The magician A novel

Colm Tóibín, 1955-

Book - 2021

"The Magician opens at the turn of the twentieth century in a provincial German city where the young boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative, conventional father and a Brazilian mother, exotic and unpredictable, who will never fit in. He hides both his artistic aspirations and his homosexual desires from this father, and his sexuality from everyone. He longs for the charismatic, beautiful, rich, cultured young Jewish man, but marries his twin sister. He longs for a boy he sees on a b...each in Venice and writes a novel about him. He has six children. He is the most successful novelist of his time. He wins the Nobel Prize and is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler. His oldest daughter and son share lovers. They are leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement. This stunning combination of German propriety and Bohemian revolution goes hand in hand for decades. We see the rise of Hitler, the forced exile of a swath of German writers and artists, Mann's narrow escape to America, his sojourn at Princeton, along with fellow exile Einstein, and his final move to LA in the late 40s where he presided over an astonishing community of writers, artists and musicians, including Brecht and Shoenberg, even as his children court tragedy. To call this a portrait of an artist is both reductive and true-it is a novel about a character and a family, fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed, and as flamboyant as it's possible to be"--

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Subjects
Genres
Historical fiction
Biographical fiction
Published
New York : Scribner 2021.
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
500 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781476785080
1476785082
9781476785097
1476785090
Main Author
Colm Tóibín, 1955- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* As with his triumphant fictional biography of Henry James, The Master (2004), Tóibín once again takes as his subject a literary titan, the Nobel laureate Thomas Mann. He first appears as a bright but unremarkable bookish youth in Lübeck, Germany, leading a privileged and sheltered life in the shadow of his senator father. After the patriarch's death, Thomas is aimless and floundering, enduring his mind-­numbing clerical job by secretly writing stories. His literary rise is meteoric following the sensation of his novel, Buddenbrooks. He marries the beautiful Katia, the cherished daughter of a wealthy family. His life is charmed and his reputation flourishing. He daringly draws on his homosexual impulses for the groundbreaking Death in Venice, and the publication of his magnum opus, The Magic Mountain, all but assures the attention of the Swedish Academy. Tóibín renders with nuance and grace Thomas' conflicted heart as he is fiercely loyal to his homeland yet forced to flee Nazi Germany and a devoted but emotionally unavailable father whose diaries contain his repressed fantasies of young men. Employing luxurious prose that quietly evokes the tortured soul behind these literary masterpieces, Tóibín has an unequalled gift for mapping the interior of genius. In Mann, Toibin finds the ideal muse, one whose interior is so rich and vast that only a similar genius could hope to capture it. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Tóibín is among the most esteemed literary novelists, his books always top-of-the-list. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

If it takes a great author to write about a great author, we're all set with Costa Novel Award—winning, Booker Prize short-listed Tóibín's reimagining of Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann. Tóibín moves from Mann's conflicted childhood and marriage into a Jewish family to his fateful encounter with a beautiful boy on a Venice beach and flight to America with the rise of Nazism. With a 175,000-copy first printing and a 10-city virtual or in-person tour. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The Booker-shortlisted Tóibín (House of Names) unfurls an expansive fictional biography of Thomas Mann, a Nobel laureate who was devoted to family, obsessed with physical beauty, and driven by desire. Tóibín draws on excerpts from Mann's diary entries, exposing unrequited loves and erotic encounters with male classmates and boarders as a young man in Lübeck, Germany, around the turn of the 20th century. The Mann who emerges in these pages is a man led by dangerous impulses and constantly pursued by the "lure of death and the seductive charm of timeless beauty" who creates a thinly veiled depiction of a merchant family from Lübeck in Buddenbrooks, records his hypersexual attraction to a young Polish boy in Death in Venice, and draws from his visits to his ailing tubercular wife at a sanatorium for The Magic Mountain. An academic sojourn in Princeton and worldwide lecture tours lead a U.S. State Department official to tell him, "after Einstein, you are the most important German alive." But a series of traumatic events including several suicides (siblings and two of his six children) compound the effects of the wars and his struggles with his sexuality, and he goes into exile in the Pacific Palisades. The glory of music dominates much of the novel—the strains of Wagner's Lohengrin; the "collision between bombast and subtlety" of Mahler's Eighth Symphony; and the glow said to have radiated from Bach when his music was performed, which Mann aspires to replicate in prose. This vibrates with the strength of Mann's visions and the sublimity of Tóibín's mellifluous prose. Tóibín has surpassed himself. (Sept.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The Magician opens at the turn of the twentieth century in a provincial German city where the young boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative, conventional father and a Brazilian mother, exotic and unpredictable, who will never fit in. He hides both his artistic aspirations and his homosexual desires from this father, and his sexuality from everyone. He longs for the charismatic, beautiful, rich, cultured young Jewish man, but marries his twin sister. He longs for a boy he sees on a beach in Veniceand writes a novel about him. He has six children. He is the most successful novelist of his time. He wins the Nobel Prize and is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler. His oldest daughter and son share lovers. They are leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement. This stunning combination of German propriety and Bohemian revolution goes hand in hand for decades. We see the rise of Hitler, the forced exile of a swath of German writers and artists, Mann's narrow escape to America, his sojourn at Princeton, along with fellow exile Einstein, and his final move to LA in the late 40s where he presided over an astonishing community of writers, artists and musicians, including Brecht and Shoenberg, even as his children court tragedy. To call thisa portrait of an artist is both reductive and true-it is a novel about a character and a family, fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed, and as flamboyant as it's possible to be"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of writer Thomas Mann, a man profoundly flawed and unforgettable, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile. 175,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A New York Times Notable Book, Critic’s Top Pick, and Top Ten Book of Historical FictionNamed a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg Businessweek?From one of today’s most brilliant and beloved novelists, a dazzling, epic family saga set across a half-century spanning World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War that is “a feat of literary sorcery in its own right” (Oprah Daily).The Magician opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.In this “exquisitely sensitive” (The Wall Street Journal) novel, Tóibín has crafted “a complex but empathetic portrayal of a writer in a lifelong battle against his innermost desires, his family, and the tumultuous times they endure” (Time), and “you’ll find yourself savoring every page” (Vogue).