Childhood and Children in Thomas Mann’s Fiction

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This work examines all the child characters in Thomas Mann’s fiction from Der kleine Herr Friedemann to Bekenntniesse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull. By the use of textual analysis it demonstrates that Mann had an exceptional, if not unique, gift for the portrayal of children and that his depiction evinces deep sympathy with children in general and especially children of a certain type. Most, but not all, of the children are delicate, sensitive and gifted creatures, and they are also sexless or at least androgynous. The work also briefly examines previous scholarly writings on the subject, and compares Mann’s treatment of children with that of previous German writers.

“In depicting them [children], Mann shows himself to be a compassionate, sensuous and humane writer – and not the ironic Olympian which critics have often made of him. Mann’s delight in creating children is matched by McMullin’s delight in that delight. He draws our attention to the many crucial appearances by children in the oeuvre. He quotes extensively, and he never fails to provide translations of the passages cited; and he translates beautifully. Thomas Mann has not always fared well at the hands of his translators.” – Martin Swales

“Just when one thought that there was not a nook or cranny of Thomas Mann’s work that had not been overworked by scholars, here is a fresh and refreshing study of an aspect which has received surprisingly little scrutiny: Thomas Mann’s (fictional) children. It comes from the pen of a professional paediatrician and – appropriately – combines a scientist’s scrupulous attention to copious textual evidence with a physician’s delicacy and love. Dr. McMullin treats these children as independent characters in their own right, not as figures bearing the weight of allegory. In this respect his study, as subtle as it is firmly empirical, contributes unexpected material to the continuing discussion of the tension in Mann’s writing between 19th century realism and modernist symbolism.” – Joyce Crick

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. The early short fiction
3. Buddenbrooks
4. Königliche Hoheit
5. Four Novellen
6. Four and a half Novels
7. The Enchanted Garden
8. References; Bibliography; Index

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