Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The principal characteristic of Mann’s style in this story is irony. The story about the professor’s dedication to the past and his conflicting emotions about the younger generation’s ways is told in the present tense; in addition to giving the narrative dramatic immediacy, the use of the present tense highlights the underlying theme. Mann’s distinctive use of telling details is particularly evident here; even minor characters such as the good-for-nothing young manservant and the blue-faced nurse spring to life in a few sentences. The professorial protagonist is characteristically thoughtful, serious, courteous, and restrained; his feelings are merely suggested or briefly mentioned, while his thoughts are expressed clearly and forcefully. Thus, Mann avoids bitterness, contempt, or sentimentality. In the end, the effect of this restrained and controlled style is deeply moving.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Germany of the Post War Period
‘‘Disorder and Early Sorrow’’ was first published in 1925, midway between the end of...

(The entire section is 732 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Point of View and Setting
In ‘‘Disorder and Early Sorrow,’’ the story is narrated in a limited third-person point of...

(The entire section is 819 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1924: To curb inflation, Germany issues a new Reichmark. Each new Reichmark is worth one billion of the old marks, which are...

(The entire section is 259 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Disorder and Early Sorrow’’ was adapted by Franz Seitz for the film ‘‘Disorder and Early Torment,’’ Jugendfilm, 1977.

(The entire section is 17 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

A Man and his Dog (1919) by Mann. This is an autobiographical story about life in Munich. This story, a ‘‘depiction of idyllic...

(The entire section is 265 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)


Bolkosky, Sidney. ‘‘Thomas Mann’s ‘Disorder and Early Sorrow’: The Writer as Social Critic,’’ in...

(The entire section is 241 words.)