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Impossible Conception

T.J. Reed: ‘Death in Venice’, 25 September 2014

Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach 
by Philip Kitcher.
Columbia, 254 pp., £20.50, November 2013, 978 0 02 311626 1
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... The double centenary​ in 2012 of the publication of Kafka’s The Judgment and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice was marked only, to my knowledge, by a single conference, in California. Yet these two stories represented crucial breakthroughs for writers who came to dominate the German literature of the age. Both experienced a creative liberation thanks to forces seemingly beyond the conscious efforts that were getting them nowhere – in old-fashioned terms, thanks to inspiration ...

Goethe In Britain

Rosemary Ashton, 19 March 1981

Goethe’s Plays 
translated by Charles Passage.
Benn, 626 pp., £12.95, July 1980, 0 510 00087 8
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The Classical Centre: Goethe and Weimar 1775-1832 
by T.J. Reed.
Croom Helm, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1979, 0 85664 356 4
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Goethe on Art 
translated by John Gage.
Scolar, 251 pp., £10, March 1980, 0 85967 494 0
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The Younger Goethe and the Visual Arts 
by W.D. Robson-Scott.
Cambridge, 175 pp., £19.50, February 1981, 0 521 23321 6
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... work the right form to express poetically his own recent raw experience – is one to which T.J. Reed, in his excellent account of Goethe in Weimar, The Classical Centre, pays close attention. As he says, Goethe’s poetry ‘was all born of particular occasions’. Reed persuasively shows how Goethe emerged, during what ...


J.P. Stern, 3 April 1986

Reflections of a Non-Political Man 
by Thomas Mann, translated by Walter Morris.
Lorrimar, 435 pp., £19.50, February 1986, 9780804425858
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... often been attacked for its politics. It is, in its way, a conservative manifesto. Yet, as T.J. Reed has observed in Thomas Mann: The Uses of Tradition, there is an air of unreality in Mann’s account of the issues involved – he is not in the least interested in the process by which political decisions are reached or enacted. ‘Democratic politics’ is ...

Impossible Wishes

Michael Wood: Thomas Mann, 6 February 2003

The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann 
edited by Ritchie Robertson.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £45.50, November 2001, 9780521653107
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Thomas Mann: A Biography 
by Hermann Kurzke, translated by Leslie Willson.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 7139 9500 9
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... gay film – was far closer to the writer’s secret life than most people had imagined. T.J. Reed says in the Cambridge Companion that ‘any observant reader of the works’ would have guessed what the diaries revealed, but this is being a trifle optimistic about Mann’s readers, even the observant ones. Still, it is true, as Andrew Weber suggests in ...

Reinstall the Footlights

T.J. Clark: The Art of the Russian Revolution, 16 November 2017

... accompanying banners, most of them hard to read. Maybe this isn’t an army on the move – the reed platforms are odd – but some kind of propaganda gathering. The black square on its pole tallies with a reminiscence of the architect Lubetkin, who said he saw the squares, black and red, being carried as a kind of totem – first elements in a language ...

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