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New Left Review 7, January-February 2001


What deadly secrets (boys apart) did ThomasMann have to hide? The Auguste Dupin of German letters follows a trail of bloody knives, howling dogs and unbidden confessions from Buddenbrooks and ‘Tonio Kröger’ to Doktor Faustus and Felix Krull.

MICHAEL MAAR

IN BLUEBEARD’S CHAMBER

Guilt and Thomas Mann

There could hardly be an author we know more about than Thomas Mann. Time and again, it’s true, hints of some still unplumbed darkness glimmer through the biographies and interpretations, a sense of some original trauma in Mann’s career. But a highly plausible account of these has now been widely accepted, as we shall see; and nearly all the evidence would seem to testify in its favour, including virtually everything in Mann’s diaries, extant from 1933 until 1955, the year of his death. Nearly all: only a scattering of entries in these diaries would indicate that the popular theory may not cover everything; only a handful cast real doubt on its explanatory force, suggesting that it leaves a small, decisive something unillumined—a moon that rises, night after night, but never quite waxes full.

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Michael Maar, ‘In Bluebeard's Chamber: Guilt and Thomas Mann’, NLR 7: £3
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