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Thomas Mann's WarLiterature, Politics, and the World Republic of Letters$
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Tobias Boes

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501744990

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501744990.001.0001

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The German Envoy to America

(p.1) Introduction
Thomas Mann's War

Tobias Boes

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter discusses Thomas Mann's peculiar role as an authority on German culture to oppose the Nazi regime. It explains that two factors characterize Mann's unique position in literary history—the battle of cultural autonomy against totalitarian dependence and the struggle between international and national sources of literary esteem—both of which continue to have a clear relevance for literary production into the present day. To that end, this chapter briefly explores the complex relationship connecting his battle for cultural autonomy to his struggle for international recognition. It also considers what it means for Mann when he defines his theory of exile as a “cosmopolitan Germanness.” Finally, this chapter looks at how Mann developed and employed strategies to wage a cultural war against Nazism and how he found success in this endeavor in the United States.

Keywords:   Thomas Mann, cosmopolitan Germanness, Nazi Germany, United States, cultural autonomy, totalitarianism, literary esteem, international recognition, exile, cultural war

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