Thomas Mann's Mario und der Zauberer: "Aber zum Donnerwetter! Deshalb bringt man doch niemand um!"

by George Bridges
Thomas Mann's Mario und der Zauberer: "Aber zum Donnerwetter! Deshalb bringt man doch niemand um!"
George Bridges
The German Quarterly
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University of Idaho

Thomas Mann's Mario und der Zauberer:
"Aber zum Donnerwetter!
Deshalb bringt man doch niemand um!"


Mario und der Zauberer is one of Thomas Mann's more problematic pieces of fiction. Generally, the question has been: just how political is this novella, just how private?' I would like to focus on a question that is closely related yet more specific: how are we to ac- count for Mario's deed at the end? Is this deed-the pistol shot that kills the magician Cipolla-sufficiently motivated? How is it that Mario succeeds in resisting the magician's uncanny power when all the others fail? Where does the obedient Mario, of all people, get the "will" to resist the "fascist" Cipolla when others-ostensibly stronger personalities from whom one would expect more resistance to such dominating and provocative behav- ior-succumb? And finally, does his deed really constitute resistance, or is it mere reac- tion?'

Some critics have seen a certain Steigerung, a steady increase in the amount of psy- chological stress and personal degradation to which Cipolla subjects his "victims," which makes the ending- and Mario's deed- inevitable." Cipolla reserves his most reprehen- sible trick for Mario, and in accordance with the law of the straw-that-breaks-the-camel'sback, the magician's provocative acts finally result in resistance and even retaliation. Simi- larly, other critics have explained Mario's deed as the result of a kind of determinism operat- ing in the story.3till others have seen some special virtue in Mario's character because he belongs to the working class. He is simple but good, his instincts are healthy and uncor- rupted, and he is therefore less susceptible to Cipolla's influence. He is the true represen- tative of the people."

I find all these explanations unsatisfactory. It is true that Mario is humiliated publicly, and perhaps one could also speak here of abuse. His innermost feelings have been exposed- the "Preisgabe des Innigstenn6- and ridi- culed. He is evidently in love with a woman named Silvestra, but she is not in love with him. The reader gathers that Silvestra prefers to award her favors to the loud-mouthed young man with the "Nubian" haircut who is called the giovanotto. Still, Mario's humiliation would seem to be no greater than that of Signora Angiolieri, whose most private and cherished feelings are also abused in public. One could argue that her humiliation is even greater than Mario's insofar as she is tricked into leaving her husband, who is sitting at her side, appar- ently for the sake of another woman. The notion that a continual Steigerung is present as a structural element in Mario (and as one aspect of the virtuosity of Mann's style) needs further examination. In fact, the story is di- vided into two distinct parts, and the first part is mostly anecdotal.

Even less tenable, I think, is the opinion that a rigorous determinism is at work in Mario. Obviously, the first half of the story is there to set the stage for Cipolla's appear- ance and the explosive event at the end. But if the unpleasant incidents that create the op- pressive atmosphere in Torre di Venere are indicative of a fascist, or even pre-fascist, so- ciety, then surely that is the kind of society we live in today.'Nor does the textual evidence support the view that Mario is able to resist the magician's tyranny because he embodies

The German Quarterly 64.4 (1991) 501

the basic goodness of the simple (workmg) class. The spontaneous, violent act that he commits at the end is quite out of character. Perhaps it is true that still waters run deep, and certainly it is true that people like Mario -who is "schwermutig" and "vertraumt" (705), good-natured, easy-going, and gentle, a young man who likes children and whom children love -sometimes commit desperate and violent acts. Still, this does not happen often, and when it does, the wrong done to such a person must be very great indeed. The trick that Cipolla plays on Mario does not constitute such a degradation, such an Ent- wiirdigung.

Surely it is not irrelevant here that the actual incident upon which the story was based turned out altogether differently from the way Mann has presented it. Mann wrote Mario und der Zauberer in the summer of 1926 when he and his wife, together with their two youngest children, were vacationing on the Italian coast at a town named Forte dei Marmi.The Manns went to see the perform- ance of a prestidigitator who tricked a young man in the audience into giving him a kiss. But in the actual event there was no shooting. The young man ran away "in komischer Be- schamung," as Mann wrote afterwards in a letter; but the following day, when the author saw him again-"Mario" served Mann and his wife tea -he was laughing and full of ad- miration for the magician's skill: "[Er] war . . . hochst vergnugt und voll sachlicher Aner- kennung fir die Arbeit 'Cipollas."'

Thus the ending of Mario und derzauberer was pure invention, and it is also important that it was not even Mann's invention. On his own, Mann had been unable to "find" the ap- propriate ending for his story. It was given to him by his oldest daughter Erika. When she heard the account of the actual incident with the magician and the waiter, her reaction was: "Ich hatte mich nicht gewundert, wenn er ihn niedergeschossen hatte!" For whatever reason-and the purpose of this study is to search for that reason- Mann found this reac- tion to the incident to be the right one. And so the story ends melodramatically with a bang, a smoking pistol, and a corpse lying on the floor.

But is it the right ending? The more one thinks about the phrases that critics, taking their cue from the narrator himself, have used over and over again to characterize the inci- dent at the end-Schandung, Entwiirdigung, Entmenschlichung, Entseelung, Entehrung- the more one's common sense indicates that an incident like this could not be quite so ter- rible. Upon the third or fourth reading the reader's reaction to the climax of this story may be similar to that of the good burghers of Liibeck when they heard the news that Thomas Buddenbrook had died of a toothache: "An einem Zahne . . . Senator Buddenbrook war an einem Zahne gestorben, hiell es in der Stadt. Aber, zum Donnerwetter, daran starb man doch nicht!" (I:688). Shouldn't one also exclaim here, upon reaching the end of Mario und der Zauberer: "Aber zum Donnerwetter! Deshalb bringt man doch niemand um!" A man just doesn't kill another man for giving him a kiss!

True, such a judgment on the way the no- vella ends applies a contemporary value judg- ment to the story and does not deal with it entirely on its own terms. One must concede that the final, melodramatic event does not begin to tell the whole story. And yet: can we really leave the story as it is? Can we- should we-allow students to lay down this book assuming that all is well, that the repul- sive magician got what he deserved, that jus- tice-even if it is justice served up in Wild- West fashion- has prevailed and that once again good has triumphed over evil? Does it not matter that, despite the public humiliation involved here, the law would surely see the matter differently and that it is Mario, not Cipolla, who has violated another person's most basic right: the right to life itself?

Thus the question of Mario's motivation is connected with another question which, as far as I can determine, is seldom if ever asked, namely: is it really possible- the humiliating, even degrading Preisgabe des Innigsten not- withstanding-to justify Mario's violent deed at the end? I believe that only a certain un- acknowledged anti-homosexual bias can ex- plain the fact that critics have not questioned the rightness of the conclusion to this story. The ending can seem right only when one assumes that homosexuality -or more pre- cisely, the homosexual specter that arises, even if it is not called by name, whenever one man kisses another-is such an Entwurdigung and such a Schandung to the soul that violence, even murder, is an entirely justifiable reaction to it.

In my opinion it is precisely this area of hu- man behavior- homosexuality and society's rejection of it- to which Mann was referring when he wrote in 1930 that the novella dealt first of all with "dem Privaten und zunachst Unbede~tenden."~And despite his repeated assertions that Mario is not an allegory and that the story does not contain any hidden meaning,"' I propose that what we have here is in fact essentially an allegory of the struggle going on in the author's soul with his own homoerotic inclinations. I believe the author's primary purpose in writing Mario was not simply to write "a story of human affairs" as he hself said on one occasion, and thereby to involve the "innocent" reader as an accomplice in an act of violence against an aging homosexual (Cipolla). Instead, it seems to me that Mann's purpose was to try to exorcise, through the medium of art, the demon of his own wayward eros. It seems to me that Mann wrote this story as an attempt at self-correc- tion," an attempt to "kill"- once and for all, just as Mario kills the "evil" magician who tor- ments him- a part of himself that the author never ceased to experience as anything but painfully problematic and threatening, even though it was also the main source of inspira- tion for his art. Especially with the publication of his diaries, what has become known in re- cent years of Mann's homoerotic feelings makes a new interpretation of his works un- avoidable, particularly in view of the widely ac- cepted notion that Mann's writings were more highly autobiographical and his relationship to

his main characters more personally "experi- mental" than is the case with most other writ- ers. Mario und der Zauberer is a page from Mann's spiritual autobiography, a milestone in his journey from artist of the decadent to artist of social responsibility and bourgeois respect- ability (and what he called Reprasentantentum) -a journey that began much earlier and really got under way in 1905 with his "fairy-tale" marriage to Katia Pringsheim."

The sexual- even the homosexual- references in Mario have by no means gone un- noticed. Critics have pointed out the sexual innuendoes that abound in Cipolla's dialogue with Mario, as well as the generally seductive manner in which the magician behaves toward the young waiter.lJ Especially important in this regard is the magician's rather improbable comparison of Mario to Ganyrnede; as a wait- er, a man of the salvietta, Cipolla says, Mario is like the cupbearer to Zeus in ancient Greek mythology. Like many other references in Mann's work, it points to his other, earlier story set in Italy, Der Tod in Venedig. And the personal-albeit ironic, if not cynical- tone that colors Cipolla's words when he addresses Mario suggests that the magician is not al- together out to humiliate and degrade the younger man; rather, he is trying to create for himself an occasion to experience a bit of the freedom from cultural restraint enjoyed by the participants in the dance orgy, for exam- ple, and to act -however harmlessly -upon his own homoerotic desire.

As an important personal encounter, the incident between Cipolla and Mario remains sketchy and, by Mann's standards, overly sirn- ple and straightforward. However, it is given complexity and ambiguity by the earlier epi- sode involving Signora Angiolieri. The deceit that Cipolla practices on this gentle woman is similar to the trick he plays on Mario. The incident also involves a same-sex relationship: Sofronia Angiolieri's friendship with the fa- mous Italian actress Eleanora Duse. In con- trast to the exploitative character of the brief homoerotic encounter between Cipolla and Mario, however, the friendship between these two women was tender and exalted. We are told it was a cult, a kind of idolatry (663), and it is now a sacred memory that has overshad- owed Signora Angiolieri's life and transformed it (693). In response to Cipolla's beckoning gesture, Sofronia Angiolieri rises from her seat and appears ready to follow the magician to the end of the world (700). Oblivious to the urgent plea of her husband to return to his side, Sofronia Angiolieri is apparently ready to give up both home and husband in order to regain the bliss of that previous relationship.

Thus the episode with Signora Angiolieri is no less a seduction than the one between Cipolla and Mario. No doubt the Angiolieri incident serves more than one purpose, but clearly one effect achieved by the author is to suggest to the reader a very different as- pect of homoerotic attraction from the fleeting but fatal attraction that Cipolla feels toward Mario. The Angiolieri incident should be seen as a part of the overall homoerotic Problematik that is central to this work.

The same is true of the other sexual refer- ences and innuendoes that abound in this story. Directly or indirectly, they all relate to the problem of homosexuality. The encounter between the magician and the giovanottothat aggressive, handsome youth in the audi- ence whose efforts to defend the local honor end in embarrassment, at least as far as the narrator is concerned-is also important in this respect. The first exchange of words be- tween Cipolla and the giovanotto culminates in an unexpected spectacle: the patriotic young man is "made" to stick out his tongue at every- body in the audience, including the fellow countrymen he is defending (677). The sec- ond exchange ends with the young man rolling on the floor with an attack of acute colic (685). The giovanotto represents Mannesehre and Mannesstolz, as the narrator tells us, and Cipolla's verbal and physical attack on such a landlichen Hahn is directed at manly qualities in general-in this case, the young man's Wachsamkeit, his Rauflust, his kriegerische Reizung, and his phallicism in particular. For Cipolla calls him the "towerkeeper of Venus" ("dieser torregiano di Venere") and, as the "Liebling der Madchen von Torre di Venere," he is also praised (mockingly) for the heroische Festigkeit of his Gliedmaflen. In fact, there is something phallically suggestive in whatever is said to or about the giovanotto, whether the reference is to his moralische Versteifung or the Unreinheit of his tongue, his belegte Zunge (684-85).

For the magician the encounter with the giovanotto provides an occasion for revenge. To be sure, it is revenge mixed with envy, for however derisive Cipolla's attitude toward the young man with the warrior haircut may be, it is not without a trace of admiration. But the two unpleasant encounters with the giovanotto should be seen mainly as an act of revenge-revenge, carried out by Cipolla on behalf of all little men with a Leibesschaden. Cipolla is the scourge of all those earlier artist figures in Mann's fiction-little Herr Friede- mann, Detlef Spinell, the "Bajazzo," and even Tonio Kroger and Gustav von Aschenbach- who, because of a little infirmity, either phys- ical or psychological (although in the end the two are the same), have suffered at the hands not only of the fair sex but also, more impor- tantly, of the healthy, normal, honor-loving males like the gamecock giovanotto or the "bourgeois" Herr Kloterjahn, with whom the artist (or would-be artist) is unable to com- pete.

For the giovanotto, however, the head-on collision with Cipolla-that is, with this man who, like Gustav von Aschenbach, has learned how to transform his weakness into a strength but whose goal is not so much to compel the respect of the bourgeois as to inflict revenge on them- means something very different. The encounter between Cipolla and the giovanotto is full of implications for Mann's at- tempt to fit homosexuality into the "natural" scheme of things. If one accepts the idea that Cipolla's tyranny over his "victims" consists not in imposing his will on them but rather in liberating in them their innermost desires from the psychological constraints that culture has imposed on them1'- i. e., in giving them the permission they must have before they can act upon these hidden desires (hidden even from themselves) -then what we witness in the first of these incidents is an act that is at once hostile and aggressive and childishly exhibitionistic. From a psychological point of view Mann shows us that the heroic, dtaris- tic posture is in essence a kind of aggressive narcissism. But we also see that it is an at- titude difficult to maintain. Standing erect at all times- whether physically or mentally, or both-takes its toll on the soft organs of the human body and, in the final analysis, ravages the body like a disease (colic). The giovanotto secretly longs to give up the rigid, unnatural posture of heroism (Ehre, Wiirde) that he has assumed and to give in to the body's natural tendency: Nachgiebigkeit. "Kriimme dich!" is the magician's command, and for a moment the giovanotto becomes a Kriippel like Cipolla. So much for the stronger, more "heroic" per- sonalities.

Another sexual reference in the story that has not escaped the attention of critics is the pistol with which Mario shoots the magician. The s~mbolic importance of the pistol is im- pressed upon the reader by the detailed, ac- tion-retarding description given by Mann of this particular object at the very climax of the story: "Man warf sich im Gedrange auf Mario, um ihn zu entwaffnen, ihm die kleine, stumpf- metallne, kaum pistolformige Maschinerie zu entwinden, die ihrn in der Hand hmg, und deren fast nicht vorhandenen Lauf das Schick- sal in so unvorhergesehene und fremde Rich- tung gelenkt hatte" (711). The pistol is not only a phallic symbol, it is also a symbol of "organ inferiority."

What does organ inferiority -if indeed this psychological concept has any validity at all- have to do with homosexuality? Did Mann accept the notion that there is a connection between the two? One must be careful not to make that supposition for him. And yet the text at this point does bring Mario somewhat closer, psychologically speaking, to the magi- cian with his physical handicap: one could say that in this respect Mario too suffers from a certain Leibesschaden. Furthermore, Cipolla evinces a seemingly sympathetic- more ac- curately, empathetic- understanding of the younger man's condition, his quietness and reserve, his apparent lack of self-confidence, and his dreamy self-absorption. The magician even takes a protective attitude toward Mario vis-a-vis the loud-mouthed, aggressive giovanotto. (It is perhaps the same kind of pro- tective feeling that Aschenbach felt, but did not act upon, when he saw his idolized youth Tadzio getting roughed up on the beach by the rowdy companion Jaschu. ) The Ganyrnede reference tells us something not only about Cipolla, the one who makes the comparison, but also about Mario, to whom the comparison is applied. It tells us that Mario-Ganymede derives satisfaction from serving others, and it also draws our attention to the fact that he is not indifferent to the special attention and favor that Cipolla shows him with his seductive words and gestures. And have we not already been shown that Cipolla possesses remark- able insight into the character and emotional needs of his "victims"?

By and large, of course, Mario remains something of an enigma. His role, however important, is all too brief. On the basis of the prima facie evidence alone, one has to accept the notion that it is Mario's unrequited love for Silvestra that leads him to kill Cipolla.'In view of the many unresolved problems that the ending of the story poses, however, it is both appropriate and necessary to go one step beyond and to consider what the author's in- tentions may have been at the time he wrote this story and to regard it in a larger context, that is, the context of the autobiographical and the author's fiction overall. The Gany- mede reference, in particular, which comes at such a critical spot in the story, invites us to pursue even further the comparison be- tween Mario und der Zauberer and Der Tod in knedig. In my opinion such a comparison yields an understanding of the former work, and especially of Mario's motivation, that may not be so readily accessible on the basis of a strict reading of the text alone.

The general parallels between Der Tod in Venedigand Mario und derzauberer have been noted by several commentators.'The common setting (Italy, a summer resort on the sea, the beach with all its activity, an interna- tional clientele along with local inhabitants, the adverse effect of the weather, and a gen- erally "unwholesome" element in the physical as well as social environment, the presence of an Ortsdamon)is the most obvious similar- ity between the two stories. Other parallels include the quandary in which the protagonist finds himself when trying to decide whether or not to leave (Abreisen);the fatal attraction of an older man to a younger man or adoles- cent; the arrival on the scene of an "alien" power from outside (the "stranger god" Dionysos in the earlier story, Cipolla with his "Fiktion [eines] Von-auflen-her-Eintreffens" in Mario [674]); a resulting dissolution of mor- als, or at least a weakening of moral resolute- ness (Aschenbach's culture-shattering dream, the general Fahrlassigkeit that the narrator in Mario sees in the public-and in himself as well-as the evening progresses [703]). There is even a similar degree of uncertainty expressed in the two stories about what others know or do not know and how they perceive the situation: Aschenbach with re- gard to the boy and the boy's mother and later with regard to the cholera epidemic that lays siege to the city, the narrator in Mario with regard to the crowd attending the magic show. When one considers these parallels, it is al- most impossible not to see Mario und der Zauberer as a retelling of the story in Der Tod in Venedig.

However, in keeping with Mann's tendency to alternate in the order of his productions a serious work with a satirical one, Mario und der Zauberer manifests not only important similarities with the earlier novella but also significant differences. Mario is by no means a light-hearted satire, and yet, despite the in- clusion of the word "tragic" inits subtitle ("Ein tragisches Reiseerlebnis"), the story does lack the tragic-if also thoroughly ironic- vision that underlies Der Tod in Venedig. And to some extent-mainly because of the domi- nating presence of the shabby magician- one can characterize Mario und der Zauberer as a parody of the earlier work. The situation depicted in the later story is a Verhunzungto use one of the words Mann himself used to describe the degenerating situation in Ger- many after the Nazis came to poweru-of the tragic fate of the artist depicted in the story of Gustav von Aschenbach.

Besides the change in vision (tragedy vs. parody and satire), another important differ- ence between the two novellas is the splitting of the artist in Mario into two distinct persons. Aschenbach, the protagonist of Der Tod in Venedig, becomes in Mario und der Zauberer not only the magician-artist Cipolla but also the bourgeois paterfamilias narrator through whose eyes we necessarily see everything that happens in the story. In other words, whereas in the earlier story the Kiinstler-Burger antithesis was embodied in Aschenbach alone, the two incompatible halves of the Man- nian hero now stand, in Mario, facing one another in silent confrontation. The situation would seem to afford the author an opportun- ity to carry out this confrontation: for exam- ple, the narrator lets us think that he might be the only person in the audience with the necessary insight into the nature of Cipolla's power to challenge him effectively. The con- frontation does not take place, however- except insofar as Mario can be seen as acting on the narrator's behalf.

The satirical element, or Verhunzung, that I see in Mario und der Zauberer lies mainly in the caricature portrait of Cipolla as an artist. However repulsive he may be as a person and however cheap his tricks might appear to the individual who is able to see through them, this "Gaukler-Betriiger-Scharlatan" is still basically an artist, and he has more in common with Aschenbach than might appear at first glance.'Vn his own way, Cipolla too is an ascetic, highly self-disciplined, long-suffering Sebastian figure, even if he needs a constant supply of cognac and tobacco to help him per- form his seemingly superhuman tasks. As he tells his audience, he is "der leidende, empfan- gende, . . . ausfiihrende Teil" (691), and the reference to his Duldertaten (698) lends him the faint nimbus of a religious martyr. (One may also think of Aschenbach's motto in life: "Durchhalten!") Cipolla's self-renunciation surely has its origin in an initial deprivation, an inability to gain sexual fulfillment as a result of his unusual physical handicap, the Gesafibuckel. With time, however, and at great per- sonal cost, he has learned how to transform necessity into "free will"-or, more precisely, how to make the two indistinguish- able.'"t is a process that he calls Selbstmeisterung (678), for it has consisted in thoroughly subduing precisely those powerful sexual de- sires. In return, Cipolla has gained knowledge -the special knowledge of human nature that is the unique property of the social outsider. And it is this special insight into the "weak- nesses" of human nature (of course, many would say that human nature is nothing more than a product of civilization, and its weak- nesses are nothing more than a manifestation of the repressive character of that civiliza- tion!) that is the basis of Cipolla's power over others. Whereas Aschenbach used his subli- mated psychosexual power to create the illusion of reality through the written word, Cipolla, like the author's Biblical Joseph, becomes an artist of life itself and uses his "demonic" power to create certain magical effects through the manipulation of reality. Cipolla represents a further Verhunzung of art insofar as he is shown to lack a social conscience -the burgher conscience that, in Mann's view, is necessary for the true artist as a counter-balance to his or her propensity to worship beauty without regard to its moral and ethical consequences. Cipolla's "patriot- ism" is superb cynicism, nothing more than a means of holding up to those in the audience who are proud to be Italians the shallowness and stupidity of such feelings. Cipolla uses his special power for purely personal ends, for the sole purpose of avenging himself on a society that has made him suffer beyond mea- sure. (Ergo the magician's claim that he, not the young man whom he has just made catalep- tic [6981, is the poveretto, the one deserving of the audience's sympathy.)

There is as well a certain satirical dimen- sion in the personality of the respectable bourgeois narrator, who presents himself as the educated and cultured German Burger par excellence. He is the head of a family, and his two children and wife (she is referred to in the narrative often enough to constitute a cer- tain presence, even if she does remain name- less, speechless, and altogether invisible throughout) are as much a part of his public identity as the claw-handled whip and the for- tifying glass of cognac are essential to Cipolla's identity. As the representative of a privileged social class, the narrator also has certain so- cial pretensions, most obviously a certain claim to moral authority that manifests itself in his ability to "see through" the magician and his tricks. These pretensions have been tested, however, by the various humiliations to which the narrator is subjected in the first half of the story, with the result that his moral superiority, not respected, practically ceases to exist. He has been unable to do anything about these affronts to his dignity except to tell himself he is above it all and to appeal to the reader for understanding and support. And of course, the fact that in the end the narrator too, like all the others, falls under the charlatan's spell-at least to the extent that he cannot take his wife and children in tow and simply leave- further undermines his claim to superior moral authority as a good


When we consider, then, that Cipolla repre- sents one part of Aschenbach (the artist) and that the narrator represents the other (the bourgeois), the relationship between the two novellas becomes further evident. Mario und derzauberer not only re-creates the basic situ- ation that we find in Der Tod in Venedig, it develops that earlier work of fiction a step fur- ther and attempts to resolve- in part through a "recasting" of characters and a general revi- sion "downward" in the direction of parody (self-parody) and satire-the problem that the author himself had by no means mastered emotionally and could therefore treat only from a dual perspective. In Der Tod in Venedig the two aspects of Aschenbach's character- the burgher who devotes his life to the Leistungsethik and condemns homoerotic passion for a youth as illicit and decadent vs. the artist who worships beauty without regard to social morality -come into fatal conflict. For adula- tion of beauty necessarily brings Aschenbach the burgher into close contact with the deeply repressed and therefore potentially destruc- tive libidinal forces of the unconscious (neuro- sis, obsession-the psychological counterpart to political totalitarianism and fascism, as it were, but also the realm of creative inspira- tion, the kind of precarious existence in which art becomes necessity). In Mario these two conflicting character traits are separated from one another and embodied, in an exaggerated, even satirical way, in two distinct fictional in- dividuals. The modified circumstances in this story enable Aschenbach-who is now Ci- polla and therefore less staid, less beguiled by society's flattering image of hi,and more daring-finally to speak, to declare his love to the boy and to make his move. And the circumstances also require Tadzio- who is now Mario and therefore no longer quite so sublimely beautiful, so delicate and inaccessi-

ble-to react to that declaration of love and to those unmistakable physical advances.

The result of this further development of the unresolved conflict in Der Tod in Venedig is essentially the same: here too the devotee of the forbidden eros must die, and die he does. Aschenbach's fatal flaw was that he took himself too seriously and allowed hunself to believe that he, an artist, could actually attain dignity and bourgeois respectability. Cipolla's downfall, on the other hand, seems to be brought about by a slight miscalculation, one that in the end can be attributed not only to a momentary letting down of his guard against his own desires but also to an overweening egotism nourished by the sadistic satisfaction he derives from exposing, in the most humili- ating way, the innermost secrets as well as the false pretenses of others. But whereas the condemned artist in the earlier story was at least allowed a symbolic triumph-on the important mythical level of the story, Aschen- bach's death is presented as a kind of apotheosis, a union with the deity he loved in the perfect nothingness of the sea- the verhunzte artist Cipolla is granted no such tran- scendent victory in the final moment of his (ultimately) self-inflicted demise. Nothing is left of him in the end, we are told, except for a heap of empty clothes (711).

Thus the problem of homosexuality- that half-concealed, half-revealed, but always cen- tral concern that Mann had previously treated in his fiction with varying degrees of rejec- tion-is presented here once again, it seems, in order that he might strengthen his defense- mechanism (i. e., his bourgeois identity) against it, this time to say an emphatic, un- ironic "No." Mario und der Zauberer can be seen as a declaration of Mann's intention to resolve the issue once and for all in favor of bourgeois morality -heterosexuality, mar- riage, family, respectability-and against homoeroticism. One bold, unreflected, spon- taneous act taken against the specter of homo- erotic desire, and it is revealed as the mere illusion, the thing without substance that it really is, and its tyranny over the emotional life is broken forever. "Ein befreiendes Ende," the narrator comments (711), and we can as- sume he also speaks for his creator.

This is not to say, of course, that with Mario und der Zauberer Mann actually suc- ceeded in banishing the homosexual specter from his life and work. Quite the contrary. The writer's subsequent fiction is no less in- formed by the homoerotic problem than is his previous work. In Joseph und seine Bruder, which was the major prose work claiming Mann's interest and energy when he took time out to write Mario, the homoerotic impulse is displaced to the father-son relation~hip,~' but it is nonetheless there and plays a motivat- ing role. In Doktor Faustus the homosexual episode involving Adrian Leverkiihn and Rudi Schwerdtfeger is small but also piv~tal.~' And much later in his life, when Mann got around to resuming work on his Felix Krull manu- script, he was apparently prepared once again to throw discretion to the wind and treat the subject openly (and humorously). Documents show that only the objections of his oldest daughter Erika stopped Mann from including in this picaresque fantasy a triangle affair in- volving his hero with Eleanor Twentyman and her father- to say nothmg of the designs of Lord Kilmarnock or Mann's plan to involve Krull romantically with a brother-sister pair. 23

Even here in Mario und der Zauberer, where the shot at the end seems to put a definitive end not only to the magic show but the problem of homosexuality as well, there is, upon closer examination, only the prospect of a banishment, not a thorough-going break. After all, it is not the narrator but Mario who kills Cipolla. And although the narrator calls it a bejreiendes Ende, it is unclear to whom or what these words apply. In the narrator's gen- erally aloof and objective (or seemingly objec- tive) description of the magician one detects a guarded but unmistakable note of sympathy. The narrator's ironic tone with regard to the gzovanotto, for example, suggests that he shares the magician's aggressive feelings to- ward the able-bodied young males in the audi- ence. And to the extent that the narrator, by drawing on his own experiences, is able to see through the psychology of Cipolla's "power," one can even say there is identifica- tion. The narrator manipulates his readers for his own purposes, seeming to take them into his confidence (in somewhat the same way Cipolla takes Mario into his confidence!) only in order to enlist their approval and moral support in an undertaking that is at once pri- vate and far from transparent. (Furthermore, like Cipolla, the narrator is constantly appeal- ing to the reader for understanding and sym- pathy as he finds himself in an unpleasant and difficult situation.) This sympathetic bond re- mains present to the very end, and the revul- sion that the narrator also clearly expresses toward the magician does not diminish the spiritual affinity the good bourgeois family man feels, despite hlrnself, with this represen- tative of his own disavowed self. On the con- trary: the revulsion is a measurement of how deeply implicated the narrator is in the magi- cian. (In the final analysis, the exorcism I see operating in this work is not simply that; it is exorcism and self-correction as well as self-justification and even self-aggrandizement. It is part of what one scholar has called the "serious process of self-discovery and practi- cal self-analysis, of fictional experimentation with actual or potential selves and actual or potential intellectual attidues" that charac- terizes Mann's relation to all his alter-ego pro- tagonist~.~~)

At the time Mann wrote Mario und der Zauberer, however, he was mostly concerned with relegating homoeroticism to its "proper" place in his life and with living up to his public image as a bourgeois writer and a representa- tive of German culture. In an essay entitled "~berdie Ehe," which first appeared in 1925, only one year before the "Mario and magician" experience in Forte dei Marmi, Mann dealt in detail with the homoerotic problem as he saw it. This document shows that for all the respect he may have continued to feel toward homosexuality as a Gejuhlsart, especially as a feeling of pedagogical value, he also con- tinued to associate same-sex eroticism with asociality and death: homoerotic love, he thought, was toduerbunden." A few words about this essay in one of his letters to Erika Mann suggest to what extent the writer was influenced in his thinking on this delicate sub- ject by his wife and his eldest daughter.26

A "homosexual reading" of Mario und der Zauberer, such as the one being offered here, takes exception above all with the critical studies that see this work only as a political allegory and that reject all attempts to "dis- solve" the story into psychology. No one can deny, of course, that the story contains an important political dimension, as does every work of fiction that tries to deal with a per- sonal conflict in its larger social context. Cer- tainly Mario renders a very memorable per- sonal account of the corruption that is part and parcel of a fascist society- the toadyism of the hotel manager, the unnatural patriotism of the children on the beach, the perverted morality that takes offense at the sight of a child's naked body. And whatever else it may be, Mario is also an uncanny anticipation of what was about to happen in the author's own country. His description in this novella of the mesmerization of the public, through intimida- tion and violence (the whip) as well as fascina- tion and even chid-like enjoyment, his insight into the inability of even the most enlightened individuals in the audience (the Kulturbiirgertum!)to dissociate themselves from the "fas- cist" magician and simply leave-let alone to intervene in or render effective opposition to what they saw going on before their eyes -is artistically compelling and is one reason the

story should be read by students today. Per- haps it is even possible, with a measure of good will toward Mann, to see Mario as a prophetic warning to the Germans, as the author himself liked to see it in later years. ''

All the same, as we have noted, Mann him- self did not always like to see Mario und der Zauberer interpreted politically, any more than he liked to see it treated as an allegory. In fact, when the story first appeared in print Mann explicitly rejected the idea that it was mainly political.'"One would be well advised, I think, to take seriously the author's initial objections to such a reading. As others have pointed out, no matter how replete the story may be with political implications, Mario never really leaves the realm of the malnly private, which for Mann meant the realm of the Kiinstler-Problematik." If the magician Cipolla inter- ests us as a case study of the triumph of the will, so to speak, and if his "victims" seem to provide a convincing demonstration that the "liberal" position of Negativitatis not a position from which one can render effective resis- tance to a dictatorship, it is nevertheless be- cause Cipolla interested Mann first and fore- most as an artist, or at least an artist figure, just as even Hitler could interest him on this level. Indeed, the story reflects no political analysis at all; the fascism we encounter here is seen more as a deficiency of cultural (nation- al!) Niveau and as a kind of childhood disease (666-67) than anything else."'

My excursion into the similarities and dif- ferences between Mario und der Zauberer and Der Tod in Venedig has taken me somewhat far afield. The purpose of the digression was not so much to dispute the view that the former work contains political implications as to shed more light on the character of Mario, in particular on the significance of the pistol as a symbol of phallic inferiority, and in general on the young man's motivation for committing an act that is so violent and so out of keeping with his otherwise gentle character.

As is true of Aschenbach in this new setting (i.e., Aschenbach as split into two characters: the magician and the narrator), so too does Tadzio (i.e., Mario) stay basically the same in this companion piece to Der Tod in Venedig, even as he undergoes an important transfor- mation. Like Tadzio, Mario remains an un- known quantity (and quality) to the very end. For all the interest he may arouse in Cipolla (or the narrator, for that matter), for all the immediate sympathetic understanding and af- finity of spirit that the magician may feel to- ward this sensitive-looking young man who is immediately identifiable as one of the Zukurzgekommenen in life, Mario necessarily repre- sents the Other, the Not-I, if only by virtue of the fact that he possesses a physical attraction -which in Mann's view was also a spiritual attraction-that his admirer, whether Cipolla or the narrator, perceives to be lacking in himself. Tadzio's charm for Aschenbach had much to do with the fact that the latter did not know the youth. The middle-aged artist deliberately refrained from getting to know the boy for fear that familiarity would indeed breed con- tempt, that any banal, everyday kind of con- tact with him-an exchange of a few words, for example-would relativize his idol and transform him before his very eyes into the pampered, spoiled, 14-year-old brat that the real-life model for Tadzio may well have been.

Mario, in contrast, is hardly a god or even a demi-god. He is described as a stocky young man with thick lips and heavy eyelids ("ein untersetzt gebauter Junge . . . mit Wulstlip- pen . . . [und] zu schweren Lidern" [704051). If Cipolla regards him as an idol, he is certainly a more down-to-earth idol than Aschenbach's Polish youth- the latter's bad teeth notwithstanding. Mario may not even be very bright. The narrator doubts whether he has much understanding of what is going on in the auditorium and remarks further that by habit and training the young man is used to following orders (704). In his good-natured mediocrity, Mario may remind the reader more of Hans Castorp than of Tadzio.jl (On the other hand, it is perhaps also noteworthy that Mario has the gray-green eyes that made Pribislav Hippe and Clawdia Chauchat in Der Zauberberg such fascinating manifestations of the same "transsexual" creature!) Mario also has small, finely-articulated hands -a sign of femininity, according to conventional wisdom and, as such, a sign in Mann's stories of beauty, androgyny, and the artist. And the bright red silk scarf the young man wears on the evening of the performance lends a slight touch of harmless vanity, even dandyism, to his character, upon which Cipolla does not fail to remark ironically. Like Cipolla and the nar- rator himself, Mario is treated in a slightly satirical manner by the author, who stands

over -or behind- all three of them.

As a fictional character, Mario is thus dif- ferentiated from both the magician and the narrator, and he exists as a subject in his own right. At the same time, however, Mario also comes to constitute a third aspect of the com- posite persona that has been emerging during the course of the evening from the remote yet intense interaction between the narrator and the magician. Cipolla has come to feel a sympathetic bond with the young man in the audience who stands leaning against a post in one of the aisles and who appears to be quite absorbed in what he sees."' But the narrator too has had his eye on the same young man, as the retrospective remarks he makes about "Mario from the Esquisito" tell us. In fact, the narrator has observed Mario for an even longer time than the magician. He too finds the young man with the dreamy, melancholy expression in his eyes an attractive person and feels a bond of sympathy with him. He speaks of Mario's charming amiability, his Liebenswurdigkeit, and, protecting himself, as it were, by including his wife in the remark, he comments: "Seine Figur w2re uns auf jeden Fall im Gedachtnis geblieben, eine der un- scheinbaren Reiseerinnerungen, die man besser behdt als manche erhebliche" (705). Per- haps both the much-abused and victimized Cipolla and the observant, passive narrator see something of themselves- or something of their former selves-in the young waiter. A triangular constellation arises here: a three- way relationship between the narrator, the magician, and Mario, which anticipates the triangular relationship in Doktor Faustus between Zeitblom, the bourgeois narrator; Le- verkiihn, the demonic man of genius; and Schwerdtfeger, the genial, irrepressible and "irresistible" young musician.

As a third aspect of this composite persona, then, Mario, like Signora Angiolieri and the giovanotto, takes his place in the overall homoerotic Problematzk that lies at the center of this novella. And I would like to propose- in part because the text itself justifies such a conclusion, in part because the comparison of Mario und der Zauberer with Der Tod in Venedig brings out this "hidden meaning"- that Mario's reaction to the magician's pro- vocative trick should be seen as a continuation of Tadzio's noncommittal but nonetheless suggestive response to Aschenbach's passion- ate but unspoken declaration of love. To be sure, the actors involved in the drama have been greatly modified, and the circumstances are quite different. But the changes are only a matter of degree, and basically the situation is the same. In Mario we see what might have happened to Aschenbach had he dared to break the spell and express his desire in words that the adored one could hear. To be sure, one can hardly imagine Tadzio pulling a pistol out of his pocket and shooting Aschenbach for his efforts. But the confusion of feeling that such an overstepping of moral (social) boundaries would have brought with it would undoubtedly have been great, and the boy's reaction would have been violent, even if it had remained entirely private and had not been expressed in public.

Mario's reaction to Cipolla's aggressive ad- vances is not determined solely by indignation over the fact that the older man has taken too much liberty with him. After all, as the gio- uanotto's contemptuous laughter suggests, Mario's lack of success in his love "affair" with Silvestra can hardly be a secret; people in a village make it their business to know about such things. Mario's reaction is violent be- cause Cipolla, cutting through the young man's confused emotions, has tricked hinto self- discovery and self-confrontation. Cipolla's de- ception reveals to the young man that he too is susceptible to the homoerotic entice- ment of another man. In this final dramatic scene Mario discovers if not his own homo- sexuality, then at least his complicity in an illicit passion, as Aschenbach thought of it


Just as Tadzio, perhaps not altogether con- sciously and therefore "innocently," encour- aged Aschenbach in his infatuation-by walking unnecessarily close to where the older man sat on the beach, by turning around, just before he and his mother and sisters turn a corner in the city, to see whether his "lover" was still following him-so too does Mario show a certain complicity in Cipolla's aggres- sive wooing- through the information he vol- unteers about having worked in a Kurzwaren- geschaft, for example, and in general through the interest he shows in helping the magician draw correct conjectures about him (707). Un- consciously Mario assists the magician in bringing about his own public hurmliation and the unwelcome discovery of his homosexual- ity. Like the giouanotto who wanted to exhibit himself to others, whether others wanted to see h~mor not, Mario secretly and unbe- knownst even to himself wants to act upon his repressed homosexual impulses. His com- plicity in his own "undoing" in no way di- minishes the shock of recognition, however, and it would seem that only a Preisgabe des Innigsten of this nature could be so overpow- ering as to elicit from the obedient Mario the sudden, uncharacteristically violent reaction that follows. And the pistol shot at the end is nothing more than that-mere reaction, not resistance, which would require a more ra- tional (reasoned-out) act.

It is not the first or the last time that Mann depicted a violent reaction on the part of one of his characters to the unwelcome knowledge of "complicity" in homosexual desire. Hans Castorp's dream vision of Pribislav Hippe re- vealed to h,via Clawdia Chauchat, that his admiration for his fellow schoolboy with the Kirghizian eyes had been erotic in nature, and that discovery was accompanied by a symbolic blood-letting, the nosebleed (to say nothmg here of the weak spot that this adolescent "affair" has left on Castorp's lungs). Adrian Leverkiihn's reaction to his homosexual love affair with Schwerdtfeger is slow in manifest- ing itself; the man of genius reacts only after he has exploited the relationship for the new and valuable experience it brings him. In its ultimate consequences, however, Leverkuhn's reaction is no less violent than Mario's, for it is in fact he, Leverkuhn (the narrator Zeitblom plants the thought in the reader's mind) who sends his young lover to his death.

Thus Mario occupies an important pivotal position in the three-way constellation one finds at the end of this novella. Both Cipolla and the narrator feel a sympathetic tie to the young man. For the narrator, such a partial "identification" means that when Mario acts, he also acts to some extent for the narrator as his surrogate. But the fact that it is only a partial psychological identification is also irnportant; the existential distance the narrator perceives between himself and the "medi- ocre" Mario enables the author to allow the latter to commit a violent act that the narrator, a man who has been reduced to the role of a passive observer and whose inability to act according to his own conscience borders on pusillanimity, could not have carried out on his own. Mario, the mediocre young man, the individual who by training and perhaps also by natural temperament is a follower rather than a person who makes things happen, shows the narrator the way he must take. And the narrator's laconic remark at the end-"Ein Ende rnit Schrecken, ein hochst fatales Ende. Und ein befreiendes Ende dennoch, -ich konnte und kann nicht urnhin, es so zu empfin- den!" (711)-indicates that he accepts this resolution of the problem, drastic as it may be and imposed from the "outside." And yet, why the words "nicht umhm"? The phrase sug- gests there are reasons, emotional reasons that the narrator will not explain, for not feeling the way he says he feels. The last sentence is as significant for what it does not say as for what it does say. The narrative ends not without a certain undertone of irony, despite the clear, emphatic "no" that the story as a whole constitutes to the author's wayward eros.

To sum up: the ending of Mario und der Zauberer is problematic inasmuch as Mario's deed is not adequately motivated. When the shot at the end is seen as a political act, the story raises more questions than it answers, and in the last analysis the novella lacks unity. The references to the sexual in the story, on the other hand, prompt the reader to consider the work in the larger context of Thomas Mann's life and writings. I have examined Mario in the light of Mann's earlier novella Der Tod in Venedig and the essay entitled "~berdie Ehe." Also relevant in this respect are the diaries that have been published in recent years and have shed light on the au- thor's own ambiguous sexuality.

The result is a "homosexual" interpretation of the story. Mario is seen as an attempt by the author to banish from his own life with one resolute act-simdar to the resolute act of burning his diaries in May 1945""the troubling and potentially destructive demon of homosexuality, the cause of so much "Ver- wirrung der Gefihle," as Hans Mayer iden- tified the proper subject of this "political" no- vella:" Despite Mann's objections to such a view of his story, I see Mario as essentially an allegory -not a political allegory, to be sure, but a psychological one. The author pro- jects himself intellectually and emotionally into three different characters: the respectable, intellectual, stodgy narrator; the magician- artist and social outsider Cipolla; and, to a far lesser extent, the mediocre but perhaps potentially artistic (i. e., homoerotic) Mario. Mann stages this little psychological drama in order to let one side of his personality come into confrontation with another side and to try to exorcise that part of himself that is the amoral, decadent, frustrated homosexual, through the "mediation" of Mario-that mediocre Mannian figure who is not alienated (at least not yet alienated) from society but with whom the artist (at least the bourgeois side of the artist) can feel some spiritual rap- port. Mann then effects the death of the repul- sive Zauberer Cipolla in order that the respect- able Zauberer Thomas Mann might continue to live and write and not fall victim, out of hubris, to any slight but fatal miscalculation with regard to the many attractive young men who happened to cross his path almost daily and who are mentioned fleetingly in his di- aries. Mario is a declaration of the author's intention not to let the artist in himself go his own unbridled way, unrestrained by bourgeois morality. Mann would not allow himself to de- velop into the pathetic, sinister, manipulative monster of his own egotism, the wounded egotism of the outsider, seeking not just resti- tution for the wrongs done to it by society but compensation as well (the magician's plea for a kiss shows this to be so) and even sympathy.

The artistic failure we find at the end of Mario is simply a product of the failure of the proposed solution to the private, moral prob- lem to which Mann referred in his letters. The ending of Mam'o und der Zauberer is a bogus ending. In effect, the author attempts to play a psychological sleight-of-hand on him- self. (After all, psychological sleights-of-hand are what such Freudian phenomena as repres- sion, identification, and sublimation are all about.) As part of the necessary self-justifica- tion (rationalization) that always seems to be part of the violence of this psychological proc- ess, the author manipulates the reader to his own advantage, enlisting his or her support by making him or her an accomplice in a pri- vate undertaking that is tricky, morally ques- tionable, and far from transparent. He takes the reader into his confidence (in somewhat the same way Cipolla takes Mario into his confidence) and flatters the reader by appeal- ing to his or her understanding and sympathy in such a difficult and unpleasant situation. And in the end, the narrator has manipulated the "unsuspecting" reader into approving the murder of a man whose crime was to trick another man into kissing him.

Mario's deed finds its "legal justification" only as a symbolic act, as the outcome of a psychological drama and as part of an allegory of the vicissitudes that the human spirit en- counters in its life-and-death struggle with the "higher behests" of civilization-more specifically, with the binding restrictions of bourgeois morality. As an expression of the violence that the process of internalization of such a cultural norm has perpetrated upon him, Mario's deed at least becomes under- standable. But it is still not possible, outside this context, to speak of the murder at the end as a restoration of human dignity without at the same time accepting the premise that homosexuality is the ultimate in humiliation and degradation of the soul. If this aspect of the story is not understood, then readers of Mann's novella never really wake up from the spell that society itself, rather than Cipolla, has cast on them- that spell being the anti- homosexuality that is so much a part of West- ern culture that in its unspoken name one can even kill another human being and thereby commit an "honor-restoring" act.


' For a summary of the critical reception of Thomas Mam's Mario und der Zauberer see Hans Rudolf Vaget, Thomas Mann: Kommentar zu samtlichen Erzahlungen (Munich: Winkler, 1984) 229-49; Thomas Mann: Mario und der Zauberev. Erlauterungen und Dokumente, ed. Karl Pornbacher (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1980) 32-60. See also Gert Sautermeister, Thomas Mann: Mario und derzauberer (Munich: Fink,1981) 120-32; Dieter Wuk- kel, "Mario und der Zauberer in der zeitgenossischen Presseresonanz," Werk und Wirkung Thomas Manns in unserer Epoche, ed. Helmut Brandt and Hans Kauf- mann (Berlin: Aufbau, 1978) 346-56. For Thomas Mann's own remarks on Mario see Dichter uber ihre Dichtungen, vol. 14: Thomas Mann. Teil11: 1918-1943, ed. Hans Wysling and Marianne Fischer (Munich: Hei- meran; Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1979) 366-73.

' For a summary of what literary critics have written with regard to Mario's deed, its motivation, and its meaning see Sautermeister 78-82 and 148-49, n. 70. See also Wolfgang Freese, "Thomas Mann und sein Leser. Zum Verhaltnis von Antifaschismus und Leserer- wartung in Mario und der Zauberel;" DVjs 51 (1977): 672-73, n. 44.

' Critics have taken their cue here, as in so much else regarding Thomas Mann's novella, from the author- or, more precisely, the narrator-himself, who says that one reason he and his wife do not leave during the intermission is that Cipolla has led them to expect a "Steigerung der Effekte" (VIII: 695) during the second half. Henry Hatfield drew attention to the "Goethian principle" of intensification, or Steigerung, as practiced in this story, in his article "Thomas Mann's Mario und der Zauberer: An Interpretation,'' Germanic Review 21 (1946): 306-12; and more recently in his book entitled

From "The Magic Mountain": Mannk Later Master- pieces (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1979) 184. See also Walter Weiss, Thomas Mantzs Kunst der sprachlichen und the- matischen Integration (Diisseldorf: Schwann, 1964; Bei- heft zu Wirkendes Wort 13) 80-81. Allan J. McIntyre, "Determinism in Mario undderzau- bevel;" Germanic Review 52 (1977): 205-16. McIntyre sees Cipolla as a victim of the Schopenhauerian will; the magician "rushes blindly on to personal catastrophe because his mind is nothing more than the obedient servant of the Power in hi whose craving is limitless" (211). For Hartmut Bohme the Steigerung device cre- ates the effect that fate is at work here and speaks in this connection of a "vorbiirgerliche, fatalistische Denkmuster"; see his article "Mario und derzauberer. Position des ErzaNers und Psychologie der Herrschaft," Orbis Litterarum 30 (1975): 286-316, here

302. This view has been presented especially by critics who see the novella primarily as a political allegory: Inge Diersen, Thomas Mann. Episches Werk, Weltanschau- ung, Leben (Berlin: Aufbau, 1985) 185-88; Harry Mat- ter, "Marzo und der Zauberer. Die Bedeutung der No- velle im Schaffen Thomas Manns," Weimarer Beitrage 6 (1960): 579-96; Egon Schwarz, "Fascism and Society: Remarks on Thomas Mann's Novella Mario und der Zauberer," Michigan Germanic Studies 2 (1976): 47-67. Schwarz writes: "We are left in no doubt as to the fact that effective class opposition can be expected only from the proletariat, from the unspoiled ch~ldren of the people, who have remained in a state of innocence" (57).

" Thomas Mann, Mario und der Zauberer, Gesammelte Werke in zwolfBanden (Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer, 19601,

638-711. All subsequent citations from this novella as well as citations from other prose works by Thomas Mann will be taken from this edition and will be indicated parenthetically in the text by volume and page number. Citations from Mario und der Zauberer are indicated by page number only. Sautermeister, however, questions whether the "unan- genehme Atmosphare" that the narrator finds on the beach should be equated with fascism (52-57 and 141,

"or the Entstehung of Mario und der Zauberer see Pornbacher 26; Vaget 222-23 (see n. 1); Peter de Mendelssohn, Nachbemerkungen zu Thomas Mann (Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 19821, vol. 2: 87-92; also Dichter uber ihre Dichtungen 366-73 (see n. 1). The quoted material that appears in this and the following paragraph is taken from the latter volume (368).

" Dichter uber ihre Dichtungen 368 (see n. 1).

"' See esp. Mann's letter to Charles Duffy of 14 December 1945, and his letter to Louis M. Grant of 14 October 1949, both reprinted in Dichter uber ihre Dichtungen 372-73 (see n. 1).

" Weiss 93 (see n. 3): "Cipolla ist . . . wieder einmal in verhullter Form Selbstkritik Thomas Mams, Abrech- nung mit einem Teil seiner selbst." Vaget (228) also refers to Mario as an attempt at Selbstkorrektur. See also Gerhard Harle, Mannerweiblichkeit: Zur Homo- sexualitat bet Klaus und Thomas Mann (Frankfurt a.M.: Athenaum, 1988) 13-33.

" The subject of Thomas Mann and Reprasentantentum has been approached mainly from only one direction: the writer's belief that in creating works based on his own personal experiences he could express the feelings of many (see, e.g., Hinrich Siefken, "Thomas Mann and the Concept of Representation: Konigliche Hoheit," Modern Language Review 73 [1978]: 337-50). Less has been written about the subject from the other direction: the formal constraints of Mam's self-appointed role as Reprasentant on his most personal experiences.

'.' E.g., Henry Hatfield, "Mario and the Magician," The Stature of Thomas Mann, ed. Charles Neider (New York: New Directions, 1947) 168-73; Weiss 94 (see n. 3); Ronald Gray, The German Tradition in Literature, I871-1945(Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1965) 175; Igna- ce Feuerlicht, Thomas Mann (New York: Twayne, 1968) 127; Hartmut Bohme, "Mario und der Zauberer 286-316 (see n. 4); McIntyre 213, n. 41; Stephen H. Garrin, "Thomas Mann's Mario und der Zauberer: Artistic Means and Didactic Ends," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 77 (1978): 92-102; Vaget 227 (see n. 1). " For remarks on hypnosis in this story see Sautermei- ster 66-68 (see n. 1). See also Hermann Kurzke, Thomas Mann: Epoche-Werk-Wirkung (Munich: Beck, 1985) 230; and Manfred Dierks, "Die Aktualitat der positivistischen Methode-am Beispiel Thomas Manns," Orbis Litterarum 33 (1978): 158-82. Dierks points out the influence of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche on Thomas Mann's Willensideologie in contrast to the influence of Freud's theory of the unconscious. " Siegfried Mandel, in his article "Mam's Mario and the Magician, or Who isSylvestra?"Modern Fiction Studies 25 (1979180): 593-611, pointing out the author's interest in Freud at the time he wrote this novella (Mann deliv- ered his first lecture on Freud in Munich in May 1929), interprets the story in terms of the Oedipus complex. Mandel comes to the conclusion, based on Mario's reaction to the words "sie wascht" (7081, that Sylvestra is Mario's mother. "7

E.g., Klaus Muller-Salget, "Der Tod in Torre di Vene- re. Spiegelung und Deutung des italienischen Faschis- mus in Thomas Mann's Mario und der Zauberer:' Arca- dia 18 (1983): 50-65; Vaget 227 (see n. I), who sees similarities between Mario and "Das Wunderkind"; see also Weiss 92 (see n. 31, who points out similarities between Mario and Der Zauberberg as well as Doktor Faustus. Also Kurzke 229 (see n. 14).

'' E.g., in his short essay "Bruder Hitler" (1939) Thomas Mann wrote: "Ich sprach von europaischer Verhun- zung: Und wirklich, unserer Zeit gelang es, so vieles zu verhunzen: Das Nationale, den Sozialismus -den Mythos, die Lebensphiosophie, das Irrationale, den Glauben, die Jugend, die Revolution und was nicht noch alles. Nun denn, sie brachte uns auch die Verhunzung des grol3en Mames" (XII: 852). See also Mann's Tagebiicher from the years 1933-1934, where references to Rebarbarisierung, verhunzter Mythos, and heruntergekommene Romantik occur often.

'"or a discussion of the similarity between Cipolla and Aschenbach as well as between Cipolla and other artist- figures (e.g., Tobias Midernickel, Naphta, Dr. Kro- kowski) in Mann's earlier works, see Walter Weiss 93 (see n. 3). Muller-Salget sees Cipolla as a "verhunzter Dionysos" (61). Man J. McIntyre sees Cipolla as a combination of Franqois Knaak and Do Escobar ("From Travemiinde to Torre di Venere. Mannian Leitmotifs in Political Transition," Germanic Review 59 [1984]: 26-31, here 27).

'Xipolla-through the narrator- explains the paradox: "Die Fahigkeit, sagte er, sich seiner selbst zu entau- Bern, zum Werkzeug zu werden, im unbedingtesten und vokommensten Sinne zu gehorchen, sei nur die Kehrseite jener anderen, zu wollen und zu befehlen; es sei ein und dieselbe Fahigkeit; Befehlen und Gehor- chen, sie bildeten zusarnmen nur ein Prinzip, eine un- auflosliche Einheit; wer zu gehorchen wisse, der wisse auch zu befehlen, und ebenso umgekehrt . . ." (691). Here lies not only the "secret" of Cipolla's sway over the public (as well as the artist's "magic" power to create illusion) but also the secret of the Fuhrer and his mystical, two-way bond with the Volk. For further discussion of the similarities and differences between the artist and the Fuhrer, as seen by Thomas Mann, see Sautermeister 132-34 (see n. 1). For a Freudian analysis-mainly in terms of sado-masochism and "nar- ziBtische Verarmung" (and "Ersatzbefriedigungen") of Thomas Mann's magician in this novella, see Hartmut Bohme 306-08. Manfred Dierks points out the continu- ing influence of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche on Tho- mas Mam's understanding of the psychology of fas- cism; Dierks 158-82 (see n. 14).

"' For a discussion of the narrator's position in the story and the problem of his inability to act, see Hartmut Bohme 286-316 (seen. 4). Bohme's view is that Mario's deed at the end, which remains unjustified by the struc- ture of the story, serves the primary purpose of resto- ring the autonomy and moral authority of a bourgeois narrator who is unable to act. Weiss compares the narrator to Zeitblom (99) in Doktor Famtus; he also points out the frequency with which the pronoun "we" occurs: "Der Erzahler spricht nicht nur fur sich als Einzelindividuum, sondern als Fadienvater, als Ver- antwortlicher fur die Keimzelle der Gemeinschaft" (100; see n. 3). See also A. F. Bance, "The Narrator in Mario und der Zauberel;" Modern Language Review 82 (April 1987): 382-98. Bance, like HeUer, is interested in the problem of the artist and political responsibility.

" Erich HeUer, "Thomas Mann's diaries and the search for identity," New Republic, 21 February 1983; rpt. in Heller, In the Age of Prose. Literaiy and Philosophical Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984) 149-62, here 156-57.

" See, e.g., VI: 467, 550-51, 579, and 586. In his Entstehung eines Romans (GW, XI: 145-301), Thomas Mann cites the first notes he made concerning the Faust project: "[Ich] machte den Drei-Zeilen-Plan des Dr. Faust vom Jahre 1901 ausfidig. Beriihrung mit der Tonio Kroger-Zeit, den Munchener Tagen, den nie ver- wirklichten Roman planen Die Geliebten und Maja. Kommt alte Lieb' und Freundschaft rnit herauf. Scham und Ruhrung beim Wiedersehen mit diesen Jugend- schmerzen . . ." (155). Mann was quoting from his own diary here (entry for 17 March 19431, but when one compares the two passages, one omission stands out. In his diary Mann had originally written: "Beriihrung mit der P. E.-und Tonio Kr.-Zeit." And in his diary Mann had further written: "Man kann die Liebe nicht starker erleben. SchlielJlich werde ich mir doch sagen konnen, dab ich alles ausgebadet habe. Das Kunststuck war, es kunstfahig zu machen . . ." (Tagebiicher 19401943, ed. Peter de Mendelssohn [Frankfurt a.M.: Fi- scher, 19821 551). The initials "P E." stand for Paul Ehrenberg, the friend during the Munich period whom Thomas Mann loved and who served at least in part as a model for the literary character Rudi Schwerdtfe- ger in Doktor Faustus. See also Ignace Feuerlicht, Thomas Mann und die Grenaen des Ich (Heidelberg: Winter, 1966) 149-51. Hans Wysling deals with Mann's early friendship with Ehrenberg in his article 'Aschenbachs Werke. Archivalische Untersuchungen an einem Tho- mas-Mann-Satz," Euphorion 59 (1965): 272-324.

" See Hans Wysling, "Archivalisches Gewiihle. Zur Ent- stehungsgeschichte der Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull," Thomas-Mann-Studien, I (Bern: Francke, 1967) 234-57; Wysling, "Thomas Manns Plane zur Fort- setzung des Krull," T-M-S,111: 149-61; Wysling, NarazJmus und illusionare Existenaform (T-M-S, V).

" David Luke, introduction, Death in Venice and Other Ston'es (New York: Bantam, 1988) vii-li. As another concrete example of Mann's experimental relation to one of his main characters, i.e., Tonio Kroger, Luke writes: "The 'experiment' of the story was to give 'Tonio Kroger' the problem he himself had experi- enced, namely the dilemma of how to be human without losing the ability to write well, and to make his alter ego solve this problem by recovering his ability to feel, in the course of a nostalgic return to the scenes of his youth" (XXX).

" Inasmuch as Thomas Mann Tote at some length about homoeroticism in his essay "Uber die Ehe" (X: 191-207), certain citations from that work are appropriate here. For example: "Die Homoerotik ist erotischer Astheti- zismus zu nennen. . . . [Das Prinzip der Schonheit] steht dem . . . Leben in stolzer Melancholic entgegen und ist im tiefsten mit der Idee des Todes und der Unfruchtbarkeit verbunden." "Wer leugnet, daO damit sittlich ihr Urteil gesprochen ist? Es ist kein Segen bei ihr [der Homoerotik], als der der Schonheit, und das ist ein Todessegen. Ihr fehlt der Segen der Natur und des Lebens . . ." (197). Thus Mann here rejected homoeroticism as condemned by both society and na- ture and, therefore, not just as a matter of social pro- hibition. Homoeroticism ends in "Gemeinheit und Elend"; heterosexual love, on the other hand, is seen as a categorical imperative, a "Lebensbefehl." (Com- pare the author's remarks on homosexuality here with the views he expresses in a letter dated 4 July 1920 to Carl Maria Weber a propos the content of Der Tod in Venedig Thomas Mann, Briefe 1889-1936, vol. 1 (Frankfurt a. M. : Fischer, 1962) 176-80.

Mann's remarks must be viewed in the light of his own changed social status as pater farmlias. His fami- ly is his "biirgerliche Befestigung," and he admits that he has deliberately sought the security of this fortress. But the writer also testifies in this essay to the profound struggle that the matter has caused hi, the urgency he has felt-especially at this point in his career and life- to decide against one part of himselj For although he expresses his deep distrust of homo- eroticism on account of its lawlessness, its lack of socialization, its inconstancy ("Untreue"), and its inabil- ity to ever be a "griindende Liebe" (202), the writer also marshals forth some rather compelling arguments against marriage-arguments toward which Mann ob- viously felt sympathetic. Mann's ambivalent feelings toward homoeroticism find expression in Joseph und seine Briider in Jacob's paradoxical "absprechende Lie- be"-the love he feels for Joseph, the most beautiful thing he has ever experienced, but a love that he cannot believe in.


In this letter, dated 16 August 1925, Thomas Mann wrote: "Den Ehe-Aufsatz fur Keyserling [Hermann Graf Keyserling] habe ich hinter mich gebracht, auf ganz anstandige Art, wie mir vorkommt. Es ist ein ziemlich umfangreiches Dokument geworden, hochmo- ralisch, und enthalt auch eine prinzipielle Auseinander- setzung mit der Homoerotik, ei, ei. Es hat Mielein [Katia Mann, his wife] sehr gefallen" (Thomas Mann, Briefe 1889-1936, ed. Erika Mann [Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 19621 247). E.g., Mann's remarks about Mario in his autobiographi- cal "On Myself," first given as a lecture at Princeton University in 1940. It is reprinted in Dichter uber ihre Dichtungen 370-71 (see n. 1).

'"ee especially Thomas Mann's letter to Bedrich FuCik, dated 15 April 1932, and rpt. in Dichter uber ihre Dich- tungen 370 (see n. 1).

" E.g., Dierks 173 (see n. 19). "' In a letter dated 7 September 1926 to Hugo von Hof- mannsthal, Thomas Mann summed up his unpleasant experiences in Forte dei Marmi: "Im Ganzen . . . kann ich nicht sagen, dafl dieser Besuch meine Achtung vor den Italienern gehoben hatte, trotz schoner physischer und intellektueller Gaben. Das eigentlich europaische Niveau halten eben doch Franzosen und Deutsche (wo- bei ich naturlich Osterreich einbegreife). England bleibt in gewisser Weise darunter, Italien in noch gewisserer. Habe ich Unrecht?" (Rpt. in Pornbacher 25; see n. 1). " Man J. McIntyre sees Mario as an Italian counterpart to Jappe in Thomas Mann's earlier story Wie JaMe und Do Escobar sichprugelten. See McIntyre, "From Trave- miinde to Torre di Venere" 26-31 (see n. 18). The reader of Mann's fiction may also recall that Rudi Schwerdtfeger in Doktor Faustus is described as a blue-eyed mediocrity ("[einel blauaugige Belanglosigkeit"

[VI: 5531).

." Weiss, fir example, writes: "Der ungliicklich liebende Mario steht Cipolla innerlich nah. Also kann er [Cipolla] ihn [Mario] erraten und mit ihm sympathisieren. Cipolla ist einsam wie Mario" (94; see n. 3). '.' See the entry dated 21 May 1945 in Mann's Tagebzicher.

'Wans Mayer, Thomas Mann. Werk und Entwicklung (Berlin: Volk und Welt, 1950) 183-93; rpt. in Pornbacher 53-58. "Unschwer sind durchlaufende Lebensmotive und Themen wiederzufinden. Im Kern behandelt Mario und der Zauberer abermals ein Thema des verwirrten seelische Haltung, alle BewuBtseinsklammern zer-Gefuhls. Der Konflikt zwischen Leib und Seele hat bricht, spiirt Thomas Mam immer wieder eine der niemals aufgehort, Thomas Mam zutiefst zu beschafti- heikelsten Situationen menschlicher Natur" (54; see gen. Wo der Korper seine eigenen Wege geht und ale n. 1).

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