Antilibrary

So many books to read, so little time.

Question About Thomas Mann

with 4 comments

One way I have accumulated a large library is buying opportunistically at thrift stores, yard sales, bargain tables, library sales, etc. Some of this purchasing has been of books I know to be good and which I know I want. Other purchases have been more speculative.

One example is the novels of Thomas Mann. He is well-regarded, and based on things I have read, I think I will like his writing.

I own five of his novels, but I have not yet read any of them. Four of them I got when I saw a copy either for free or nearly so. These are sitting on my shelf: Buddenbrooks, The Holy Sinner, Doktor Faustus and The Magic Mountain. My brother in law gave us a copy of Felix Krull, Confidence Man.

Does anyone have an opinion about (1) the value of Thomas Mann generally, or (2) which of these five is the best one to read?

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Written by lexingtongreen

November 1, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. For what it is worth: Magic Montain, Felix Krull, Buddenbrocks, The Holy Sinner.

    Incidentially, as a German-speaker with some slight experience of a translator`s work: I pity the poor sod who has to translate Mann into English. Get a good translation or you ll be sorely disappointed.

    fabiusmcunctator

    November 1, 2008 at 8:36 pm

  2. There is no good answer to your question.

    Either you’ll like him or you won’t.

    If you like him, you’ll want to read it all, and there will be a “best” order (my guess, chronological).

    If you don’t really like him, you’ll only want to read his “best.”

    Not having read Mann, I can’t help either way, except to say the only person who will be able to tell you is the you that already read all the books.

    Joshua Simeon Narins

    November 2, 2008 at 2:50 am

  3. Joshua, what you wrote is both wrong and useless.

    Of course it is possible for one person to tell another person whether a book or an author is good or not, and why. We do that all the time.

    The ocean of books is effectively infinite.

    Getting direction and suggestions from other knowledgeable people is the whole point of this blog.

    I will also say that you know this, that you live and function accordingly, like every other literate person, and your comment is some kind of pose.

    Why bother?

    Lexington Green

    November 2, 2008 at 3:29 am

  4. Addendum:
    A young writer named Daniel Kehlmann was recently awarded the City of Lübeck`s Thomas Mann prize.

    He had this to say (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

    „… it is a work of incomparable perfection, full of wit and demons, full of beauty and dark corners which one may only approach with all one`s courage. Archangels appear and the devil and many civilized people … who try to be decent and respectable and yet do not succeed. Only he himself succeeded more or less and was very proud of it. …”

    Sorry for the wooden translation. Original (full text, German only) is here.
    http://www.faz.net/s/RubD3A1C56FC2F14794AA21336F72054101/Doc~ECA1143C7CB644E97B440304B17730D72~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html

    I know vy little about Kehlmann`s work, but I rather like the passage quoted above.

    fabiusmcunctator

    November 2, 2008 at 9:01 am


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