Doctor Faustus
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Doctor Faustus

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"John E. Woods is revising our impression of Thomas Mann, masterpiece by masterpiece."--The New Yorker "Doctor Faustus is Mann's deepest artistic gesture. . . . Finely translated by John E. Woods." --The New Republic Thomas Mann's last great novel, first published in 1947 and now newly rendered into English by acclaimed translator John E. Woods, is a modern reworking of the Faust legend, in which Germany sells its soul to the Devil. Mann's protagonist, the composer Adrian Leverkuhn, is the flower of German culture, a brilliant, isolated, overreaching figure, his radical new music a breakneck game played by art at the very edge of impossibility. In return for twenty-four years of unparalleled musical accomplishment, he bargains away his soul--and the ability to love his fellow man. Leverkuhn's life story is a brilliant allegory of the rise of the Third Reich, of Germany's renunciation of its own humanity and its embrace of ambition and nihilism. It is also Mann's most profound meditation on the German genius--both national and individual--and the terrible responsibilities of the truly great artist."

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Product details

  • Paperback | 538 pages
  • 134 x 200 x 26mm | 399.16g
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Vintage Books
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0375701168
  • 9780375701160
  • 43,122

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"John E. Woods is revising our impression of Thomas Mann, masterpiece by masterpiece." --The New Yorker "Doctor Faustus is Mann's deepest artistic gesture. . . . Finely translated by John E. Woods." --The New Republic Thomas Mann's last great novel, first published in 1947 and now newly rendered into English by acclaimed translator John E. Woods, is a modern reworking of the Faust legend, in which Germany sells its soul to the Devil. Mann's protagonist, the composer Adrian Leverkuhn, is the flower of German culture, a brilliant, isolated, overreaching figure, his radical new music a breakneck game played by art at the very edge of impossibility. In return for twenty-four years of unparalleled musical accomplishment, he bargains away his soul--and the ability to love his fellow man. Leverkuhn's life story is a brilliant allegory of the rise of the Third Reich, of Germany's renunciation of its own humanity and its embrace of ambition and nihilism. It is also Mann's most profound meditation on the German genius--both national and individual--and the terrible responsibilities of the truly great artist.

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About Thomas Mann

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."

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Review Text

German novelist Thomas Mann's renaissance in popularity continues with a new translation of Doctor Faustus by John E Woods, translator of Mann's earlier works and notably Patrick Suskind's novel of evil and sensuality, Perfume. Published in 1947, Doctor Faustus - Mann's last great work - confronts Germany's response to the rise of the Nazi party, combining the Faust myth with Mann's highly controlled use of irony. The Faust character here is the daunting and brilliant composer Adrian Leverk, who rises from obscurity to enjoy his adoration as part of a deal with Mephisto. The figure is based loosely on modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg in that Leverk's great step forward is Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique. But this novel is no dry allegory, and what sets it apart is its narration by Leverk's friend Serenus Zeitblom, a mild humanist. Zeitblom, after Leverk's death, minutely details the events that chart Leverk's life, his rise and downfall as Germany spirals into hysteria 'a hectic flush on its cheeks'. In this period of Germany's history, Mann shows evil as seductive, insinuating itself into every part of society. What is ethically necessary is horrifically lacking. As Zeitblom pointedly says in a completely trivial context: 'A nature like Adrian's doesn't have much soul'. The strength of Woods's translation is his attention to the nuances of Zeitblom's discourse: his vanity and naivety, and his confusion regarding Leverk's anti-humanist aesthetic. He displays the excesses of humanist love in his tendency to mannered and pompous discourse, and his need to blind himself to the disastrous reality to which his humanisn should have alerted him. Zeitblom is thus a more vivid character here than in the standard Lowe-Porter translation, so the novel appears to be about both friends rather than just Leverk. A great, serious work that rewards sustained attention. (Kirkus UK)

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