Krull--a man unhampered by the moral precepts that govern the conduct of ordinary people. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Aesthete's Gather Round, and enjoy this book
If you're a struggling writer, artist, musician, Thomas Mann is for you. This book is wildly funny and satisfying.
The author understands the struggle and invites you in. The protaganist of the novel is realistic and naughty. You will see how Mann has inspired other writer's in his wake---look at the Talented Mr. Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith---this book was her inspiration.

5-0 out of 5 stars a prostitute ply her trade
"Confessions of Felix Krull - Confidence Man" by Thomas Mann, © 1955

I have read this before, but I wanted to make sure I remembered right.He does mention watchinga prostitute ply her trade, but it is not as much as Gabriel García Márquez does in "Love in the Time of Cholera," which I will have to read again, as well, to refresh my memory of the story.
Such a book, you would never imagined that a Nobel winning, world renowned author like Thomas Mann would have written it.It is amazing that he writes of a person who is so ignoble as Felix Krull, is worthy of writing of.Yet, it would have been a challenge to write of this immoral fellow in a positive way, as this is.
It must be admitted that there is a bit of a pun in 'confidence man' and the person, himself, Mr. Krull.He is the utmost confident fellow, conceited even.
The oddest thing of this whole story is that it is unfinished.He, I subsequently found out, died before he finished it, but it does end with a bang (pun intended).


This book, "The Confessions of Felix Krull," I thought you would enjoy.It is about a fellow who flaunts social conventions and becomes people he is not.In essence, he is theatrical his whole life.A good half of this book details his life of being someone he is not, but he starts out very much as an imitator.In his earliest childhood memories, he imitates princes.His godfather is an artist who dresses and uses Felix as a model as he grows up.His godfather can not believe how much he becomes the character Felix dresses as, be it a King or an artist or a gentleman on a fox hunt.
His spirit is suffused with his ability to be who he wants to be, so he becomes a Marquis or a waiter or a thief.His confidence is uppermost.His employer thinks he can speak French, English, Spanish, etc. at a whim (though he only repeats phrases he has learned elsewhere, it sure sounds good).Not everyone can do this.Felix says he is of finer clay, and, being fiction, it is beyond dispute.You have to realize, there really are people of 'finer clay' around, that is the basis of aristocracy.We should not cowtow to them, but we should emulate them, as best we can (they know how to act properly).This is a dichotomy of life: we are all made equal in the eyes of the Lord, but some are better than others.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Cautionary Tale For The Pseudo-Intellectual
THE CONFESSIONS OF FELIX KRULL CONFIDENCE MAN is Tomas Mann's last work, and reportedly the first part of a longer, fictitious autobiography that Mann was never to finish.

Felix Krull, the narrator, begins his story by recalling his upper middle class childhood, and recounting the loss of his family's fortune, which leads to a series of memorable adventures in Europe.

The book breezily entertains episode after episode until one long dreary stretch of drudgery near the end when Krull details a trip through a science museum in Lisbon. However, his tedious lapse into pedantry has a purpose. It finally separates Krull from any scintilla of Judeo/Christian moral constraint, allowing him, without conscience, to pursue his predatory ways.

Interesting how when I first read this book at age 20, I identified with Krull, cheering his every conquest and deception; but now, a generation later, I regret that Mann never finished the second part of this book in which the amoral Krull gets his comeuppance. Krull tantalizingly refers to his arrest, but alas, we never learn the details. We can only hope that Mann was going to put Krull away for a long, long time.

Krull's is a cautionary tale for today's arrogant, self-absorbed amoral pseudo-intellectual. He keeps telling us how smart he is, and how much above the common crowd he lives. Then he shows us how easily he can deceive others -- his mother, his uncle, his boss, and strangers who put their faith in him. He deceives without conscience, whether he steals jewelry or a young woman's virginity.

The particularly striking thing Krull reveals about his con man methods is his confession that he has the ability to learn just enough of any subject to deceive a person into thinking he is an expert. Krull is so taken with this ability, he even cons himself into believing he is an intellectual when he is, in fact, finally, a tedious pseudo-intellectual bore.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of Narcissism
Finishing this novel left me wishing Mann had lived long enough to give us the second volume.I found his depiction of Krull to be an exquisite-- and hilarious-- exploration of narcissism from the narcissist's point of view.How delicious!The astounding egotism the protagnoist shows is a promise that he would have many adventures and his hints about jail time suggest that he over-stepped his bounds at least one time too many.How unfortunate for us readers that Mann died before he could complete the story.The situations at the end of this volume suggests the author got to about the halfway mark of where he wanted to go in the tale of this self-absorbed youth.

The fact that Mann was working at the end of his life was amazing enough.That he could so convincingly convey the inner life of an adolescent was, for me, proof of a talent that had dazzled me in *The Magic Mountain.*Comedy is a very difficult genre to work in effectively.The hints of the comic that were found in *Mountain* are in full effect in *Krull.*I'm eager to learn about Mann himself, given the titanic ability in evidence here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mann in a humorous vein
This picaresque novel of adventure by the writer of such ponderous masterpieces as _The Magic Mountain_ is one of my favorite books.

Many readers who come to it after _Buddenbrooks_ or "Tonio Kroeger" note the parallels Mann felt existed between the artist and the confidence man. In Tonio Kroeger, the eponymous central character has an encounter in his home town where he's mistaken briefly for a con man. In the earlier story, it's an incident full of irony. In _Felix Krull_, Mann turns that theme on its head and plays it as a burlesque and shows us the artist seen through the fun-house mirror of the artist-equals-con man metaphor.

A number of the themes of Mann's earlier novels are taken up here in humorous and ironic form, e.g., the rise of the artist through the decay of a respectable family (a theme in _Buddenbrooks_) is transmogrified into Krull's lineage from a good-but-dissolute family; in consequence, their respectability is more apparent than real, and as much an illusion as Felix Krull's career of deceit.

It may be that Mann intends that Felix Krull symbolically represents decay beneath his disguise (like the actor Mueller-Rose in the story), but the reader doesn't *feel* this is true. Krull might be the healthiest character in Mann's work, full of that zest for life that so wearied the bourgeois manque' Tonio Kroeger in Italy. Felix Krull isn't a "manque'" anything; a consummate actor on the stage of life, he is simply whatever or whomever he wants to be.

The elegance and suavity of the writing, captured well by theLindley translation, are both a pleasure to read, and an analogue for the well-oiled confidence skills of the first person narrator. It's helpful to remember that we are being told "true confessions" by a man who has made his way in life by taking people in.

Another feature of the work, not often commented on, is the element of parody. Mann wrote the book with one eye, as it were, on the great German picaresque novel by Hans von Grimmelshausen, _Simplicius Simplicissimus_. Krull's travails, talents, and successes are at times a humorous transposition of those in Grimmelshausen's famous work. (Grimmelshausen's book is worth seeking out in its own right.)

And then, there's the Goethe reference: the artful, confessional style was intended (or so Mann claimed in an interview) as a parody of Goethe's style in _Dichtung und Wahrheit_. Mann had much to say about Goethe during his career, much of it freighted with a lot of seriousness (e.g., see his essay on "Goethe and Tolstoy"), but proves here he could regard his great predecessor with more than a little irony.

Because the book was started back in 1910, and reflects on a period 20 or more years earlier, it's a historical time capsule of sorts. This might annoy some readers; for others, it grants the work a certain period charm.

Finally, we should remember that the work is incomplete. This was intended to be the first part of a full-dress fictional memoir. Had he lived longer, Mann might have written 2 more volumes. The result is that the book is a bright fragment rather than a fully realized work of art. We're left to imagine what the remainder of Felix Krull's adventures might have been like. In an interview in 1955, Mann remarked that Krull would have a matrimonial adventure, as well as a prison sojourn and a retirement in England.

A pity we can never see the completed work, and cannot know with certainty how Krull's career would develop. I, for one, am happy with what Mann was able to bequeath us. I feel almost as if he left me a legacy. ... Read more

18. A Companion to the Works of Thomas Mann (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)
by Herbert Lehnert
Paperback: 363 Pages (2009-05-01)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$21.85
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Asin: 1571134050
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Thomas Mann is among the greatest of German prose writers, and was the first German novelist to reach a wide English-speaking readership since Goethe. Novels such as Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain, and Doktor Faustus attest to his mastery of subtle, distanced irony, while novellas such as Death in Venice reveal him at the height of his mastery of language. In addition to fresh insights about these best-known works of Mann, this volume treats less-often-discussed works such as Joseph and His Brothers, Lotte in Weimar, and Felix Krull, as well as his political writings and essays. Mann himself was a paradox: his role as family-father was both refuge and façade; his love of Germany was matched by his contempt for its having embraced Hitler. While in exile during the Nazi period, he functioned as the prime representative of the "good" Germany in the fight against fascism, and he has often been remembered this way in English-speaking lands. But a new view of Mann is emerging half a century after his death: a view of him as one of the great writers of a modernity understood as extending into our 21st century. This volume provides sixteen essays by American and European specialists. They demonstrate the relevance of his writings for our time, making particular use of the biographical material that is now available.Contributors: Ehrhard Bahr, Manfred Dierks, Werner Frizen, Clayton Koelb, Helmut Koopmann, Wolfgang Lederer, Hannelore Mundt, Peter Pütz, Jens Rieckmann, Hans Joachim Sandberg, Egon Schwarz, and Hans Vaget. ... Read more

19. Death in Venice
by Thomas Mann
Paperback: 384 Pages (1999-05-01)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.59
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Asin: 0141181737
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A new, "brilliant ...perfectly nuanced translation" of Thomas Mann's most famous and poignant collection of novellas and stories (The Boston Globe).

Featuring his world-famous masterpiece, "Death in Venice," this new collection of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann's stories and novellas reveals his artistic evolution. In this new, widely acclaimed translation that restores the controversial passages that were cut out of the original English version, "Death in Venice" tells about a ruinous quest for love and beauty amid degenerating splendor. Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but lonely author, travels to the Queen of the Adriatic in search of an elusive spiritual fulfillment that turns into his erotic doom. Spellbound by a beautiful Polish boy, he finds himself fettered to this hypnotic city of sun-drenched sensuality and eerie physical decay.

Also included in this volume are eleven other stories by Mann: "Tonio Kroger," "Gladius Dei," "The Blood of the Walsungs," "The Will for Happiness," "Little Herr Friedmann," "Tobias Mindernickel," "Little Lizzy," "Tristan," "The Starvelings," "The Wunderkind," and "Harsh Hour." All of the stories collected here display Mann's inimitable use of irony, his subtle characterizations, and superb, complex plots. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Is Thomas Mann boring? You probably were too young or read a bad translation-He's really a morose Woody Allen.
Joachim Neugroschel, a PEN award winning translator, offers an intelligent introduction into why previous T. Mann translations have been unsatisfactory and do not suggest the sensual, sexual nature of the writings--at least in the short works. Here are 12 short works in total--a number of which I read in college (and saw the movie D I V with Dirk Bogarde). Finally, I get the point of them all.If you give the often baroque nature of Mann's prose a chance, you'll delve into some of the most prescient observations of the 'outsider' in society, and Mann usually makes the outsider an artist.Many characters--whether they are young, like Tonio Kruger, or older like the protagonist in DIV, battle with the sensual, sexual, and intellectural natures of their psyche. Of course, no aspect of the human wins out, and that's probably true in real life as well. I also had an epiphanic moment when I realized Thomas Mann's stories have very similar themes to the films of Woody Allen!Huh!Wait.It's obvious to me. The stories revolve around an anxious, neurotic, creative type living fairly comfortably in the material world, but finding something missing within, and realizing personal accomplishment doesn't make you happy. Additionally, W. Allen's main protagonists are almost always artists-writers, screenwriters, TV writers, doc. film producers, painters, etc. The same goes for Mann whose characters are artists, failed artists, or confused philosophers. Characters are given to broad philosophical reflection that at first seems to help them solve eternal problems only to find out that those reflections were probably PART of the problem.The various cities Mann's character inhabit or visit are also cosmopolitan for the most part, and the people that populate these locales are given to discussing relationships, the meaning of life, and the absurdity of day to day existence. But if you like at least some of Woody Allen's art, you should like these stories. I think you'll agree.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sizzle sans steak...
Thomas Mann was a brilliant writer. I won't argue that point to the contrary. He knew what he was doing technically, and had uncommon literary talent (which both garner him a...perhaps generous...four stars for this book).


His stories--including Death in Venice--did nothing for me. Bupkes. I was never emotionally invested or "caught up," and I was constantly impatient with Mann's frequent discourses on metempirical subjects that interrupt the narrative like a smack on the back of the head. Nothing worse than paragraph upon paragraph of elegantly rendered, highfalutin, unmemorable blibbety-blab.

What are Love and Beauty free from bourgeois convention? wonders the protagonist/Mann. Who CARES?! Get on with the story!

None of the stories sticks with you. The only time I had even a modicum of reaction to a particular story was when a small dog is stabbed to death by its insane owner...and that, to be frank, was gratuitous. Pornographic. Like a rape scene inserted into a bad film by an uncreative filmmaker in order to SHOCK the audience. (Guaranteed!)

Death in Venice is the alleged magnum opus, and the work most often cited in conjunction with Mann's name. I found it decidedly underwhelming, and suspect that its reputation hinges moreso on its (epicene) subject matter...and the zeitgeist currently afflicting university literature departments.

I recommend the book if for no other reason than to add to your stock of knowledge--parts are considered canonical, after all--but I found it boring, and will not exactly be in a rush to investigate other works by Thomas Mann.

3-0 out of 5 stars Lust and Death in Venice
While I was visiting Venice last month, I stopped into a bookstore and bought a copy of "Death in Venice" because it seemed like appropriate reading for the train ride out.

I found a Penguin edition that's not listed here on Amazon.com and it included a number of other stories by Thomas Mann. I've just finished them all and although I'm glad I read them all, I wasn't excited enough to read anything more from the author.

"Death in Venice" is about a middle-aged author who vacations in Venice and immediately lusts and stalks after a young Polish boy spending the summer there with his family. Although married and set for life, the stalker doesn't reflect on his sexual identity at all, instead burying his consuming lust for the boy in purely artistic terms. If this book were written today, the character would probably end up on "Dateline NBC"'s To Catch a Predator series.

Chris Hansen would step out to confront him in the plaza and ask, "What are you doing here, Gustav? Why don't you have a seat here?"

The other stories are hit and miss. One involves a short, fat guy who's so lonely that he gets a dog--with disastrous results for the pooch. Another is about a fat lawyer with an adulterous wife who browbeats him into performing a humiliating dance (in drag!) while her lover plays the piano during a party. Fortunately, Mann gives the short, fat losers of the world a break and turns his attention to other characters. Mann's theme seems to be characters who indulge their artistic urges or appreciations to unhealthy or even fatal levels.

In one of the more interesting stories, a brother and sister, twins, allow themselves to be so caught up in their love of the arts that they wind up lovers!

I'm glad I finally read "Death in Venice" but I doubt if I'll read any more of Thomas Mann. There are passages that are truly great but most of his other stories didn't hold up as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Tale
Since I first read this book as a Comparative Literature major at the University of Washington, Thomas Mann has been right up there with Balzac, Strindberg, and Joyce as one of the best Modern writers.

5-0 out of 5 stars different translation
These stories are all very fine.However, I found this translation lacking some kind of esthetic satisfaction that I always get from an earlier translation of Mann's work by Helen T. Porter. ... Read more

20. Thomas Mann's Death in Venice: A Reference Guide (Greenwood Guides to Literature)
by Ellis Shookman
Hardcover: 168 Pages (2004-03-30)
list price: US$60.95 -- used & new: US$26.31
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313311595
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Death in Venice, by Nobel Prize-winning author Thomas Mann, is one of the most popular and widely taught works of German literature. It is also a complex work of art that challenges its readers. This reference is a convenient guide to the novella. In addition to providing a plot summary, the volume helps students and general readers discover the literary and intellectual qualities of Mann's famous story. ... Read more

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