The decision by Britta Böhler

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Well this was the first book I was sent this year and I always like the way books seem to interlink  with books I have read or tried to read and this one is no different. I tried to rush through Magic mountain for German lit month but decide halfway through it needed a slower reading from me, so I put to one side for this years German lit month. But I had also tried to order from my library a book that collected together letters sent between Thomas Mann the main character in this book and his fellow writer Herman Hesse, I wish the library copy had turned up as I could looked up his letters around this time.I love the way books overlap this one even overlaps with one of the earliest books on the blog. Another thread of the book is how important Mann considered his book Joseph which was being published at this time this is his longest book and also one maybe least spoke about now in his cannon.

Hesse would probably lecture him because if the Korrodi letter. He can see it now, Hesse’s thin face would be even thinner than usual, there would be reproaches and exhortations, and perhaps even more than that. Lose another friend is that worth it ?

It’s all very well for Hesse to talk. When you’re not in the middle it’s difficult to stay out of things. Hesse hasn’t lived in Germany for decades; he became a swiss citizen long before the trouble in German started.His books are also published by Bermann ; he has german readers, but doesn’t live in the fatherland and doesn’t want to return.

The relationship between Mann and Hesse is shown here when in those three days he visits Hermann.

It’s 1936 and in switzerland the writer Thomas Mann has taken the decision to write and open letter in a swiss paper denouncing the Nazi regime and the actions. What follows in the book is the three days from him writing the letter and  it’s being published. The writer Britta Bohler a well-known Dutch lawyer has filled in the gaps in the story, as Mann’s diaries of the time mention very little of the time between the letter writing and being published.Mann confronts the ghosts of his past and fear of the future.One man well Mann struggling to choose exile other bowing down.

The memory of Germany is a nostalgic remembrance, a memory of times long gone. Times that don’t return. How did Proust say it ? “The really that I knew no longer existed.” No, he doesn’t want to be able to return to present-day Germany. He wants his fatherland to become again the country it once was. His homesickness is pain in time, not in space, and staying in Germany would not have changed that. He switches on the reading light and looks at the clock. He still has enough time to stretch his legs for half and hour before the evening meal; the radio broadcast can’t wait until after dinner.

I loved this passage as it sums up Mann’s thoughts in the book a struggle with Germany’s so to speak.

 

Mann wonders the knock on effect of the letter his publisher is Jewish and may be in trouble more because of the letter. He ponders what it is to be German, The thought of being German and not in Germany in fact against the German regime. He see how other people have dealt with the Nazis. The way Wagner has been embraced by the Nazis. we see Mann as not the bold writer we know but as a man on the edge, having to make The decision. I was reminded of one of the earlier books I read on the blog. Brecht at night  by Mati Unt which followed a fellow German writer Bertolt Brecht as he escaped the German regime. in his case via Finland to The US .In the book Britta has brought a time the Mann his self wrote very little about and filled three days in his life into a novel that shows the greater struggle between good and evil.As The open Letter from Thomas Mann to Korrodi about Germany and Exile writers is due to be published in feb 3 edition of the NZZ newspaper in Switzerland. A move that sees Mann become and exile himself.

Dutch literature

Original title – De besilissing

Translator – Jeannette K Ringold

 

 

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First book of 2016 three days of Thomas Mann

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Well the first book has arrived it was published last year though. But is one I was interested in when I first heard about it last year at london book fair from the people at Haus. The book follows three days in 1936 where the writer Thomas Mann after he denounced the Nazis facing up to what he had done and why. This period he didn’t cover in his own diaries so Britta Böhler fills in the gap. Britta herself is an interesting figure being a well known lawyer in Holland representin Volkert van der Graaf the assassin of Pim Fortuyn.

Weekend reading from a Mountain to the turtle in the tree

20151030_144950Well not going to finish these this weekend as I have just started both these epic books.Leg over leg is 400 pages plus another 100 of notes and a very large forward to read once I’ve read the book , the book follows the alter ego of the writer as we see him learning in his native Lebanon then further afield , this book opens with an eye-opening few passages around female and male sex organs the shapes and sizes of each, very unexpected opening bit even after thirty pages this morning before work I get a real sense of the writers playful use of language and imagery. Then well I maybe should be reading something at the lighter end of the reading rainbow of books I like to read but no I chosen Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann as we see the world on the brink of world war one as Hans Castrop heads to the swiss alps and a sanatorium, as he tries to find himself and the world around him but also the cracks that lead to world war one a ringing of a new guard in the German-speaking world that would lead them into war. I will probably be on these two for most november as I splatter a few shorter books in the mix . The Mann also crosses two boxes a German lit month novel but also for the 1924 club but rather late on as I think I won’t finish it till middle of November but I want to add a translation to this event. I am nearly all read for German lit month a bit disappoint few of the library books I had found haven’t appear so must be lost in the libraries it has happened before I have managed to read 11 books already for German lit month and hope to finish magic mountain and a couple of others before December .

How is your weekend reading shaping up ?

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