Last modified on 2 November 2014, at 03:24

Thomas Mann

Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.
Opinions cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them.

Paul Thomas Mann (6 June 187512 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and mid-length stories, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual.

QuotesEdit

We are most likely to get angry and excited in our opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to take the other side.
Life is not the means for the achievement of an esthetic ideal of perfection; on the contrary, the work is an ethical symbol of life.
I have an epic, not a dramatic nature. My disposition and my desires call for peace to spin my thread, for a steady rhythm in life and art.
Fanaticism turns into a means of salvation, enthusiasm into epileptic ecstasy, politics becomes an opiate for the masses, a proletarian eschatology; and reason veils her face.
Unhappy German nation, how do you like the Messianic role allotted to you, not by God, nor by destiny, but by a handful of perverted and bloody-minded men?
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
It is not good when people no longer believe in war. Pretty soon they no longer believe in many other things which they absolutely must believe in if they are to be decent men.
Only indifference is free. What is distinctive is never free, it is stamped with its own seal, conditioned and chained.
  • I think of my suffering, of the problem of my suffering. What am I suffering from? From knowledge — is it going to destroy me? What am I suffering from? From sexuality — is it going to destroy me? How I hate it, this knowledge which forces even art to join it! How I hate it, this sensuality, which claims everything fine and good is its consequence and effect. Alas, it is the poison that lurks in everything fine and good! — How am I to free myself of knowledge? By religion? How am I to free myself of sexuality? By eating rice?
    • Letter from Naples, Italy to Otto Grautoff (1896); as quoted in A Gorgon's Mask: The Mother in Thomas Mann's Fiction (2005) by Lewis A. Lawson, p. 34
  • Here and there, among a thousand other peddlers, are slyly hissing dealers who urge you to come along with them to allegedly "very beautiful" girls, and not only to girls. They keep at it, walk alongside, praising their wares until you answer roughly. They don't know that you have resolved to eat nothing but rice just to escape from sexuality!
    • Letter from Naples, Italy to Otto Grautoff (1896); as quoted in A Gorgon's Mask: The Mother in Thomas Mann's Fiction (2005) by Lewis A. Lawson, p. 35
  • We are most likely to get angry and excited in our opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to take the other side.
    • Buddenbrooks [Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie, Roman] (1901). Pt 8, Ch. 2
  • It is as though something had begun to slip – as though I haven’t the firm grip I had on events. – What is success? It is an inner, an indescribable force, resourcefulness, power of vision; a consciousness that I am, by my mere existence, exerting pressure on the movement of life about me. It is my belief in the adaptability of life to my own ends. Fortune and success lie within ourselves. We must hold them firmly – deep within us. For as soon as something begins to slip, to relax, to get tired, within us, then everything without us will rebel and struggle to withdraw from our influence. One thing follows another, blow after blow – and the man is finished.
    • Buddenbrooks [Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie, Roman] (1901). Pt 7, Ch. 6
  • Beauty can pierce one like pain.
    • Buddenbrooks [Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie, Roman], Pt 11, Ch. 2
  • That daily the night falls; that over stresses and torments, cares and sorrows the blessing of sleep unfolds, stilling and quenching them; that every anew this draught of refreshment and lethe is offered to our parching lips, ever after the battle this mildness laves our shaking limbs, that from it, purified from sweat and dust and blood, strengthened, renewed, rejuvenated, almost innocent once more, almost with pristine courage and zeal we may go forth again — these I hold to be the benignest, the most moving of all the great facts of life.
    • "Sleep, Sweet Sleep" [Süßer Schlaf] first published in Neue Freie Presse [Vienna] (30 May 1909), as translated by Helen T. Knopf in Past Masters and Other Papers (1933), p. 269
  • I met the New Passion, then, as democracy, as political enlightenment and the humanitarianism of happiness. I understood its efforts to be toward the politicization of everything ethos; its aggressiveness and doctrinary intolerance consisted – I experienced them personally – in its denial and slander of every nonpolitical ethos. “Mankind” as humanitarian internationalism; “reason” and “virtue” as the radical republic; intellect as a thing between a Jacobin club and Freemasonry; art as social literature and maliciously seductive rhetoric in the service of social “desirability”; here we have the New Passion in its purest political form as I saw it close up. I admit that this is a special, extremely romanticized form of it.
  • The important thing for me, then, is not the "work," but my life. Life is not the means for the achievement of an esthetic ideal of perfection; on the contrary, the work is an ethical symbol of life.
    • Reflections of a Non-Political Man [Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen] (1918)
  • He is no longer with me—by my orders—but then that is merel the carrying-out of an order, after all a kind of negative being-with-me, as he would say. As for any independent life which Bashan might lead without me during these hours—that is not to be thought of.
    • Herr und Hund (A Man and his Dog) (1918)
  • Extraordinary creature! So close a friend, and yet so remote.
    • Herr und Hund (A Man and his Dog) (1918)
  • The meeting in the open of two dogs, strangers to each other, is one of the most painful, thrilling, and pregnant of all conceivable encounters; it is surrounded by an atmosphere of the last canniness, presided over by a constraint for which I have no preciser name; they simply cannot pass each other, their mutual embarrassment is frightful to behold.
    • Herr und Hund (A Man and his Dog) (1918)
  • A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a truth.
    • Essay on Freud (16 May 1929)
  • This fantastic state of mind, of a humanity that has outrun its ideas, is matched by a political scene in the grotesque style, with Salvation Army methods, hallelujahs and bell-ringing and dervishlike repetition of monotonous catchwords, until everybody foams at the mouth. Fanaticism turns into a means of salvation, enthusiasm into epileptic ecstasy, politics becomes an opiate for the masses, a proletarian eschatology; and reason veils her face.
    • On German fascism, in "An Appeal to Reason" ["Deutsche Ansprache. Ein Appell an die Vernunft"] in Berliner Tageblatt (18 October 1930); as translated by Helen T. Lowe-Porter in Order of the Day, Political Essays and Speeches of Two Decades (1942), p. 57
  • The deep conviction . . . that nothing good for Germany or the world can come out of the present German regime, has made me avoid the country in whose spiritual tradition I am more deeply rooted than are those who for three years have been trying to find courage enough to declare before the world that I am not a German. And I feel to the bottom of my heart that I have done right in the eyes of my contemporaries and of posterity.
  • In the Word is involved the unity of humanity, the wholeness of the human problem, which permits nobody to separate the intellectual and artistic from the political and social, and to isolate himself within the ivory tower of the "cultural" proper.
    • Letter to the dean of the Philosophical Faculty, Bonn University (January 1937)
  • Democracy is timelessly human, and timelessness always implies a certain amount of potential youthfulness.
  • In certain respects, particularly economically, National-Socialism is nothing but bolshevism. These two are hostile brothers of whom the younger has learned everything from the older, the Russian excepting only morality.
    • The Coming Victory of Democracy (1938), p. 14, translated by Agnes E. Meyer, Knopf (1938)
  • This was love at first sight, love everlasting: a feeling unknown, unhoped for, unexpected — in so far as it could be a matter of conscious awareness; it took entire possession of him, and he understood, with joyous amazement, that this was for life.
    • "Early Sorrow" in Tellers of Tales : 100 Short Stories from the United States, England, France, Russia and Germany edited by William Somerset Maugham (1939), p. 884
  • The Freudian theory is one of the most important foundation stones for an edifice to be built by future generations, the dwelling of a freer and wiser humanity.
    • As quoted in The New York Times (21 June 1939)
  • Unhappy German nation, how do you like the Messianic role allotted to you, not by God, nor by destiny, but by a handful of perverted and bloody-minded men?
    • "This War" (1939); also in Order of the Day (1942)
  • It is a strange fact that freedom and equality, the two basic ideas of democracy, are to some extent contradictory. Logically considered, freedom and equality are mutually exclusive, just as society and the individual are mutually exclusive.
    • Speech, "The War and the Future" (1940); published in Order of the Day (1942)
  • What we call National-Socialism is the poisonous perversion of ideas which have a long history in German intellectual life.
    • Speech, "The War and the Future" (1940); published in Order of the Day (1942)
  • An art whose medium is language will always show a high degree of critical creativeness, for speech is itself a critique of life: it names, it characterizes, it passes judgment, in that it creates.
    • Speech at the Prussian Academy of Art in Berlin (22 January 1929); also in Essays of Three Decades (1942)
  • A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
    • Essays of Three Decades (1942)
  • Politics has been called the “art of the possible,” and it actually is a realm akin to art insofar as, like art, it occupies a creatively mediating position between spirit and life, the idea and reality.
    • Speech at the US Library of Congress (29 May 1945); published as "Germany and the Germans" ["Deutschland und die Deutschen"] in Die Neue Rundschau [Stockholm] (October 1945), p. 58, as translated by Helen T. Lowe-Porter
  • Reduced to a miserable mass level, the level of a Hitler, German Romanticism broke out into hysterical barbarism.
    • Speech at the US Library of Congress (29 May 1945); published as "Germany and the Germans" ["Deutschland und die Deutschen"] in Die Neue Rundschau [Stockholm] (October 1945), p. 58, as translated by Helen T. Lowe-Porter
  • Every reasonable human being should be a moderate Socialist.
    • As quoted in The New York Times (18 June 1950); also in Thomas Mann: A Critical Study (1971) by R. J. Hollingdale, Ch. 2
  • I have always been an admirer. I regard the gift of admiration as indispensable if one is to amount to something; I don’t know where I would be without it.
    • Letter, (1950); as quoted in Thomas Mann — The Birth of Criticism (1987) by Marcel Reich-Ranicki
  • War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.
  • The positive thing about the sceptic is that he considers everything possible!
    • Attributed as a statement of Mann in the 1920s in Chariots of the Gods? : Unsolved Mysteries of the Past (1969) by Erich von Däniken, as translated by Michael Heron
  • It is not good when people no longer believe in war. Pretty soon they no longer believe in many other things which they absolutely must believe in if they are to be decent men.
    • Quoted in Survey of Contemporary Literature (1977) by Frank Northen Magill, p. 4263
  • Only indifference is free. What is distinctive is never free, it is stamped with its own seal, conditioned and chained.

Tristan (1902)Edit

It often happens that an old family, with traditions that are entirely practical, sober and bourgeois, undergoes in its declining days a kind of artistic transfiguration.
  • It often happens that an old family, with traditions that are entirely practical, sober and bourgeois, undergoes in its declining days a kind of artistic transfiguration.
    • Ch. 7
  • They sang their mysterious duo, sang of their nameless hope, their death-in-love, their union unending, lost forever in the embrace of night’s magic kingdom. O sweet night, everlasting night of love! Land of blessedness whose frontiers are infinite!
    • Ch. 8
  • It had been a moving, tranquil apotheosis, immersed in the transfiguring sunset glow of decline and decay and extinction. An old family, already grown too weary and too noble for life and action, had reached the end of its history, and its last utterances were sounds of music: a few violin notes, full of the sad insight which is ripeness for death.
    • Ch. 10

Tonio Kröger (1903)Edit

If you are possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere, you even smell it.
I stand between two worlds, am at home in neither, and in consequence have rather a hard time of it.
There is an artistry so deep, so primordial and elemental, that no yearning seems to it sweeter and more worthy of tasting than that for the raptures of common-placeness.
I am looking into an unborn and shapeless world that longs to be called to life and order
  • If you are possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere, you even smell it.
    • Variant translation: It is strange. If an idea gains control of you, you will find it expressed everywhere, you will actually smell it in the wind.
    • As translated by Bayard Quincy Morgan
  • What they, in their innocence, cannot comprehend is that a properly constituted, healthy, decent man never writes, acts, or composes.
    • "Tonio Kröger" on general opinions about artists.
  • This longing for the bliss of the commonplace.
    • Ch. 4, and also in Ch. 9, as translated by David Luke
  • He remembered the dissolute adventures in which his senses, his nervous system and his mind had indulged; he saw himself corroded by irony and intellect, laid waste and paralyzed by insight, almost exhausted by the fevers and chills of creation, helplessly and contritely tossed to and fro between gross extremes, between saintly austerity and lust — oversophisticated and impoverished, worn out by cold, rare artificial ecstasies, lost, ravaged, racked and sick — and he sobbed with remorse and nostalgia.
    • Ch. 8, as translated by David Luke
  • I stand between two worlds, am at home in neither, and in consequence have rather a hard time of it. You artists call me a commoner, and commoners feel tempted to arrest me … I do not know which wounds me more bitterly. Commoners are stupid; but you worshippers of beauty who call me phlegmatic and without yearning, ought to reflect that there is an artistry so deep, so primordial and elemental, that no yearning seems to it sweeter and more worthy of tasting than that for the raptures of common-placeness.
    • Ch. 9, as translated by Bayard Quincy Morgan
  • I admire the proud and cold who go adventuring on the paths of great and demoniac beauty, and scorn "man" — but I do not envy them. For if anything is capable of making a poet out of a man of letters, it is this plebeian love of mine for the human, living, and commonplace. All warmth, all goodness, all humor is born of it, and it almost seems to me as if it were that love itself, of which it is written that a man might speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and yet without it be no more than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
    • Ch. 9, as translated by Bayard Quincy Morgan
  • What I have done is nothing, not much — as good as nothing. I shall do better things, Lisaveta — this is a promise. While I am writing, the sea's roar is coming up to me, and I close my eyes. I am looking into an unborn and shapeless world that longs to be called to life and order, I am looking into a throng of phantoms of human forms which beckon me to conjure them and set them free: some of them tragic, some of them ridiculous, and some that are both at once — and to these I am very devoted. But my deepest and most secret love belongs to the blond and blue-eyed, the bright-spirited living ones, the happy, amiable, and commonplace.
    Do not speak lightly of this love, Lisaveta; it is good and fruitful. There is longing in it and melancholy envy, and a tiny bit of contempt, and an unalloyed chaste blissfulness.
    • Ch. 9, as translated by Bayard Quincy Morgan
    • Variant translation: But my deepest and most secret love belongs to the fair-haired and the blue-eyed, the bright children of life, the happy, the charming and the ordinary.
      • Ch. 9, as translated by David Luke

Death in Venice (1912)Edit

Der Tod in Venedig, originally published in Die Neue Rundschau 23 (Oct-Nov 1912)
The figure of Saint Sebastian is the most perfect symbol if not of art in general, then certainly of the kind of art in question.
The writer’s joy is the thought that can become emotion, the emotion that can wholly become a thought.
I must tell you that we artists cannot tread the path of Beauty without Eros keeping company with us and appointing himself as our guide.
  • But he would “stay the course” — it was his favorite motto.
    • The disposition of the main character "Gustav Aschenbach", Ch. 2, as translated by David Luke
  • Hidden away amongst Aschenbach’s writing was a passage directly asserting that nearly all the great things that exist owe their existence to a defiant despite: it is despite grief and anguish, despite poverty, loneliness, bodily weakness, vice and passion and a thousand inhibitions, that they have come into being at all. But this was more than an observation, it was an experience, it was positively the formula of his life and his fame, the key to his work.
    • Ch. 2, as translated by David Luke
  • The new hero-type favored by Aschenbach, and recurring in his books in a multiplicity of individual variants, had already been remarked upon at an early stage by a shrewd commentator, who had described his conception as that of “an intellectual and boyish manly virtue, that of a youth who clenches his teeth in proud shame and stands calmly on as the swords and spears pass through his body … the figure of Saint Sebastian is the most perfect symbol if not of art in general, then certainly of the kind of art in question.
    • Ch. 2, as translated by David Luke
  • Gustav Aschenbach was the writer who spoke for all those who work on the brink of exhaustion, who labor and are heavy-laden, who are worn out already but still stand upright, all those moralists of achievement who are slight of stature and scanty of resources, but who yet, by some ecstasy of the will and by wise husbandry, manage at least for a time to force their work into a semblance of greatness.
    • Ch. 2, as translated by David Luke
  • Was it an intellectual consequence of this ‘rebirth,’ of this new dignity and rigor, that, at about the same time, his sense of beauty was observed to undergo an almost excessive resurgence, that his style took on the noble purity, simplicity and symmetry that were to set upon all his subsequent works that so evident and evidently intentional stamp of the classical master.
    • Ch. 2, as translated by David Luke
  • How else is the famous short story ‘A study in Abjection’ to be understood but as an outbreak of disgust against an age indecently undermined by psychology.
    • On a short story of the character, "Gustav Aschenbach". Ch. 2, as translated by David Luke
  • How strange a vehicle it is, coming down unchanged from times of old romance, and so characteristically black, the way no other thing is black except a coffin — a vehicle evoking lawless adventures in the plashing stillness of night, and still more strongly evoking death itself, the bier, the dark obsequies, the last silent journey!
    • Ch. 3, as translated by David Luke
  • With astonishment Aschenbach noticed that the boy was entirely beautiful. His countenance, pale and gracefully reserved, was surrounded by ringlets of honey-colored hair, and with its straight nose, its enchanting mouth, its expression of sweet and divine gravity, it recalled Greek sculpture of the noblest period.
    • Ch. 3, as translated by David Luke
  • There were profound reasons for his attachment to the sea: he loved it because as a hard-working artist he needed rest, needed to escape from the demanding complexity of phenomena and lie hidden on the bosom of the simple and tremendous; because of a forbidden longing deep within him that ran quite contrary to his life’s task and was for that very reason seductive, a longing for the unarticulated and immeasurable, for eternity, for nothingness. To rest in the arms of perfection is the desire of any man intent upon creating excellence; and is not nothingness a form of perfection?
    • Ch. 3, as translated by David Luke
  • The writer’s joy is the thought that can become emotion, the emotion that can wholly become a thought.
    • Ch. 4, as translated by David Luke
  • Never had he felt the joy of the word more sweetly, never had he known so clearly that Eros dwells in language.
    • Ch. 4, as translated by David Luke
  • This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty — this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.
    • Ch. 5, as translated by David Luke
  • I must tell you that we artists cannot tread the path of Beauty without Eros keeping company with us and appointing himself as our guide.
    • Ch. 5, as translated by David Luke

The Magic Mountain (1924)Edit

Time, we say, is Lethe; but change of air is a similar draught, and, if it works less thoroughly, does so more quickly.
Der Zauberberg (1929), using quotes primarily from the translation of Helen T. Lowe-Porter (1955)
A man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries.
Love as a force contributory to disease.
This triumph of chastity was only an apparent, a pyrrhic victory. It would break through the ban of chastity, it would emerge — if in a form so altered as to be unrecognizable.
It is a cruel atmosphere down there, cruel and ruthless.
The ancients adorned their sarcophagi with the emblems of life and procreation...
Analysis can be a very unappetizing affair, as much so as death...
Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject — the actual enemy is the unknown.
What was life?
Love stands opposed to death. It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death.
Time cools, time clarifies, no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.
For the sake of goodness and love, man shall let death have no sovereignty over his thoughts.
  • Space, like time, engenders forgetfulness; but it does so by setting us bodily free from our surroundings and giving us back our primitive, unattached state. Yes, it can even, in the twinkling of an eye, make something like a vagabond of the pedant and Philistine. Time, we say, is Lethe; but change of air is a similar draught, and, if it works less thoroughly, does so more quickly.
    • Ch. 1
  • Psycho-analyses — how disgusting.
    • "Hans Castorp" in Ch. 1
  • I, for one, have never in my life come across a perfectly healthy human being.
    • The psychoanalyst "Dr. Krokowski" in Ch. 1
  • A man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries.
    • Ch. 2, “At Tienappels’,” (1924), trans. by H.T. Lowe-Porter (1928).
  • Hans Castorp loved music from his heart; it worked upon him much the same way as did his breakfast porter, with deeply soothing, narcotic effect, tempting him to doze.
    • Ch. 3
  • I never can understand how anyone can not smoke — it deprives a man of the best part of life … with a good cigar in his mouth a man is perfectly safe, nothing can touch him — literally.
    • Ch. 3
  • In effect it seemed to him that, though honor might possess certain advantages, yet shame had others, and not inferior: advantages, even, that were well-nigh boundless in their scope.
    • Ch. 3
  • One always has the idea of a stupid man as perfectly healthy and ordinary, and of illness as making one refined and clever and unusual.
    • Ch. 4
  • Placet experiri
    • Latin phrase meaning "It pleases to experiment", Ch. 4
  • “Beer, tobacco, and music,” he went on. “Behold the Fatherland.”
    • "Herr Settembrini" commenting on Germany, in Ch. 4
  • There is something suspicious about music, gentlemen. I insist that she is, by her nature, equivocal. I shall not be going too far in saying at once that she is politically suspect.
    • Ch. 4
  • My aversion from music rests on political grounds.
    • Ch. 4
  • I love and reverence the Word, the bearer of the spirit, the tool and gleaming ploughshare of progress.
    • Settembrini's view of literature, Ch. 4
  • "Love as a force contributory to disease."
    • The title of "Dr. Krokowski" lectures. Ch. 4
  • This conflict between the powers of love and chastity … it ended apparently in the triumph of chastity. Love was suppressed, held in darkness and chains, by fear, conventionality, aversion, or a tremulous yearning to be pure.... But this triumph of chastity was only an apparent, a pyrrhic victory. It would break through the ban of chastity, it would emerge — if in a form so altered as to be unrecognizable.
    • Ch. 4
  • It seemed that at the end of the lecture Dr. Krokowski was making propaganda for psycho-analysis; with open arms he summoned all and sundry to come unto him. "Come unto me," he was saying, though not in those words, " come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy-laden." And he left no doubt of his conviction that all those present were weary and heavy-laden. He spoke of secret suffering, of shame and sorrow, of the redeeming power of the analytic. He advocated the bringing of light into the unconscious mind and explained how the abnormality was metamorphosed into the conscious emotion; he urged them to have confidence; he promised relief.
    • Ch. 4
  • Two principles, according to the Settembrinian cosmogony, were in perpetual conflict for possession of the world: force and justice, tyranny and freedom, superstition and knowledge; the law of permanence and the law of change, of ceaseless fermentation issuing in progress.
    • Ch. 4
  • The beautiful word begets the beautiful deed.
    • Ch. 4
  • Writing well was almost the same as thinking well, and thinking well was the next thing to acting well. All moral discipline, all moral perfection derived from the soul of literature, from the soul of human dignity, which was the moving spirit of both humanity and politics. Yes, they were all one, one and the same force, one and the same idea, and all of them could be comprehended in one single word... The word was — civilization!
    • Ch. 4
  • Frau Stöhr … began to talk about how fascinating it was to cough.... Sneezing was much the same thing. You kept on wanting to sneeze until you simply couldn’t stand it any longer; you looked as if you were tipsy; you drew a couple of breaths, then out it came, and you forgot everything else in the bliss of the sensation. Sometimes the explosion repeated itself two or three times. That was the sort of pleasure life gave you free of charge.
    • Ch. 4
  • Disease makes men more physical, it leaves them nothing but body.
    • Ch. 4
  • Our air up here is good for the disease — I mean good against the disease,... but it is also good for the disease.
    • Ch. 4
  • A black pall, you know, with a silver cross on it, or R.I.P. — requiescat in pace — you know. That seems to me the most beautiful expression — I like it much better than ‘He is a jolly good fellow,’ which is simply rowdy.
    • Ch. 5
  • Six months at most after they get here, these young people — and they are mostly young who come — have lost every idea they had, except flirtation and temperature.
    • Settembrini on the Magic Mountain Society, in Ch. 5
  • It is a cruel atmosphere down there, cruel and ruthless.
    • Hans Castorp on the world outside the sanatorium, in Ch. 5
  • The only religious way to think of death is as part and parcel of life; to regard it, with the understanding and the emotions, as the the inviolable condition of life.
    • Ch. 5
  • The ancients adorned their sarcophagi with the emblems of life and procreation, and even with obscene symbols; in the religions of antiquity the sacred and the obscene often lay very close together. These men knew how to pay homage to death. For death is worthy of homage as the cradle of life, as the womb of palingenesis.
    • Ch. 5
  • Irony, forsooth! Guard yourself, Engineer, from the sort of irony that thrives up here; guard yourself altogether from taking on their mental attitude! Where irony is not a direct and classic device of oratory, not for a moment equivocal to a healthy mind, it makes for depravity, it becomes a drawback to civilization, an unclean traffic with the forces of reaction, vice and materialism.
    • Ch. 5
  • Paradox is the poisonous flower of quietism, the iridescent surface of the rotting mind, the greatest depravity of all.
    • Ch. 5
  • Analysis as an instrument of enlightenment and civilization is good, in so far as it shatters absurd convictions, acts as a solvent upon natural prejudices, and undermines authority; good, in other words, in that it sets free, refines, humanizes, makes slaves ripe for freedom. But it is bad, very bad, in so far as it stands in the way of action, cannot shape the vital forces, maims life at its roots. Analysis can be a very unappetizing affair, as much so as death.
    • Ch. 5
  • Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.
    • Ch. 5
  • Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject — the actual enemy is the unknown.
    • Ch. 5
  • Asien verschlingt uns. Wohin man blickt: tatarische Gesichter.
    • Asia surrounds us — wherever one’s glance rests, a Tartar physiognomy.
    • Variant translation: Asia devours us. Wherever one looks: Tartar faces.
      • Settembrini in Ch. 5
  • What was life? It was warmth, the warmth generated by a form-preserving instability, a fever of matter, which accompanied the process of ceaseless decay and repair of protein molecules that were too impossibly ingenious in structure.
    • Ch. 5
  • Disease was a perverse, a dissolute form of life.
    • Ch. 5
  • Le corps, l'amour, la mort, ces trois ne font qu'un. Car le corps, c'est la maladie et la volupté, et c'est lui qui fait la mort, oui, ils sont charnels tous deux, l'amour et la mort, et voilà leur terreur et leur grande magie!
    • Rough translation of this passage written in French: The body, love, death, these three are just one. For the body, this is the disease and exquisite delight, and this that does die, yes, they are carnal both of them, love and death, and thus their terror and their great magic!
      • Hans Castorp to Chauchat, in French, Ch. 5
  • L’amour pour lui, pour le corps humain, c’est de même un intérêt extrêmement humanitaire et une puissance plus éducative que toute la pédagogie du monde!
    • Love for him, for the human body, was extremely humanitarian an interest and had more educational power than the whole teaching skills of the world!
      • Ch. 5
  • Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.
    • Ch. 6, section, A Good Soldier as translated by Woods (1996), p. 506
  • Human reason needs only to will more strongly than fate, and she is fate.
    • Ch. 6
  • Opinions cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them.
    • Ch. 6
  • All interest in disease and death is only another expression of interest in life.
    • Ch. 6
  • The invention of printing and the Reformation are and remain the two outstanding services of central Europe to the cause of humanity.
    • Ch. 6
  • There is both rhyme and reason in what I say, I have made a dream poem of humanity. I will cling to it. I will be good. I will let death have no mastery over my thoughts. For therein lies goodness and love of humankind, and in nothing else.
    • Ch. 6; variant translation: I will let death have no mastery over my thoughts! For therein, and in nothing else, lies goodness and love of humankind.
  • Love stands opposed to death. It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death. Only love, not reason, gives kind thoughts.
    • Ch. 6; variant translation: It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death. Only love, not reason, gives sweet thoughts. And from love and sweetness alone can form come: form and civilization.
  • I will keep faith with death in my heart, yet will remember that faith with death and the dead is only wickedness and dark voluptuousness and enmity against humankind, if it is given power over our thought and contemplation. For the sake of goodness and love, man shall let death have no sovereignty over his thoughts. And with that, I wake up.
    • Ch. 6
  • Everything is politics.
    • Ch. 6
  • Speech is civilization itself. The word, even the most contradictory word, preserves contact — it is silence which isolates.
    • Ch. 6
  • A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.
    • Ch. 6
  • Was wir Trauer nennen, ist vielleicht nicht sowohl der Schmerz über die Unmöglichkeit, unsere Toten ins Leben kehren zu sehen, als darüber, dies gar nicht wünschen zu können.[1]
    • Translation: What we call mourning for our dead is perhaps not so much grief at not being able to call them back as it is grief at not being able to want to do so.
    • Ch. 7
  • Time cools, time clarifies, no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours. In the early dawn, standing weapon in hand, neither of the combatants would be the same man as on the evening of the quarrel. They would be going through it, if at all, mechanically, in obedience to the demands of honour, not, as they would have at first, of their own free will, desire, and conviction; and such a denial of their actual selves in favour of their past ones, it must somehow be possible to prevent.
    • Ch. 7
  • The purifying, healing influence of literature, the dissipating of passions by knowledge and the written word, literature as the path to understanding, forgiveness and love, the redeeming might of the word, the literary spirit as the noblest manifestation of the spirit of man, the writer as perfected type, as saint.
    • Ch. 7
  • Absolutely everything beloved and cherished of the bourgeoisie, the conservative, the cowardly, and the impotent — the State, family life, secular art and science — was consciously or unconsciously hostile to the religious idea, to the Church, whose innate tendency and permanent aim was the dissolution of all existing worldly orders, and the reconstitution of society after the model of the ideal, the communistic City of God.
    • Naphta in Ch. 7
  • We, when we sow the seeds of doubt deeper than the most up-to-date and modish free-thought has ever dreamed of doing, we well know what we are about. Only out of radical skepsis, out of moral chaos, can the Absolute spring, the anointed Terror of which the time has need.
    • Ch. 7
  • Passionate — that means to live for the sake of living. But one knows that you all live for the sake of experience. Passion, that is self-forgetfulness. But what you all want is self-enrichment. C'est ça. You don't realize what revolting egoism it is, and that one day it will make you the enemies of the human race.

Suffering and Greatness of Richard Wagner (1933)Edit

"Leiden und Größe Richard Wagners" in Die Neue Rundschau, Jahrgang 44, Heft 4 (April 1933), as translated by Helen T. Lowe-Porter in Essays by Thomas Mann (1957), p. 199
  • He was all for catharsis and purification, he dreamed of an aesthetic consecration that should cleanse society of luxury, the greed of gold and all unloveliness.
  • It is a pregnant complex, gleaming up from the unconscious, of mother-fixation, sexual desire, and fear.
  • What was it that drove these thousands into the arms of his art — what but the blissfully sensuous, searing, sense-consuming, intoxicating, hypnotically caressing, heavily upholstered — in a word, the luxurious quality of his music?
  • Wagner’s art is the most sensational self-portrayal and self-critique of German nature that it is possible to conceive.

Freud and the Future (1937)Edit

"Freud und die Zukunft" in Imago, vol. 22 (1936); as translate by Helen T. Lowe-Porter in Essays by Thomas Mann (1957) p. 307
  • By the approach through abnormality we have succeeded in penetrating most deeply into the darkness of human nature … The literary person should be the last person to be surprised at this fact. Sooner might he be surprised that he, considering his strong generally and individual tendency, should have so late become aware of the close sympathetic relations which connected his own existence with psychoanalytic research and the life-work of Sigmund Freud. I realized this connection only at a time when his achievement was no longer thought of as merely a therapeutic method, whether recognized or disputed; when it had long since outgrown his purely medical implications and become a world movement which penetrated into every field of science and every domain of the intellect: literature, the history of art, religion and prehistory; mythology, folklore, pedagogy, and what not.
  • Has the world ever been changed by anything save the thought and its magic vehicle the Word?
  • The myth is the foundation of life; it is the timeless schema, the pious formula into which life flows when it reproduces its traits out of the unconscious. Certainly when a writer has acquired the habit of regarding life as mythical and typical there comes a curious heightening of his artistic temper, a new refreshment to his perceiving and shaping powers, which otherwise occurs much later in life; for while in the life of the human race the mythical is an early and primitive stage, in the life of the individual it is a late and mature one.
  • I hold that we shall one day recognize in Freud’s life-work the cornerstone for the building of a new anthropology and therewith of a new structure, to which many stones are being brought up today, which shall be the future dwelling of a wiser and freer humanity.
  • As a science of the unconscious it is a therapeutic method, in the grand style, a method overarching the individual case. Call this, if you choose, a poet’s utopia.

The Beloved Returns (1939)Edit

Lotte in Weimar as translated by Helen T. Lowe-Porter, Knopf (1940); also titled as 'Lotte in Weimar: The Beloved Returns
  • Hold fast the time! Guard it, watch over it, every hour, every minute! Unregarded it slips away, like a lizard, smooth, slippery, faithless, a pixy wife. Hold every moment sacred. Give each clarity and meaning, each the weight of thine awareness, each its true and due fulfillment.
    • Ch. 7
  • Cruelty is one of the chief ingredients of love, and divided about equally between the sexes: cruelty of lust, ingratitude, callousness, maltreatment, domination. The same is true of the passive qualities, patience under suffering, even pleasure in ill usage.
    • Ch. 7
  • Profundity must smile.
    • Ch. 7

Doctor Faustus (1947)Edit

  • This music of yours. A manifestation of the highest energy — not at all abstract, but without an object, energy in a void, in pure ether — where else in the universe does such a thing appear? We Germans have taken over from philosophy the expression ‘in itself,’ we use it every day without much idea of the metaphysical. But here you have it, such music is energy itself, yet not as idea, rather in its actuality. I call your attention to the fact that is almost the definition of God. Imitatio Dei — I am surprised it is not forbidden.
    • Ch. 9
  • Why does almost everything seem to me like its own parody? Why must I think that almost all, no, all the methods and conventions of art today are good for parody only?
    • Ch. 15

Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man (1954)Edit

  • What a glorious gift is imagination, and what satisfaction it affords!
    • Bk. 1, Ch. 2
  • Only he who desires is amiable and not he who is satiated.
    • Bk. 1, Ch. 8
  • The intellect longs for the delights of the non-intellect, that which is alive and beautiful dans sa stupidité.
    • Madame Houpflé, Bk. 2, Ch. 9
  • What a wonderful phenomenon it is, carefully considered, when the human eye, that jewel of organic structures, concentrates its moist brilliance on another human creature!
    • Bk. 2, Ch. 4
  • O scenes of the beautiful world! Never have you presented yourself to more appreciative eyes.
    • Bk. 2, Ch. 4

Quotes about MannEdit

  • Mann has the high and now seldom encountered liberal virtue of elevating any discussion to another plane — of writing as if men were reasoning creatures, even if the evidence points to the contrary. Calmly and logically he showed that the novel is today "the representative and dominating literary work of art" — that the Jewish influence is not preponderant among the exiled novelists — that the international or European spirit, shared equally by Jewish and gentile writers, has helped to raise Germany from barbarism. And he added that the anti-Semitic campaign of the present German rulers "is aimed, essentially, not at the Jews at all, or not at them exclusively. It is aimed at Europe and at the real spirit of Germany."

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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