With its unprecedented picture of Mann's character and accomplishments, Heilbut's biography opens up an important new...




This recursive, elliptical study of Thomas Mann's life and writings successfully captures the total Mann, albeit with some sacrifice of narrative cohesion.

With terse elegance, Heilbut (whose previous book was a study of 1930s German artistic and intellectual refugees) knots together diverse moments from Mann's long career. Looping from considerations of definitive late novels like Doctor Faustus back into descriptions of Mann's youth, Heilbut traces how the writer's introversion and self-obsession underwrote his telling commentaries on German society. Heilbut notes that Mann's birth was roughly contemporaneous with the political unification of Germany, the legal emancipation of German Jewry, and the popularization of the term "homosexual.'' Detailed critical readings of Mann's private and public works explore the author's psyche while showing how Mann's literary consciousness became a theater for the exploration of the license and limits of German, Jewish, and homosexual self-expression. Heilbut recounts, for example, how the classic novella Death in Venice celebrates homoerotic longing while depicting a national idol dying amid debased tourism. Boldly venturing where other recent Mann biographers—Ronald Hayman and Donald Prater—tread only haltingly, Heilbut cites letters and journal entries in contending that the straitlaced Mann not only acted on his homoerotic impulses, but moreover had tacit understandings with his family about his orientation. Heilbut's path is emphatically not linear; the best recent chronological account remains Hayman's. And in large part because of his book's associative structure, Heilbut fails to capture the force of Mann's activism against Hitler and subsequent exile with the acuity that Prater displays. Nevertheless, Heilbut does convey plenty of relevant intellectual history, connecting Mann to contemporaries like Bertolt Brecht and Theodor Adorno, and noting the important influence on his work of writers like Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Whitman.

With its unprecedented picture of Mann's character and accomplishments, Heilbut's biography opens up an important new perspective in Mann studies.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-394-55633-X

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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