Review: Weiss, In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain

March 27, 2008
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German intellectual Thomas Mann left behind not only the legacy of his extraordinary literary career, but six children who—though often overshadowed by their father’s fame—became literary and artistic figures in their own right. In her new book In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story Andrea Weiss delivers a dual biography of Mann’s two eldest, Erika and Clause, whose literary, political, and artistic exploits she recounts in vivid detail. In a review running in the April edition of Harper’s, John Leonard notes that in delivering its candid portrait of the Mann children’s dramatic lives, the book also provides a revealing look inside the elite literary and artistic circles which the Mann children traversed. Leonard writes:

The years of exile, war, and America are an extravagance of highbrow gossip, with such raisins in the cake as André Gide, Bertolt Brecht, Sybille Bedford, Jean Cocteau, Stefan Zweig, Muriel Rukeyser, Christopher Isherwood, Janet Flanner, James Baldwin, and Carson McCullers. Erika wrote magazine articles and children’s books; Klaus wrote novels, plays, and film scripts; and the two of them collaborated on travel books, all while the FBI and the INS were hot on their trail for “premature anti-Fascism.”

Pick up the current issue of Harper’s to find out more, or read an excerpt.

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