Edited By Timothy K. Nixon
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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