Thomas Mann, Mario and the Magician
1. Overview of life and works
1875 Born in Lübeck (prosperous commercial town in North Germany) into an upper
middle class family; father owns firm of corn merchants.
1891 Mann’s father dies; family firm is sold, leaving Mann and his brother Heinrich
(also a writer) enough to live comfortably as free-lance writers.
1893 Mann family moves to Munich; Thomas joins them in 1894.
1894-1900 Mann publishes a number of short stories, several in a periodical edited by
Heinrich; the brothers work and travel together.
1900 Mann’s first novel, Buddenbrooks, is published; a great success, it establishes his
reputation as a writer.
1905 Marries Katia Pringsheim, daughter of wealthy Jewish mathematics professor.
1926 Mann family takes holiday at Forte dei Marmi in Italy, where they witness events
that inspire Mario and the Magician (published 1930).
1929 Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature, specifically for Buddenbrooks
1933 30 January: Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany; 11 February: Mann leaves
Germany with his wife, lectures in Holland and Belgium, and visits
Switzerland, where his children warn him not to return to Germany; settles
1936 Stripped of German citizenship.
1938 Settles in the United States; accepts a chair at Princeton University.
1941 Moves to California (Pacific Palisades).
1949 Revisits Germany for the first time since 1933; visits both West and East
Germany (the latter visit is much criticized in the West).
1952 Moves to Switzerland, where he dies in 1955.
Death in Venice (1912)
The Magic Mountain (1924)
Tetralogy: Joseph and his Brothers (1933, 1934, 1936, 1943)
Lotte in Weimar (1939)
Doctor Faustus (1947)
2. Thomas Mann’s politics
In his youth, Mann inclined to conservative, nationalist views; in 1914 he was in favour
of war, and shared the popular view that glorified the superiority of German culture
(deep, philosophical, unworldly, “unpolitical”) over (West) European civilization and
democracy (superficial, “political”, worldly). He expounds this view at length in
Reflections of an Unpolitical Man (1918).
By 1922, Mann’s views gradually change completely; he comes to ally himself with
humanist values and democracy; between 1922 and 1933, he openly defends the We