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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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A Note on the Translations


While working on a different task, I came across a statement attributed to Thomas Mann that haunted me throughout the early stages of this project. In his essay on English translations of Mann’s works, Timothy Buck quotes from a letter in which Thomas Mann wrote that H. T. Lowe-Porter, or “Die Lowe” as he snidely called her, “has a superb command of her own language, English, but not such a good command of German, and that is what gives rise to the misunderstandings and inadequacies” (243–44). My colleague Rachel Krantz and I had just begun work on the translation of Vergittertes Fenster (Barred Window), and I had the wind knocked out of me by how unforgiving that one great Mann could be when others tampered with his creations. In all truthfulness, I fretted about this endeavor so much that I even had a nightmare where Thomas Mann walked into my room and said with utter disdain, while shaking his head and rolling his eyes, “It’s an idiom…!” That my anxieties derived from Thomas Mann, and not his son Klaus, scorning good-natured, well-meaning attempts at translation was some consolation to me. I have to hope that Klaus Mann would be more forgiving than his father was for what we have done to his work here.

At the outset, Rachel and I agreed that our goal was to create the most readable English texts we could. Neither one of us is a native German speaker, ← xxv | xxvi...

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