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Mephisto (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – September 1, 1995

3.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Klaus Mann, the second child of Thomas Mann, was born in Munich in 1906. He began writing short stories and articles in 1924 and within a year was a theatrical critic for a Berlin newspaper. In 1925 both a volume of his short stories and his first novel, The Pious Dance, were published. His sister Erika, to whom he was very close, was in the cast of his first play, Anja and Esther. He also acted a continued to write prolifically. Klaus Mann left Germany in 1933 and lived in Amsterdam until 1936, during which time he became a Czechoslovakian citizen, having been deprived of his German citizenship by the Nazis. Moving to the United States in 1936, he lived in Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City. He became a U.S. citizen in 1943. He died in 1949, at the age of forty-two, in Cannes, France.
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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised ed. edition (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140189181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140189186
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is known to be a roman à clef about the brilliant and ruthlessly ambitious actor and director Hendrik Höfgen, actually Mann’s ex-brother-in-law Gustaf Gründgens who had divorced his wife in 1929 after a marriage of three years. Of course a novelist is entitled to invent things even in a roamn à clef. Not knowing enough about Gründgens’ private life, I do not know how much of Höfgens’ private life reflects that of Gründgens. The latter enjoyed a meteoric rise in the Weimar Republic which continued under the Nazis thanks to the minor provincial actress Emmy Sonnemann (here called Lotte Lindenthal), who was the mistress and later the wife of Goering. The German Wikipedia (Article “Mephisto (Roman)”) reveals the real identity of several of the other characters in the novel, though the author plays fast and loose with at least two of these identifications. Klaus Mann, like his famous father Thomas, had emigrated as soon as the Nazis had come to power and wrote this book in 1936. (Both Klaus and Thomas figure in the book as Sebastian and the Privy Counsellor Bruckner respectively.)

After the Prologue set in 1936 we are taken back to the 1920s. We get a picture of the men and women connected with the theatre - their rivalries, who loves whom and who hates whom, who is a communist and who is a fascist. There are scenes in the life of Höfgen which may or may not be true of Gründgens: we know that he was close to the Communists at that time; and perhaps he really was also a tyrannical actor-director; but was he really in thrall to a black dominatrix?
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Format: Paperback
An absolutely fascinating book. The actor Hendrik Höfgen becomes the symbol of the "untrue, unreal regime" by selling all his higher ideals to the mith of fame, subsquently loosing himself in the process. Many things are extraordinary about this book: - Klaus Man wrote the book in 1936, never the less in reading it I felt he new exactly what was going to happen in Germany (and Europe) and the bitter end it would take. - The way the stage figure Höfgen parallels the political development of Germany. (In one scene he is attemting to figure out how he will play Hamlet and quarrels with the vision of the Dane. Mephisto-Höfgen is not able to grasp the role, for he has not suffered for his ideals, he cannot understand a Hamlet. He no longer can think that way.) - ... It is in deed hard to describe this book... But I find it a must for everyone interested in theatre and how "free" art can be. May be. Should be. Could be.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book is a great read. i really loved the way the mephisto mythical story was told through the eyes of the protaganist. i also really enjoyed how the ruling party at the time was referred to as the devil. a very progressive story for its time.
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Format: Paperback
Haughty toad sucks up to artsy-nazis in order to progress in the theatre; his Faustian bargain gets him more than expected. Not hard to see why the estate of Gustaf Gründgens, the actor whose role as Mephistopheles bewitched that drama lover Goering, sought to have the book banned by a German constitutional Court (in the old days they would simply have lobbed it on the bonfire).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am reading the book right now. It is required for my literature class. It appears to be appropriate holocaust literature.
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