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November 13, 2010


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The Woods translations of Mann have been a revelation. It's been said of poor Lowe-Porter that she toiled for decades to render Mann's novels into...German.

Dan Callahan

The ambition of Mann's "Doctor Faustus" left me weak in the knees; I love "Buddenbrooks" more, but you really have to bow down to this one.

Ted Kroll

Glenn, OK, you got me off to the library to pick up "Doctor Faustus". Now while you are in your High Literary mode, would you spill the beans on the "Naphta to your Settembrini" reference that you dropped in Brody's blog the other day? When I googled "Naphta" I got nothing but soap :)


@ Ted Kroll: "Magic Mountain". TM processing the great war and the fight with his brother Heinrich & his acceptance of the Weimar Republic. Naphta & Settembrini: so many sources: jews, germans, schopenhauer, nietzsche, wagner &c. Dr. Faustus is one of the few great novels of the 20th century. A very ambitious failure.

Jonathan W.

This book contains maybe the best pieces of musical criticism in fiction, if only for its persistence in bringing point after point to the table. Really, just endlessly engrossing.

Glenn Kenny

@ Ted: Thomas is right, but not necessarily in a way that might be entirely of help to you with respect to your immediate question. So. Yes, I was referencing another Mann work, "The Magic Mountain." In which hero Hans Castorp goes for a TB cure at a spa an encounters two would-be mentors, the benign secular humanist Settembrini and the much more caustic, paradoxical, and ultimately unwholesome, that is, evil, Naphta. I cast myself in that role in my opposition to Richard Brody's Swanberg-championing just to be, you know, funny. Just as the Weinberg/Bogdanovich reference bows to a disagreement between those two luminaries over Hawks' "Hatari," with Bogdanovich taking the "correct" position of enthusiasm and Weinberg balking. Of course I don't really see it that way, as I of course believe that I am right, and good, and secular humanist and all that in my position on Swanberg, whom I see as a fake and a fraud and a corrosive influence on all that is good and true and pure in both art and life. Hope this helps.

Ted Kroll

Thomas, Glenn - Thanks for the clarification, Hmmm - Thomas Mann and Swanberg almost in the same sentence - what's the world coming too? Actually, from what I can tell they are pretension from opposite ends of the telescope. I shouldn't say anything on this since none of that mumblecore stuff seems to get this far south (Virginia) and I have yet to read much Mann. As much as I love NYC, much of what goes on there seems so ... provincial, but it is interesting to read about ... sometimes. Keep up the good fight, Glenn. Of course, you're right ... most of the time.

Jaques Dutronc

Re: Magic Mountain. After considerable build up, Hans finally sits down with the mysterious staff psychoanalyst. The door to the office closes, leaving the reader out in the waiting room (so to speak), and the analysis is never referenced in the novel again. !?! I've read Mountain several times now and I still can't wrap my head around it. As a 'decision' it feels irreproachably deliberate...and yet ineffably at odds with the conceptual scope of the work (i.e. the return of the repressed as physical illness a-la-Freud). Any thoughts on this Glenn?


@Thomas: Faustus a failure? Are you quite certain you're not faulting Mann for missing a target he wasn't aiming at?

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