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Sixty Years of Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus by Ulrich Grothus (via the a reader's words blog):


As the subtitle says, Doktor Faustus is The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn as Told by a Friend. Leverkühn is born in 1885 in central Germany. He studies the piano and some composition as a boy but first earns a degree in theology before returning to his German-American music teacher Wendell Kretzschmar to study composition in Leipzig. The very day Leverkühn arrives in Leipzig he is led to a brothel by a tour guide and first meets a prostitute whom he later revisits. She will then infect him with syphilis. The infection is interpreted as a stimulant to artistic creativity - and as a silent pact with the devil who makes his appearance exactly half-way through the novel, probably only in Lever­kühn’s fantasy. The primary infection is not adequately treated and 24 years later, in 1930, will lead to Leverkühn’s mental breakdown and paralysis, from which he will not recover until his death ten years later. The paralytic shock happens when Leverkühn has invited his friends from Munich to the nearby village where he lives, apparently for a presentation of his last composition The Lamentation of Doctor Faustus, but in fact to confess his nefarious trade of love and warmth for artistic creativity.

Readers Comments

  1. The story of the writing of the novel has always interested me. That the novel was begun during the nascent Nazi regime and finished in Los Angeles is both odd and appropriate. What better place to finish a novel about selling your soul to the devil and sacrificing "love and warmth for artistic creativity" than LA.

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