Thursday 4 September 2008

A perceptive essay on Mann's Dr. Faustus and Kafka's The Castle, written in response to new translations of both novels issued in the late 90s.
'Kafka's art of understatement complements Mann's art of grandiloquent, self-consciously outdated overstatement in parody of traditional modes. But at bottom an underlying common sense of modern need can be discerned in The Castle and in Doctor Faustus. Kafka's K. and Mann's diabolically gifted Leverkuhn are seeking to restore some kind of contact to a realm that transcends the alienated materialism and conformist mediocrity of middle-class life.'
'Mann, of course, continued to write in the parodic mode after Doctor Faustus. Though he was able to imagine the breakthrough into new forms, he did not achieve it.
When Kafka finally ascended into the canon of modern novels, after World War II, Mann, Hesse, Broch, and others tirelessly praised him as the figure who had broken through into a mythic expression of modernity.'
Another interesting essay on Dr. Faustus.