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Mann v. Mann

Colm Tóibín: The Brother Problem, 3 November 2011

House of Exile: War, Love and Literature, from Berlin to Los Angeles 
by Evelyn Juers.
Allen Lane, 400 pp., £25, May 2011, 978 1 84614 461 5
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... The imposing house on Stockton Street in Princeton where Thomas Mann lived between 1938 and 1941 is these days owned by the Catholic Church. The main room is large enough for a congregation to assemble, and now contains pews and an altar. At either end of this room there are two beautiful smaller rooms with walls of glass, one made for summer light and the other designed for the winter ...

Magic Thrift

J.P. Stern, 16 September 1982

Thomas MannThe Making of an Artist 1875-1911 
by Richard Winston.
Constable, 325 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 09 460060 0
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... and Clare Winston are well-known as the authors of elegant and accurate translations of some of Thomas Mann’s essays and correspondence, including The Letters of Thomas Mann, 1889-1955. While annotating that selection, Richard Winston began assembling material for what he intended to be an extensive ...

I Could Sleep with All of Them

Colm Tóibín: The Mann Family, 6 November 2008

In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story 
by Andrea Weiss.
Chicago, 302 pp., £14.50, May 2008, 978 0 226 88672 5
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... Thomas and Katia Mann had six children. It was clear from early on that Katia most loved the second child, Klaus, who was born in 1906, and that Thomas loved Erika, the eldest, born in 1905, and also Elisabeth, born in 1918. The other three – the barely tolerated ones – were Golo, born in 1909, Monika, born in 1910, and Michael, born in 1919 ...

Deutschtum

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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... the Germans fought a war to assert theirs – or so many German intellectuals felt in August 1914. Thomas Mann’s contribution to this eruption of nationalist self-consciousness was delivered in a series of essays written over the following four years, and it is among the strangest things he ever wrote. Not the least paradox of this exacting, ambitious ...

No Fun

David Blackbourn: Heinrich and Thomas Mann, 15 October 1998

Letters of Heinrich and Thomas Mann, 1900-49 
edited by Hans Wysling, translated by Don Reneau.
California, 444 pp., £40, March 1998, 0 520 07278 2
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... Twenty years ago Nigel Hamilton wrote a double biography of the literary Brothers Mann, giving equal billing to the celebrated Thomas and the neglected Heinrich. It was certainly time to look again at Heinrich, whose importance as a public and literary figure had been taken for granted by an earlier generation of writers ...

Why should you be the only ones that sin?

Colm Tóibín, 5 September 1996

Thomas MannEros and Literature 
by Anthony Heilbut.
Macmillan, 636 pp., £20, June 1996, 9780394556338
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Thomas MannA Biography 
by Ronald Hayman.
Bloomsbury, 672 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 7475 2531 5
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Thomas MannA Life 
by Donald Prater.
Oxford, 554 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 19 815861 0
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... Adrian Leverkuhn, Felix Krull – are shaped by their uneasy and ambiguous homosexuality. For Mann being German came first, and he learned, as Anthony Heilbut rather quaintly puts it, to read German history as one long queer epic – he alluded to Frederick the Great’s homosexuality and depicted Bismarck as ‘hysterical and high-pitched’. When ...

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 MannA Biography 
by Hermann Kurzke, translated by Leslie Willson.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 7139 9500 9
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... only a writer of very High Modernist tendencies would take this remark as a compliment, but Thomas Mann certainly did, and it wasn’t even addressed to him. He found it in Harry Levin’s little book on Joyce, which he read in 1944. He was also much drawn to another sentence in the same work: ‘The best writing of our contemporaries is not an ...

Rendings

Edward Timms, 19 April 1990

Thomas Mann and his Family 
by Marcel Reich-Ranicki, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Collins, 230 pp., £20, August 1989, 9780002158374
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... led him to praise one book and damn another. These same merits and limitations are evident in Thomas Mann and his Family, the first of Reich-Ranicki’s books to be translated into English. This collection of articles, lectures and reviews, skilfully translated by Ralph Manheim, offers a searching reassessment of ...

Diary

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Putting in the Commas, 15 September 1988

... In December 1947 the American writer Susan Sontag was invited to have tea with Thomas Mann. She was 14, a high-minded schoolgirl full of literature and the seriousness of life. She had one friend, and this boy, her disciple, had written to Thomas Mann, who was then living in California, telling him that they had been reading his books and admired them above all others ...

How to Hiss and Huff

Robert Alter: Mann’s Moses, 2 December 2010

The Tables of the Law 
by Thomas Mann, translated by Marion Faber and Stephen Lehmann.
Haus, 113 pp., £10, October 2010, 978 1 906598 84 6
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... Thomas Mann wrote this engaging novella in a few weeks in 1943. (The new translation by Marion Faber and Stephen Lehmann, which is brisk and direct, is a welcome replacement of the fussier and less accurate English version done by Helen Lowe-Porter for the original publication.) The novella was written after Mann helped pitch a film on the Ten Commandments to MGM ...

Queen to King Four

Robert Taubman, 19 June 1980

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 245 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 9780224017909
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No Country For Young Men 
by Julia O’Faolain.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1308 8
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The Girl Green as Elderflower 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 150 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 9780436497315
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The Sending 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 7181 1872 3
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... resemblance – suggested, too, in the solemn tone of the Zone Three chronicler – to an idea Thomas Mann used in his fable The Transposed Heads. A fable has to match invention to idea, and all with perfect simplicity. It would be easy to conclude that Doris Lessing isn’t as good at this as Thomas Mann. The ...

Graham Greene Possessed

Brigid Brophy, 1 May 1980

Doctor Fischer of Geneva. Or The Bomb Party 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 140 pp., £4.50, March 1980, 0 370 30316 4
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... What can have possessed Graham Greene? The answer, I suspect, is the ghost of Thomas Mann. The Swiss setting of Doctor Fischer of Geneva might be determined by some generic effluvium of Mann, a compound of his Magic (Swiss) Mountain, his post-war return to Switzerland and, perhaps, his rather landlocked position at the centre of European letters ...

The Innocence Campaign

Isabel Hull: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’, 2 February 2017

‘Lusitania’: The Cultural History of a Catastrophe 
by Willi Jasper, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 233 pp., £18.99, September 2016, 978 0 300 22138 1
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... at his country’s methods was so great that he broke off relations with former friends (like Thomas Mann) and even his current lover, who championed the sinking. Others were moved to fisticuffs. The social-critical novelist Leonhard Frank overheard a socialist journalist proclaim in a posh Berlin café that the destruction of the Lusitania was ...

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 ...

Bullies

Gabriele Annan, 7 February 1991

Reminiscences and Reflections 
by Golo Mann, translated by Krishna Winston.
Faber, 338 pp., £25, January 1991, 0 571 15151 5
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... The Mann family romance is among the tragic real-life soap operas of the century, a large-cast drama of genius, talent, fame and infamy, fraternal hatred, rocky and rock-hard marriages, open and covert sexual deviancy, secrets and suicides. It provided material for Thomas, Heinrich, Erika and Klaus Mann’s novels and plays, and for plenty of biographies and psycho-literary studies besides ...

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