Evil Germany versus Good Germany

Ehrhard Bahr

in Weimar on the Pacific

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520251281
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933804 | DOI:
Evil Germany versus Good Germany

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In the fashion of exile dialectics, Thomas Mann proposed the “identity of the non-identical” and said: “There are not two Germanys, a good one and a bad one, but only one, whose best turned into evil through devilish cunning. Wicked Germany is merely good Germany gone astray, good Germany in misfortune, in guilt, and ruin.” This chapter explores the role of dialectics as a structural element in Mann's novel Doctor Faustus. Mann's collaboration with Theodor W. Adorno reinforced this element not only as the essence of Faust's career as a German composer, but also as the basis for the allegory of Germany and its history. In addition, Adorno's concept of the “identity of the non-identical” enabled Mann to show that the life and works of Adrian Leverkühn not only reflected German history, but also contradicted it. The “identity of the non-identical” also became a structural element for Leverkühn's last composition, which marked his “breakthrough” as an authentic work of modernist art. It functions both as “historiography of its epoch” (Adorno) as well as an expression of human suffering.

Keywords: Germany; Thomas Mann; dialectics; Doctor Faustus; Theodor W. Adorno; non-identical; Adrian Leverkühn; historiography; human suffering

Chapter.  9760 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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