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Dr. Faustus:
The Life of the German Composer
Adrian Leverkuhn As Told by a Friend
by Thomas Mann

From Kirkus Reviews
The modest Thomas Mann boom, begun with the recent publication (by New Directions) of his early stories, continues with this fine new English translation of the author's last great novel, first published in 1948. A work written in old age and suffused with Mann's moral despair over his country's complacent embrace of Nazism, Doctor Faustus unrelentingly details the rise and fall of Adrian Leverkuhn, a gifted musician (modeled, as Mann admitted, on modernist innovator Arnold Schoenberg) who effectively sells his soul to the devil for a generation of renown as the greatest living composer. Woods's vigorous translation works brilliantly on two counts: It catches both the logic and the music of Mann's intricate mandarin sentences (if one reads closely, the rewards are great); and it gives the novel's narrator (``Adrian's intimate from his hometown'') a truly distinctive voice, making him more of an involved character than a rhetorical device. Mann's most Dostoevskyan novel should, in this splendid new version, speak more powerfully than ever to contemporary readers. -- Copyright 1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Topic: Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (1 of 4), Read 26 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis Date: Thursday, August 15, 2002 11:08 AM In this novel Serenus Zeitblom writes the biography of his deceased friend, the composer Adrian Leverkuhn. With admitted reticence, Serenus recounts the influences on and the development of the artist Adrian. He does so not only to understand his friend and come to terms with his death but because for Serenus "the artist's life functions as a paradigm for how fate shapes all our lives, as the classic example of how we are deeply moved by what we call becoming, development, destiny..." In telling the life story of his friend, Serenus explores, among other things, questions of life and art, especially music, cult and culture, psychology and politics. The result is a challenging and elevating read. Background about Thomas Mann Summary of Doctor Faustus (additional links at bottom) Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (2 of 4), Read 21 times Conf: Reading List From: Jane Niemeier Date: Thursday, August 15, 2002 09:33 PM Dean, As you may have guessed, I did not like this book. It seems to me that Mann uses a hundred words when ten would do just as well or better. I found Serenus to be very annoying. He followed Adrian around like a puppy, even taking theology classes just because Adrian was. Serenus seemed too good to be true. Adrian often ignored Serenus for his other friends, Rudolf Schwerdtfeger and Schildknapp. Adrian admitted himself that he was cold and incapable of close connections. Why did Serenus persist in his friendship? Jane
Topic: Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (3 of 4), Read 20 times Conf: Reading List From: Marcy Vaughan Date: Friday, August 16, 2002 12:25 AM This was not the easiest book to read. Serenus does come across initially as a pedantic and a bore, and the long, difficult interpretations of musical works did not make for exciting reading for me. But Im very glad I kept going - there were great rewards to be found in this thought-provoking novel of such ambitious scope. Its true that Serenus was absolutely devoted to Adrian, even though he was aware that his feelings for Adrian would never be returned. Serenus continued in this relationship because Adrian fascinated him one may even say to the point of obsession. Serenus explains his decision to join Adrian at the university as follows: My own wish to be near him, to see how he was doing, what progress he was making, and how his talents were unfolding in an atmosphere of academic freedom; the wish to live in daily communication with him, to watch over him, to keep an eye on him from close by [] Indeed, the question of his life, his very being and becoming, ultimately interested me more than that of my own, which was simple enough, requiring me to give it little thought [] The question of his life, in some sense much more lofty and more enigmatic, was a problem that, given my few worries about my own progress, I always had plenty of time and emotional energy left to pursue. (96). -Marcy
Topic: Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (4 of 4), Read 20 times Conf: Reading List From: Dean Denis Date: Friday, August 16, 2002 12:53 AM Yes, the one-sidedness of this friendship is evident from the start. Serenus wonders if he is worthy of writing the biography. Serenus worships Adrian and Adrian can't even call Serenus by his first name when he calls him at all. Yet, Adrian gives Serenus his manuscript. (Also, Mrs. Rodde gives him the book with name of Hippocrates on it. Hippoctrates is associated with "do no harm" yet poison in this book kills her daughter.) Serenus seems a repository for the past as evidenced by his classical studies, his views on science and the things which he inherits. On the other hand, Adrian is looking to the future struggling to express himself in ways which will endure. In describing this struggle Serenus shows us the elements of artist creativity which I found fascinating. (A struggle which reminded me of the Prelude in the Theatre of Goethe's "Faust.") Yet, in the end Serenus is compelled to leave off his hind-bound gazing and to write for future generations. Dean All roads lead to roam.



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