The letters of the brothers Mann constitute a crucial document of 20th-century German culture and politics, and they are by...

The brothers Mann, both articulate witnesses of this century's European upheaval, give lively testimony to their usually competing perceptions.

Thomas Mann and his older brother, Heinrich, were both prominent novelists in Germany before the First World War. Though they had much in common, they fell out politically and philosophically with each other over their competing visions of Germany. Thomas was a deeply conservative, anti-Western nationalist; Heinrich was a francophile advocate of Western democracy, an avowed opponent of Germany's prevailing romantic nationalism. The war brought their rivalry to a head and provides this fine volume with its most compelling, bitter, and revealing letters—revealing about Germany at the time, about the sibling rivalry of two novelists, about myriad fascinating details of their private and writing lives. The underlying love-hate relationship that defines all their exchanges to one degree or another lends this book the character of an epistolary novel: Thomas's internationally rising star vs. his older brother's decline into obscurity. Thomas, of course, is best known in the US for his cosmopolitan commitment to Western democracy during the Nazi era. The letters to and from his brother clarify just how gradually the shift in his thinking occurred and what its limits were. It took the great novelist a good long while under considerable pressure from Heinrich and his children to break with Nazi Germany entirely. Happily, this beautifully edited and translated volume contains copiously informative notes and explanations. Anthony Heilbut's (Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature, 1996) foreword helps to situate the renewed interest in the brothers Mann. Edited by Hans Wysling, longtime director of the Thomas Mann Archive in Zurich, this first complete English translation of the correspondence is an exemplary edition.

The letters of the brothers Mann constitute a crucial document of 20th-century German culture and politics, and they are by any standard fine reading.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-520-07278-2

Page Count: 428

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1997



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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