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Description - Mephisto by Klaus Mann

A searing indictment of evil in Hitler's Germany. Hendrik Hofgen is a man obsessed with becoming a famous actor. When the Nazis come to power in Germany, he willingly renounces his Communist past and deserts his wife and mistress in order to keep on performing. His diabolical performance as Mephistopheles in Faust proves to be the stepping-stone he yearned for: attracting the attention of Hermann Goring, it wins Hofgen an appointment as head of the State Theatre. The rewards - the respect of the public, a castle - like villa, a uplace in Berlin's highest circles - are beyond his wildest dreams. But the moral consequences of his betrayals begin to haunt him, turning his dreamworld into a nightmare.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780140189186
ISBN-10: 0140189181
Format: Paperback
(199mm x 133mm x 19mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Penguin Classics
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 7-Dec-1995
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Mephisto by Klaus Mann

US Kirkus Review » A literary curiosity: a novel written in 1936 by Thomas Mann's son that's been banned these last number of years in Germany as libelous. Mann's brother-in-law, his sister's husband, was the ostensible prototype for the book's Hendrik Hofgen, a provincial actor who, by the agencies of a "dirty" smile, some natural talent, and the moral backbone of an amoeba, is able to rise through the miasma of the German Thirties to the position of State Theatre Director for the Nazis, directly under the sheltering wing of Goring himself. That Hofgen keeps a black mistress, Juliette, who regularly whips him, that he's toyed with Communism in order to keep contact with those on the outs in case they eventually get in - none of this matters once he moves himself onto the Berlin Stage in Faust and gives the Nazis a Mephistopheles to love, a "rascal" whose evil is endearing. Now suddenly on the heights, Hendrik's a swine who means to stay there; denunciations, jailings, killing await those in his past who threaten his position with compromising memories. Mann is quoted in the publisher's introduction as having intended to "analyze the abject type of treacherous intellectual who prostitutes his talent for the sake of some tawdry fame and transitory wealth" - but the objective is clear enough from the texture of the writing; italicized invective and jeremiad breaks into the narrative, as though Mann couldn't hold back his rage and disgust. Not a calorie is spent on making Hendrik even a jot sympathetic or human: he's a monster plain and simple. Strangely, the fact that the book has an agreed-upon real-life skeleton makes it moderately compelling. As a novel, its harsh artless Expressionism leaves a clumsy mark; but as a knife-thrust into a real belly, the book fashions a genuine, albeit footnote-size, drama of passionate enmity. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Klaus Mann

Klaus Mann, the second child of Thomas Mann, was born in Munich in 1906. He began writing short stories and articles in 1924 and within a year was a theatrical critic for a Berlin newspaper. In 1925 both a volume of his short stories and his first novel, The Pious Dance, were published. His sister Erika, to whom he was very close, was in the cast of his first play, Anja and Esther. He also acted a continued to write prolifically. Klaus Mann left Germany in 1933 and lived in Amsterdam until 1936, during which time he became a Czechoslovakian citizen, having been deprived of his German citizenship by the Nazis. Moving to the United States in 1936, he lived in Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City. He became a U.S. citizen in 1943. He died in 1949, at the age of forty-two, in Cannes, France.

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