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Tonio Kröger (1903)
by Thomas Mann
ვაფშე რატო დაწერა ეს წიგნი? აზრი ვერ გამოვიტანე
Concisely, clearly written and easily understood. The work was very approachable and the theme easily accessible. This short novel makes me want to read his longer works.
Read for the language more than any driving interest in the story. Like Kafka the vocabulary is relatively simple, though the concepts are not, so a nice way to practise my German. The story appears to be autobiographical, and according to the introduction by J.A. Kelly, Mann readily acknowledged this, even claiming the work a favourite of his.
The central theme is that of identity and the tension between Tonio Kroeger's artistic and bourgeoise sensibilities. I was pleased that neither the artistic side of Tonio's personality nor his equally strong rational side were stereotypes. At various points, Tonio rejected the easy quoting or mimicry of literary tradition, finding it insipid and unfulfilling (as a way for him to express himself artistically, at least). His buergerliche inclinations seemed to make themselves felt primarily as a way of approaching his art and life, than as a goal or ideal (ways vs means). But that wasn't altogether clear, and worth thinking about upon another reading.
The novella reads quickly enough, I'm interested to read My Name Is Asher Lev and then return to "Tonio Kroeger" to compare them, and get back to this question of what precisely about Tonio's personality was artistic, and what bourgeois.
In this autobiographical work, Mann described the two exclusive kinds of human-being. Ordinary people and artists. Although he had slight contempt in him toward ordinary people, the antagonist, Tonio was eager to become part of them from the bottom of his heart. But it was impossible. He couldn't even think of that, because he was an artist, who was cursed, deaf by the flame from the bottom of hell.
Belongs to Publisher Series
Buchfinken (1998, nr. 4)
Světová četba (191)
Is contained in
Der Tod in Venedig : Erzählungen by Thomas Mann (indirect)
Death in Venice ; Tristan ; Tonio Kroger ; Doctor Faustus ; Mario and the magician ; A man and his dog ; The black swan ; Confessions of Felix Krull, confidence man by Thomas Mann
Has as a study
Has as a commentary on the text
Has as a student's study guide
Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, Tonio Kröger, Tristan, The Blood of the Walsungs, and Mario and the Magician (Monarch Notes) by John D. Simons
A title in the Bristol Classical Press German Texts series, in German with English notes, vocabulary and introduction. Thomas Mann (1875-1955), was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929, and "Tonio Kroger" occupies a central position in his spiritual and artistic development. A study of youth, it draws together many strands of his life and work: the duality of his parentage; his abhorrence of discipline; and the influence of Schopenhauer and Wagner on his early phase of writing.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)833.912Literature German literature and literatures of related languages German fiction Modern period (1900-) 1900-1990 1900-1945
The fourteen-year-old Tonio is hopelessly in love with the magnificent, blond, blue-eyed Hans, the character who would be Captain of the First XI in a British school story of the time; two years later he is pining for the equally unattainable (but rather more sketchily described) blonde Inge, the doctor's daughter.
We skim a few years ahead to the artistic south (Schwabing, the arty quarter of Munich at the time), where Tonio is now an acclaimed poet and is rather pompously lecturing his painter-friend Lisaweta on the demands creative work makes of the artist. She doesn't seem to mind: they didn't have podcasts in those days, and it's something to listen to as she paints. But her comment that Tonio is really still bourgeois under his aesthetic varnish throws him slightly off-balance, and he decides to make a journey back home to explore his relationship to his Baltic roots.
When Tonio's quiet Danish seaside hotel is invaded by a party of noisy weekenders, he notices a couple of teenagers who look exactly like Hans and Inge, and watching them dancing together in the evening he comes to the conclusion that the only way forward for him as an artist is to find a way to embrace his bourgeois side at the same time as pursuing his abstract, aesthetic ambitions. This doesn't seem to provide him with a way to embrace either Hans or Inge, though...
Interesting, as it's clearly a very personal document in which Mann tries to work out a dichotomy in his nature as an artist that he never really did resolve, and which is perhaps one of the most interesting things about him as a writer of his time. ( )