Thomas Mann Additional Biography

Biography

A comparison of Thomas Mann’s parents suggests immediately the sense of ambiguity or contrast that marks his works. His father was a rich middle-class merchant, a solid citizen of the patrician bourgeoisie of the North German, Hanseatic trading town of Lübeck; his mother, Julia da Silva-Bruhns, was a fiery, artistic woman with a passion for music, of South American (Brazilian) origin and Creole stock. Of the five children, in addition to Thomas, Heinrich, the oldest, also became a fine writer. Thomas was both proud and mocking of his own staid, honored ancestry: He saw the decadence taking place. When he was nineteen, in 1894, after the death of his father, the Mann enterprise in Lübeck fell apart and the family moved south to Munich. By this time, Mann had given up on the puritanism of middle-class respectability, though he never transgressed too noticeably in the opposite direction. The tension sparked his desire to become a writer—an artist with many reservations about his vocation, like Tonio Kröger—and after entering and exiting various schools, he traveled with Heinrich, winding up in Rome, where he began to work on the novel that brought him fame: Buddenbrooks, a story of the decadence of a bourgeois family. Then with Tristan and Tonio Kröger, he confirmed his reputation, expanding the focus, adumbrated in the later Buddenbrooks, from the sociological to the artistic-musical. Now Mann meditated on the contrast between life and art, between the one’s necessity for involvement and the other’s need for isolation. Like the former one, this new tension resulted in a kind of pervasive irony, aimed in both directions. As an artist in search of beauty, Mann had variously mocked political venality, but “Beim Propheten” (1904; “At the Prophet’s,” 1936) also mocks the artist’s solitude, in this case that of the poet Stefan George and his disciples.

Instinctively, Mann determined that the expansion of tensions necessitated an evolution of literary style, from the basically naturalistic vein of a writer steeped in the novelistic literature of Russia to the more intellectualistic manner of a writer interested both in realistic characterization and in a more directexposition of his own views. Mann mastered the art not only of open, contrastive dialogue between characters but also of “inner” dialogue between character and author. The novella Death in Venice illustrates the new manner in a context of disintegration and solitude. It appeared immediately before the eruption of World War I. In an effort to defy his would-be solitude as an artist, Mann surprised his contemporaries by embracing with passionate patriotism the nationalistic cause of Germany and of Wilhelm II. His essay on Frederick II of Prussia, “Friedrich und die grosse Koalition” (1915; “Frederick and the Great Coalition,” 1929), led to Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen, which was immediately attacked by his democratic critics as Germany succumbed. In the totality of Mann’s life, this political stance was an aberration....

(The entire section is 1259 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Thomas Mann (mahn) was born in Lübeck, Germany, on June 6, 1875. He was the son of Johann Heinrich Mann, a wealthy businessman, and Julia da Silva-Bruhns, of Brazilian origin; the Mann family was very much like that described in the author’s novel Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie (1901; English translation, 1924). Thomas was not the only person in his family with literary talent. His older brother, Heinrich, was an important novelist in his own right, and for a time his works were better known than those of Thomas. Mann’s father died in 1891, and the family’s fortune declined rapidly afterward. Mann attended the University of Munich and was briefly an insurance agent before settling down into his career as a full-time author.

Mann’s first publication was a collection of short stories, Der kleine Herr Friedemann (1898), and it met with general critical acclaim. Three years later, the novel Buddenbrooks firmly established Mann as an important author with an international reputation.

In 1905, Mann married Katja Pringsheim, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish banking family. Because of this marriage and the large sales of his books, Mann became independently wealthy. Together, Thomas and Katja Mann had six children. One of their children, Klaus, became an important author in his own right and is best known for his novel Mephisto (1936), which details events concerning his sister’s unhappy marriage...

(The entire section is 532 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Thomas Mann’s prose works exemplify the problems faced by humankind in the twentieth century: the loss of community, the decline of personal and cultural standards, and the reaction of the individual to both totalitarian governments and conventional society. Although Mann’s prose style stemmed from the traditions of the nineteenth century, it embraced the innovations of the modernists. His works also display the influence of the other arts, in particular, music, which served not only as a source of thematic material but also as a repository of formal procedures, such as the leitmotif. Mann’s works are extraordinarily complex and densely filled with metaphors and other types of allusions; however, they remain popular and accessible to readers at large.

Biography

A master of refined and tightly structured prose, and arguably one of the most important literary figures of twentieth-century Germany, Paul...

(The entire section is 454 words.)

Biography

(History of the World: The 20th Century)

Article abstract: Mann wrote in the tradition of nineteenth century realism, depending upon depth and breadth of treatment rather than stylistic innovation for his effectiveness. After receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929, he was widely regarded as a sage as well as a great artist.

Early Life

Thomas Mann was born in Lübeck, Germany (later West Germany), an important city since the days of the Hanseatic League, on June 6, 1875. His father, Johann Heinrich Mann, was an apparently prosperous grain merchant, who operated a family business dating back to the eighteenth century. His mother, Julia da Silva-Bruhns, was from Rio de Janeiro, a half Portuguese Creole. Johann Heinrich...

(The entire section is 2195 words.)

Biography

Thomas Mann was born on June 6, 1875 in Luebeck, Germany, to Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann, a government official and small business owner, and...

(The entire section is 393 words.)