Mephisto

Mephisto

3.96 (2,537 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

A SAVAGE INDICTMENT OF EVIL, TOLD WITH AMAZING SKILL, MEPHISTO IS BASED ON THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR'S OWN BROTHER-IN-LAW, THE CELEBRATED GERMAN ACTOR GUSTAV GRUNDGENS. BANNED IN GERMANY FOR YEARS AFTER ITS INITIAL PUBLICATION, THE BOOK HAS BECOME A BEST-SELLER THROUGHOUT EUROPE WITH THE SUCCESS OF THE RECENT FILM VERSION. IT IS THE STORY OF A MAN OBSESSED WITH A SINGLE PASSION - TO BE A FAMOUS ACTOR. HENDRIK HOFGEN, AS HE IS CALLED IN THE NOVEL, IS AN UNKNOWN ACTOR WHO MARRIES TO ADVANCE HIS CAREER WHILE CONTINUING A MASOCHIS- TIC INVOLVEMENT WITH A BLACK DANCER. WHEN THE NAZIS COME TO POWER, HOFGEN IN ORDER TO KEEP PERFORMING,HASTILY RENOUNCES HIS COMMUNIST PAST AND DESERTS BOTH HIS WIFE AND MISTRESS, WHO HAVE BECOME POLITICAL LIABILITIES. HIS RAPID ASCENT IN NAZI SOCIETY CULMINATES IN HIS TRIUMPHANT PERFORMANCE AS THE DEMONIC MEPHISTO, BRINGING HIM INTO FAVOR WITH HERMANN GORING, WHO APPOINTS HIM HEAD OF THE STATE THEATRE.HOFGEN HAS REACHED THE APEX OF HIS CAREER BUT NOW MUST FACE THE MORAL CONSEQUENCES OF HOW HE GOT THERE. 1ST PUBLISHED 1936: THIS TRANSLATION 1977: AUTHOR DIED 1949(JS-7/91)show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 129.54 x 193.04 x 17.78mm | 181.44g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0140065784
  • 9780140065787

Review Text

A literary curiosity: a novel written in 1936 by Thomas Mann's son that's been banned these last number of years in Germany as libelous. Mann's brother-in-law, his sister's husband, was the ostensible prototype for the book's Hendrik Hofgen, a provincial actor who, by the agencies of a "dirty" smile, some natural talent, and the moral backbone of an amoeba, is able to rise through the miasma of the German Thirties to the position of State Theatre Director for the Nazis, directly under the sheltering wing of Goring himself. That Hofgen keeps a black mistress, Juliette, who regularly whips him, that he's toyed with Communism in order to keep contact with those on the outs in case they eventually get in - none of this matters once he moves himself onto the Berlin Stage in Faust and gives the Nazis a Mephistopheles to love, a "rascal" whose evil is endearing. Now suddenly on the heights, Hendrik's a swine who means to stay there; denunciations, jailings, killing await those in his past who threaten his position with compromising memories. Mann is quoted in the publisher's introduction as having intended to "analyze the abject type of treacherous intellectual who prostitutes his talent for the sake of some tawdry fame and transitory wealth" - but the objective is clear enough from the texture of the writing; italicized invective and jeremiad breaks into the narrative, as though Mann couldn't hold back his rage and disgust. Not a calorie is spent on making Hendrik even a jot sympathetic or human: he's a monster plain and simple. Strangely, the fact that the book has an agreed-upon real-life skeleton makes it moderately compelling. As a novel, its harsh artless Expressionism leaves a clumsy mark; but as a knife-thrust into a real belly, the book fashions a genuine, albeit footnote-size, drama of passionate enmity. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

2,537 ratings
3.96 out of 5 stars
5 33% (829)
4 39% (995)
3 22% (549)
2 5% (122)
1 2% (42)
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