Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn as Told by a Friend Places Discussed

Thomas Mann

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Buchel (BEW-shihl) Family farm on which Adrian was born in the heart of Germany, not far from Weissenfels. It is an idyllic German farm with abundant land and forest to sustain three generations of the Leverkühn family. In typical German fashion, the timberwork residence, barns, and stalls are built together to form a courtyard. In the middle is a giant old linden, a Germanic symbol of the cosmic tree at the center of the world connecting heaven and earth.

For ten years, Adrian and his friend Serenus play with the farm animals, feast on wild berries and blossoms, swim in a pond, and hike to the top of a hill. It is an edenic picture of German country life. Yet there is something eerie about the charm of Buchel. Adrian’s father has a streak of a morbid magician. The buxom dairymaid teaches the boys gruesome folk songs. Adrian has an odd disturbing laugh. As Serenus suggests, beauty conceals poison.

Buchel is Adrian’s cradle and grave. In the care of his loving mother, he spends the final ten years of his life at his home debilitated and lost to the world.


Kaisersaschern (KI-zurz-AHSH-urn). German town to which Adrian moves to attend school, about thirty miles from Buchel. Kaisersaschern, whose name means the “emperor’s ashes”—namely those of Otto III—is a composite of several German towns but is most similar to Lübeck, Mann’s birthplace and home in northern Germany. It is a modern commercial and industrial town of 27,000 inhabitants at a major railway junction and along the river Saale, the lifeblood of the area. At...

(The entire section is 665 words.)