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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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“Speed, a Story”


This is the end.

There is no escape. I am ruined. No hope, any more. I am through.

I used to lead an orderly life. That was a long time ago…. I was a respectable man—an Austrian citizen. Why did I leave my country? Why did I cross the ocean? How did I get into this mess…?

Mr. Prokoff says it’s not as bad as all that. Mr. Prokoff says they are just trying to scare me. The summons is probably forged. If it were a legal warrant, the police would hardly send those fellows to fetch me. It might be a private summons, of course…but Mr. Prokoff says they could obtain such a private summons only if I owed them money or if I had mistreated them. I mistreat Speed? What a preposterous idea!

Yet, they produced the document—or, in any case, they brandished a piece of paper that looked to Mr. Prokoff very much like a summons. So he advised me not to enter my room as long as they keep lying in wait for me—out there, in the street. It was very nice of Mr. Prokoff to offer me this unused chamber as a hiding place. It’s just a sort of a closet, really: a squalid box, dark and narrow as a prison cell….

The odd thing about those private summonses is that they only assume legal validity if and when...

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