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Mann, Thomas (1875-1955)  
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Doktor Faustus

Doktor Faustus (1947), Mann's great parable about Germany's descent into fascism, also contains an artist figure who is homosexual. Using the Faust myth, the novel traces the decay of bourgeois culture in Germany from the late nineteenth century to the present. The composer Adrian Leverkühn makes a pact with the devil in order to be able to create masterpieces of music for a few years. In exchange, he grants the devil his soul.

One of the musicians in Leverkühn's circle of friends is Rudi Schwerdtfeger, with whom Leverkühn has, for a time, a sexual relationship. Again, homosexual desire is, in Mann's conception, antithetical to those forces and institutions that maintain and advance society.

Several critics believe that in some of Mann's later works, for example, Die Betrogene (The Deceived, 1953) and Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man, 1954), he purposely disguised his own homosexual feelings and gave them a heterosexual guise by having female characters experience what he himself had felt for a younger man.


Thomas Mann's depiction of homosexual desire can be seen as an attempt to encode homosexuality in a manner that would allow him to speak what at the time was unspeakable for him, namely, his own homosexual feelings. This dual Otherness, that of the artist and that of the homosexual, found private expression in his diaries. As it became the major theme of his works, it took on other forms in language (metaphor, allusion, topoi), character, and plot.

Mann's fictional works have proved of enormous interest to gay scholars recently because so much "about" homosexual desire in fiction prior to Stonewall has to be read between the lines. It remains encoded, yet open to the interpretation of a generation of readers whose experiences and indeed definitions of homosexuality are quite different from Mann's own.

James W. Jones

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arts >> Overview:  Opera

Opera, an eclectic synthesis of voice, drama, music, costume, visual arts and spectacle, has played an integral role in queer culture since its development in seventeenth century Venice.

literature >> Auden, W. H.

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arts >> Mann, Erika

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literature >> Mann, Klaus

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Baumgart, Reinhard. "Thomas Mann als erotischer Schriftsteller." Forum. Homosexualität und Literatur 4 (1988): 5-22.

Böhm, Karl Werner. "Die homosexuellen Elemente in Thomas Manns 'Der Zauberberg.'" Stationen der Thomas-Mann-Forschung. Aufsätze seit 1970. Hermann Kurzke, ed. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 1985. 145-165.

Bravermann, Albert and Larry David Nachman. "The Dialectic of Decadence: An Analysis of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice." Germanic Review 45 (1970): 289-298.

Detering, Heinrich. "Der Literat als Abenteurer: 'Tonio Kröger' zwischen 'Dorian Gray' und 'Der Tod in Venedig.'" Forum. Homosexualität und Literatur 14 (1992): 5-22.

Feuerlicht, Ignace. "Thomas Mann and Homoeroticism." Germanic Review 57 (1982): 89-97.

Härle, Gerhard. Die Gestalt des Schönen. Untersuchung zur Homosexualitätsthematik in Thomas Manns Roman 'Der Zauberberg.' Königstein: Hain Verlag bei Athenäum, 1986.

_____, ed. "Heimsuchung und süßes Gift:" Erotik und Poetik bei Thomas Mann. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1992.

_____. Männerweiblichkeit: Zur Homosexualität bei Klaus und Thomas Mann. Frankfurt am Main: Athenäum, 1988.

Heilbut, Anthony Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature. New York: Knopf, 1996.

Jones, James W. We of the Third Sex: Literary Representations of Homosexuality in Wilhelmine Germany. New York: Peter Lang, 1990.

Lubich, Frederick Alfred. "Die Entfaltung der Dialektik von Logos und Eros in Thomas Manns 'Der Tod in Venedig.'" Colloquia Germanica 18/2 (1985): 140-159.

Mann, Erika, ed. Thomas Mann. Briefe 1889-1936. Frankfurt a.M.: S. Fischer, 1961.

Martin, Robert K. "Walt Whitman and Thomas Mann." Quarterly Review 4 (1986): 1-6.

Mayer, Hans. "Der Tod in Venedig. Ein Thema mit Variationen." Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte. Festschrift für Richard Brinkmann. Jürgen Brummack et al., eds. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1981: 711-724.

Noble, C. A. M. Krankheit, Verbrechen und künstlerisches Schaffen bei Thomas Mann. Bern: Herbert Lang & Cie, 1970.

Ott, Volker. Homotropie und die Figur des Homotropen in der Literatur des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts. Frankfurt a.M., Bern: Peter Lang, 1979.

Reed, T. J. Thomas Mann. "Der Tod in Venedig." Text, Materialien, Kommentar. Munich, Vienna: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1983.

Wanner, Hans. Individualität, Identität und Rolle. Das frühe Werk Heinrich Manns und Thomas Erzählungen "Gladius Dei" und "Der Tod in Venedig." Munich: tuduv-Verlagsgesellschaft, 1976.

Winston, Richard and Clara, eds. Thomas Mann Diaries: 1918-1921, 1933-1939. New York: Abrams, 1982.


    Citation Information
    Author: Jones, James W.  
    Entry Title: Mann, Thomas  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated July 8, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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