CONTEXT

March 27, 2012

Brotherhood of Mann

Thomas Mann’s big brother Heinrich, born on this date in 1871, never achieved anything like his brother’s literary fame but in his own way made a highly significant contribution to the culture of the 20th century, if not the art.

Mann the Elder was an unflinching critic of German mores – his best known work is Der Untertan (The Subject) in which the protagonist, who bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Kaiser Wilhelm, is exposed as a hypocrite, philanderer, cheat, liar, coward and all-round loser.

Heinrich was declared persona non grata – officially – by the Nazis; he fled to France, then in 1940 to Spain, Portugal and finally the US. His brother, who had gone to Switzerland, accepted a post at Princeton and arrived in 1939. Both the Manns wound up on the West Coast during WWII – Thomas lived in Pacific Palisades, while Heinrich was down the road in Santa Monica, still his home when he died in 1950.

Heinrich Mann’s most famous work – at least outside Germany – is a little tale called Professor Unrat. It was made into a film by Josef von Sternberg, who ignored Mann’s plea that his girl friend at the time be allowed to star in it.  Von Sternberg chose an unknown fraulein named Marlene Dietrich and called the movie The Blue Angel.

Both Manns are represented in a fabulous 40-foot sculpture in Berlin that celebrates the invention of the printing press.

* * *
This is also the anniversary of the Mariner 7 probe of Mars that was launched in 1969.  Mariners 6 and 7 went walkabout eventually and are now orbiting the sun. The continuing compulsion to snoop around Mars is baffling, but it’s a good excuse to post another fabulous NASA photo, this one from the International Space Station of the US sideways.  Big light clusters from right to left are NYC, Philly and Pittsburgh.

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2 Comments »

  1. Very good thank you.

    Comment by avery zia — March 27, 2012 @ 4:12 pm | Reply


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