THE THOMAS MANN READER by Joseph Warner - Ed. Angell


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This will accomplish what might have seemed impossible- when confronted with the twenty volumes of Mann's extraordinary achievement -- the chance for the reader to whom Mann is untouched to acquire a sense of familiarity with his works. Probably it will take many readers to the originals. For many others, it will provide a recall of works read, an opportunity to reassess their value, under skilled guidance. The editor has managed, in selection, arrangement, and accompanying critical and analytical commentary, to give one a sense of the compass of the writings and at the same time, a sense of their significance. An Introduction sketches the outline of Thomas Mann's life, stressing the points at which his background, his ancestry, his family, the bourgeois society in which he grew up, have all become integral to his writing. There is, recurrently, the richness of the settings of the ancient city of Lubeck, Travenmunde, where he spent youthful holidays, the conflict growing within himself in the yearning for the romantic, the turmoil of the artist in the modern world at odds with the moralist rooted in his past. His short stories, his novels, dramatize these aspects of his personality; his essays are reconnaissance of the conflicts between nature and spirit. Each of the main larger sections of this Reader has its own introduction, explaining the basis of selection, the place the work or segment of work chosen plays in the author's development. Then, preceding each selection is further comment, almost in the nature of program notes for concerts. The end impression is of an integration, a deepened awareness of Thomas Mann's significance as a world literary figure. The Reader contains two short novels (Tonio Krager and Death in Venice); a number of short stories; selections from Buddenbrooks. The Magic Mountain, Joseph and His Brothers, Dr. F essays- all or parts of four major critical essays, two literary portraits, political essays which trace the growth and development of Mann's own process of becoming a world citizen. In the main, where slight alterations for the purpose of continuity, have been made, they are done either in Mann's own words or with his careful collaboration and approval. For distinction and variety, for the revelation of patterns and recurrence of subject matter and themes, for variety of techniques, this Reader is a major achievement.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1950
Publisher: Knopf