Pre-Order Ships Mar 16, 2021
DescriptionA classic, provoctive book exploring German culture and identity by the author of Death and Venice and The Magic Mountain, now back in print in English. When the Great War broke out in August of 1914, Thomas Mann, like so many people on both sides of the conflict, was exhilarated. Finally, the era of decadence that he had anatomized in Death in Venice had come to an end; finally, there was a cause worth fighting and even dying for, or, at least when it came to Mann himself, writing about. Mann dropped the short story he was working on in order to compose a full-throated paean to the German cause. Soon after, his older brother and lifelong rival, the novelist Heinrich Mann, responded with a no less withering denunciation. Thomas took it as this was an almost unforgiveble stab in the back. The bitter dispute between two brothers would swell in to the strange, tortured literary monument that is Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, a book that is as blind as it is troubled and full of curious insight. Mann worked on it and added to it throughout the war years, publishing it only when German defeat was inevitable, and these reflections are in a sense a first draft for his later explorations of German destiny in The Magic Mountain and Doktor Faustus. His effort to hold on to a notion of common good that lies beyond politics in the face of growing and inconceivable political disaster is all the more thought-provoking for being fatally flawed.
New York Review of Books
March 16, 2021
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About the Author
Thomas Mann (1875-1955) was a novelist, critic, and essayist who received the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Germany, he fled to Switzerland and then to California after Hitler's rise to power in 1933, returning to Switzerland in 1952. His most influential works include Death in Venice and The Magic Mountain.Walter D. Morris (1929-2001) was a translator and professor of German literature at Iowa State University.Mark Lilla is a historian and professor of humanities at Columbia University. With New York Review Books he has published The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction, The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics, and, with Robert Silvers and Ronald Dworkin, The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin (2001). He lives in New York.