Read Doktor Faustus (Eesti Päevalehe romaaniklassika, #37) by Thomas Mann Online


20. sajandi saksa kirjanduse klassiku Thomas Manni (1875–1955) filosoofiline romaan, mis on kogu tema loomingu omapärane kokkuvõte. Teose sündmustik ja tegelaskond on piiratud, tähelepanu keskpunktis on peategelase, helilooja Adrian Leverkühni saatus ja hingeelu, mida esitatakse tema sõbra poolt Teise maailmasõja lõpukuudel ülestähendatava biograafia kujul. «Doktor Faustus20. sajandi saksa kirjanduse klassiku Thomas Manni (1875–1955) filosoofiline romaan, mis on kogu tema loomingu omapärane kokkuvõte. Teose sündmustik ja tegelaskond on piiratud, tähelepanu keskpunktis on peategelase, helilooja Adrian Leverkühni saatus ja hingeelu, mida esitatakse tema sõbra poolt Teise maailmasõja lõpukuudel ülestähendatava biograafia kujul. «Doktor Faustus» sai kohtumõistjaks kogu selleaegse vaimumaailma, poliitika ja kunsti üle....

Title : Doktor Faustus (Eesti Päevalehe romaaniklassika, #37)
Author :
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ISBN : 9788498199178
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Doktor Faustus (Eesti Päevalehe romaaniklassika, #37) Reviews

  • Fionnuala
    2019-04-24 02:40

    Spring cleaning my gr shelves recently, I noticed the absence of a review of this book. Truth to tell, I was well aware of its absence as the thought of reviewing Doctor Faustus had haunted me since I finished the book two months ago. But spring cleaning is still a useful analogy. When the stronger rays of the sun hit our window panes at this time of the year, they reveal the layers of dust that have built up on the glass over the winter and which block our view of the outside world. Serenus Zeitblom, the narrator of this book, is such a layer of dust. He is always there, fixed between the reader and the world of the book, and he is less than transparent. I wanted to get a cloth and scrub him away, or better still, open the window and look out upon the world of Doctor Faustus for myself. Serenus Zeitblom. What a name. It conjures up a peaceful flower-filled time when all dangers and threats are nonexistent. A little joke on Thomas Mann’s part, I think. He likes his jokes, the obvious ones and the more hidden ones; while reading The Magic Mountain and Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, I noticed how carefully he chooses his words, his images and metaphors. This is an author who thinks in layers and he makes us want to access all the layers. But our way is blocked by Serenus. From the very beginning of this book, I found myself distracted by Serenus’ voice. It prevented me from focusing on the deeper layers of the story itself, the account of the life of the fictional musician and composer, Adrian Leverkühn, the Doctor Faustus figure of the title. Taking his role of narrator über seriously, Serenus tries very hard to build up a relationship with the reader whom he addresses as his ‘potential’ reader in the early stages, always keen to underline the authenticity of his testimony, that this is an account that will take him a long time and much anguish to tell. This underlining of the biographical nature of the account seemed to make it less true for me. The lengths Serenus goes to in order to explain how he knew exactly what was said in a conversation he wasn’t present at or how he knows what is contained in a letter he never actually saw, interfered with the (moderately) willing suspension of my disbelief and only served to make me excessively suspicious of him. Proust has a narrator who knows far more than anyone could possibly know about the rest of the characters' lives, but apart from creating a few unlikely voyeuristic opportunities for him, Proust doesn’t worry too much about how his narrator acquires his omniscience. He knows we know that he is writing a fictional autobiography. Serenus is trying to pretend that he is writing fact, and Thomas Mann is hiding so well behind his narrator that the dry humour I’d loved in The Magic Mountain doesn’t get past Serenus’ sober facade. It could be argued that this proves how successful Thomas Mann has been in creating his narrator, that the narrator was so real for me that he, and not the story he was telling, became the central point of the book. If that was what he intended, he succeeded very well.Serenus frequently stresses the haphazard nature of his account, that it has been written at a distance of many years from the events it describes, and during the unprecedented upheaval of WWII. He forecasts a similar upheaval for the reader as his biographical account progresses and he sounds a note of mysterious tragedy from the beginning. I experienced this ominous warning as the narrator seeking to make us, the readers, complicit in something nefarious in which he has been closely involved. We have been warned and read on at our peril: It is my belief, by the way, not only that those who read me will, in time, come to understand my inner turmoil, but also that in the long run it will not be foreign to them either. Serenus also emphasises the unplanned nature of what he is writing and how he is organizing it, pointing out how unintentional it is that the thirteenth chapter just happens to be the one that contains some unsettling references to evil* when we know well that everything here is intentional. Equally intentional, and frequently emphasised, is the idea that the dependence of good rests on the existence of evil, and it is left to women to carry the burden of the proof of evil's existence. Women and sex seem to equal evil in his version of events. On that note, I will finish with Serenus - excuse me while I take a moment to defenestrate him - he risked blocking your vision of what this book is about as much as he did mine. There were many aspects of this book I really enjoyed: the sections on music, especially in the early chapters when I listened to a lot of pieces as I read, The Harmonious Blacksmith, ♫, Beethoven’s Opus III, ♫, and many more.I was also very struck by the idea that music can be more than an aural experience - there's the visual aspect of the notes on the page and there’s a mathematical angle too. The composer exists as as artist, mathematician and writer. The idea of the composer as a writer is particularly intriguing; Mann reminds us that Beethoven continued to write music long after he became deaf but could experience it by reading the score as we read a book.I loved the character of Adrian Leverkühn too, there was an honesty about him that seemed to me in total contrast to the narrator’s opacity although the narrator supposedly represented ‘good’ and Adrian ‘evil’. Adrian has an interesting and refreshing take on the world that I really liked: I have been damned from the start with the need to laugh at the most mysterious and impressive spectacles, and I fled from my exaggerated sense of the comic into theology hoping it would soothe the tickle, only to find a lot of things awfully comic there as well. Why must almost everything appear to me as its own parody? Why must it seem as if all the means and contrivances of art nowadays are good only for parody?Around 1920, Adrian goes off to live in Schweigstill, a village south of Munich in search of the peace and quiet he needs in order to be able to compose music. The village sounds very like the one Kandinsky retreated to around 1910 for much the same reasons. Reading about this episode in Adrian’s life gave me the opportunity to revisit Kandinsky’s art which I love. It is interesting to note that it was while Kandinsky was enjoying the peace in Murnau village (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] that he made the break from representational art to abstract art. This mirrors Leverkühn’s own journey from classical composition to the kind of atonal harmonies associated with Arnold Schoenberg’s music, a transition he made during the period he spent in Schweigstill. ♫. Another neat coincidence worth mentioning here are the references Thomas Mann makes to Laurence Sterne and Jonathan Swift, both of whom I was reading while I was reading Doctor Faustus.Speaking of Swift and Sterne reminds me of the aspect of Mann’s writing I admire the most: his quirky characters. I think some of his best writing happens when he describes people and their idiosyncrasies. However, I found myself wondering what the point of the particularly large cast of such characters was, how they could possibly serve the plot and its dénouement, and such thoughts did distract me a little. Being distracted by minor details while major themes were being developed and played out before my eyes was a problem for me all along and brings me to the allegorical aspects of Doctor Faustus which I’ve neatly sidestepped up until now. Mann intended this book to be a comment on Germany’s metamorphosis during the first half of the twentieth century. There are many references to the rise of National Socialism and to the changes which took place under the Nazis:I do not like it when someone wants to have it all his way, takes the word right out of his opponent's mouth, twists it, and creates a general confusion of concepts. It is being done at present with the greatest brazenness, and that is the chief cause of my living in seclusion. This echoes the words of Victor Klemperer, another author I’ve been reading recently. In The Language of the Third Reich: LTI -- Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook, he analyses the way the Nazis changed the very meaning of words to suit their purposes. If someone replaces the words ‘heroic’ and ‘virtuous' with ‘fanatical’ for long enough, he will come to believe that a fanatic really is a virtuous hero, and that no one can be a hero without fanaticism.In an odd correspondence, this statement can be applied to Doctor Faustus but in reverse: the hero may well not be the fanatic the virtuous man makes him out to be and the virtuous man may be more of a fanatic than he admits. Complex. * (view spoiler)[The devil is mentioned frequently in chapter 13, and if I was as suspicious as Serenus, I might question why goodreads crashed yesterday just as I was uploading this review, completely wiping it out. Fortunately I had some notes but this is nevertheless a different review to the one I wrote yesterday - I went a little easier on the book today (hide spoiler)].["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Kalliope
    2019-04-05 08:01

    THE LAMENTATIONS OF THE HUMANIST NOVELOratorio in Five Parts.Composer: M.Conductor’s Edition.Dynamics and Mood: Melancholia.Tonality: G** minor.Venue: Church of St. Thomas, Leipzig.Date: 23rd May 1943. Duration: The Hour-Glass will determine its Time.Première: Serenus Zeitblom as Conductor.Singers: Tanya Orlanda (a dramatic soprano and a stupendous woman with a heroic voice).Harald Kjoejelund (as Heldentenor, a quite rotund man with pince-nez and voice of brass. (p. 293)OVERTUREI, John Serenus Zeitblom of Patmos, of Kaisersachsen. Will have to show in this Overture a quick review of what is to come. And I will direct the music of the spheres so that the Audience will know what I surmise, that an Oratorio needs an understanding and reliable Conductor if it is to speak to our rationality. Without me this piece would have no coherence for I am the medium to bring it to life. Music, like novels, need a narrator.The violins begin and the fist bars are from Haydn’s Creation. Number One is the creation of prime light out of Chaos followed by the angels playing their harp arpeggios. One angel is out of tune and I signal to him that he has to go. Now we need the planets, and I summon Holst to show us that Order and Sound are in the Spheres. But he stays on the sides. Waiting.But as the overture is also a warning, a foretaste of what follows, I will borrow from Verdi and his Macbeth visiting the witches. More bewitching music is needed and I will introduce then some of Liszt’s Mephisto Waltzes in all their sensuality.FIRST Part: A Trio of Order, Humanity and Love. Goodness is in nature. And observing nature is how we approach the ultimate morality. The brilliancy of Vivaldi’s seasons lead onto Beethoven’s Largo in the Pastoral but the most mysterious is certainly Mahler’s early bars summoning the Naturlaut, the sounds of nature, from his First Symphony.So that we do not forget that there is a religiosity in this natural phenomenon, the choir will now intone sections from Hildegard’s Liber Divinorum Operum. Mysticism as another voice. To reinforce her point, Holst now finally comes to the fore with his Neptune, the Mystic planet, and we hear the celestial sounds of his celesta accompanied by the harps of Haydn’s angels. With the perfect environment now created, the Viola d’Amore comes forth and will play as soloist leading onto the Duet for Adam and Eve from the Third Act of the Schöpfung. They are the first witnesses to the marvels and for this they sing: So Wunderbar. Love in Paradise. Is there a better thing?Holst again comes to the fore with his Venus of sweet harmonic passions. There is also a planetary dimension to paradisiacal love.Unexpectedly, some dark tonalities enter in a crescendo, and Haydn warns the pair, through his angel, of the dangers of wishing to go beyond the knowledge that has been given to them.Humanity is then officially launched and is free to proceed and create its culture, always in the search of greater light.SECOND Part: Barbarism lurks and Love affected.Bliss is not just Love, and Mozart takes us to the temple of Wisdom in his Zauberflöte. The Enlightenment posits itself as the apex of Humanism. In his Temple of Ordeal Mozart invokes Lüther’s Hymn Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein (Oh God, look down from heaven) as another Adam and Eve enter the Temple of Light and Wisdom.For love continued through the ages and it is powerful. In Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust Marguerite sings the beautiful D’Amour l’ardente flame. But dissonance menaces concords as love is threatened by adultery, prostitution, and jealousy. Verdi’s Othello proves how the blessed can be led astray and one harmonic single melody can break apart, Diceste questa sera le vostre preci (Have you said your prayers tonight)?" One could be dammed by the devil with “You may not love. Love is forbidden you insofar as it warms. Your life shall be cold – hence you may love no human. (p. 264). What kind of punishment is this?Dissonance comes from the narrowing of human mind, and nationalism lurks with its limiting frontiers. Peace has to be international if it is to be at all. If we forget Handel, the great internationalist, born in Germany but who learnt a great deal of his music in the land of the arts, incorporated elements from the land of beauty, and then developed his compositions in yet another court, we could fall and let us be driven by nationalist conjuring in its devilish quest for power. International forces that lead and maintain peace can be forgotten.Is Stravinsky staging barbarism in the demonic dances of the Earth in his Rite of Spring as he explores nationalistic streaks? Is nationalism ready to do any kind of sacrifice? Has our culture departed in great distance from Vivaldi’s Primavera when it has stopped seeking beauty? Or is it freer from bourgeois clichés?Ethics, Love, Aesthetics, Peace, Morality, and Creativity... You can’t have them all. Something has to be sacrificed.THIRD Part: Rebellion against Order – the Devilish. A series of Diminished Sevenths, which do not lead to a given tonality but which let you halt wherever you choose, introduce this part.But one may need a Sorcerer to make sense out of these invocations, and we invite Holst again with his Uranus, the Magician. To Holst’s planet we add a choir. A, dancing one with the Witches Sabbath from Arrigo Boito’s Mephistopheles provide the best accompaniment.For how much freedom is there in artistic creation? Can one deny one’s tradition and preexisting compositions? Aren’t any new creations variations of a given theme? How many times is the Faust legend recreated? What can a conductor do to order the sound of the different instruments and impose some rationality? Is the Conductor a sort of Führer in this chaos? Who said the Author was Dead?I feel lost in the middle of all my doubts, and I have to hold onto the podium.Is language eternal? is art eternal? Paul Celan said that after the Holocaust no poetry was possible. Is language international, yes, but which language? What is the reach that a book in German can have when published in a country where that language is not spoken? Can language depict Hell? Dante posited himself as its poet. But Thomas Mann does not think so, even if he quotes Dante in his Title page.Is there a rebellion against beauty or is just creativity fleeing the commonplace? The golden days of the Novel have past, or may be they just have escaped from the sentimental? May be the emotional harmonic melodies have to stop and we have to go back to the cold and precise counterpoint. Do we have to break from the Circle of Fifths and from closed narratives? Is Irrationality the way to Freedom?FOURTH Part: Hell is where the Devilish is. Fallen.We enter this part with a series of Tritones, the Diabolo in music as perceived in the Middle Ages. It is still jarring to our ears and the Audience is audibly agitated in their seats. It is a warped counterpoint. But we are not alone. Accompanied by Orpheus, we descend into Hell... Gluck, Offenbach, Monteverdi, and others lead us. But in spite of their help I need throw the Dice and signal to the players. Each time we perform different variations of the past repertory, and the constellation of devilish, Mephistofelian compositions, can be played in succession or in a contrapuntal manner to let all possible dissonances create a new order.For too much order reminds us of Nationalsozialismus.Smetana, Gounod, Boito, Berlioz, Mussorgsky, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Mahler, Prokofiev, Bussoni... They are all invoked for all played the Mephisto theme.But if we fall, then we need Britten’s Requiem. We should not forget that wars also have a tradition and there are some areas in the world that seem to have a Gate to Hades. Just think of the Balkans, or of the islands in the Pacific, or... the Black Sea.After a cacophony of Mephistoes we can then dive deep into Cage’s 4’33”, in which only time, with its exact and limited duration offers either a renewal or a damnation. What can the conductor do? Keep ticking the bâton? Where are the emotions? Is this taking us back to the Middle Ages?Who said that Hell was the loss of creativity?FIFTH Part: On Retribution and Penitence.We need a warning, a fatal warning and Mozart’s Commendatore is brought back again in all his stoniness. Will he be enough to awaken our expiation, our Contrition?Are we to finish with a Götterdämmerung, and welcome destruction or do we have hope and can invoke Beethoven’s Ninth?I choose the latter, and a secondary dominant in A for Art and Amor leads to a cadential G for Grace and Goodness.Amen.

  • Vit Babenco
    2019-04-05 06:56

    “…a night, where it doesn’t get dark for the lightnings.”This was the entire troubled life of the great groundbreaking composer Adrian Leverkühn…This is the world of man:All about him was coldness – and how do I feel, using this word, which he himself, in an uncanny connection, once also set down? Life and experience can give to single syllables an accent utterly divorcing them from their common meaning and lending them an aura of horror, which nobody understands who has not learned them in that awful context.This is the world of music:…that is the sound, almost lost in space, the cosmic ozone of another poem, wherein spirits in golden barks traverse the heavenly sea and the ringing course of gleaming songs wreathes itself down and wells up again…Thomas Mann collides these worlds so the world of music gets richer and the world of man turns ruined… Setting on music the poem I Saw a Chapel by William Blake, symbolizing the descent of evil unto the earth, is, in a way, a key to the meaning of this allegorical novel. Composing the ominously prophetic music Adrian Leverkühn augurs immersion of the world into the cosmic darkness and the darkness of his music slowly substitutes his inner self, destroying his ego.This is what I think: that an untruth of a kind that enhances power holds its own against any ineffectively virtuous truth. And I mean too that creative, genius – giving disease, disease that rides on high horse over all hindrances, and springs with drunken daring from peak to peak, is a thousand times dearer to life than plodding healthiness. No matter what is cause and what is effect, genius comes into this world to create and to leave his creations to the others.

  • Geoff
    2019-04-07 05:35

    "No, to the very end, this dark tone poem permits no consolation, reconciliation, transfiguration. But what if the artistic paradox, which says that expression, the expression of lament, is born out of the construct as a whole, corresponds to the religious paradox, which says that out of the profoundest irredeemable despair, if only as the softest of questions, hope may germinate? This would be hope beyond hopelessness, the transcendence of despair - not its betrayal, but the miracle that goes beyond faith. Just listen to the ending, listen with me: One instrumental group after the other steps back, and what remains as the work fades away is the high G of a cello, the final word, the final sound, floating off, slowly vanishing in a pianissimo fermata. Then nothing more. Silence and night. But the tone, which is no more, for which, as it hangs there vibrating in the silence, only the soul still listens, and which was the dying note of sorrow - is no longer that, its meaning changes, it stands as a light in the night.”~~Yes, Doctor Faustus is clearly an allegory for the rise of the Third Reich. (And to a certain extent, it can be read as Mann’s moral reckoning with his self-imposed exile from those events. I am ever averse to read biography into fiction, but there are obvious parallels between Mann and Leverkühn and his Boswell Serenus Zeitblom’s world-withdrawal (oh what names in this book! wonderful bizarre naming that even Pynchon would be proud of!)) To me, the disintegration of the German state into barbarism is among the least interesting facets of this tremendously complex work, whose sections discussing music theory and philosophy alone would justify its existence. But of course here we are given so much more : It is a sorrowful and tragic study of the troubling nature of genius, the public’s relation to genius and genius’s own response to the cursed manifold life of the person driven to create; at the same time it is a rather thorough history and critique of Western music, an exhaustive study of its origins and development; it is also a novel full of characters eccentric, doomed, strange, living through a particularly horrible period of history; mostly, it is concerned with elucidating the fate of secular and theological approaches to life and art as civilization careened into the nihilism of the 20th century; it is about the dialectic of history and how resolutions splinter into further antagonisms, in personal and historical circumstances, and how wholeness, which can really only be conceived or achieved through great works of art, often comes at a terrible cost to the ones who have brought it into being. It is a book very much about the limits of human love to influence worldly events. Mann’s intelligence is so thorough and far-reaching that all of this is given in what seems effortless exposition, in lovely prose that is able to elide easily from subjects as disparate as the biblical origins of ethics to the particularities of polyphony in atonal composition, and make them all seem of a piece. It falls on the side of forgiveness and the urge toward love in the face of the baffling incomprehensibility of humanity’s monstrous failings. Here Mann locates art, that which resolves the horrible contradictions, which expresses in ambiguous tones something that, as much as is possible within the limits of our expressive capabilities, names the approach of grace. It is a chorale of poor sinners’ laments, the accumulated wail which is the song of the world, this drop of water spinning in the abyss, which, despite everything, is still a light in the night.

  • Lee
    2019-04-03 03:34

    Got up before dawn this morning to finish the last two chapters with coffee, knew I wouldn't be able to read the final 17 pages last night -- didn't really want to put the book down over the past few days as it started to take off towards its finale thanks to way more dramatization than in, well, most of it. Like all Mann I've read it requires and it rewards patience. Like in The Magic Mountain, if you make it through the first 250–300 slow, dense pages, things take off at a pretty good upwards clip, plus the long opening semi-slog becomes a super-strong foundation on which Mr. Mann builds his dramatic and thematic pinnacles. I'm glad I read this after Stefan Zweig's Holderlin, Kleist, and Nietzsche: The Struggle with the Daemon, which presents three real case studies of melancholic genius/madness in Germanic artists -- Adrian fits the bill. I streamed F.M. Murnau's 1926 silent film version of "Faust" earlier in the year -- and I really only remember a few images from it: a dark cloud enveloping a city that's also Satan's wing, the ending image of the Christ-like embodiment of Love ("Liebe"). (I've never made it through more than a few pages of Goethe's "Faust," deeming it maybe untranslatable.) In Mann's version, no archangel swoops in to rescue the damned. A divine little boy makes a stand toward the end but not for long, thanks to Adrian's pact, which is sort of the point of the novel's end -- after Nazi horrorshow, the mass destruction and murder but also the eternal damnation in the narrator's eyes of all things German (the land, the people, the language, the culture), redemption/hope for humanity won't come easy. Only after everything is destroyed, including Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," which Adrian's "The Lamentations of Dr. Faustus" reverses, do we have a chance. I found the narrator (the POV/approach) pretty problematic through most (not all) of the novel. I was all like why's Mann mussing his story with this mask? Why not just tell the story of the damned musical genius and parallel it with WWII hell and otherwise get outta the way of its awesomeness? Temporally, Mann probably needed the musical overthrow of polyphony to precede Nazi overthrow of humanity, since it wouldn't have made historical sense if they occurred simultaneously? Maybe Mann also wanted to formally disrupt the story the way Adrian uses dissonance? Regardless, it's hard to believe that the narrator isn't Mann himself. When Zeitblom says oh how badly I'm writing, I think something like oh how badly Mann is trying to express his story through this narrator who of course shouldn't write as well as Thomas Mann but then, well, every once in a while takes on these jags of straight-up towering literary artistry. Four point five stars since I can't shake the sense I had through the first 250 pages that such a lengthy development wasn't totally necessary, that these pages could have been reduced and integrated after Adrian's pact with Satan, although of course that would've been a sensationalist way to start the novel. It helps I guess that we have young Adrian's secret, almost ashamed discovery of the harmonium, the image of his arrogant laughter, the characterizing repetition of that gesture of a sort of absence as he turns away with a slight smile. There's also the foundation of the relationship the narrator has with Adrian, the boyhood chumminess/love complete with use of the informal familiar tense, and then the loss of that and the narrator's jealousy for the friendship, most likely also of the flesh, per Adrian's confession at the end, between Adrian and the flirty violinist. As in a lot of Mann, there's suggested homosexuality -- this time between Adrian and the violinist. There's also maybe the suggestion that Adrian contracted syphilis from "touching" the girl with the flat-nose/mermaid/Esmeralda/muse that leads to migraines and madness? One of the most memorable scenes is when the virtuoso violinist sits in with a little chamber orchestra in a room of a hotel with a glass floor, wows everyone, and then insists on skiing behind the horse-drawn sleigh. He's clearly doomed at that moment -- a superhuman figure, who like little Echo the golden boy, is doomed. Loved the two teachers early on -- the typical proto-Nazi German and the American stutterer who conveys his passion for music to Adrian. The music elements weren't as pronounced as I thought they'd be -- I couldn't quite follow all of it but I got the gist for the most part. At one time I pulled out my guitar to confirm that the notes written out for the refrain that acknowledges Adrian's muse sound like the devil's tritone, which we all know from "Black Sabbath". Loved the few pages where Adrian relays what it's like to journey underwater in a diving bell, passages that extrapolate out to discussion of the infinite cosmos -- reminded me of Hans lost in the snow in "The Magic Mountain" and Joseph in the well in Joseph and His Brothers, still by far my fave of the Mann I've read. Mann excels when he places a sensitive young dude in potentially tragic solitary confinement. In this one, Adrian's confinement is all-encompassing and intellectual rather than physical. In general, after a slow start thanks mostly to long essayistic stretches, the story takes off, addled by cliffhangers and some melodrama, sure, but it's all saved by the heft of the pacts Germany and Adrian have made with evil. Really an amazingly ambitious artistic achievement -- worth re-reading though I doubt I will anytime soon -- 4.5 stars for now although I'll maybe knock it up to five over time as I remember the strong finish/overall sense of it and everything else falls away.

  • Eva
    2019-03-27 23:33

    It was not love at first sight. Thomas Mann (certainly, in retrospect, deserving of the second 'n' in his surname as he was no ordinary man) winked at me from a top shelf at the bookstore. I did not pay attention at first. He was not my type (more than 500 pages, hardcover, difficult to read in bed). But as my vision became blurred from all the glossy colourful covers of the other books I found myself being drawn to this simple Everyman's Edition Library book with its simple lettering and appearance. I was quickly seduced from reading the first pages and I bought the book. What started as a love affair soon gave way to a caring relationship. The writer, through his narrator, took me gently by the hand and with quiet desperation guided me through the world of the musical genius Adrian. Never in my life have I encountered another writer so worried about the reader being bored by his book. I found it endearing that he needed to excuse himself ever so often about tiring me with his writing. Especially since I could not differentiate who was the better genius, the character or the writer! No subject remained undiscussed. Philosophy, ethics, politics, nature, humanism, mathematics, but to name a few. The relationship of the hero and the narrator at times reminded me of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. At other times I felt like I was reading Jane Austen, Goethe, or even Dickens. And the music! I am a musical person but sadly I never mastered the reading of notes. But in this book I swear I could hear the classical music or someone singing opera. It took me a while to finish the book. But only because every sentence has a literal and a metaphorical meaning. You have to pause and really think what you have just read. Words written with such eloquence, a real gift to literature. The portrayal of the Devil who changes the way he speaks along with his appearance according to what he says is just incredible. The tragedy of the story which is so cleverly given from the first chapters of the hero's childhood to his heartbreaking end brought tears to my eyes.I feel like I have eaten a gargantuan intellectual meal from which I hope never to recover. I have burned my brain batteries and am probably only fit to read Hello magazine now. I wish I could give Mr. Mann all the stars in the cosmos in my review but sadly I am only allowed five.

  • Hadrian
    2019-04-13 02:53

    Tell me, what do you think about greatness? I find there is something uncomfortable about facing it eye to eye, it is a test of courage — can one really look it in the eye? You can't stand it, you give way. Let me tell you, I incline more and more to the admission that there is something very odd indeed about this music of yours.[...]I do not like to call it beautiful. The word 'beauty' has always been half offensive to me, it has such a silly face, and people feel wanton and corrupt when they say it. But it is good, good in the extreme, it could not be better, perhaps it ought not to be better...It's the Faust story, except with modern music, serialism, music theory, philosophical dialogues, the psychology of religion, hidden love, a political allegory (although I don't buy that one as much) and Mann's delicious gnarled referential prose style. The dialogue with the devil is rendered into Elizabethan English in this translation, which seems to be a fair analogue to Medieval German.Full review to come later. This thing is beautiful and it deserves so much more than I can hammer out now.

  • Tony
    2019-04-21 01:00

    Is it enough to say I loved it?No, that won't do. Although, it seems silly to write a proper review. Oh, there are pages of notes stuck in the back: some pretension of understanding. But this is a book you could devote an entire academic life to. Or even be humbled in a group read with readers who know or can track down every clue. (My thanks to all of you who enriched this read. And for letting me tag along. I don't know if all group reads are like this (I suspect not); but my sincere thanks to everyone who participated, even if by a single post. A gathering of people that wants to love a book, and does love a book, is why we do this here. Never mind the small stuff. It's, you know, small stuff.)Yes, yes, it's about Germany, and Germany's soul. But that's easy, isn't it? It was the Echo that got to me. And the du. The reverberations. And Mann speaking to me.It is not always, I assure you, so cinematic: so cold you can see your breath; words that tether; 'Sign here!' We don't need Tim Burton to sell our souls. No. The metaphors can be demonic or Devil may care.Where were you when you had a choice? Where were you? That fork. And who spoke to you? What shape was the choice, and what shape the advice? Was it a pin-striped suit behind a desk? A rugged jaw? A well-turned ankle? Did a bartender lean over? Or was it the kindest smile ever, the person you trusted the most, the one who would never harm you? Was it maternal advice? Where were you when you sold your soul? It looks like, for me anyhow, this novel raised more questions than it gave answers. I like that. Even as I toss and turn. And ask myself: would I have made a different choice?Du?

  • Jonathan
    2019-03-27 01:44

    This is my third read of this novel, though my first with this translation. It is a little like that scene in teen movies where the (already beautiful) "awkward girl" descends the stairs post make-over, allowing one to see with glaring clarity the gorgeousness that was always already there. So, because it amuses me, and in an effort to overdo an already rather rubbish analogy, on the left, ladies and gents, we have H. T. Lowe-Porter's version of the novel, on the right that of Mr Woods. Although, looking at this picture, I personally prefer the pre-makeover look, so should, in fact, delete this whole portion of this meview as being entirely stupid, but frankly, after having to google an appropriate picture to put in here, I can't be bothered. So there. *****Perhaps one of my favorite things in this extraordinary novel is the way it, with kindness and subtlety, deals with the gay love triangle at its heart (I call it a triangle though Adri's feelings for both our narrator and Rudolf is hard to ascertain through the jealous fog of the narrator's recounting - he may be closer to asexual than anything else). To have our untrustworthy story-teller be in love with his subject in a manner he can never admit to himself, adds one more fascinating layer to the many many layers of themes at play. **************While I have my issues with Adorno, curmudgeony old conservative that he was, he helped Mann produce an extraordinarily complex piece of work. His influence certainly adds a rigour and philosophical depth to the novel that is rare in fiction. I have just ordered this:Thomas Mann & Theodor W. Adorno An Exchange which looks great, and with a great intro too. *******Thomas Mann, from his 1930 speech which was, as one would expect, protested and interrupted by S.A. men sent by Goebbels for precisely that purpose, and which I paste here just because it reminds me why I love the guy, and feel fitting for our current political climate: Der exzentrischen Seelenlage einer der Idee entlaufenen Menschheit entspricht eine Politik im Groteskstil mit Heilsarmee-Allüren, Massenkrampf, Budengeläut, Halleluja und derwischmäßigem Wiederholen monotoner Schlagworte, bis alles Schaum vor dem Munde hat. Fanatismus wird Heilsprinzip, Begeisterung epileptische Ekstase, Politik wird zum Massenopiat des Dritten Reiches oder einer proletarischen Eschatologie, und die Vernunft verhüllt ihr Antlitz.(This fantastic state of mind, of a humanity that has outrun its ideas, is matched by a political scene in the grotesque style, with Salvation Army methods, hallelujahs and bell-ringing and dervishlike repetition of monotonous catchwords, until everybody foams at the mouth. Fanaticism turns into a means of salvation, enthusiasm into epileptic ecstasy, politics becomes an opiate for the masses, a proletarian eschatology; and reason veils her face.)***** Anyone read a good bio of Mann? Seems like there are a few out there, but I can't seem to find much consensus about which is best...

  • Elena
    2019-04-24 00:47

    This is not a beach book. The literature on Thomas Mann's "Doktor Faustus" is huge, and I'm glad I didn't try to master it all. I tackled the novel (actually re-reading it after 40 years) with an untutored but relatively open mind. However, I needed a reading group to get through it, and here goodreads really came through for me with an international group of 14 close readers on the same schedule. They helped enormously. Thomas Mann wrote his fiction in response to a heartbreaking reality: his beloved Germany committed such atrocious crimes in World War II that, from his exile in the US, he felt obligated to broadcast, in German, into Germany. He explained to his compatriots that total defeat was the only honorable way out. Germans who secretly listened to his illegal radio broadcasts, as the bombs were demolishing their homes, say they found his message comforting. I don't know that an American like me can fully understand.There are a couple naive questions that get asked a lot, and of course don't have answers. One is "How can the culture that produced Bach and Beethoven also produce Auschwitz." A second naive question is "Can there be poetry after Auschwitz." I think about the novel "Doktor Faustus" as a response instead of an answer. For all the unique aspects of this tragedy, there are other cultures with a similar paradox. Japanese artists produced some of the most gentle, peaceful artworks ever created, even as the military of that same culture brutalized their neighbors. I think the shorthand for this is the title "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" used by Ruth Benedict. But Mann himself does not even think of relativizing the catastrophe with comparisons. He confronts the good and the bad sides of German genius as something totally intertwined, without trying to distinguish between "good Germans" and "bad Germans" as some commentators have done. Culture is an interwoven tapestry. The Faust legend arose when the invention of the printing press was revolutionizing a society that still believed in devils. The sudden access to knowledge was seen as something dangerous. That's pretty much biblical too. Somehow sex inevitably gets into the mix in all these myths. Mann expects his readers to be familiar with Goethe's take on the Faustian pact, but he doesn't reference it directly. Since music has served as a source of great national pride for Germany, starting long before the country actually existed as a unified nation-state, Mann revises the deal with the devil. The brilliant composer Adrian Leverkuehn trades his soul, not for knowledge, not for happiness, but for musical talent, specifically talent for composing modern music. The genius is undeniably powerful, but it destroys his soul. What a metaphor for the political and human disaster. But this theme is also an opening for Mann to introduce a cluster of colorful characters who discuss music in great detail,--all about polyphony and counterpoint and twelve tone composition....These discussions somehow lift the text out of the swamp. Mann's richly detailed story, drenched in quirky irony, becomes oddly comforting. It's pretty much impossible to explain. The book is long. It is narrated by a fuddy-duddy friend of the composer, with the nutty name of Serenus Zeitblom. Mann has a lot of fun with his long-winded narrator. The chapters shift radically from one mood to another, like movements in a symphonic piece of music. Themes and images, like the butterfly and the little mermaid, are introduced early on, then dropped, only to reappear hundreds of pages later in unexpected variations, a verbal Wagnerian Leitmotiv effect. Adrian's communications with Lucifer are completely logically explained by his medical and psychiatric conditions. But the highly ornate way Mann presents it all--with fleeting images that appear and disappear, and with shifting moods--seduces the readers into his dangerous world. And everyone's soul is in danger. Without the lengthy build up, I don't think the book would work at all. Adrian comes from a farm, where his life begins and ends. His musical talent comes from his beautiful mother, but she is wise enough not to develop her talent. His other introduction to music comes from the simple milkmaid, who teaches the country children charming folk songs, including a hauntingly beautiful "round." After selling his soul, he finds a refuge on a monastery turned farm estate, where he rents an elegant studio from the generous farmer's wife. And there he writes amazing music that goes out into the world. These two farms are the "real" Germany, the source. When Adrian has his final nervous breakdown in front of a gathering of friends, the noble farmer's wife, Frau Schweigestill, comforts him and sends the guests away, because they (like me) could never understand. Haneke's film "Das weisse Band," addresses the question of collective guilt among the peasantry in a relentlessly depressing way. Mann's take is totally different, and more nuanced. Something indigenous, that is beautiful and magical, has a dangerous internal logic...I don't think Mann asks us to read this as a universal, but that is how I read it. We Americans need to deal with certain aspects of our culture and its internal logic...The other simplistic question, the one about poetry after Auschwitz, is implicit in these discussions. Mann's close friend and adviser on the book, Adorno, famously examined this issue. I see Mann's response in the poetic passages of his writing. I think poetry may be the only way to come to terms with some aspects of human history, think of Paul Celan or Nelly Sachs. (Myself, I'm not so sure whether other arts like music, painting, or architecture ever recovered from the brutalization of the 20th century.) The poetry in Mann's prose emerges very slowly, in baroque sentences and page long paragraphs. Like an unfolding flower, you just can't rush it. I went to a Buddhist mediation class where we sat on the floor for four hours chanting and visualizing a lotus slowly blossoming. At the end I felt like I was levitating. I asked afterward if there might be a more efficient method that we could do in say 20 minutes. Nope. Mann's way with words gradually lifts off the ground. A more concise reading exercise could not build the same spell. This all by way of partly explaining why a novel about such a horrifying history can be oddly beautiful. I will never really understand, of course, but language can in itself be comforting.

  • Rebecca
    2019-04-16 23:55

    It is rare that it takes three months for me to finish a novel, but I have a few theories as to why this was (aside from the rigors of a teaching schedule/adjunct commute).The novel operates on so many levels it is difficult to read more than a few chapters before you need to stop to digest. Keeping track of the numerous secondary characters is a painstaking, but worthwhile, endeavor. Mann forms his environment with this multitude, presenting a photograph of German bourgeois life in the early 20th century.The book warrants musicological analysis in its debt to Schoenberg, its continuation of the intimate connection between Faust and music, and its portraiture of Germanic musical existence (for starters). But even outside of musicological inquiry, the book is full of literary paths one can tread should they choose. The relationship between the book's narrator and his forsaken hero, Adrian, dallies in sentiments rarely explored between two male characters. There are some echoes of Herman Hesse'sNarcissus and Goldmund, except that Adrian Leverkühn's encounter with "love" comes with dire consequences.I'd like to re-read the novel with a focus on the music only, because what resonated for me most loudly was how the book serves as a treatise on the dangers of blind nationalism. The narrator, Zeitblom, frustrates the reader with his various digressions, until you realize they are not digressions at all but allegories. His reflections about wartime Germany telescope into Adrian's own struggles. There were moments that made me stop and put the book down as I was yanked into my own reality:"...the democracy of the West--however outdate its institutions may prove over time, however obstinately its notion of freedom resists what is new and necessary--is nonetheless essentially on the side of human progress, of the goodwill to perfect society, and is by its very nature capable of renewal, improvement, rejuvenation, of proceeding toward conditions that provide greater justice in life." (358)I suppose I still believe this...but I note also Zeitblom's comments a couple of pages earlier regarding Germany:"It is the demand of a regime that does not wish to grasp, that apparently does not understand even now, that it has been condemned, that it must vanish, laden witht eh curse of having made itself intolerable to the world--no, of having made us, Germany, the Reich, let me go farther and say, Germanness, everything German, intolerable to the world." (356)This is why I read.Readers who have no musical background will likely find themselves frustrated with some of the lengthy musical explications. I suggest skipping/skimming them. Normally I would never recommend this, but there is so much else to be had from reading this novel that it would be such a disservice to throw the myriad babies out with the musical bathwater. For the musically-inclined reader, however, the plethora of references to composers and pieces is a ready-made listening list and a chance to experience a nation's struggle with both political and aesthetic ideologies.(Crossposted)

  • Sue
    2019-04-13 01:38

    I have hesitated to write a review of this book because there is so much here and it is so difficult to know where to begin. Based on the Doctor Faustus story, it is the tale of one Adrian Leverkühn, born early in the 20th century, who trades his soul for the ability to compose brilliant music. Of course this is a limited pact, in his case for 24 years. His story is told by a childhood (and adult) friend Serenus Zeitblom, who also presents the changes in German culture during the years, ending with the bombing of Germany by the Allies and the encroaching Russian army.The allegories are plentiful, the writing is often amazing. I read the final 150 pages as if in a fury...I was compelled to keep reading. The writing itself seemed inspired as if Mann himself were truly on fire from his subject. Since the end of March now---and the date is 25 April in this year of destiny 1945---our nation's defenses in the west have plainly been in total disarray. Newspapers, already half un-shackled, record the truth; rumor, fed by the enemy's radio broadcasts and by the stories of those who have fled,knows no censorship and has carried the particulars of this rapidly expanding catastrophe to regions of the Reich thathave not yet been swallowed up in it, not yet liberated byit---even to my refuge here.There is no stopping it: surrender on all sides, everyone scattering. Our shatteredand devastated cities fall like ripe plums. (p 504)And one quite beautiful, and sad, musical comment:The echo, the sound of the human voice returned as a sound of nature, revealed as a sound of nature, is inessence a lament, nature's melancholy 'Ah, yes' to man, her attempt to proclaim his solitude, just as vice versa, the nymphs' lament is, for its part, related to the echo.In Leverkühn's final and loftiest creation, however, echo, that favorite device of the baroque, is frequentlyemployed to unutterably mournful effect. (p 510)In spite of a few sections on musical theory/construction that I, quite frankly, did not understand, I grew to admire and ultimately become attached to this book. It is now my favorite of the Thomas Mann novels read. Toward the end of the book, in passages such as the latter, I even began to glimpse some of what Mann was saying in the musical interludes.I think this is a brilliant book, written by a German ex-pat living in the United States, compelled to write of what he knew to be a horror in the land he loved.I do recommend this with the acknowledgment that this is, at times, not an easy read. But it is ultimately so worthwhile.

  • Pat
    2019-04-20 02:00

    Nel 1933, l’umanista tedesco Serenus Zeitblom, contrario al nazismo, abbandona, all’età di 60 anni, l’insegnamento. Destina il suo tempo alla stesura della biografia del suo carissimo amico: il compositore Adrian Leverkuhn. È il tempo in cui Hitler ammorba l’aria quando Serenus narra la vita di Adrian, che si svolge fra la fine del 1800 e l’avvento del nazismo.Adrian e Serenus hanno frequentato lo stesso ginnasio. All’università Serenus studia lettere classiche, Adrian invece si iscrive alla facoltà di teologia che abbandonerà di lì a due anni quando, trasferitosi a Lipsia, si dedicherà alla musica. Giunto a Lipsia, un facchino, al quale si è rivolto per essere accompagnato in una buona trattoria, lo conduce in un bordello da cui fugge spaventato. Ma, la curiosità e il desiderio lo riporteranno in quel luogo di piacere che lascerà in lui il segno.Ritroviamo il nostro Adrian a Monaco e poi in Italia, a Palestrina. E qui, Adrian avrà una lunga conversazione con il demonio; conversazione che si concluderà con un patto infernale: 24 anni di esaltante forza creatrice e poi la dannazione.Adrian non potrà coltivare affetti, avere una vita normale, amici, una compagna, gli verranno strappati l’amore e la gioia del piccolo “Echo”. Questo il prezzo da pagare per la magnificenza e la gloria delle sue composizioni musicali.Ritirato in Alta Baviera, Adrian lavora alla sua opera più importante, la “Lamentatio Doctoris Fausti”. Invita amici, conoscenti, ammiratori per presentare la sua cantata sinfonica. La partitura è aperta sul leggio del pianoforte. Adrian prende a parlare. La sua è una confessione, spaventosa e delirante. La sua follia finirà e ne inizierà una peggiore: la rovinosa follia della seconda guerra mondiale.Una cascata impetuosa di musica e storia. Il drammatico destino dell’uomo corrisponde a quello della Germania. Il dolore e la disperazione del suo animo corrispondo al dolore e alla disperazione di un popolo.P.S. Non è certo una lettura scorrevole, semplice, lieve. È un macigno, un monumento di sapere. Ci va tempo, e non poco. Le digressioni sono dense di significati, di simboli. Quelle di argomento musicale credo risultino poco, o per nulla, comprensibili a chi non ha buona conoscenza della materia. Una lettura impegnativa e complessa. Confesso che arrivata verso pagina 250 ho avuto la tentazione di sospendere la lettura per riprenderla in un momento più propizio. Ma ho resistito. E bene ho fatto. Il colloquio con Satana, da solo, vale la fatica. Prendetevi tempo e leggetelo.

  • Andrés Cabrera
    2019-03-30 03:01

    Existen obras que ponen a prueba todo lo que se entiende por ser un "lector". El "Doktor Faustus", sin lugar a dudas, es una de ellas. Su complejidad conceptual (argumentativa, si se quiere) es impresionante. De hecho, Mann logra desplegar con maestría toda su erudición en temas tan variados como la filosofía (sobre todo del medioevo), la teoría musical, la psicología e, incluso, el devenir histórico de Alemania. De entrada, me reconozco avasallado por todo el despliegue conceptual de la obra. Si bien logré orientarme medianamente bien (calificativo, tal vez, demasiado optimista de mi parte) en la reflexión filosófica e histórica (se lo debo en parte a la formación profesional por la que opté), mis conocimientos de teoría musical y psicología fueron insuficientes en buena parte de la obra. Sin embargo, eso no quita que Mann se tome la tarea de explicar con solvencia y ánimo pedagógico algunos de los pasajes más difíciles (situados sobre todo al comienzo del libro) al final de la obra misma. Si bien por momentos el Fausto de Mann puede verse como un arranque de soberbia y arrogancia intelectual, está muy por encima de eso. Uno aprende...y se pone a prueba. No es un libro sencillo; por el contrario, debe rumiarse a todo momento.De la obra de Leverkühn (el compositor al que Zeitblom le servirá de biógrafo) puedo afirmar tresaspectos que me quedaron claros: 1) sus composiciones parten del hecho de que debe saberse con solvencia las técnicas formales de composición y que, sólo de su despliegue más acabado, puede surgir la singularidad propia del artista, el componente espiritual y subjetivo de la obra; 2) su pretensión es de generar una obra de contenido espiritual negativo. Siguiendo, tal vez en esto a Adorno (colaborador de Mann en todo el proceso del Fausto) y sus constelaciones , Leverkühn aborda el problema de la divinidad siempre desde su rechazo o negación. Dicho de otra manera, su obra es espiritual en la medida en que pone en tensión dos fuerzas: lo divino y lo demoníaco. Para hacerlo, el compositor se vale de los contrapuntos y las fugas (que simbolizan lo "divino") en diálogo permanente con las armonías (elemento demoníaco). En este punto, creo que Mann retoma la vieja fórmula de Nietzsche (no pretendo ser para nada exhaustivo en esto) del "Nacimiento de la Tragedia" para definir a la Tragedia misma: el arte parte del diálogo dos fuerzas o pulsiones, lo apolíneo (lo ordenado, punto de partida de las composiciones del personaje azotado por Mefistófeles) y lo dionisiaco (lo desordenado, tal vez lo más pasional) y; 3) la obra de Leverkühn se muestra como un hijo de la historia. En ciertos pasajes, Mann parece sugerir que sólo lo demoníaco tiene cabida en los tiempos que corren (la historia se encuentra situada entre la Gran Guerra y la Segunda Guerra). Cabe preguntarse si el triste final del compositor no puede ser una metáfora de la sociedad alemana de la postguerra: enterrada, olvidadiza, desesperada. Desinteresada en buena parte de su pasado barbárico reciente. Una sociedad que apoyó (por acción u omisión, dependiendo de cada caso en concreto) la barbarie y se vio sometida por ella al final. Más allá de la complejidad de la novela, el Fausto de Mann tiende a ser fascinante. El escritor parece conceder que, de no existir una historia fuerte detrás de toda la complejidad argumentativa de la novela, es probable que el lector se extravíe en medio de la multiplicidad de discusiones académicas que se abordan en el relato. De allí que no extrañe la manera en que cada capítulo se encuentra redactado: el principio y el final sirven para mantener al lector cautivado, muchas veces, gracias a frases o sucesos efectistas.Asimismo, Cada capítulo presenta conceptos en tensión, que se hilvanan en el curso de los apartados subsiguientes. Eso sí, considero que no es posible entreverse del todo el diálogo conceptual sin la ayuda de la historia. Ambas se colaboran todo el tiempo.Como apreciación final, debo decir que si bien disfruto bastante de Mann, su manera de escribir me tiende a parecer frívola (pareciera que le faltase sangre en las venas al hombre); mas no por ello no digna de elogio. Mann es un artesano: escribe con delicadeza y precisión milimétrica. Por desgracia, a veces quisiera ver algo más de vitalidad en sus palabras.

  • Andrei Tamaş
    2019-04-23 23:38

    Un vast studiu romanţat despre decăderea psihică a unui însetat de cunoaştere, a unui erudit ce nu se mulţumeşte cu telurica modalitatea de a cunoaşte, ci aspiră la absolut. Unii văd în "Doctor Faustus" elemente ce ţin de fantastic, însă unui cititor acătării i-ar cădea mai degrabă să spună că în viaţa aceasta pragmatică, întâlnim -mai ales la un anumit stadiu al cunoaşterii- elemente ce unora, mai puţin iniţiaţi, li se par... supranaturale.Un lucru foarte interesant: e uluitor cum Thomas Mann reuşeşte să scrie un Bildungsroman despre viaţa compozitorului german Adrian Leverkuhn folosindu-se de două planuri narative, unul situat în anii celui de-Al Doilea Război Mondial, iar celălalt, cronologic, din 1900 până în anii premergători războiului total dus de nazişti. *Ioana, dacă acum, după atâta timp în care nu ne-am vorbit, citeşti asta, să ştii că-ţi mulţumesc pentru faptul că, atunci, în acele momente de cumpănă, mi-ai oferit prilejul să citesc această carte.*Andrei Tamaş,27 ianuarie 2016

  • Sophie
    2019-03-30 08:02

    Η λογοτεχνική μου κριτική έχει φιλοξενηθεί στη σελίδα της πολυαγαπημένης Ιωάννας και μπορείτε να τη βρείτε εδώ!To έργο του Thomas Mann Doctor Faustus, με ολοκληρωμένο τίτλο Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn, Told by a Friend, αναμφισβήτητα ένα από τα πιο σημαντικά μυθιστορήματα του 20ου αιώνα, γράφεται από το 1943 και δημοσιεύεται το 1947. Για την ιστορία του πράγματος σκόπιμο είναι να σημειωθεί πως κατά τη διάρκεια συγγραφής του συγκεκριμένου έργου ο Thomas Mann κι η οικογένειά του βρίσκονταν στην Αμερική όπου έζησαν μέχρι και μετά το τέλος του Β’ Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου. Η κίνηση αυτή είχε καταστεί απαραίτητη καθώς o Mann ήταν ένας από τους λίγους ενεργούς δημοσίως αντιπάλους του ναζισμού, προβαίνοντας, μόλις με το ξέσπασμα του πολέμου το 1939, σε αντι-ναζιστικές ομιλίες.Η ίδια η υπόθεση του εκτενούς αυτού έργου άπτεται άμεσα της κατάστασης που επικρατούσε στη Γερμανία, καθώς η ζωή του πρωταγωνιστή και αντι-ήρωα Leverkühn χρησιμοποιείται ως καθρέφτης των εκδηλώσεων που συμβαίνουν ταυτόχρονα στη γερμανική πολιτική σκηνή και στην κοινωνία εν γένει. Συγκεκριμένα, το μυθιστόρημα ακολουθεί το βίο και την καριέρα του Adrian Leverkühn, ενός προικισμένου συνθέτη που γεννιέται στην Γερμανία του Δεύτερου Ράιχ, από τα μαθητικά του χρόνια μέχρι το θάνατό του το 1943. Η ιστορία παρατίθεται ιδωμένη μέσα από τα μάτια του Serenus Zeitblom ο οποίος αφηγείται με κάθε λεπτομέρεια την πορεία του παιδικού, και δια βίου, φίλου του Leverkühn, σαν ένα ιδιότυπο Bildungsroman, από το ζενίθ της δημιουργικότητάς του και τη διεθνή επιτυχία ως το νευρικό-ψυχικό κλονισμό του.Η πιο σημαντική πτυχή του μυθιστορήματος είναι η χρήση του μύθου του Faust, την πανάρχαια ιστορία ενός ανθρώπου που πουλάει την ψυχή του στο διάβολο με αντάλλαγμα τον πλούτο, τη δύναμη, τη σεξουαλική ανδρεία. Κεντρική στο μύθο του Faust είναι η σύμβαση, το quid pro quo, μεταξύ του διαβόλου και του Faust, κάτι που εκμεταλλεύεται στο έργο του ο Mann. Με αντίτιμο δηλαδή την απώλεια της σωματικής και ψυχικής υγείας του, ο Leverkühn εξασφαλίζει ανείπωτη δύναμη δημιουργικότητας. Η σύφιλη, ο όρος της προαναφερθείσας φαουστικής συμφωνίας, είναι, λοιπόν, με τη σειρά της, το σύμβολο της «ασθένειας» του ακραίου εθνικισμού που τελικά οδήγησε τους Γερμανούς να αγκαλιάσουν τόσο απροκάλυπτα τον Αδόλφο Χίτλερ και το κίνημα του ναζισμού. Όπως και στο Magic Mountain, ο Mann χρησιμοποιεί κι εδώ τη σωματική ασθένεια ως σύμβολο πνευματικής και πολιτιστικής παρακμής.Από την πλευρά της γραφής η δυσχέρεια έγκειται αφενός στο μοντερνιστικό περίβλημα κι αφετέρου στη μουσική φρασεολογία. Την ίδια στιγμή που ο γλωσσικός λόγος είναι απλός, καθημερινός, στο κείμενο κυριαρχούν σύνθετα συντακτικά σχήματα και παρεισφρέουν δείγματα πολυγλωσσισμού. Λέξεις, δηλαδή, και φράσεις γαλλικές και λατινικές, κατά κύριο λόγο, που διατηρούν τη διαφορετικότητά τους μέσα στο κείμενο, χωρίς να επιδέχονται μετάφραση ούτε στο πρωτότυπο έργο. Τα μουσικά δη στοιχεία του Doctor Faustus μολονότι πυκνά και στρυφνά, ιδίως για τον αναγνώστη που δεν έχει ασχοληθεί με τις νότες, που δεν είναι εξοικειωμένος με τη μουσική ορολογία, δεν αποτελούν τροχοπέδη στην απόλαυση του έργου. Εντούτοις, η μουσική ορολογία είναι εξ’ ολοκλήρου συμβολική, ενώ η έκθεση της ιστορικής εξέλιξης της γερμανικής μουσικής δεν είναι παρά ένα τεράστιο και πολύπλοκο σύμβολο των πνευματικών προβλημάτων που συνεχώς ταλάνιζαν τον Mann ως ανθρωπιστή.Κλείνοντας, οι όποιες δυσκολίες του κολοσσιαίου έργου του Mann δε θα έπρεπε καθόλου να αποθαρρύνουν τον αναγνώστη από το να αναζητήσει και να διαβάσει τον Doctor Faustus, αφού, εκτός από τις σημαντικές ιδέες που αναπτύσσονται, περί θρησκείας, μουσικής, ηθικής, ο τρόπος γραφής είναι άμεσος, με τον αφηγητή να σπάει κατά κόρον τον «τέταρτο τοίχο», να απευθύνεται στους μελλοντικούς αναγνώστες και να τους ζητάει κατανόηση κι υπομονή όταν ένα κεφάλαιο είναι, κατά τη δική του κρίση, πληκτικό.

  • Caroline Gurgel
    2019-04-07 06:49

    Comecei a leitura de Doutor Fausto sem ter muita noção da dimensão da obra que tinha em mãos. Sabia apenas que era uma releitura da famosa lenda fáustica alemã, na qual o médico vende sua alma ao diabo em troca de tempo de vida para fazer grandes descobertas científicas. Como amante da música, o que mais me interessava não era a lenda, mas o fato de narrar a vida de um compositor alemão, ainda que fictício.Li aquelas primeiras páginas umas trocentas vezes. Ia e voltava, não entendia muita coisa. Então, resolvi continuar mesmo sem compreender tudo o que lia para ver no que dava. E o que surge diante dos meus olhos são capítulos maravilhosos, sensacionais, seja sobre música, seja sobre guerra, intercalados com uns capítulos malucos, de quebrar a cabeça.Ambientado na Alemanha da primeira metade do século XX, Doutor Fausto nos conta a história do músico Adrian Leverkühn, narrada por Serenus, seu amigo de infância, que tem uma profunda admiração pelo compositor.Após ter se relacionado com Esmeralda, uma prostituta, e contraído sífilis, Adrian, doente, faz um pacto com o diabo – em um capítulo de tirar o fôlego – no qual vende sua alma e a capacidade de amar em troca de 24 anos de uma carreira brilhante na música. Acompanhamos, estupefatos, todo esse período de apoteose musical até o momento em que ele decide convidar amigos para uma, digamos, apresentação final.Até a metade do livro, apesar de ter uns capítulos de cair o queixo, eu não imaginava que ia gostar tanto desse livro. Foi uma leitura das mais difíceis que já fiz e a que me deixou mais eufórica quando concluí. Os capítulos finais são apoteóticos, indescritíveis. Eu tinha vontade de ler tudo em voz alta, de marcar todos os trechos, de mostrar a todo mundo aquilo que lia. Thomas Mann é genial.Durante todo o livro o autor fala muito de música e composição, o que pode deixar a leitura ainda mais difícil para quem nada entende do assunto. Para quem ama a música, como eu, é de entrar em êxtase. Fala de polifonia, fuga, adagio, harmonia, coro… fala de partitura, de dodecafonia, faz referências a músicos como Wagner e traça paralelos com a 9a Sinfonia de Beethoven. É de pirar!Além de tudo, o personagem ainda é considerado uma alegoria da Alemanha da época, daquela Alemanha que se rendera ao nazismo após a Primeira Guerra. Quando ficamos sabendo disso, tudo cresce ainda mais. É, repito, apoteótico, genial, sensacional.Não tenho palavras para descrever como queria a experiência dessa leitura, que entrou, sem dúvidas, para minha lista de favoritos. Leiam! Vale cada gota de @historiasdepapel_

  • Ahmed
    2019-04-08 05:44

    دكتور فاوستوس.....توماس مانحفيد فاجنر وبيتهوفن وموتسارت يتحفنا بسيمفونية أدبية من أروع ما تكون،سيمفونية إنسانية مطرزة بإتقان وتفانييستحقان التبجيل،حياة كاملة مليئة بالمشاعر والتفاصيل والحكايات،مليئة بالبشر ومواقفهم وأفعالهم ،عمل اتخذ من الإنسان وروحه المقدسة محورًا وناقشت كل ما يدور حولها،ناقشت الدين والسياسة والموسيقى،صديق يحكي قصة حياة صديقه،عبقري الموسيقى نابغ العقل،كلاهما اندمج في الحياة بطريقته،فتابع أحدهما حياته والآخر خسرها.الرواية عبارة عن مجموعة متناسقة من الأفكار النيّرة والعرض الفلسفس البسيط،رواية آمنت بالشر كمكمل من مكملات الحياة، وفي هذا السياق يقول الكاتب : (وكأن الشر يسهم في كمال العالم،ولولا ذلك لما كان مكتملًا،من أجل ذلك فسح الله له مجال الوجود،لأنه كان كاملًا،ولم يكن له بد أن يريد الكامل،-لا بمعنى الخير الكامل،بل بمعنى شمول كل الجوانب والتدعيم المتبادل للوجود،ولقد كان الشر خليقًا أن يكون أكثر إيغالًا في الشر،وكان الخير خليقًا أن يكون أجمل إلى حد بعيد ،لو وُجد الشر،أجل،ربما لم يكن الشر شرًا على الاطلاق،كما يمكن للناس أن يقولوا في ذلم مجادلين لو لم يكن الخير خيرا على الاطلاق)في العمل حس ديني فائق العذوبة،يناقش الدين وعمقه والتدين وظاهره،ويسرد لنا مآساة الدين وجبروته مع تعمق واضح منه،فهو يرى أن الدفاع الحقيقي عن الله بالنظر إلى تعاسة البشر يكمن في مقدرته على استخراج الخير من الشر،وهذه الخصلة تقتضي الأعمال مطلقا،وهذه من آيات مجد الله،ولا يمكن أن تتجلى لولا أن الله وهب للمخلوق الغلبة على الخطيئة.وفي هذه الحالةسيكون العالم قد ضُن عليه بذلك الخير الذي يقدر الله على خلقه من الشر،والخطيئة والمعاناة والرذيلة،ولو كان الأمر كذلك،إذا لقَلَّ حظ الملائكة من الباعث الذي يحدوهم إلى ترتيل آيات الثناء،وهنا ينشأ بالطبع وعلى نحو معكوس كما يعلمنا التاريخ على الدوام من الخير كثيرًا من الشر،حتى إن الله يجد أنه لا مناص من الحيلولة دون الخير ايضا،من أجل تجنب هذا،وأنه لا يجوز ترك العالم يوجد على وجه الاطلاق،وقد كان هذا خليقا أن يتعارض مع جوهره من حيث هو خالق،ومن أجل ذلك خلق العالم على ما هو عليه،أن جعله الشر يتخلله،وهذا يعني أنه لم يكن هناك بدُ أن يدعه عرضة للمؤثرات الشيطانية في جزء منه.الشر،الخير،الجمال،العقيدة،الدين… مواضيع ركزت عليها الرواية والتي رغم تجاوزها ال900صفحة إلا أنها تنساب بين يديك بنعومة فائقة لتجد نفسك في النهاية حزين على انتهاءها،كل ذلك عبر حياة أشخاص رسمهم الكاتب باحترافية لا تُضاهى،حياة أدريان ليفركون عبر قلم رفيق عمره،والذي لم يكتفي بحياة صديقه بل سرد صورة كاملة عن المجتمع الألماني بتاريخه وطوائفه وعاداته،لتسبح في عالم كامل من صنع توماس مان.وتوماس مان في هذه الرواية مهموم بقضايا وطنه وأمته ممثلة في الإنسان والفرد الألماني والمعاناة التي يعانيها،معاناة لم يكن غريب أن تنتج لنا مجنون مثل هتلر، وهنا يخرج لنا توماس مان الضغط البشع الذي وُضع على كاهل كل ألماني ولهذا نجده يقول في ختام عمله الأروع :ها هي ذي قصتي تسارع إلى نهايتها، وهذا شأن كل شئ،فكل شئ يزحف ساعيًا إلى نهايته،والعالم يوشك أن يبلغ أجله،وتلك هي حاله على الأقل بالقياس إلينا معشر الألمان الذين يصب تاريخهم الذي يرجع إلى ألف عام،مدحوضا،إذ يساق إلى العبث،ويضل سبيله أو يخطئ هدفه من حيث كونه مشؤوما،ويثبت أنه طريق ضلال أو متاهة،من خلال هذا الحدث في اللاشئ،في اليأس،في إفلاس لا مثيل له،وفي رحلة إلى الجحيم تتراقص حولها ألسنة اللهب، وإذا صح القول الألماني وهو أن كل طريق يفضي إلى هدف صحيح فهو صحيح أيضا في كل بعد من أبعاده.الرواية عظيمة بحق، وتستحق من التبجيل الكثير وترجمة(محمد جديد) كانت مرنة وسلسة للغاية.

  • Adam
    2019-04-05 23:47

    Mann is Teutonic Melville, and like Moby-Dick this book is filled with digressions and discussions alongside the unavoidable plunge toward madness and doom. These digressions interweave the narrative with images of Dante’s Inferno, Dürer woodcuts, puppet theater, fairy tales, German culture during the period through the World Wars, lengthy discussions of Classical music, and apocalyptic and prophetic literature. Written in the waning of the Second World War as the narrator tries to understand the sickening dissolution of his brilliant composer friend Adrian Leverkühn and his country, the bourgeoisie middle class is transformed into world of murder and suicide, brilliance turns to insanity, his country becomes madhouse filled with “werwolfs” and robot bombs led by a mad demon, politics mutate; all delivered in Mann’s erudite, layered prose. The supernatural elements of the story are excellently presented with the “reality” of them presented that is up for interpretation whether or not they are “real” in the book’s context. Is it the shape changing angel of poison or syphlus the responsible party for Adrian’s twenty four years of genius and madness. Its sad that the music discussed in this book is fictional becomes it all sounds really awesome.

  • Ana-Maria Cârciova
    2019-04-11 07:55

    Patience. That's the word.

  • K.M. Weiland
    2019-04-15 01:35

    What an extraordinary book. Thomas Mann—even translated into English—has such an immersive and yet easy style of writing. He’s a pleasure to read even when he’s not saying anything interesting, which he certainly is here with this deeply symbolic web of personality and history. Most interesting of all, however, is his deft use of a highly unreliable but entirely earnest non-protagonist narrator. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Magic Mountain, but it cements Mann as one of my favorite classic authors.

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-03-29 05:51

    My initial reaction to being done this book is relief. Like the other Thomas Mann book I've read, I've found this a slog at times. It was one where I had to give myself permission to read around 20 pages a day and no more, or else I never would have sat down with it in the first place. But despite that, despite how long it took me to read, and how I was never quite eager to get back to it, I am glad I read it. A difficult read, but still, a worthwhile one.Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Sinem A.
    2019-04-20 01:47

    Faust miti yüzünden ilgimi çekmişti. Ancak çok daha fazlası var; Almanya tarihi ve özellikle müzik adına. Mite gelince; onun da her açıdan bir yorumu olarak okunabilir kitap.

  • Hugh
    2019-04-11 04:43

    A daunting masterwork which I feel hopelessly unqualified to describe, this is in part a retelling of the Faust legend, in part a meditation on the nature of classical music, genius and creativity, and part an inditement of Mann's Germany at the time of its creation, in the latter stages and immediate aftermath of the Second World War, centred on the life of an imaginary radical German composer of the early 20th century, told by a friend who knew him from his schooldays. I was prompted to read it by an almost throwaway review comment that described Richard Powers' Orfeo as "the greatest novel about music since Mann's Doctor Faustus". I can't pretend that this was an easy read, and it is full of lengthy and erudite digressions, but it is a powerful, compelling novel of ideas, and a worthy but much darker successor to Mann's masterpiece The Magic Mountain.

  • Forrest
    2019-04-18 07:58

    It took me nine months to read this book, and now I'm supposed to summarize it in a review limited to 20,000 characters? Pah! I don't dare even attempt it! Many others have outlined the plot (such as it is) and explored in greater detail than that of which I am capable, the parallels between the story and Mann's bout of cultural guilt over the Third Reich. Anything I say about this would only serve to expose how much I did not understand about this novel. And because I didn't understand the entirety of this novel, I will present my thoughts scattershot, with little or no context, as I don't have the capacity to provide it. My reading of this book, like my reading of Beckett's Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable, has left a great gaping void where my brain used to reside, but a void more capable of being filled now, because of the beautiful trauma that has been inflicted therein.Since I am ill-equipped to address the slow-burning, then fast-burning plot, the emotionally deep and most-often tragic characters, or even the many clever uses of metafictional technique throughout, I will concentrate, quite simply, on one of the central conceits of the novel: the music of the composer, Adrian Leverkuhn.Mann has caught my innermost feelings regarding what I will call "avant-classical" music. The sort composed by Ligeti, Penderecki, Part, Crumb, Xenakis, Schnittke, and Stockhausen. I have a perverse love of this seemingly-nihilistic music, a certain spiteful soft-spot for the naughtiness of it all. The brooding goth that lives behind my heart delights in the sheer transgressiveness of the music, while I take great intellectual interest at the same time, a real fascination that I can't explain, but is a core part of my deep life. It's a mixture of fear and delight, a rarefied emotional state that makes me feel connected with the rest of the cold, dark universe. Mann's prose, while not directly explaining the feelings I feel when I'm listening to such music, hints at them in a sidelong way:Contagious diseases, plague, black death, were probably not of this planet; as, almost certainly indeed, life itself has not its origin on our glove, but came hither from outside. He, Adrian, had it on the best authority that it came from neighbouring stars which are enveloped in an atmosphere more favourable to it, containing much methane and ammonia, like Jupiter, Mars, and Venus. From them, or from one of them - he left me the choice - life had once, borne by cosmic projectiles or simply by radiation pressure, arrived upon our formerly sterile and innocent planet. My humanistic homo Dei, that crowning achievement of life, was together with his obligations to the spiritual in all probability the product of the marsh-gas fertility of a neighbouring star."The flower of evil," I repeated, nodding."And blooming mostly in mischief," he added.Thus he taunted me, not only with my kindly view of the world, but also by persisting in the whimsical pretence of a personal, direct, and special knowledge about the affairs of heaven and earth. I did not know, but I might have been able to tell myself, that all this meant something, meant a new work: namely, the cosmic music which he had in his mind, after the episode of the new songs. It was the amazing symphony in one movement, the orchestral fantasy that he was working out during the last months of 1913 and the first of 1914, and which very much against my expressed wish bore the title Marvels of the Universe. I was mistrustful of the flippancy of that name and suggested the title Symphonia cosmologica. But Adrian insisted, laughing, on the other, mock-pathetic, ironic name, which certainly better prepared the knowing for the out-and-out bizarre and unpleasant character of the work, even though often these images of the monstrous and uncanny were grotesque in a solemn, formal, mathematical way.-And again:. . . a barbaric rudiment from pre-musical days, is the gliding voice, the glissando, a device to be used with the greatest restraint on profoundly cultural grounds; I have always been inclined to sense in it an anti-cultural, anti-human appeal. What I have in mind is Leverkuhn's preference for the glissando. Of course "preference" is not the right word; I only mean that at least in this work, the Apocalypse, he makes exceptionally frequent use of it, and certainly these images of terror offer a most tempting and at the same time most legitimate occasion for the employment of that savage device. In the place where the four voices of the altar order the letting loose of the four avenging angels, who mow down rider and steed, Emperor and Pope, and a third of mankind, how terrifying is the effect of the trombone glissandos which here represent the theme! This destructive sliding through the seven positions of the instrument! The theme represented by howling - what horror! And what acoustic panic results from the repeated drum-glissandos, and effect made possible on the chromatic or machine drum by changing the tuning to various pitches during the drum-roll. The effect is extremely uncanny. But most shattering of all is the application of the glissando to the human voice, which after all was the first target in organizing the tonic material and ridding song of its primitive howling over several notes: the rerun, in short, to this primitive stage, as the chorus of the Apocalypse does it in the form of frightfully shrieking human voices at the opening of the seventh seal, when the sun became black and the moon became as blood and the ships are overturned.My dark fascination was inflamed as I read and recognized that Mann could convey that which I could not, my love of that dark, mysterious music. His ability to put into words, albeit indirectly, the feelings I feel when listening to this color of music, is, frankly, astounding. And while there were some sections on music theory that baffled me, there were long stretches of prose that enveloped me. The existentialist in me is in love with a good portion of this book. I can see myself hiding in its shadows frequently. Or maybe I can't see myself at all. And maybe that's the point.

  • Κατερίνα Μαλακατέ
    2019-04-05 06:55Στην αρχή, και μέχρι να συνηθίσει κανείς τον αργό ρυθμό, το βάθος, τους μουσικούς όρους και τον διανοητικισμό του Μαν, το βιβλίο μοιάζει βασανιστικό. Αφηγητής είναι ο φιλόλογος Τσάιτμπλομ, ο πιο στενός παιδικός φίλος του ιδιοφυούς συνθέτη Λέβερκυν που αποφασίζει να μας εξιστορήσει την βιογραφία του. Από τα παιδικά τους χρόνια, όπου ήδη η ιδιοφυΐα, αλλά και η παγερή ιδιοσυγκρασία του Λέβερκυν ξεχώριζε, ως τα χρόνια της ακμής και τελικά της πτώσης του συνθέτη, μας περιγράφει με ψυχαναγκαστική λεπτομέρεια σχεδόν όλες τις συζητήσεις του Λέβερκυν. Έτσι ο Τόμας Μαν θα ασχοληθεί με βασικά θέματα, όπως η τέχνη, η ζωή, η αγάπη, η λαγνεία και η μουσική. Αλλά το βασικό είναι πως θα φτιάξει μια αλληγορία για την γιγάντωση του Ναζισμού στην Γερμανία, θα λοιδορήσει την ίδια την τοιχογραφία της μπουρζουαζίας που στήνει μπροστά στα μάτια μας, θα καταφερθεί εναντίον της Γερμανικότητας και ταυτόχρονα θα την υμνήσει. «Η βαρβαρότητα είναι το αντίθετο της καλλιέργειας μόνο βάση της κατάταξης των ιδεών που μας παρέχει ετούτη η ίδια»Ο Λέβερκυν είναι ένας άντρας χωρίς πολλές σεξουαλικές ορμές. Την μία και μοναδική φορά που έχει επαφή με μια πόρνη, κολλάει σύφιλη. Από κει και μπρος το ταλέντο του απογειώνεται, παρατά την θεολογική σχολή και αφιερώνεται στην μουσική, ζει σε ένα αγρόκτημα ως νοικάρης που μοιάζει παρά πολύ με το πατρικό του. Κι εκεί μπαίνει ο διάβολος. Ένας διάβολος που μοιάζει στις λαϊκές δοξασίες, αλλά δεν μοιάζει, ένα κουτσαβάκι στην αρχή, που υπόσχεται 24 χρόνια ζωής αρκεί ο Λέβερκυν να μην αγαπήσει ποτέ κανέναν. Πού ούτε λίγο ούτε πολύ υπονοεί πως ο Λέβερκυν κόλλησε εν γνώσει του την ασθένεια για να απογειωθεί καλλιτεχνικά μέσω της τρέλας. Λέει ο Μεφιστοφελής: «Ο καλλιτέχνης είναι του εγκληματία αδελφός και του τρελού. Έχεις την γνώμη ότι δημιουργήθηκε ποτέ ένα διασκεδαστικό έργο χωρίς ο ποιητής του να έχει εξοικειωθεί με την έννοια του εγκληματία και του παλαβού; Τι αρρωστημένο και τι υγιές. Ποτέ στην ζωή της η ζωή δεν τα κατάφερε δίχως το αρρωστημένο» Ο συνθέτης συμφωνεί με τον διάολο, που είναι και δεν είναι, αποκύημα της σύφιλης. Και συνεχίζει την ζωή του, με φίλους που δεν καταλαβαίνουν την μουσική του, ψυχρός, ανέραστος, μόνος, μεγαλοφυής. Το τέλος θα είναι τραγικό, σε μια σκηνή που ίσως είναι από τις σημαντικότερες της λογοτεχνίας ως σήμερα. Το βιβλίο είναι μια πολιτική αλληγορία, όμως φυσικά δεν είναι μόνον αυτό. Οι συμβολισμοί είναι πάρα πολλοί κι οι περισσότεροι μάλλον θα διαφύγουν σε αυτόν που το διαβάζει για πρώτη φορά. Ο αφηγητής είναι εντελώς ανορθόδοξος για τόσο μεγάλο έργο, απευθύνεται στον αναγνώστη, πελαγοδρομεί. Η σχέση του με τον Λέβερκυν είναι ακραία, τον θαυμάζει και του στέκεται χωρίς καμία συναισθηματική ανταμοιβή. Η αγάπη και η σεξουαλικότητα μοιάζουν να οδηγούν στην τιμωρία, την πτώση και τον θάνατο. Η ματαιότητα της αστικής γερμανικής τάξης πριν τον πόλεμο επιφέρει τον χλευασμό του συγγραφέα, που ειρωνεύεται τους ήρωες του ανοιχτά, ενώ τα δικά του θέματα με την τέχνη και την έμπνευση διατρέχουν όλο το κείμενο. Η θεολογία και η μουσική, καθώς και η φιλοσοφία αναλύονται από τους χαρακτήρες διεξοδικά. Οι επιθυμίες και οι ελπίδες μου είναι αναγκασμένες να αντιτίθενται στη νίκη των γερμανικών όπλων, επειδή αυτή η νίκη θα έθαβε το έργο του φίλου μου, η κατάρα της απαγόρευσης και της λησμονιάς θα το κάλυπτε ίσως για εκατό χρόνια, έτσι που θα έχανε τον δικό του χρόνο και θα δεχόταν μονάχα σε έναν ύστερο χρόνο ιστορικές στιγμές. Τελικά, αυτό που προκύπτει είναι ένα εντελώς εγκεφαλικό πορτρέτο της Ναζιστικής Γερμανίας, με τους ήρωες να είναι τόσο μπερδεμένοι, όσο ήταν οι Γερμανοί τότε, και το φάσμα του Ναζισμού να στοιχειώνει όλο το κείμενο. Πάντως σε καμία περίπτωση δεν μιλάμε για κάτι ζωντανό και δυνατό, είναι μια ύπουλη υποβολή της κατάστασης, μια εγκεφαλική σύγχυση, πολύ διαφορετική από ό,τι συνήθως στην Γερμανική λογοτεχνία της περιόδου.Χωρίς αμφιβολία ο "Δόκτωρ Φάουστους" είναι από τα σημαντικότερα και ταυτόχρονα από τα δυσκολότερα να προσεγγίσει κανείς μυθιστορήματα της λογοτεχνίας του περασμένου αιώνα. Διαπραγματεύεται έναν πασίγνωστο μύθο με εντελώς διαφορετικούς όρους, χωρίς να υπολογίζει την αναγνωστική απόλαυση παρά μόνον στις χαρακτηριστικές εξαντλητικές περιγραφές. Ένα έργο αντάξιο ενός σπουδαίου και ταυτόχρονα στρυφνού και αμφιλεγόμενου συγγραφέα.

  • Stephen Durrant
    2019-04-15 07:03

    I hardly ever give up on a novel. Somehow I always hear my late mother's voice telling me to "bite off more than you can chew and chew it." Well, Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus" was perhaps more than I could chew, but at least I kept chewing to the end. And I'm glad I did. As all Mann readers know, his books can be terribly slow and sometimes maddeningly ponderous, but I invariably reach the final page, having resisted the inclination to throw the book aside forever, feeling that my time has been well spent, that I have been challenged and have learned something. Not every reader will see "Doctor Faustus" as I do--I would describe it as a "love story." It is presented as a biography of a genius composer, Adrian Leverkuhn, who is loosely modeled after Arnold Schoenberg. The central character, however, is Serenius Zeitbloom, the learned author of the biography and the first person narrator. At the root of this "biography," as with other Mann works, is homo-erotic attraction, masked as in "Death in Venice," behind an overwrought worship of aesthetic beauty. Adrian, whom Serenius worships for his astounding musical creations, believes he has sold his soul to the devil for twenty-four years of musical genius. He is, to be sure, a dark genius who is struggling to produce a new music, wavering between objective, "automatic" composition, and total subjectivity. We see his struggles through the eyes of the adoring narrator, at times overcome with jealousy, who may not always see his dear friend clearly. All this makes for a complicated and multi-layered work. But perhaps most important to understanding the novel is the fact that the narrator is producing this "biography" (and, of course, Mann is producing this novel) just as the Third Reich is crumbling. In the end, we realize that this is a love story not just of the narrator for Adrian, who has sold his soul to the devil, but for a Germany, symbolized by Adrian, that has indulged its worst qualities and is bound now, Serenius believes, to suffer eternally for its sins.

  • Arax Miltiadous
    2019-04-19 00:59

    Ολοκληρώθηκε μέσα από δυο συνολικά προσπάθειες παρότι με είχε απόλυτα κερδίσει από την πρώτη. Η ανάγνωση του συγκεκριμένου βιβλίου με ενθουσίαζε ανατριχιαστικά καθ' όλη την διάρκεια, ενώ ταυτόχρονα με καταπονούσε βαθύτατα, εχοντας επίγνωση της κατάστασης του ήρωα, μεσα από την αφήγηση του αφοσιωμένου φίλου του καθώς και από την ογκώδη προέκταση των περιγραφών και των αλληγοριών της ( παρά τα ολιγοσέλιδα διαχωρισμενα κεφάλαια.). Εν αρχής, η μετάφραση του Παρασκευόπουλου είναι άξια επαίνου εφόσον αποτελει μνεία του πλούτου της ελληνικής γλώσσας. Εν συνεχεία, συντελεί στην επιτυχή απόδοση ενός πλούσιου κειμένου με ροή, έντονο συναισθηματισμό και με μυριάδες εικόνες ( μην πω, ήχους!).Εξαίσιος ο Τόμας Μανν που συνέλαβε και συνέταξε ένα τόσο μεγαλειωδες έργο, αδημονώ εν καιρώ να διαβάσω και το Μαγικό Βουνό ( που τόσο έχω ακούσει να εκθειάζεται) . Η συνομιλία του Λέβερκυν με τον Διάβολο , όπως και η σχεδόν παράφρων εξομολόγηση του στο τέλος, θεωρούνται κατ' εμέ, η κορύφωση του έργου και παρότι φαίνεται να καταγράφονται εκατοντάδες σελίδες περιγραφών στην πρώιμη, την μεταβατικη και την ύστερη ζωή του, και άλλες τόσες στις μουσικοσυνθετικές λεπτομέρειες που κουράζουν και συγχύζουν τον μη κατέχοντα όλα δένουν με τόση φυσικότητα και δεξιοτεχνία. Μπορεί μεν να αφήνεις το βιβλίο λίγο στην άκρη, δε όμως, αδημονείς να επανέλθεις σε αυτό. Σίγουρα νιώθω περήφανη που το ολοκλήρωσα... Φάνηκε ακατόρθωτο κάποια στιγμή. Σίγουρα η απόλαυση που μου χάρισε δεν είναι από αυτές που εύκολα αντικαθιστούνται. Ένα βιβλίο που Πρέπει να Διαβάσεις Πριν Πεθάνεις! ;)

  • Larou
    2019-04-16 03:47

    Doktor Faustus is – besides Zauberberg and the Josef novels – one of Thomas Mann’s great novels (and yes I’m aware that most people would add Buddenbrooks to that list or even have it solely consist of that novel – for my part, however, I think it is very overrated and one of Mann’s lesser efforts) – and has a reputation of being inaccessible even by his standards. This reputation is not completely undeserved, it is a complex and difficult book and takes some effort to get into – on the other hand, however, the rewards for making that effort are exceptionally great.One reason for this difficulty is that Doktor Faustus is not really a novel but a fictional biography, and Thomas Mann takes this form seriously, presenting us with a proper biography (albeit on a fictional subject) and not just a thinly disguised novel. As a result, there is no unfolding plot, no overarching narrative, no colourful descriptions, making this even more abstract than Thomas Mann’s other works; and it does not help that there is (also in keeping with the biography form) a marked prevalence of telling over showing. And, as a biography, it is not even a good one – Serenus Zeitblom, the biography’s author, gets far too easily distracted from his supposed subject, the life story of his lifelong friend, the composer Adrian Leverkühn, pushing it into the background and instead telling the reader about himself, and the circumstances under which he is writing his book.But (and any reader of Doktor Faustus had better get used to twist and turns like this one, as the novel is full of them) what makes for a bad biography makes for an excellent novel, and the reader of the latter watches as Thomas Mann unfolds the parallel stories of the life of Adrian Leverkühn and of the downfall of the Third Reich as experienced by Serenus Zeitblom several decades later, not only mirroring the two stories in each other but also showing how the seeds for the German crimes were already being sown during Leverkühn’s lifetime. And Germany is as much at the centre of this novel as Leverkühn is, the Faustian pact with the devil is one that was not made by just an individual but by a whole nation.As all of Mann’s major works, Doktor Faustus is a novel of ideas, and the idea, or rather the problem that drives it is how – and if – it is possible to reconcile a deep and lasting love for German art and culture with the atrocious crimes committed by Germans during the Nazi reign. The easy way out of this dilemma is to claim that the Third Reich was a regress into “barbarism” that had nothing to do with the “real” Germany and was nothing but a deviation from pure and unsullied German culture which doesn’t really have anything in common with those people. Apart from the rather striking similarities this argument bears to the antisemitic rhetoric of the Nazis by presupposing a supposedly “pure” Germany, it also neatly exculpates Germany and the German from any relation with National Socialism (which, in the context of this way of thinking, very often tends to shrink down to evil Hitler and a handful of his followers) – undoubtedly the reason why this way of thinking has been consistently popular from 1945 until today (in fact, I seem to see it pop up more frequently again in recent years).This is emphatically not the road Thomas Mann takes, however. Even though he used to be a right-wing nationalist himself in his youth (he wrote something of a manifest of that movement with his book-length essay Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen), by the time he wrote Doktor Faustus (while in exile in the United States) he had come to the conclusion that something must have gone wrong with Germany and German culture in general if it led up to the Nazis. Hence, there is one level in Doktor Faustus where Mann explores the genesis of national socialist ideas from the intellectual debates at the beginning of the twentieth century and the early Weimar Republic, showing meticulously how moral standards are becoming eroded under the weight of arguments that originally are put forth just for the sake of appearing intellectually audacious and unconventional but take on an increasingly sinister turn when people get used to them and start taking them seriously. One can assume that Mann was familiar with similar debates first hand, and even if Doktor Faustus did not go beyond this, it would already be a brilliant depiction of the intellectual atmosphere in pre-fascist Germany.But of course the novel does not stop with this, this is barely the beginning of what Mann is undertaking here. The subject of the novel’s fictional autobiography is the composer Adrian Leverkühn, and while it is never explicitly stated, it is very obvious that his fate mirrors that of Germany. Any lesser writer would probably have focused on drawing a parallel between Leverkühn’s life and the rise of Nazism, and not bothered much with the music, maybe used the works of some other composer as model.But again, Thomas Mann shirks the easy way and instead makes Leverkühn’s compositions an essential part of the novel. Drawing on Schönberg’s Zwölftonmusik (the theory, mind you, not specific works) and the musical philosophy of young Adorno (who he had met in the US where he also was in exile), Doktor Faustus is at the height of musical theory of its time and presents the reader with a very detailed (and very demanding) description and analysis of Adrian Leverkühn’s fictional oeuvre (and some actual compositions by actual composers – mainly Beethoven – along the way).Doktor Faustus thus becomes a novel about music as much as it is one about Germany. However, Thomas Mann was not content with this either, but added another turn of the screw by making those two subjects mesh with each other, and the link between them is the satanic pact. Corresponding to the two temporal strands of the novel there are also the dual characters of their respective protagonists – Serenus Zeitblom is a rational humanist, who believes in reason and moderation in all things, while Adrian Leverkühn is very Nietzschean, a driven genius, believing that true excellence can only be achieved in extremes (any readers of Der Zauberberg will of course be very familiar with this opposition, and indeed Mann reprises here one of his earlier themes). And it is this which drives Leverkühn to make a pact with the devil (or get himself infected with syphilis – the novel leaves it open what exactly happens, in fact this very ambivalence is part of the dichotomy between humanism and the irrational) as the only means he can conceive of to transcend his limitations and become a great composer – just like Germany thought it had to leave the limitations of ethics and morality behind to become a great nation.However, as the reader proceeds through the novel and follows the development of Adrian Leverkühn as a composer, it becomes increasingly clear that his compositions follow a consistent inner logic, that they are highly intellectual affairs which follow a strict systematics and that there does not appear to be any need for any outside intervention – whether it is ascribed to demonic forces or disease, possibly not even inspiration, in any case, the irrational – at all. One might see this as a weakness of the novel, because it threatens to make the whole plot around the devil / syphilis and Leverkühn’s descent into madness if not superfluous, then highly unmotivated. For my part, I think that this was intentional on Thomas Mann’s part, that this very superfluousness even constitutes the tragic turn for Leverkühn (and, by extension, for the German people): that he does not need to strike a deal with the devil, but only thinks he does because of a misguided belief that true greatness simply has to be irrational – or that he possibly even wants to ally himself with the demonic because he is secretly in love with his own downfall, wishes for his own personal Götterdämmerung.And it is no surprise that this is what both Germany and Leverkühn get in the end. I wrote above that Doktor Faustus is very abstract even for a novel by Thomas Mann, but this is only true for the first three-quarters of the work. The last 200 pages or so, comprising the fate of Rudolf Schwerdtfeger and even more so little Nepomuk Schneidewein, however, might very well be the most emotionally intense and harrowing piece of literature to have been produced by literary modernism. Even at the fourth reading of the novel, that final part left me not only in tears but quite shaken as well. And it does take the many hundred pages of intellectual debate and abstract thought (which, don’t get me wrong, are fascinating reading – but not what anyone would call emotionally engaging) to build the momentum which then comes crashing down in an overwhelming emotional rush in the novel’s final parts.But what is probably most astonishing about Doktor Faustus, is the way that for everything that happens in the novel in the way of plot there is not only some corresponding literary formal element, but a musical one in the fictional oeuvre of Adrian Leverkühn as well. So it is an often reiterated theme in Leverkühn’s musical theory that one needs to pass through the strictest formalism to regain free expression in music, and it is easy to see how this corresponds the emotional payoff I just described and to the novel’s movement from debating abstract ideas to narrating deeply emotional events. The reader can follow this kind of correspondence and interpenetration on almost every single plot or thematic element and this is what makes this such a dense novel – it is impossible to just pick up a just single thread from its texture, but one always finds it interwoven with many others that seems to form a confusing tangle at first sight but upon closer scrutiny turn out to form an intricate pattern. And, almost needless to mention at this point, of course this has its correspondence in Leverkühn’s music, too, when in his later work all elements relate to all other elements in some way and everything becomes a theme. I can certainly why some people have difficulties with Doktor Faustus even if they enjoy other works by this author beyond Buddenbrooks – it is a difficult work and still poses a challenge even almost 70 years after its publication, but I for one think it remains one of the most exciting novels of the twentieth century and is well worth the effort it demands.

  • Chris Chapman
    2019-04-05 23:33

    It has been a long time since I thought so much about a book, jotted down so many notes as I was reading. Oh the joy of a book that challenges, provokes... Having said that, it does nothing to charm and seduce. The narrator is not easy to love, being, as he admits, a "sobersides", and clearly emotionally repressed; there are long passages about musical theory, and a transcription of the conversation of a group of students on a Wandervogel outing, discussing the nature and destiny of the German people - each trying to outdo the other for philosophical / mystical gymnastics.Among the many unreliable narrators in the history of fiction, Serenus Zeitblom surely occupies an exalted position. Right from the start he tells us he is probably one of the least appropriate people to tell the story of Adrian Leverkühn, "German composer", because he is too close to him, he has too much love for him, he has no objective distance. As the account progresses there is more and more evidence of this unreliability. While clearly worshipping and adoring his friend, he is also emotionally repressed, indicating a troubled, complicating relationship with love and friendship. He is writing the events many years after the fact - we have to doubt him when he quotes the contents of a letter word for word but tells us he doesn't have the letter, and is transcribing from memory. He is clearly jealous of all of Leverkühn's hangers-on, and these take up a strangely disproportionate part of the story. He has a peculiar obsession with the form of his narrative - he apologises to us when chapters exceed a certain arbitrarily fixed length, he agonises over whether certain events belong together in one chapter - having a common theme - or should be separated into two. We begin to realise that the subject matter - his beloved friend's progress via genius to a horrible death - is very painful to Zeitblom, and this obsession with form may be a diversionary tactic.But Zeitblom's unreliability, we realise eventually, is a double-edged sword. Or rather, it somehow turns in on itself, it inverts itself. The more he invites us not to trust him, the more we do. For a start, all the other people who surround Leverkühn, who have their own narratives, are even more barking mad than Zeitblom. And what fallibilities he has, just make him seem more human. While all of the Leverkühn hangers-on have a variety of worrying motivations - career progression, or simply basking in reflected glory - his only motivation appears to be love. Superficially, the pact with the devil is offered as the explanation for Leverkühn's genius. Starting with the book's title we are led in that direction. Leverkühn's culminating work is a Faust opera. Then there's a curious medieval anecdote about a woman who, fearing her husband will cheat on her, goes to see a witch. The witch, having dealt with Satan and obtained powers from him, is able to help her lay a spell on said unfortunate husband. Zeitblom, significantly, pours scorn on this version of events, finding other reasons to explain the husband's predicament.Here is where the curious effect of Zeitblom's unreliability becomes important. It is said of James Joyce that he lets the words do the work. Mann lets the reader do the work. He gives us many reasons for distrusting Leverkühn. But in the end, we trust him, and Mann knows we will. We discount the Satanic pact narrative. Ultimately we are being asked to consider the nature of genius and where it comes from. Clever but ultimately sterile tricks with mathematical progressions, developing complex harmonic structures which pre-determine the progress of an entire piece and leave nothing to inspiration? Zeitblom's obsession with chapter lengths and the compartmentalising of events is a parallel of this. The message seems to be - this is also the wrong track - Zeitblom infuriates the reader with his apologies about the length of his chapters. So what other explanations are we asked to consider? The impact of the syphilis bacterium on the brain, first accelerating its creative capacities, and then corrupting and destroying it? In the end the book is a commentary not just on the nature of genius and inspiration but also how to nurture it when you are embedded in a stifling bourgeois society. 'We also wonder if we are more monstrous than we can bear. We believe that if we were good we wouldn’t have aggressive or violent thoughts, forgetting that monstrousness is useful in art, which, to be effective, has to be pushed to an extreme, making the audience tremble. Art emerges from what Friedrich Nietzsche called “inner anarchy” and never from so-called decency' (Hanif Kureishi). This is why Leverkühn flees to the village of Pfeiffering - a carbon copy of his childhood home, where life is more real - he can horse-whisper to the dangerous dog, and is surrounded by more genuine types, like the stable girl with cow-dung-caked bare feet. His host, Frau Schweigestill (the names are always relevant - hers could be a German translation of horse-whisperer) is not particularly well-educated, but – it turns out – has had a string of unusual guests in her house, either very eccentric ones, or suffering some kind of terrible life-curse, Leverkühn obviously being the culmination. She has understood perfectly how to deal with them, with her natural intelligence, and without bourgeois judgement.Zeitblom rails against the Reformation, for its insistence on a literal reading of sacred texts, thus not allowing space for the magic of the act of faith (although Mann was brought up a Lutheran, this seems to be a parallel to the critique of bourgeois constrictions). He also blames it for triggering the Wars of Religion, by taking an utterly unforgiving, no-quarter-given-or-taken approach to the truth of religion, as interpreted from foundational texts. The creation of a myth of truth, and of destiny, and the dogmatic pursuit of it – this is also a parallel of the Third Reich. Nazism indeed weighs heavily on the book. Zeitblom repeatedly reminds us to bear in mind the time he is writing about (Leverkühn's time, before, during and after the First World War) and the time he is writing in (World War Two). As a further layer of distancing (it feels like Brechtian Verfremdung) he reminds us that Mann is writing about Zeitblom writing about Leverkühn, for example through the cheekily self-referential “but I am not writing a novel...”. Is Mann asking us to wish madness, genius and inspiration to be channelled into artistic creation, because if they are directed along other paths – for example, to the pained, fevered striving for the realisation of a nation's manifest destiny – the consequences can be indescribably terrible? But if the aim of bourgeois society is to set constraints on madness and non-conformist behaviour, this can just as easily crush artistic endeavour, as provide a bulwark against genocidal political tendencies. This dilemma is not fully resolved, and it can be assumed that Mann does not want to provide all the answers. As a footnote, Arnold Schoenberg, Mann's friend, whose music – and genius – were an inspiration for the novel, was upset at its publication. Mann's ambitions were grand, of course – his theme was the nature of genius itself, not specifically Schoenberg's. But, like Zeitblom, surely Mann exhibited an emotional blindness by not foreseeing his friend's anger. "Dear Arnold - here is my novel, a tribute to your genius, where I lay out various possible theories for its origin - a syphilitic infection, madness, a pact with the devil, a repressed Oedipus complex ..." Finally, after the first publication, he felt impelled to write a very brief afterword where he explains that the musical theory in the book is drawn from Schoenberg, implying that this was the only connection.