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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 Teacher of Germany

The Teacher of Germany

(p.19) Chapter 1 The Teacher of Germany
Thomas Mann's War

Tobias Boes

Cornell University Press

This chapter reflects on Thomas Mann's representative aspirations as the leading voice of the “other Germany.” It shows how his copious and often agonized reflections concerning his representative status reveal that he was intensely attuned to the social flux around him. And his later career in America demonstrates that he ultimately owed his fame to his ability not to resist, but rather to respond to, unprecedented historical conditions. Whatever else it might have been, Nazism was a powerful manifestation of modernity. In successfully positing himself as its antipode, Mann was not expressing blind obeisance to tradition but rather engaging in a dialectical dance that transformed the social role of the author into something that it had never been before.

Keywords:   Thomas Mann, modernity, tradition, role models, political engagement

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