Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus

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Overview

"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 Leverkühn, 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.

Leverkühn'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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375701160
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/1999
Series: Vintage International Series
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 190,066
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

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.

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Doctor Faustus (Everyman's Library) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This translation, by H. T. Lowe-Porter, was done during Mann's lifetime. He and Mrs. Lowe-Porter knew one another and he was aware of her method of translation. I find her rendition to be more in the spirit of Thomas Mann than later ones, if only because it is through her translations that I became aware of his work. If you compare her lines to those of other translators, she seems more intellectual, or, if you will, academic, and Mann was nothing if not an academic writer. It's a shame this translation is being shunted away into history. In a sense, she was his collaborator. This novel is a bit like MOBY-DICK in that there are several chapters of narrative and then several chapters of technical description. In the case of MOBY-DICK, the technical descriptions are of whale biology and in the case of DOCTOR FAUSTUS, the technical descriptions are of music. I learned an incredible amount about music history, theory and practice from this stunning epic. It is also a tragic story. Anybody with a serious interest in the mid-20th-century crisis in Europe should read this novel.
rdm666 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my second favorite book of all time. It's a portrait of a driven genius coping [as well as he can?] with amoral anomic despair, with German 1940s culture in the background. It is as deep as hell, literally. And it almost leads me to understand music.
Pianojazz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a massive novel, comparable in scope and difficulty to anything from Thomas Pynchon. Perhaps I have become enamored of it because music--specifically Schoenberg's 12-tone system--forms the heart and soul of the book. Or perhaps because the book evokes a time when scholarship and literacy were marks of the well-educated person. Or perhaps it's because Mann is such a fine writer, and John Wood a felicitous translator.Mann re-works the old legend of Faustus, who sold his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for unlimited knowledge. Here, Adrian Leverkuhn, a young German composer, afflicted with syphilis which has begun to affect his reason, may have had a similar encounter (or it may have all been in his fevered mind). Either way, he becomes the greatest composer of his age, but finds himself unable to love and ultimately perishes with that knowledge.Many read Dr. Faustus as a metaphor of the rise, spread and fall of Nazi Germany. Certainly Mann does nothing to dispel that, as allusions to Nazism and World War II permeate the book. But the novel has many levels of meaning, and resists facile comparisons. Mann questions the German social mores of his time, the rigorous education that its intellectuals underwent, the rigid stratification between the social classes, the German exaltation of nationalism as the single primary virtue. There is much to savor in this book, and much to disturb the sensitive reader.Given the current American political climate, I wonder if a new generation might not profit from a careful and considered reading of this book. There is no doubt that it is Mann's masterpiece; there is no doubt that it is one of the great novels of all time. But it demands a devoted reader . . . and if the reader is musically literate, so much the better. Lengthy discussions of Beethoven sonatas and string quartets go down much easier if the reader is already conversant with those musical masterpieces, or at least is willing to learn.A great book, by a great author.
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