Thursday, September 22, 2011

MM. Basecamp briefing 2

If you are of the prejudiced type there are a lot of reasons not to like Thomas Mann. While he was still celebrated as the most important German writer of the twentieth century in the years after the war, once he was death ( August 12, 1955 ), things changed. Especially in the non – conformist sixties and seventies dissenting voices were heard and not surprisingly, for Mann stood for everything the young rebels hated...

-         He was rich

Yes, not unlike many of his fictional characters, Mann was born rich, married rich and as a celebrated writer of Nobel prize stature he remained rich. He sat at the table with the US president, met the Pope, had several nice houses, nice cars, nice clothes, nice everything !

Bertold Brecht hated Mann. Brecht thought he was a pompous ass. Mann, with his bourgeois respectability embodied everything the radical hated.

-         He was Gay

Yes he was Gay! Worse ! He tried to hide it. Mann himself saw his gayness as an inversion. "Mann with his stature and reputation, some say, could have helped an earlier acceptance of homosexuality, an emancipation, a coming out..." True, but people forget that Mann was from another age. Born in 1875, he knew exactly what could happen if one did not hide. Mann was of a generation  that had read in the newspapers what had happened to another writer, Oscar Wilde in 1895. Mann feared public humiliation, which he knew would befall him if he spoke up. He was careful. Mann kept his tormented existince inside. In his words "He kept the barking dogs in the cellar"

Reinhard Lettau found Mann an "affected prima Donna"

-         He shamed the Germans 

Yes, the Germans never forgave him to be right about Hitler. Yes, he was wrong footed too in the beginning about Nationalism, just like everybody. But when he understood in 1933 what was going to happen, when he saw how the Germans made Adolf Hitler German chancellor, Mann left for Switserland and then to the USA. In the files of Nazi -boss Reinhard Heydrich, documents were found that show that it was the intention to send Mann to Dachau after his planned arrest.

 Mann shamed the Germans even more by refusing to come back after the war.He could have been a symbol that Reason had returned to Germany. But Mann staid in California untill the Mc Carthy's Communist witch hunt drove him finally away, away to Switzerland, to the Magic Mountains. He never lived in Germany again.

Rolf Schneider found Mann a political opportunist and a sneaky anti-semist.

-         He was too successful.

Since when do great writers write bestsellers ? Since when are great writers mentioned in "the book of the month club"? Again the intellectuals sneered.

"He spent his life serving watered down, misunderstood romanticism to his sycophantic readers" said Lettau. and Peter Ruhmkorf went so far as to say that Mann's writing style made him physical ill..

I leave it up to you to judge...