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Thomas Mann: A Life Second Edition Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198158615
ISBN-10: 0198158610
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

German novelist Thomas Mann (1875- 1953), as depicted in this demythologizing biography, was an egotist who lacked feelings for others. A lifelong hypochondriac, he was an aloof parent; his six children were left largely to their own devices. His wife, Katia Prinsheim, daughter of a wealthy mathematics professor, served as his dutiful business manager, chauffeuse and social secretary, allowing him to compartmentalize his life. Using Mann's diaries, Prater, biographer of Stefan Zweig and Rainer Maria Rilke, throws light on Mann's strong homosexual proclivities, which he concealed and apparently never acted upon, but which, from childhood onward, intensified his feelings of being an outsider. In an engrossing, remarkably intimate narrative, Prater ably charts Mann's metamorphosis from reactionary jingoist during World War I to antifascist humanist and opponent of Hitler, and he follows the novelist's "increasingly representational" life in exile in the United States and Switzerland. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Mann, the 1928 Nobel laureate, is arguably the most representative German author of the 20th century. Drawing on information from immediate family members of the author and various other sources, Prater (A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke, Oxford Univ. Pr., 1994) presents a solid, chronological life of a man of tremendous literary talent. Although perceived as a conservative in his earlier years, Mann reformed himself into a humanist; his novel The Magic Mountain (1924) marks his espousal of tolerant political views and principles. Later on, he openly attacked Nazi ideology and policies, which earned him an extended exile mainly in Switzerland and the United States. Until his death he refused to go back to repatriate. Prater's comprehensive and detailed biography relies much on Mann's diaries, correspondence, and autobiographical writings, with limited emphasis on his works. It is one of the few full-scale analyses of Mann's life to be published in English. Highly recommended, especially for literary collections. [See also Ronald Hayman's Thomas Mann: A Biography, LJ 3/1/95; coming in February 1996 from Knopf is Anthony Heilbut's Thomas Mann: A Biography.-Ed.]-Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.
--Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Second Edition edition (November 16, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198158610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198158615
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,318,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Donald Prater has produced a highly detailed account of Thomas Mann's life. He remains an objective observer and paints a picture of the development of an often cold literary statesman who finds it difficult to form personal relationships. Prater does not dwell on the genesis of Mann's literary production despite his insistence that Mann was not principally a political writer but an artist. Instead he gives a long-winded account of Mann's travels throughout Europe and America, his departure from Nazi Germany and naturalisation in the USA. The latter section of the text is larded with references to meetings with his children and other literary figures in the USA which do little to aid the reading of Mann's major works of fiction. The author is at pains to justify Mann's behaviour after the Second World War and emphasise his disgust for Nazism and anti-Semitic thought. Despite being a detailed and carefully researched manuscript, he text is not an inspiring exploration of Mann's life and work and often verges on the tedious. It will be an invaluable companion to the research student who wishes to verify precise details in the history of Thomas Mann, but as a companion to the study of Mann's oeuvre it is not successful. A superior guide must always be TJ Reed's 'The Uses of Tradition' which, after 25 years, continues to be the best English Language companion to the life and works of Thomas Mann, providing intelligent interpretation and valuable insight into the biography of the writer.
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Format: Hardcover
Found this today at the annual library sale for $1 and now that I have read the reviews on Amazon I am anxious to read it.
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