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Künstler dieser Zeit: Klaus Mann’s Novels of the 1930s

Choubey, C.A.M.T.W.; (2011) Künstler dieser Zeit: Klaus Mann’s Novels of the 1930s. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The 1930s represent the peak of Klaus Mann’s novel-writing with respect to output and quality. While the predominant proportion of critical work on Mann’s oeuvre has concentrated on those aspects which can be clearly associated with Mann’s life (his homosexuality, his family background, and his self-destructiveness), I feel that Mann’s writing was at least as influenced by the times in which he wrote. Therefore I concentrate on Mann’s work as a reflection of the times in which he was living, with minimal reference to his biography; and I focus on four novels which are all from and about the 1930s. What is particularly impressive about Mann’s fiction is his ability to articulate the acute sense of the political and social crisis facing Western civilisation in that era. Together these four novels vividly depict the political and social instability that led to the rise of Fascism, show the effect of exile, and warn of the destructive nature of the Third Reich. These novels can be divided into two categories: the novel of individual choice (Individualroman): Flucht in den Norden, Mephisto, and the panoramic novel of social life (Roman des Nebeneinanders): Treffpunkt im Unendlichen, Der Vulkan. I have identified three key themes occurring in his fiction: Love and Desire, the Mind and the World, and Community, which I discuss in each novel individually, as well as evaluating Mann’s narrative technique. Mann’s writing is very character-driven, he strives to make his characters as vivid and affecting as possible, to create an emotional connection with his readers, and facilitate a dialogue between author and reader. Mann is not the greatest German author of the twentieth century, however his work has both literary merit, and gives us an invaluable insight into the mindset of his generation.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Künstler dieser Zeit: Klaus Mann’s Novels of the 1930s
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of EU Langs, Culture and Society > German

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