The Ironic German, a Study of Thomas Mann

The Ironic German, a Study of Thomas Mann

The Ironic German, a Study of Thomas Mann

The Ironic German, a Study of Thomas Mann

Excerpt

Thomas Mann, as he told us, sometimes felt that his Joseph and his Brothers ought perhaps to have been given a different name: Jacob and his Sons. I have similar qualms concerning the title of my book: for it is not only about Thomas Mann. His intellectual ancestry plays as big a part in it as does the patriarch in the story of his children; and as the story of Joseph, written by Thomas Mann, was bound to become also the portrait of a whole epoch, so this book about Thomas Mann could not help seeing his work in the context of the age of which he was certainly one of the most representative writers. For this reason I should like to think that my study, being not only about Thomas Mann, is yet not less but, on the contrary, more about him. It would be gratifying if at the end the reader were as sure as I am myself that none of my apparent digressions ever loses contact with Thomas Mann's mind and achievement--as little as the tales of Jacob are without bearing upon Joseph's destiny.

My thanks for permission to use previously published material are due to The Times Literary Supplement, The Listener, and Messrs. J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd. I am grateful to Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd. in London and to Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in New York for permission to quote from the English translations of Thomas Mann's works. In many instances I have taken the liberty of modifying the translations, either to indulge my own preferences, or, more frequently, for the sake of a particular emphasis suggested by my interpretation.

Even if I cannot individually acknowledge all the help I have received in writing this book from friends, colleagues, and pupils, I sincerely hope they will know how grateful I am to them. I must, however, mention Professor Hermann J. Weigand, of Yale University. His scholarly enthusiasm for my subject . . .

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