Doctor Faustus by Thomas MannUnable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. The classical background to Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus. Article First Online: 01 March
Thomas Mann: His Life and Work (documentary)
On the surface, this text appears to be an autobiographical record of the four years that he spent working on the novel. Despite the countless autobiographical details provided in the Entstehung , the secondary title that Mann chose, Roman eines Romans , suggests more than just a factual memoir. Mann in effect constructs a thematically coherent work that transcends autobiography and approaches fiction, a work in which he himself functions as both reflected character and reflective narrator. The amount of scholarship devoted to the Entstehung is negligible compared to the critical interest in Doktor Faustus. In fact, almost all discussions of the Entstehung occur only marginally in analyses of Faustus.
The novel is a re-shaping of the Faust legend set in the context of the first half of the 20th century and the turmoil of Germany in that period. He strikes a Faustian bargain for creative genius: he intentionally contracts syphilis, which deepens his artistic inspiration through madness. He is subsequently visited by a Mephistophelean being who says, in effect, "that you can only see me because you are mad, does not mean that I do not really exist"  , and, renouncing love, bargains his soul in exchange for twenty-four years of genius.
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