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Thomas Mann's Wälsungenblut: The Married Artist and the “Jewish Question”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020

Abstract

This essay examines Thomas Mann's response to the “Jewish question” by focusing on a phase when he struggled to come to terms in his art with the repression of his homosexual desires and with his marriage to the daughter of assimilated Jews. Mann's attitude toward the Jews is primarily hostile in the controversial novella Wälsungenblut (The Blood of the Walsungs), in which he projects anti-Semitic stereotypes onto distorted images of his wife and new in-laws. In the novel Königliche Hoheit (Royal Highness), Mann produces a more sympathetic portrait of his wife by giving her an ethnic background closely resembling his mother's. Mann's response to the Jewish question is linked to his tendency to think in racial categories; his ambivalence toward the Jews stems from his ambivalence toward himself as an artist with repressed homosexual desires and an admixture of foreign “blood.”

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 by The Modern Language Association of America

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