Cursed Legacy The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann Frederic Spotts

Publication date:
29 Feb 2016
Yale University Press
352 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Buy this eBook

You can purchase this title from a number of online retailers:

Son of the famous Thomas Mann, homosexual, drug-addicted, and forced to flee from his fatherland, the gifted writer Klaus Mann’s comparatively short life was as artistically productive as it was devastatingly dislocated. Best-known today as the author of Mephisto, the literary enfant terrible of the Weimar era produced seven novels, a dozen plays, four biographies, and three autobiographies—among them the first works in Germany to tackle gay issues—amidst a prodigious artistic output. He was among the first to take up his pen against the Nazis, as a reward for which he was blacklisted and denounced as a dangerous half-Jew, his books burnt in public squares around Germany, and his citizenship revoked. Having served with the U.S. military in Italy, he was nevertheless undone by anti-Communist fanatics in Cold War-era America and Germany, dying in France (though not, as all other books contend, by his own hand) at age forty-two. 

Powerful, revealing, and compulsively readable, this first English-language biography of Klaus Mann charts the effects of reactionary politics on art and literature and tells the moving story of a supreme talent destroyed by personal circumstance and the seismic events of the twentieth century.

Frederic Spotts is an independent scholar who has written widely on cultural topics and on German and Italian politics. He is the author of Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, among other books, and is the editor of the letters of Leonard Woolf. He lives in France.

“This absorbing biography draws a three-dimensional picture of the life of Klaus Mann, novelist, playwright, essayist, gay rights advocate, and seemingly the unluckiest man of letters in the years around WWII.”—Publishers Weekly

“Spotts writes with humor and style, and a great admiration for his subject, which makes this biography valuable for literary historians but also quite accessible to the general reader.”—Jewish Book Council

“Like all the finest biographers, Spotts brings history to life. He enables the reader to grasp the deep anxieties experienced by someone whose political convictions threatened his professional livelihood. . . .  Above all he tells the heart-breaking story of an intellectual who stood up for his beliefs in dark times and paid a highly personal price for his politics.”—Anna Katharina Schaffner, TLS

Finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards in the Gay Memoir/Biography category.