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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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On September 25th, 1943, an employee of the U. S. Department of Justice prepared a certificate of naturalization for one Klaus Henry Mann, and the recipient signed the document with that same cognomen. The individual who had originally been given the Teutonic and aristocratic sounding name Klaus Heinrich Thomas Mann some thirty-six years earlier had ceased to exist. In his place, a new citizen of the United States had stepped forth. Sporting a less pretentious and a suitably German-American sounding name, Klaus Henry Mann, who had joined the American Army the previous December, was officially recognized as a citizen of his new homeland. Because of events far beyond his control, the enfant terrible who had reveled in Weimar Berlin’s decadence, all while goading and scandalizing his elders, had been forced to grow up, and he had willingly and eagerly adopted a new identity as an American.

Klaus Mann was the eldest son of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann, the author of Death in Venice and Buddenbrooks, and he was the nephew of another famous German novelist, Heinrich Mann. Obviously, a certain literary bent ran in Klaus’s family. However, the younger Mann strove to separate himself from his father’s reputation and influence. While Thomas wrote weighty, philosophical tomes of undeniable brilliance, Klaus penned provocative, shorter pieces, oftentimes moving on before revising and polishing his work. Laurence ← vii | viii → Senelick points out that “from the start of his literary career, the press disliked and distrusted Klaus Mann and ridiculed...

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