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Doctor Faustus

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Thomas Mann wrote his last great novel, Doctor Faustus, during his exile from Nazi Germany. Although he already had a long string of masterpieces to his name, in retrospect this seems to be the novel he was born to write. A modern reworking of the Faust legend in which a twentieth-century composer sells his soul to the devil for the artistic power he craves, the story brilliantly interweaves music, philosophy, theology, and politics. Adrian Leverkühn is a talented young composer who is willing to go to any lengths to reach greater heights of achievement. What he gets is twenty-four years of genius—years of increasingly extraordinary musical innovation intertwined with progressive and destructive madness. A scathing allegory of Germany’s renunciation of its own humanity and its embrace of ambition and nihilism, Doctor Faustus is also a profound meditation on artistic genius. Obsessively exploring the evil into which his country had fallen, Mann succeeds as only he could have in charting the dimensions of that evil; his novel has both the pertinence of history and the universality of myth. Translated from the German by H. T. Lowe-Porter

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