Doctor Faustus
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Doctor Faustus

By (author) Thomas Mann , Translated by John E. Woods

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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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  • Paperback | 538 pages
  • 134 x 200 x 26mm | 399.16g
  • 01 Feb 2000
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Vintage Books
  • New York
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0375701168
  • 9780375701160
  • 48,018

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Author Information

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

The modest Thomas Mann boom, begun with the recent publication (by New Directions) of his early stories, continues with this fine new English translation of the author's last great novel, first published in 1948. A work written in old age and suffused with Mann's moral despair over his country's complacent embrace of Nazism, Doctor Faustus unrelentingly details the rise and fall of Adrian Leverkuhn, a gifted musician (modeled, as Mann admitted, on modernist innovator Arnold Schoenberg) who effectively sells his soul to the devil for a generation of renown as the greatest living composer. Woods's vigorous translation works brilliantly on two counts: It catches both the logic and the music of Mann's intricate mandarin sentences (if one reads closely, the rewards are great); and it gives the novel's narrator ("Adrian's intimate from his hometown") a truly distinctive voice, making him more of an involved character than a rhetorical device. Mann's most Dostoevskyan novel should, in this splendid new version, speak more powerfully than ever to contemporary readers. (Kirkus Reviews)

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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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