Thomas Mann

BRIEF REVIEWS

byRonald Hayman.Scribner, 512 pages, $35.00.
The papers that the novelist ordered sealed until twenty years after his death have become available to Mr. Hayman for this biography, which is the kind commonly referred to as monumental. Monuments are normally large and impressive, but they are not lively. The term is appropriate, for vivacity is not among Mr. Hayman’s skills and probably not among his intentions. He has included every discoverable fact of Mann’s life, whether meaningful or not. The principal revelation of those sealed papers is that until he married. in his late twenties. Mann had only homosexual loves, and all his life he was intensely attracted to handsome young men—although his determination to appear, as well as to be, a great writer, and eventually a moral force for the preservation of what he considered truly German ideals, seems to have deterred him from acting on such attractions. A full account of an artist’s life must always be considered valuable, but it does not necessarily alter the merit or meaning of his work, much less explain his ability to do that work. Admirers of Mann’s fiction will find no reason in this extremely detailed biography to shift their ground.