Six Early Stories

Thomas Mann, Author, Burton Pike, Editor, Peter Constantine, Translator Sun & Moon $22.95 (130p) ISBN 978-1-55713-298-7
The products of Mann's earliest years as a writer (when he was between the ages of 18 and 24), these newly translated stories give insight into the still-forming mind of the Nobel laureate, revealing his philosophical and literary influences as well as demonstrating the uninhibited experimentation of a young, romantic writer. In an introduction and in short explanations before each piece, Pike makes the case for bringing these juvenilia to light, since each piece reveals motifs and ideas that Mann would build upon throughout his career. Included is ""A Vision,"" Mann's first published work (1893), a neatly crafted literary sketch that reveals a rather francophile decadent. While rolling a cigarette in the ""matte black darkness,"" Mann's first-person narrator justifies his dark, masturbatory brooding with a final thought: ""You did love me... Which is why I cry now."" Also notable is ""The Will to Happiness,"" in which Mann begins to re-interpret Schopenhauer's ""will to life"" and Nietzsche's ""will to power"" in terms of the artist and creates character traits (Latin and Germanic, frail and strong) that he would later develop more fully in later work. The literary phrasing in these stories is sophisticated, though the subject matter and behavior of the characters are unmistakably the fruits of inexperience: these early experiments only hint at the more masterful writing composed just a few years later, as witnessed in ""Tonio Kroger"" (1903) and ""Tristan"" (1902), not to mention his hugely successful first novel, Buddenbrooks (1901). Mann devotees, however, will certainly welcome these gracefully translated stories, as will young writers struggling with their craft. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 130 pages - 978-1-55713-385-4
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