Today in History
10.12.1929: Nobel Prize for Thomas Mann
Mann had already made a name for himself with his novel “Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family”. He was also well known for his anti-Fascist stance. In 1933, he settled in Switzerland, later moved to the USA and returned to Switzerland in 1952 – three years before his death.

Thomas Mann, progeny of a Lübeck patrician family, did not want to follow in his father’s footsteps, but had always wanted to become a writer. He and his brother Heinrich, also a famous writer, had inherited their artistic talent from their German-Brazilian mother Julia.

The writer first applied his talent during his student years in Munich. Thomas Mann became a regular in bohemian circles in Schwabing, now a chic district in Munich, although he remained faithful to his bourgeois origins.

“By becoming a thinker and artist, one degenerates less than the environment from which one is emancipating oneself. One doesn’t cease to be what one’s fathers once were, but is precisely this again in another, freer, more spiritual and symbolically illustrative form,” Mann wrote.

Thomas Mann was 22 when he began the outline of his first novel. Originally, it was to be called “Abwärts” (“Downwards”) as it described the slow decline of a northern German family of patricians over the course of four generations. Mann turned his own life, the people around him and his own experiences into literature. The characters of his first novel, the final title being “Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family”, are based on four generations of the Mann family. Thomas Mann hints that he is represented by the youngest son, the 15-year-old Hanno. A process of self-discovery.

Thomas Mann: “What I am myself, what I want and do not want – is not southern vanity, but northern ethics, music and humor. My attitude towards life and death – I discovered all of this through my writing”.

His linguistic mastery made Thomas Mann a best-selling author and protected him from the revenge of those who had been involuntarily portrayed. In his life, Mann, the artist, opted for what he termed a self-defined condition. He led a life which fulfilled duties in bourgeois surroundings. His homoerotic desires and all his decadent and chaotic characteristics came out through the figures of his works. Most of them were more or less unmistakably biographical.

Works such as “Joseph and his Brothers”, “Confessions of Felix Krull”, “Tonio Kröger”, “Royal Highness” and “The Magic Mountain” reveal the unique linguistic genius of Thomas Mann and his adept portrayal of delicate subjects. “Blood of the Walsungs”, for instance, describes the incestuous relationship between twins, “Death in Venice” the homoerotic passion of an aging writer. It is probably for this reason that in December 1929, the Nobel Prize Committee deliberately awarded Thomas Mann the prize for his novel “Buddenbrooks” and not for his life’s work. Nevertheless, this day was the fulfillment of what Thomas Mann had written in his notebook at the age of twenty:

“Ein Traum von einer schmalen Lorbeerkrone
Scheucht oft den Schlaf mir unruhvoll zurnacht
Die meine Stirn einst zieren wird, zum Lohne
Für dies und jenes, was ich hübsch gemacht”

“A dream of a thin crown of laurels,
Makes me toss and turn at night
As a reward to adorn my forehead
For that which I did that was good and right”.
Zitat des Tages
Zitat des Tages
The German writer Thomas Mann received the Nobel Prize for Literature on 10 December 1929. Why did he leave Germany?
  He moved to Switzerland for health reasons
  His life was in danger as a result of his anti-Fascist stance
  He was offered a job in Hollywood