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Closing the gap between music and history in Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus

Pratt, Rosemary; (2000) Closing the gap between music and history in Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The thesis aims to systematise in more detail than has been attempted to date the portrayal of music and German history in Doktor Faustus, and connections made between them. It first traces Mann's interest in politics and music, and how these were brought together in writing Doktor Faustus. It then examines discourse about music in the novel, separating description of the timeless, ontological features of music from descriptions of compositions, as particular historical manifestations of that ontology. The composer is seen as the key intermediary between ontological and historical features. The thesis then examines Adrian Leverkuhn's role; both the manifestation of music's ontology in his works, and the place of 'Erkenntnis' in them. Leverkuhn himself is found to have only limited engagement with the historica circumstances in which he composes. The next part of the thesis focuses on Serenus Zeitblom, showing that he, in his functions as narrator and admiring audience, gives Leverkuhn the historical specificity he would otherwise largely lack, rooting him in early twentieth century German history. It considers his descriptions of Germany, which, like music, is portrayed as having both a timeless ontology and specific historical manifestations. Both sets of characteristics correspond closely to those of music. Finally, the thesis considers how music and history are related to one another. Their treatment is found to lend weight to Mann's theory of 'one Germany'. Leverkuhn's significance, and thus, much of the connection between music and history, is found to stem from Zeitblom's narrative, but even this does not offer a clear framework of connections, e.g. a detailed allegory. The thesis concludes that whilst music and history do reflect each other in the novel, the gap between them is closed through the shared responsibility of the artist and his audience, suggesting that Zeitblom's role and culpability may be worth further examination.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Closing the gap between music and history in Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Doktor Faustus; Mann, Thomas
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100936
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