The Kenyon Critics: Studies in Modern Literature from the Kenyon Review

By John Crowe Ransom | Go to book overview

R. P. Blackmur


PARODY AND CRITIQUE: Notes on Thomas Mann's
Doctor Faustus

IN THIS country, at this time, our way of looking at our culture makes it difficult for us to look at a work of literary art which announces itself in its title, in the motto on its title page, and in the attributes of its hero as in intention a great work dealing with a very great man. We do not take to great men unless they be criminal or popular or fashionable or dead in some other way; we resent claims to maximum attention and maximum response--we like our great men to do our work for us, and we like to take up their greatness on the side, without noticing it, and without pain. The attitude is prudent, avoids risks and avoids snobbery, but it leaves us at a loss before Thomas Mann Dr. Faustus, the Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn as told by a friend-- and the sense of being at a loss is all the more acute when we see that the rest of the title page is covered by nine lines of Dante's Italian taken from the opening of the second Canto of the Inferno where Dante pauses to take his first breath in the unutterable human hell in which he found himself. Because I have now read this work three times, and have been moved variously and incongruously each time, it seems not only necessary but a good thing to risk both mistaken judgment and possibly snobbery--it seems good and necessary to take this work in its asserted role and attempt to frame the maximum response which maximum attention can initially yield to this image of greatness in our time. I have no fear I am alone in this

-182-

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The Kenyon Critics: Studies in Modern Literature from the Kenyon Review
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Essays 1
  • The Sorrows Of Thomas Wolfe 3
  • Pure And Impure Poetry 12
  • Myth And Dialectic in the Later Novels Of Henry James 17
  • Kafka's Distorted Mask 58
  • Joyce's Ulysses and the French Public 75
  • Robartes And Aherne: Two Sides of a Penny 88
  • The Stone And The Crucifixion: Faulkner's - Light in August 115
  • Emotions In Poems 127
  • Monsieur Verdoux As Theatre 138
  • The Good Ford 151
  • Parody And Critique: Notes on Thomas Mann's - Doctor Faustus 182
  • Novel into Film: - All the King's Men 225
  • Wordsworth And the Iron Time 233
  • Book Reviews 253
  • The Loud Hill Of Wales 255
  • Q's Revisions 259
  • The Whole Of Housman 263
  • Neither Historian nor Critic 267
  • The Humble Animal 277
  • Satan And Denis De Rougemont 281
  • The Everlasting Mr. Huxley 289
  • Dry Watershed 298
  • The Hellenism Of Robinson Jeffers 307
  • The Cost Of Distraction 312
  • Aristocracy And/Or Christianity 324
  • Bibliography 341
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