THE STORY OF A NOVEL by Thomas Mann

THE STORY OF A NOVEL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mann's Doctor Faustus is far from being his best novel, but this interesting commentary on why it came to be written and under what circumstances goes far to explaining many of the enigmas the novel presents. Apparently the idea of writing a Faust-theme novel first occurred to Mann in about 1904, but it only came to term in 1943 when Mann was living in Los Angeles, a distinguished refugee who had denounced Nazi barbarism. Having just finished the Joseph sequence, he felt compelled to write a novel using this theme that was at once an autobiography, an expansion of his great short-story- Death in Venice, and a strenuous if sometimes heavy-handed attempt to explain the cultural crisis that was overwhelming not only Germany but all of the West. It is in great part the story of the contemporary artist himself, who in order to create has made a pact with the devil. The Hero, Adrian Leverkuhn, whose story is partially based on Nietzsche's life, is never fully realized in the novel and the horror which Mann hoped to evoke does not come off. This book perhaps explains why. There were many attendant circumstances in Mann's life at the time (dislocation; the downfall of his native land; major surgery) which did not favor the artist or the work.... The Story of a Novel is an interesting human and literary document, perhaps of special value as biographical material and for his devotees.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1961
Publisher: Knopf