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Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn As Told by a Friend Paperback – July 27, 1999
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"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 Leverkuhn, 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.
Leverkuhn'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.
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From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The philosophical ramblings of "The Magic Mountain" are similar--the Dionysian Weltanschaung of the Jesuit (Naphta) and The Voluptuary (Peeperkorn) versus the Apollonian (Settembrini) are used as metaphors for a debauched and dying Old Europe versus the New Europe to be reborn after the convulsions of World War I. And they are also symbolic of the failure of "pure reason" and politically correct Art to save a society with no soul, where human lives are scored on a worth-scale and have no intrinsic value as endowed by their Creator. In "Dr. Faustus", Mann revisits the German split personality (order versus bloody chaos) and makes it more intimate; he desperately wants to unearth what is it about the German Soul that gave us both World War I and then its offspring World War II and Hitler. Mann spends the rest of the book examining the German soul in the character of Adrian Leverkuehn and the forces influencing his life.
This is a brilliant book in that it takes the favorite Faust theme so loved by the Germans and re-tells it in a compelling fashion. Where the reader will have difficulty is that they will miss many of the character names that are sly jokes (if you are not a German speaker), and in following Mann's dense prose, followed by digressions into his own musings. And then you need to be somewhat familiar with European history and cultural icons.
Leverkuehn sells his soul to the Devil for the ability to compose the world's most perfect musical work.Read more ›
The book teems with unforgettable images. To pick a few at random: the extended description of Adrian's sojourn in the Italian countryside, where he meets the Devil and his fate is sealed; the wintry excursion to the Bavarian Alps; the vision of the children in the choir singing a motet to Adrian, bedecked with rubies on their fat hands while little yellow worms crawl from their nostrils down into their chests in the finest diabolic style. The density and vividness of Mann's imagery, its capacity to fill the mind and linger there, is Shakespearean.
Mann's treatment of his characters is sensitive, fine-grained, subtly ironic, and humanly engaging, with much wry humor.Read more ›
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Bad formatting. I wrote to advise and heard nothing back. First example of bad service from Amazon.Published 9 months ago by J N FARQUHAR
Bad formatting beyond belief. Random typefaces, colors, broken and missing text. Should not be offered for sale.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Nearly 40 years ago Professor Robert M. Stein, of blessed memory, told me that he'd come to the conclusion that Dr. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Michael K. Cantwell
This is a brooding, masterful book by one of the greatest writers of all time. Better be prepared to look some things up. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jeffrey Cass
This is probably the most painstaking desperate book I have ever read. Here, Thomas Mann shows his skepticism about Germany ever becoming a country again, his doubts about the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by R Parreira
As a young man, I did not like Thomas Mann's books -- or thought I didn't. It turns out that what I didn't like were the English translations of them that were available at the... Read morePublished 16 months ago by DoctorJoeE
Taking my time reading this impressive study of genius purportedly written by a stuffy intellectual. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Linda's Lookout