Reflections of a nonpolitical man

Thomas Mann, 1875-1955

Book - 2021

"When World War I broke out the author of "Buddenbrooks" was almost 40 but not yet in the public view one of the giants of European literature. In his native Germany it was thought that Gerhart Hauptmann and probably a few of his elder contemporaries were towering above him. But he already had a reputation as one of the most interesting writers in Europe and as a moralist from whom his many readers expected a message in a time of great trials. His first decision was that of a man ...of action, not a man of letters, and he volunteered for the Landsturm, the reserve army. The physician who examined him happened to know his work and reached the sensible conclusion that the writer Thomas Mann would make a greater contribution to the war effort than the soldier. Mann's despair was within manageable limits; he wrote to a friend that his nerves were bad and his heart, head and stomach would fail him. The doctor had probably saved him from disgrace"--

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Series
New York Review Books classics.
Subjects
Published
New York : New York Review Books [2021]
Language
English
German
Physical Description
xxi, 557 pages ; 21 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 551-556).
ISBN
9781681375311
1681375311
Main Author
Thomas Mann, 1875-1955 (author)
Other Authors
Walter D. (Walter Duff) Morris, 1929- (translator), Mark Lilla (writer of introduction)
  • Reflections of a nonpolitical man
  • Thoughts in wartime
  • On the German republic.
Review by Publisher Summary 1

"When World War I broke out the author of ''Buddenbrooks'' was almost 40 but not yet in the public view one of the giants of European literature. In his native Germany it was thought that Gerhart Hauptmann and probably a few of his elder contemporaries were towering above him. But he already had a reputation as one of the most interesting writers in Europe and as a moralist from whom his many readers expected a message in a time of great trials. His first decision was that of a man of action, not a man of letters, and he volunteered for the Landsturm, the reserve army. The physician who examined him happened to know his work and reached the sensible conclusion that the writer Thomas Mann would make a greater contribution to the war effort than the soldier. Mann's despair was within manageable limits; he wrote to a friend that his nerves were bad and his heart, head and stomach would fail him. The doctor had probably saved him from disgrace"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A classic, controversial book exploring German culture and identity by the author of Death in Venice and The Magic Mountain, now back in print.When the Great War broke out in August 1914, Thomas Mann, like so many people on both sides of the conflict, was exhilarated. Finally, the era of decadence that he had anatomized in Death in Venice had come to an end; finally, there was a cause worth fighting and even dying for, or, at least when it came to Mann himself, writing about. Mann immediately picked up his pen to compose a paean to the German cause. Soon after, his elder brother and lifelong rival, the novelist Heinrich Mann, responded with a no less determined denunciation. Thomas took it as an unforgivable stab in the back.The bitter dispute between the brothers would swell into the strange, tortured, brilliant, sometimes perverse literary performance that is Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, a book that Mann worked on and added to throughout the war and that bears an intimate relation to his postwar masterpiece The Magic Mountain. Wild and ungainly though Mann’s reflections can be, they nonetheless constitute, as Mark Lilla demonstrates in a new introduction, a key meditation on the freedom of the artist and the distance between literature and politics.The NYRB Classics edition includes two additional essays by Mann: “Thoughts in Wartime” (1914), translated by Mark Lilla and Cosima Mattner; and “On the German Republic” (1922), translated by Lawrence Rainey.