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Mephisto (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) [Paperback]

Klaus Mann , Robin Smyth
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Dec 1995 Penguin Twentieth Century Classics
A searing indictment of evil in Hitler's Germany. Hendrik Hofgen is a man obsessed with becoming a famous actor. When the Nazis come to power in Germany, he willingly renounces his Communist past and deserts his wife and mistress in order to keep on performing. His diabolical performance as Mephistopheles in Faust proves to be the stepping-stone he yearned for: attracting the attention of Hermann Göring, it wins Hofgen an appointment as head of the State Theatre. The rewards - the respect of the public, a castle - like villa, a uplace in Berlin's highest circles - are beyond his wildest dreams. But the moral consequences of his betrayals begin to haunt him, turning his dreamworld into a nightmare.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (7 Dec 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140189181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140189186
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.9 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 138,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

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 his 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. He also acted a continued to write prolifically. Klaus 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. Moving to the United States in 1936, he lived in Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City. He became a U.S. citizen in 1943. He died in 1949, at the age of forty-two, in Cannes, France.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The last year of the world war and the year immediately following the November revolution in Russia were a great period for the avant-garde theater in Germany, despite the country's severe economic difficulties. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 18 Dec 2005
This is an entirely satisfying novel and an excellent translation (in terms of readability - I don't know how accurate it is). Written in 1937 it gives a view of the rise of the Nazis before the subsequent Nazi mythology grew after the war.
It is a savage and enraged portrait of Mann's brother-in-law which resulted in a long libel trial and the book being banned in Germany. Despite this, Mann's insight into the motives of his character is not entirely unsympathetic and he never loses sight of the moral complexities involved in living through this period of history.
It also draws a vivid picture of the Theatre in pre-war Germany peopled with wonderful characters, and a chilling one of the Nazis themselves.
The faust story is one of the greatest and here it is about the real moral choices which allowed the Nazi holocaust. Here is an answer to 'how could it happen?'
It's also easy to read, funny and not too long - what more could you ask from a novel?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracked actor 10 Mar 2013
By Secret Spi TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Mephisto" is a masterpiece. I saw the film years ago while at university but have only read the book recently and I'm kicking myself for not having read it before.

It's the story of how the actor Heinz-turned-Hendrick Höfgen "insinuates his way into the lion's den" of the top Nazis in 1930s Germany, based on the real-life story of Klaus Mann's actor brother-in-law, Hermann Göring and his second (actress) wife. It's brilliantly written, with a superbly grotesque cast of characters, in turns bitingly funny and devastatingly poignant.

As well as throwing light on how people from all walks of life were attracted to the Nazi ideology, the tale explores the broader theme of artists "selling out" - if not their souls, then certainly their integrity.

I'm almost tempted to try reading the novel in the original German, too.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mas 31 May 2009
By Masoud Rasouli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this book is a great read. i really loved the way the mephisto mythical story was told through the eyes of the protaganist. i also really enjoyed how the ruling party at the time was referred to as the devil. a very progressive story for its time.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Murderer's Fool 28 July 2000
By C. Mann - Published on Amazon.com
An absolutely fascinating book. The actor Hendrik Höfgen becomes the symbol of the "untrue, unreal regime" by selling all his higher ideals to the mith of fame, subsquently loosing himself in the process. Many things are extraordinary about this book: - Klaus Man wrote the book in 1936, never the less in reading it I felt he new exactly what was going to happen in Germany (and Europe) and the bitter end it would take. - The way the stage figure Höfgen parallels the political development of Germany. (In one scene he is attemting to figure out how he will play Hamlet and quarrels with the vision of the Dane. Mephisto-Höfgen is not able to grasp the role, for he has not suffered for his ideals, he cannot understand a Hamlet. He no longer can think that way.) - ... It is in deed hard to describe this book... But I find it a must for everyone interested in theatre and how "free" art can be. May be. Should be. Could be.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mephisto 1 Oct 2012
By hephzibah - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am reading the book right now. It is required for my literature class. It appears to be appropriate holocaust literature.
11 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mephisto,THE BEST 7 Mar 2001
By "fr0sh" - Published on Amazon.com
this book is one of the best books that a ever read,Klaus mann create a very good atmosfere,and very well,cuz he was inspired by real people or friends and than create those personages,VERY very very well made book and for sure,very sadly..
Why Sadly? the book just relates NAZY GERMAN at all,doesn't realate the NEW GERMANY.I know the book was wrote at this date but klaus mann doesn't use nothing to relate some imaginere future of GERMANY..just the presente and the presente...
Why I GIVE 5 STARS for a Germany strange and deep complexo book?? VERY SIMPLE,The sarcasm that klaus mann use is so funny and even so real that make me laugh at times,the personages are very well made,The nazy party are well related(NOT AT ALL)..
Conclusion: AVOID THIS one if you don't like GERMANY or World histoy or hate actors feelings or book...But if you want a book that show really how the germany was in 1936 to 1940,with excelent characters,complex and Very deep history,so this book is for you,and i'm sure that you won't be disappointed
PS: my english is very poor now,i will incrise
6 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very sad book, more for the author than for its characters 28 Feb 2001
By M. Livshutz - Published on Amazon.com
This book is very good as a people study. It has interesting characters whose personalities are well-described. Most of the characters are based on true family, friends and acquaintances of Klaus Mann, and he draws them very well. He vividly presents the personalities and the atmosphere of artistic life in late Weimar Republic.
However, this is supposed to be a political novel at heart, and here Mann comes across as hopelessly naive and self-indulgent. He is obviously not familiar with politics or economics of Germany. I think this was because he grew up in a overprotective artistic and intellectual atmosphere which stunted his independent development. This cluelessness results in a helpless and angry attitude of the author and of the book. I was saddened to find out that Klaus Mann committed suicide in 1946 because he was just too overwhelmed by the catastrophy that befell his Germany. It's unfortunate, because he missed the greatest period of German rebirth that started in 1948 and continues even today.
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