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  • Published: 1 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9781681375311
  • Imprint: NY Review Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 468
  • RRP: $29.99

Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man



A classic, controversial book exploring German culture and identity by the author of Death in Venice and The Magic Mountain, now back in print.

When the Great War broke out in August 1914, Thomas Mann, like so many people on both sides of the conflict, was exhilarated. Finally, the era of decadence that he had anatomized in Death in Venice had come to an end; finally, there was a cause worth fighting and even dying for, or, at least when it came to Mann himself, writing about. Mann dropped the short story he was working on in order to compose a full-throated paean to the German cause. Soon after, his elder brother and lifelong rival, the novelist Heinrich Mann, responded with a no less withering denunciation. Thomas took it as an almost unforgivable stab in the back.

The bitter dispute between the brothers would swell into the strange, tortured literary monument that is Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, a book that is as blind as it is troubled and full of curious insight. Mann worked on it and added to it throughout the war years, publishing it only when German defeat was inevitable, and these reflections are in a sense a first draft for his later explorations of German destiny in The Magic Mountain and Doktor Faustus. His effort to hold on to a notion of common good that lies beyond politics in the face of growing and inconceivable political disaster is all the more thought-provoking for being fatally flawed.

  • Published: 1 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9781681375311
  • Imprint: NY Review Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 468
  • RRP: $29.99

About the author

Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann was born in 1875 in Lubeck, of a line of prosperous and influential merchants. Mann was educated under the discipline of North German schoolmasters before working for an insurance office aged nineteen. During this time he secretly wrote his first tale, Fallen, and shortly afterwards left the insurance office to study art and literature at the University in Munich. After a year in Rome he devoted himself exclusively to writing.

He was only twenty-five when Buddenbrooks, his first major novel, was published. Before it was banned and burned by Hitler, it had sold over a million copies in Germany alone. His second great novel, The Magic Mountain, was published in 1924 and the first volume of his tetralogy Joseph and his Brothers in 1933. In 1929 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. IN 1933 Thomas Mann left Germany for Switzerland. Then, after several previous visits, in 1938 he settled in the United States, where he wrote Doctor Faustus and The Holy Sinner. Among the honours he received in the US was his appointment as a Fellow of the Library of Congress. He revisited his native country in 1949 and returned to Switzerland in 1952, where The Black Swan and Confessions of Felix Krull were written and where he died in 1955.

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