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Selected Short Works by Klaus Mann


Edited By Timothy K. Nixon

Selected Short Works by Klaus Mann makes available for the first time a number of pieces by the author of Mephisto and The Turning Point. Klaus Mann (1906–1949) was an early opponent of Nazism, an émigré to the United States who enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight the German fascists, and the eldest son of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann. The works in this collection include brand new translations of a novella about the final days of Ludwig II (Bavaria’s Mad King Ludwig) and an essay challenging the homophobic maneuvers of certain enemies of German fascism. In addition, Selected Short Works by Klaus Mann includes a drama and three short stories written in English, all but one of which are appearing for the first time in print. One of the pieces in this volume, «Speed, a Story,» was considered by Christopher Isherwood to be Klaus Mann’s best writing. Taken as a whole, this collection suggests Klaus Mann should, at a minimum, be considered a German-American author. Although his infatuation with and his hopes for the United States were short-lived, while in America, Klaus Mann dedicated himself to writing exclusively in English. The final four works in this collection make a rich contribution to twentieth-century American letters. These selected works will appeal to those with an interest in lesbian and gay history, exilic studies, and twentieth-century German and American literature.
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Vous fûtes un poète, un soldat, le seul Roi

De ce siècle où les rois se font si peu de chose…1

Verlaine, “À Louis II de Bavière”

“It’s the king!” the servants said, shaken to their innermost core.

Several crowded at the windows in the hallway of the second story; others ran downstairs into the main hall or out onto the gravel courtyard in front of the palace.

Each of them knew what had happened, although they had hoped against hope that this moment would never arrive.

Their lord and king, Ludwig II of Bavaria, stopped before entering the most splendid of his estates, Berg Palace on Lake Starnberg. Alas, he did not arrive as befits a free ruler. He was accompanied by doctors and attendants, and gentlemen from the court in Munich followed the melancholy, macabre carriage that was closely guarded by mounted police.

The servants knew that their ruler had been taken prisoner at Hohenschwangau Palace and treated like a madman, like a criminal even. The doctors in Munich, conspiring with the Wittelsbach2 family and the ministers, had issued the horrible verdict: The king was sick—such was the medical assessment—mentally ill, and perhaps incurable, just like his brother, Prince ← 7 | 8 → Otto, who for years had been cut off from the world and scraped along somewhere in a semi-bestial state. The illness, to which the scholars...

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