Thursday, January 26, 2012

From the Pen of Thomas Mann

A couple days ago I tried to root out some of the psychological underpinnings of Thomas Mann’s stories and explain why they had such a tendency to “stick.” I fear the result may have been a little gloomy. So today I’ll try to flesh him out a little better than I did last time around.

So what is it you’re going to see if you pick up something by Mr. Mann? For starters, lots of blue veins under pale complexions. Apparently nothing was quite so sexy to Mann as the pallor of translucent skin. But if you can get by your urge to throw his characters in the nearest tanning bed, you’ll love some of his descriptions. Here’s one that tickled my funny bone:

“A young man whose appearance smacked of ill-pay and vegetarianism.”
His language is relatively formal, but it’s delivered in a conversational manner- lots of authorial asides like “the following incident actually happened,” and “what happened next was so disgusting that I don’t dare explain it in detail.” It’s a style that puts you at east, despite the flowery expression.

You’ll see him use music as a stand-in for love and sensuality, and he delivers some of the best writing on artistic creation and writing that I’ve ever come across. Any aspiring writer ought to pick him up for that reason alone.

Last of all, here are a few great lines to give you a taste of his style.
“They disagreed superbly, their eyes narrowing into flashing slits. They pounced on a word, a single word he had used. They tore it to shreds, rejected it and dug up a different word, a dead certain one, which whizzed, struck, and quivered in the bullseye.”

“The winter sun was only a meager glow, milky and matte behind layers of clouds… and sometimes a kind of soft hail fell; not ice, not snow.”

With a moronic gape, a cigarette in his trembling fingers, he stood there lurching laboriously, keeping his balance, pulled forward and backward by his intoxication.”

No comments:

Post a Comment