Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann
The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn As Told by a Friend

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Synopsis

The new translation, by the masterly John E. Woods, of one of Thomas Mann's most famous and important novels: his modern reworking of the Faust legend, in which twentieth-century Germany sells its soul to the devil.

Mann's protagonist, Adrian Leverkühn, is one of the most significant characters in the literature of our era, for it is in him that Mann centers the tragedy of Germany's seduction by evil. This modern Faust is a great artist: Leverkühn is a musical genius who trades body and soul in a Mephistophelian bargain for twenty-four years of triumph as the world's greatest composer. He is isolated, brilliant, a radical experimenter who both plays and thinks at the very edges of artistic possibility. The story of his life becomes an apocalyptic narrative of his country's moral collapse as it surges into the catastrophe of World War II. No simple symbolic figure, Leverkühn is himself, almost paradoxically, a morally driven man in the vortex of an entire culture's self-destruction.

Through the wonderful--and terrible--story of Leverkühn's life and death, Mann not only gave us his most profound writing on the very nature and heart of all art--how it is created and how it impinges on every aspect of our experience: artistic, religious, political, sexual, psychological--but also forced his countrymen (the novel was first published fifty years ago, in 1947) to come face-to-face with how they had fallen prey to all that was most lethal in their heritage.
 

About Thomas Mann

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Thomas Mann was born in 1875 in Germany. He was only twenty-five when his first novel, Buddenbrooks, was published. In 1924 The Magic Mountain was published, and, five years later, Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Following the rise of the Nazis to power, he left Germany for good in 1933 to live in Switzerland and then in California, where he wrote Doctor Faustus (first published in the United States in 1948). Thomas Mann died in 1955.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published November 25, 1997 by Knopf. 534 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction

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Interjected at irregular intervals are Zeitblom's own comments on the turmoil of his world, caught in the maelstrom of World War II, during which he is writing and seeking to recapture a lost world.

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Kirkus Reviews

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The modest Thomas Mann boom, begun with the recent publication (by New Directions) of his early stories, continues with this fine new English translation of the author's last great novel, first published in 1948.

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Examiner

When I picked up Doctor Faustus, by Thomas Mann (translated from German by John E.

Nov 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Doctor Faustus: The Life of t...

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Boston Review

Kafka's Castle and Mann's Doctor Faustus mark the two poles of novelistic style in German modernism.

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