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The magician

Colm Tóibín
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Colm Tóibín

The magician

Tóibín had already crawled into the skin of a writer some time ago. He portrayed Henry James in the biographical novel The Master, then in The Magician he turns his attention to Thomas Mann. The great German writer of the 20th century may already be familiar in outline, but Tóibín’s work chronologically reveals the lesser-known background to his literary masterpieces and life journey. Especially interesting is the writer’s division and tension between routine, the cultivation of respectability, dignity and concern for public image, and, on the other hand, repressed homosexuality and the richness of inner experience, masterfully worked out in literature. If Thomas’s life was strictly controlled, his children tried all the harder to live it, especially the eldest, Erika and Klaus, whose biographies are extremely interesting. So too the life and work of his brother Heinrich and other artistic companions and the circle of emigrants who fled the Nazi Germany. (ŠP)

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