Tuesday, 8 September 2009

THE TRANSPOSED HEADS: A LEGEND OF INDIA BY THOMAS MANN


A whimsical, witty fable about Sita of the beautiful hips and her two husbands. Mann seems to have had a great deal of fun writing this one, and it shows. He is occasionally funny in THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN and ROYAL HIGHNESS and this novella gives free rein to his humour; a typically Mann-esque ponderous, ironic yet quite effective humour of course. Some of the scenes are truly exquisite, such as the aching adolescent lust evoked when the young men first spy on Sita bathing, the raw horror portrayed when Sridhaman enters the Kali temple, the elaborately satirical depiction of the ascetic in his 'unpeopled void' and more. I believe this was also adapted into an opera, and one can easily see how a book so full of colour, life and emotional drama could translate well to the stage. A minor masterpiece from a major writer.

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