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This review is taken from PN Review 68, Volume 15 Number 6, July - August 1989.

MANN AND BOY Klaus Mann, The Pious Dance, translated by Laurence Senelick (Gay Men's Press) £4.95 pb
Hermann Grab, The Town Park and other stories, translated by Quintin Hoare (Verso) £10.95 cloth

It is inevitable that Klaus Mann should to some extent be assessed in the light of his father's work. Indeed Derfromme Tanz is fascinating because it is, at first, a mirror-image of Unordnung und frühes Leid. Just as, in the latter, we see Klaus thinly disguised as Bert - blond, seventeen, not wanting to finish his education but longing to become a dancer or a cabaret artiste, even a waiter (specifically non-bourgeois occupations to the ironic distaste and implied envy of the father-figure) - so, in the former, the cigar-smoking fifty-year-old, cool, aloof and doubting his son's talent, is a portrait of Thomas Mann himself. Interestingly, Klaus makes the father a doctor and transfers Mann père's artistic preoccupations to a family friend, the painter Frank Bischof. Mann père, too, in his Novelle distances himself from the central character and makes him (recognizably the author himself in so many ways) a professor of history. Both works depict with charm the younger Mann daughter Elisabeth, Thomas as the over-excited Lorchen whose first experience of the pangs of romantic love forms the point of the story and Klaus as Marie Thérèse whose innocence the hero of the novel envies and tries to freeze forever in a picture of happiness and purity.

Andreas Magnus-an intensely narcissistic self-portrait - leaves home to embark on a rather passive voyage of self-discovery. In the garish, squalid night-life of Berlin he meets, in those pre-Isherwood years, a vivid cross-section of drifters, bohemians and performers of ...


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