First published in 1924, in German, Mann's vast novel is erudite, subtle, ambitious, but, most of all, ambiguous; since its original publication it has been subject to a variety of critical assessments. For example, the book blends a scrupulous realism with deeper symbolic undertones. This complexity obliges the reader to interpret the significance of the pattern of events in the narrative, a task made more difficult by the author's irony. Mann, aware of his book's elusiveness, offered few clues about approaches to the text, later comparing it to a symphonic work with a number of themes. Some 25 years after the original publication, he recommended that those who wished to understand it should read it twice.
Paul Thomas Mann (1875-1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature . His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernised versions of German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer.
Our books are a matching set of the 1930 3rd printing of the first American translation edition, bound in black cloth with red title & border to front covers, and gilt title etc on the spines. Externally, there is wear consistent with age - the red titles are almost invisible now, and the gilt dulled to a pale reflection of itself. Covers are age-worn with variation in tone and some pale stains (Vol 2 especially); corners somewhat bumped; damage to the bottom front edge of Vol 1; shelf wear to top & tail of both spines. Both textblock top edges stained. Inside, however, bindings are firm with no loose pages; all pages clean apart from pp.748-9 (Vol. 2), which have been discoloured by an inserted piece of paper with a pencilled drawing on it. Leading page edges of Vol 2 rough cut. Vol 1 trimmed all round. Endpapers with design of printer's logo - Borzoi Books, and same emblem stamped to bottom of both back covers. Previous owner's name neatly written in pencil on both halftitle pages.