KATIA MANN: UNWRITTEN MEMORIES by Elisabeth & Michael Mann -- Eds. Von Plessen


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Katia Mann was almost ninety years old before she agreed to break her silence (""there must be one person in this family who doesn't write"") on her fifty-year marriage to the renowned author of Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain and Felix Krull. Her memoirs are largely anecdotal and amusing stories about in-laws and children, family friends and famous acquaintances. On Hermann Hesse (see above for review of the Hesse/Mann letters): ""My husband had the feeling that The Glass Bead Game was a companion piece to Dr. Faustus. I can't quite see it that way myself."" Frau Mann remembers the 1929 Nobel Prize ceremony and a visit to the Roosevelts in the White House; the imperious Hauptmann, the very formal and intense Mahler, the didactic Lukacs and the politically naive Einstein. Among the colony of refugees in California, the Manns counted Horkheimer and Adorno, Werfel, Schonberg and Brecht as well as Chaplin as members of their crowd. She locates the foibles and weaknesses of the great and would-be-great with as precise a gift for observation as she attributes to Mann himself. Of some critical interest is her documentation of the genesis of Death in Venice (there really was a painted dandy and a beautiful Polish boy) and Magic Mountain (from Katia's gossip during the time she herself took a cure). Told with dignity as well as warmth, Frau Mann's memoir reveals a very human side of the forbidding intellectual and aesthete who explored the psychology of decline and decadence in the bourgeoisie.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1975
Publisher: Knopf