His family was a family of suicides: Who is Thomas Mann?

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. When the Nazis came to power in Germany, he could not shelter in his homeland. He lived in Switzerland and America. He died in Switzerland.

By David Foster Published on 9 Şubat 2024 : 18:39.
His family was a family of suicides: Who is Thomas Mann?

Thomas Mann's family was a family of suicides. His son Klaus committed suicide first. Following Klaus's suicide, their younger brother Michael, a professor at Berkeley, followed his father's will and committed suicide mysteriously, just after preparing Mann's diaries for publication on the twentieth anniversary of his death. Thomas Mann did not attend the funeral of his son Klaus. In a letter he wrote to Hermann Hesse, he asked "How did he do this to his mother?", referring to his suicide for Klaus.

Paul Thomas Mann (6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized versions of German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Arthur Schopenhauer.


THOMAS MANN was born in Germany in 1875. In his first stories, published in 1898 and collected under the name Der kleine Herr Friedemann (Little Friedemann), he focused on the artist's problem of creation, being influenced by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Wagner. Following these first stories, the social novel Buddenbrooks, which made Mann famous, was published. Tonio Kröger was published in 1903, and Death in Venice was published in 1912. Mann, who later wrote The Magic Mountain, left Germany when Hitler came to power. He became a US citizen in 1936 and published the tetralogy Joseph and His Brothers, in which he painted a dark picture of Germany (1933-1942). In Doctor Faustus, which he started writing after the tetralogy, he talked about the succumbing of German culture to barbarism in the light of the life story of composer Andreas Leverkühn. Mann, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929, died in Zurich in 1955.

Life story

Thomas Mann was born into a bourgeois family. When his father died, he left him a considerable fortune. He did not have a regular education life. He even dropped out of school during his middle school years. He had a rich and spacious life. He came from a family of writers. His father and older brother were writers. Later, his son Klaus Mann also embarked on the path of writing. In fact, three of Mann's six children, Erika Mann, Klaus Mann, and Golo Mann, also became writers. But the most successful and most read of this family was Thomas Mann.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany, he could not shelter in his homeland. He lived in Switzerland and America. He died in Switzerland. But he always emphasized his German identity. He created a world of writing for himself by describing German culture and the transformation of German society. Moreover, he even said, "Germany is mine." These words were a challenge to the fascist administration of that period. Although he could not be stripped of his citizenship, his books were not banned in Germany. However, his brother's and son's books were banned.

Although Mann denies that there are autobiographical elements in his novels, he has made it a habit to write about almost all the experiences of his personal life. While talking about the Buddenbrook Family, he described the corruption in the bourgeois circles of the city where he was born, including his own family. It is easy to find parallels between the wife's stay in the sanatorium in the novel Magic Mountain and the general flow of the novel. In fact, the literary text is about creating new destinies by rebelling against the lived destiny but without being able to escape from it.

One of the strange obsessions of great writers is that they try to identify with the artists who came before them. They write like this because they feel a kinship in spirit with the artist they consider to be a master. They try to bring their master back to the agenda. For Thomas Mann, the master was Goethe. The author established a connection between his own books and Goethe's works. He used Goethe's works as an example in finding a charter and subject for his own work.

Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. In fact, the fact that he continued to write giant works such as Doctor Faustus or Joseph and His Brothers after receiving the award prompted two members of the Swedish Academy to nominate Mann for the Nobel Prize in Literature for the second time in 1948.

Reading Thomas Mann; is an experience that is difficult and requires effort, but leaves a strange feeling of grandeur when you turn the last page of the book. In his novels, he deals with human weaknesses or the complicated puzzle of life with a very cold-blooded fiction. He doesn't have clear answers, but he gives the impression that he clearly understands whatever he's talking about. A twenty-year-old young engineer speaks like a twenty-year-old young man in his texts. Thomas Mann knows that human life knowledge is built with chronological bricks. Knowing oneself is a cumulative thing in his novels...

Thomas Mann adhered to bourgeois morality throughout his life and imitated that morality even if he did not have it. For example, he ironically states that there was no revolution in Germany because revolution was forbidden. But based on the diaries he kept, it is possible to clearly see that that morality caused him to repress himself a lot. It is also his declaration that indifference is real freedom, but he has never been indifferent in his life. Love is nothing if not crazy, irrational, forbidden, and if it doesn't mean an evil adventure. This is Thomas Mann's definition of love. What an incompatible description of bourgeois manners. Apparently, Mann always lived by submitting to the identities he carried, aware that he would not dare to be free. He was able to put his own stamp on his works with the amount of his subconscious leaked.