Published on the eve of World War I, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity, Death in Venice tells the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doom.
In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio. "It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom," Mann wrote. "But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist's dignity."
Buddenbrooks, first published in Germany in 1900, when Mann was only twenty-five, has become a classic of modem literature -- the story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany. With consummate skill, Mann draws a rounded picture of middle-class life: births and christenings; marriages, divorces, and deaths; successes and failures. These commonplace occurrences, intrinsically the same, vary slightly as they recur in each succeeding generation. Yet as the Buddenbrooks family eventually succumbs to the seductions of modernity -- seductions that are at variance with its own traditions -- its downfall becomes certain.
In immensity of scope, richness of detail, and fullness of humanity, Buddenbrooks surpasses all other modem family chronicles; it has, indeed, proved a model for most of them. Judged as the greatest of Mann's novels by some critics, it is ranked as among the greatest by all. Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Beautiful…one of the best short novels he has written."—New York Times Book Review
"Can rank with the best of Mann's writing."—The Boston Globe
"Magnificent…one of the greatest bits of writing which one of the world's greatest writers has ever given us."—Chicago Herald-American
"Brilliant…one of those splendid novelettes which in this reviewer's opinion represent the very essence of Mr. Mann's literary art."—Saturday Review of Literature
"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.)…What is especially noteworthy about The Tables of the Law among Mann's fictions is its playfulness." —Robert Alter, London Review of Books
"His senses were hot, and so he yearned for spirituality, purity, and holiness—the invisible, which seemed to him spiritual, holy, and pure."
Thus Thomas Mann introduces Moses in The Tables of the Law, the Nobel Prize winner's retelling of the prophet's life. Invited in 1943 to write this story as a defense of the Decalogue, Mann reveals how strange and forbidding Moses' task was. As "the Lawgiver"—endowed with the wrists and hands of a stonemason—engraves the tablets, so he hews the souls of his people:
"Into the stone of the mountain I carved the ABC of human behavior,but it shall also be carved into your flesh and blood, Israel…"
Mann's tale of the ethical founding and molding of a people sharply rebukes the Nazis for their intended destruction of the moral code set down in the Ten Commandments. But does his famous irony and authorial license mock or enhance the Biblical account of the shaping of the Jewish people? You know the Bible story. Now read Mann's version—it will grip you anew.
Newly translated from the German by Marion Faber and Stephen Lehmann.
"To present the foundation of law for half the world is no simple task. The Tables of the Law is a historical title following Moses as he is tasked by God to present the ten commandments, providing a human and much different insight on the role of Moses as the Prophet of God. Expertly translated, The Tables of the Law is a solid addition to any literary fiction collection."—Midwest Book Review
From the Hardcover edition.
The ensuing correspondence between the two men documents a rare encounter of creative tension between literary tradition and aesthetic modernism which would be sustained right up until the novelists death in 1955. In the letters, Thomas Mann openly acknowledged his fascinated reading of Adornos Minima Moralia and commented in detail on the Essay on Wagner, which he was as eager to read as the one in the Book of Revelation consumes a book which tastes as sweet as honey. Adorno in turn offered detailed observations upon and frequently enthusiastic commendations of Manns later writings, such as The Holy Sinner, The Betrayed One and The Confessions of Felix Krull. Their correspondence also touches upon issues of great personal significance, notably the sensitive discussion of the problems of returning from exile to postwar Germany.
The letters are extensively annotated and offer the reader detailed notes concerning the writings, events and personalities referred or alluded to in the correspondence.