Correspondence 1943-1955
Correspondence 1943-1955
In December 1945 Thomas Mann wrote a famous letter to Adorno in which he formulated the principle of montage adopted in his novel Doctor Faustus. The writer expressly invited the philosopher to consider, with me, how such a work and I mean Leverkhns work could more or less be practically realized. Their close collaboration on questions concerning the character of the fictional composers putatively late works (Adorno produced specific sketches which are included as an appendix to the present volume) effectively laid the basis for a further exchange of letters.

The ensuing correspondence between the two men documents a rare encounter of creative tension between literary tradition and aesthetic modernism which would be sustained right up until the novelists death in 1955. In the letters, Thomas Mann openly acknowledged his fascinated reading of Adornos Minima Moralia and commented in detail on the Essay on Wagner, which he was as eager to read as the one in the Book of Revelation consumes a book which tastes as sweet as honey. Adorno in turn offered detailed observations upon and frequently enthusiastic commendations of Manns later writings, such as The Holy Sinner, The Betrayed One and The Confessions of Felix Krull. Their correspondence also touches upon issues of great personal significance, notably the sensitive discussion of the problems of returning from exile to postwar Germany.

The letters are extensively annotated and offer the reader detailed notes concerning the writings, events and personalities referred or alluded to in the correspondence.

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  • December 2006
  • 144 pages
  • 160 x 238 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $67.50
  • 9780745632001
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  • 9780745695013
Table of Contents
Editors' Note.

Correspondence 1943-1955.

Appendix: Adorno’s Notes and Sketches for Doctor Faustus.


About the Author
T. Adorno, Frankfurt School
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"Begun during their joint exile in California and ending with Mann's death just a few days before a long-postponed reunion in post-war Europe, this correspondence between the twentieth century’s most brilliant philosopher of modernism and the legendary German representative of modernist fiction is a surprisingly moving document to their mutual respect and admiration, closeness and distance, guarded intimacy and striking intellectual affinities. Carefully annotated, these letters offer us a treasure trove of deeply personal exchanges about each man’s works, while brimming with shared insights into post-war German culture and the McCarthy years in the United States."

-- Andreas Huyssen, Columbia University

"Adorno had been a lifelong, if at times uneasy, admirer of Thomas Mann's genius. The invitation by Mann to become a technical and historical adviser for the musicology and philosophy of music in Mann's Doctor Faustus put Adorno near the centre of shared exile in California. It also entailed a bitter conflict with Schoenberg. Adorno was caught in the middle. These letters document not only a fascinating intellectual encounter, but an instance of creative collaboration rare in literary history."

-- George Steiner, Churchill College, Cambridge

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