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Born Mar. 27, 1871, in Liibeck; died Mar. 12, 1950, in Santa Monica, Calif. German writer and public figure. Brother of T. Mann.
Mann was born into an old burgher family. He studied at the University of Berlin. During the Weimar period he was a member (from 1926) and later, the chairman of the literary department of the Prussian Academy of Arts. He emigrated to France, where he lived from 1933 to 1940. In 1936, Mann became chairman of the Committee of the German National Front, which had been established in Paris. He moved to the USA (Los Angeles) in 1940.
Mann’s early works show traces of the contradictory influence of the classical tradition in German and French literature and of modernist, fin de siècle currents. Mann saw the problem of art and the artist through the prism of social contrasts and the contradictions of modern society. In the novel In the Land of Cockaigne (1900), a collective image of the bourgeois world is painted in satiric, grotesque tones. Mann’s predilection for individualism and decadence was revealed in the trilogy The Goddesses (1903). In his later novels the principle of realism grew stronger. The novel The Blue Angel (Professor Unrath, 1905) is an expose of the Prussian drilling that pervaded the educational system and the legal order of Wilhelmian Germany. Written in a spirit of light irony and tragicomic buffoonery, the novel The Little Town (1909) portrays the inhabitants of a small Italian town.
In the second decade of the 20th century, Mann developed as an essayist and literary critic (the articles “Spirit and Action” and “Voltaire and Goethe,” both written in 1910, and the pamphlet Reichstag, 1911, as well as the essay “Zola,” 1915). One month before the outbreak of World War I, he completed one of his most important works, the novel The Patrioteer (1914; Russian translation from the manuscript, 1915; first German edition, 1918). It gives a profoundly realistic and, at the same time, grotesque symbolic portrayal of the mores of the Kaiser’s empire. The main character, Diedrich Helsing, a bourgeois businessman and rabid chauvinist, has many of the characteristics of a Hitlerite. The Patrioteer, the first novel in the trilogy Empire, was followed by The Poor (1917) and The Head (1925), which summarizes an entire historical period in the life of different strata of German society on the eve of the war. Although these and the other novels written by Mann before the 1930’s are inferior to The Patrioteer in realistic clarity and profundity, they are outstanding for their harsh criticism of the predatory essence of capitalism. The same train of thought was developed in Mann’s essays of the 1920’s and early 1930’s.
Disappointed by the failure of the bourgeois republic to change society in the spirit of true democracy, Mann gradually came to understand the historical role of socialism. Through his work as an emigre in the antifascist struggle, he drew close to leaders of the Communist Party of Germany. He adhered to a position of militant humanism and arrived at a new consciousness of the historical role of the proletariat (the article “The Path of German Workers”). The collections of articles Hatred (1933), The Day Will Come (1936), and Bravery (1939) were directed against Hitlerism. During this period he created his two works on Henry IV: Young Henry of Navarre (1935) and Henry, King of France (1938), which marked the height of his later artistic career. Both works were set in Renaissance France. The protagonist, Henry IV, “the humanist on horseback with sword in hand,” is revealed to be the bearer of historical progress. In the novel there are many direct parallels with the modern age.
Mann’s later books and the novels Lidice (1943), Breath (1949), A Reception in Society (published 1956), and The Sad Story of Frederick the Great (fragments published in the German Democratic Republic [GDR] from 1958 to 1960) are distinguished for their sharp social criticism, as well as for a very complex literary style. The culmination of Mann’s career as an essayist was the book Survey of the Century (1946), which combined the genres of the memoir, the political chronicle, and the autobiography. The work, which is a critical appraisal of the times, is dominated by the idea of the decisive influence of the USSR on world events.
In the postwar period Mann maintained close ties with the GDR and was elected the first president of the German Academy of Arts in Berlin. He died before he could move to the GDR. Mann was awarded the National Prize of the GDR in 1949.
WORKSGesammehe Werke, vols. 1-4, 6, 7, 10-12, 14-15. Berlin-Weimar, 1965-72.
Empfang bei der Welt. Berlin-Weimar, 1967.
Der A tern. Berlin-Weimar, 1970.
Verteidigung der Kultur … . Berlin-Weimar, 1971.
In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1-9. Moscow, 1909-12.
Soch., vols. 1-8. [Introductory article by I. Mirimskii.] Moscow, 1957-58.
REFERENCESFriche, V. “Satira na germanskii militarizm.” In Germanskii imperializm v literature. Moscow, 1916.
Anisimov, I. “Genrikh Mann.” In his book Mastera kul’tury, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Serebrov, N. N. Genrikh Mann: Ocherk tvorcheskogo puti. Moscow, 1964.
Znamenskaia, G. Genrikh Mann. Moscow, 1971.
Pieck, W. “Ein unermüdlicher Kämpfer für den Fortschritt.” Neues Deutschland. Berlin, 1950, Mar. 15, no. 63.
Abusch, A. “Über Heinrich Mann.” Literatur im Zeitalter des Sozialismus. Berlin-Weimar, 1967.
Heinrich Mann 1871-1950, Werk und Leben in Dokumenten und Bildem. Berlin-Weimar, 1971.
Herden, W. Geist und Macht: Heinrich Manns Weg an die Seite der Arbeiterklasse. Berlin-Weimar, 1971.
Zenker, E. Heinrich Mann—Bibliographic: Werke. Berlin-Weimar, 1967.
N. N. SEREBROV