Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mann and myth (2)

In a post below I commented on what I perceived to be Thomas Mann's naivety in not recognising the rise of a mythologically fuelled ideology in 1930s Germany. Well, perhaps he did. This is from an article on Mann's use of myth by Thomas Hollweck:

It is of considerable interest how Thomas Mann described his decision to embark on this mythical journey back in time, because the Sketch, the Lebensabriss, was written in 1930, when the memory of the beginnings of the novel was still fresh and when the “barbaric myth,” as he would call it, was loudly asserting itself in Germany and elsewhere. Mann was keenly aware of this, as he distinguished his personal interest in the myth from that of some of his ideological contemporaries. He writes: “And these interests of today are not inappropriate tastes for a time of life that may legitimately begin to divorce itself from the peculiar and individual and turn its gaze upon the typical – which is, after all, the mythical.” And then he goes on emphatically: “I do not say that the conquest of the myth, from the stage of development at which we have now arrived, can ever mean a return to it. That can happen only as a result of self-delusion.


His antidote was to establish a kind of mythical psychology because, he felt, the 'anti-intellectual bigots' preferred to keep myth and psychology apart.

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