Portrait of Thomas Mann, From First Lover to Last Loneliness

  • Thomas and Heinrich Mannu War of the Mann Brothers
  • Century die of venice

life of if Thomas Mannu Whether it is a piece of video art or a film trailer, the work may begin with an almost dreamlike image saturated with light, an initiation scene on Lübeck Quay between two fellow boarders who have crossed the boundary between friendship and sexuality. To have left the classroom, but Joe, in the end, takes a step back, afraid of guilt. then it starts ringing eighth symphony In some of Mahler’s most disturbing sections and the film would become a crescent of collaged images: Venice, Hitler, the Nobel Prize, Davos, Heinrich Mann, Los Angeles, Freud, children, forbidden sex, suicide, death. war. And finally, in that moment when Mahler stops the rumble and picks up the lost tuneThe image will return to the sweetness of Lübeck.

The magician, by Colm Tobin (Lumen), is in contrast to a piece of video art or the Mahler Symphony. It is a long, fluid and almost invisible genre story that recounts the life of Thomas Mann. being presented as a great mystery without any thought, without emphasizing a single scene The secret of the sleepless Mann, the magician, was not his sexuality, nor what his seriousness hid, nor his talent for storytelling. Mann’s mystery is so central to the character that it would be childish to reveal it.

“What attracts me about Mann his imaginary situation, There are many scenes of his family life where he used to come into his house and everyone would make noise and do music and dance, except everyone who was silent and silent. Thomas saw it, it was a ghostly presence. He didn’t yell, he didn’t argue, he didn’t interrupt … and he was the opposite of power when he wrote,” explains Tobin from Los Angeles, the city where the author of Dr. Fausto He went into exile between 1942 and 1952.

Thoughts that Tobin, author of nora webster and of BrooklynThe novel Life of Thomas Mann is compelling but not unusual. 16 years ago, Tobin was published in Spain master. adult artist portrait (Edhasa), his account of Henry James. “Both Thomas Mann and Henry James” He was a writer who created an image with which to present himself to the world, Mann presented himself as an academic, a German intellectual, a solid presence… After his death, the world found that his reality was full of cracks, that he was too unstable, that he saw himself as one. seen as delicate appearance, His life was sexual, political and filled with a sense of self ambiguity,” Tobin explains.

The temptation is to start with sexiness. First view of Lübeck Dock. Thomas Mann, a teenager nearly inaccessible to his peers, discovers friendship in a miller’s son, idealizing and romanticizing that bond. On the day of the exodus, he declares his love. Not quite clearly but almost, and his friend answers him with a yes but no and gives a hug that’s hard to explain. Then the holidays come and the friendship breaks up. Scene 2: When Mann is in high school and lives alone, as a guest at a teacher’s house, his son, a rude and contemptuous boymakes her his lover. The relationship is rather brutal and is always on the verge of discovery and slander. If someone fantasizes about a story called What was not told about Budenbrook, Here’s the stuff.

Third scene: Munich, a Wagner concerto. Mann, still an aspiring writer, sits in a second-class seat in the auditorium. His gaze goes to the audience, Katya and Klaus Pringheim, the most beautiful members of the city’s intellectual bourgeoisie: handsome, educated, witty, aggressive, Jewish… Mann looks at them both at the same time, willingly. Katya traces his gaze and understands everything, inside and out, and Thomas’s loneliness. And so begins the courtship which ended in 50 years of marriage and six children. “Mann kept his sexuality, his desire and some encounters a secret. But Their marriage was not as tragic as is often the case with gay men living with a woman., Katya was a figure who was ahead of her time. She knew who her husband was and she wanted him that way.”

Actually, Mann’s sexuality was never so secret. When he met Katya, he wrote a story in which he clearly explained the first impulse of Wagnerian polyamory. and of death in venice You don’t need to give many explanations. Interestingly, Tobin’s story suggests that this sexuality was part of a conflicting image that Mann had of himself, that of the bearer of the One. damned genes, To begin with, because her mother was a Catholic and expressive Brazilian, she violated Lübeck’s norms with her appearance.

“This is the essence of the novel: Mann’s image as a bourgeois writer in control of his life was not true. Mann was, in fact, a voluptuous and volatile man. Even so much in his intellectual formation. There was instability.” He didn’t go to university and was never in Paris, as easy as it would have been, And as an intellectual, he was a great reader but he was also a practical reader: he chose the books that interested him in writing.”

Tobin’s Mann is also an outrageously easygoing writer: he spends a few days in Venice and brings death in venice like someone brings a souvenir, He goes to visit Katya in a sanatorium in the Alps and writes The Magic Mountain because that was the logical consequence. “wrote Los Budenbrook It’s like I saw the whole story in one picture” explains his portrait artist.

However, there is some drawback MagicianMann’s intellectual portrait. For example, there is not a single line devoted to explaining whether he liked Balzac more than Tolstoy, for example, what he thought of Goethe or Oscar Wilde., “I wrote that part but it didn’t work, it took me off my interest with his life in the family and I was bored. I cut out 55,000 words about it.”

Then a question: Mann was almost a contemporary of Marinetti, Picasso, Joyce and Le Corbusier., Were you not interested in the intellectual revolution of your generation, that of the avant-garde? “He became interested in modernism in America very late in the 1940s. At that time he found out what James Joyce had achieved, although I do not think he has read it. In his diaries or Picasso’s letters, or about There is no mention. Marinetti. Freud interested them greatly. Schoenberg drew them intellectual rather than pleasure for the senses., His taste lay with Wagner and Mahler. In fact, he was a 19th-century German man who had the misfortune of living in the 20th century.”

The tendency is to see the fate of Mann’s children as self-destructive, suicidal and drug-addicted, evidence that this mixture of chronology, concealment and severity was the seed of insurmountable pain. Tobin doesn’t believe it: he says the novelist’s children They were happy children whose lives were shattered by the trauma of the Third Reich, On the other hand, his father did the right thing: “In 1914 he was a monarchist, a pro-Russian, a conservative. Later, he became a great democrat and spoke with great courage against Hitler.”

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