Klaus Mann, the second child of Thomas Mann, was born in Munich in 1906. He began writing short stories and articles in 1924, and within a year was a theatrical critic for a Berlin newspaper. In 1925 both a volume of short stories and his first novel, THE PIOUS DANCE, were published. His sister, Erika, to whom he was very close, was in the cast of his first play, ANJA AND ESTHER. Mann left Germany in 1933 and lived in Amsterdam until 1936, during which time he became a Czechoslovakian citizen, having been deprived of his German citizenship by the Nazis. He moved to America in 1936, living in Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City. He became a U.S. citizen in 1943. He died at the age of forty-two in Cannes, France. Robin Smyth was a European correspondent for the London Observer.
The translation of this work was supported by a grant from the Goethe-Institut.
Klaus Mann – Thomas Mann’s son – wrote MEPHISTO while living in exile from the Germany of World War II. In it he captures the Isherwood-like atmosphere of Nazi Germany while telling a satiric story about the rise to power of one man – a thinly veiled caricature of his own brother-in-law. The man is Hendrik Hofgen, a character actor who in his own life plays a bizarre part in the elite circle of the Third Reich. Hofgen is publicly a revolutionary, but secretly he is a man driven by an obsessive need for power and fame. Although he benefits from the prestige of being married to the daughter of an eminent politician, he endangers his rise in Nazi society by his compulsive involvement with ‘a black Venus.’ His brilliant success as Mephisto in FAUST brings him the support of the Führer’s prime minister, who appoints him head of the State Theater. His dreams are finally realized, but the story ends on a note of despair as Hofgen is forced to confront the emptiness of his life. Mann weaves his tale with amazing skill. The result is a fascinating novel of decadence and evil.