What did Thomas Mann associate with Aldous Huxley?

aWhen Thomas Mann moved to the Pacific Palisades in April 1941, he was barely a hundred meters from Aldous Huxley. The German exile rented a house with his family at 740 Amalfi Drive, and the British writer had lived with his wife diagonally across the street at No. 701 since April 1939. However, the closeness of the authors was more of a purely geographical nature: shortly before Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature In 1929 Huxley’s Counterpoint of Life was published, a major work not only of his but of the entire psychological novel genre, of which Thomas Mann also felt a part. In chapter 22, there is a passage that must have piqued the German’s interest, a quote from the fictional notes of writer Philip Quarl, Huxley’s alter literary ego in Counterpoint of Life: “The musicalization of imagination. Not in a symbolic way, in the sense of a subordination to the sound. . . But it is widely used in construction. Think of Beethoven. Mood changes, sudden shifts.” This indeed contained some program of the combination of music and literature that Thomas Mann would have given form to a novel from 1943 with the writing of “Doctor Faustus.” Several interpreters have seen the English answer to “The Magic Mountain” in Contrapoint of Live”.

Huxley was a guest on Man

No wonder Mann was interested in Huxley. He first met him in 1933 in Sanary-sur-Mer, France, where Huxley had lived since 1929 and wrote Brave New World. Mann moved there after Hitler came to power, and Huxley was his guest when he read the master of the house from the second part of his novel Joseph, which was in progress at the time. The two kept in touch even after Huxley moved to Los Angeles in 1937. Coincidentally, Thomas Mann also went on an American lecture tour about the steamer Normandy, which took him and his family to the United States. In 1938, Mann followed Huxley into American exile and in 1941 even into the neighborhood.

Thomas Man


Thomas Man
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Photo: Interphoto

Since then, both families have maintained close ties. In Thomas Mann’s diary, there are regular entries about Huxleys’ visits for dinner and especially for tea (the host’s British origins were a commitment!) as well as invitations to return from the Manns. They met again and again while walking the streets of the nearby hill where Manes’ future home was being built high on San Remo Drive, or on the beach in Santa Monica. Huxley had just published “Grey Eminence”: a study of a 17th-century Capuchin monk who acted as a close advisor to Cardinal Richelieu under the name Père Joseph—a fascinating analogy between Thomas Mann to his literary work, Joseph’s Quartet. On New Year’s Day 1942, the Manns brought flowers to their neighbours, but a few weeks later, in February, both families departed the Amalfi Road in quick succession: Huxleys to a desert house in Llano del Rio, about seventy miles away, the Mans family for Their new home is on San Remo Drive. They relied on the Huxleys’ recommendations for hiring home help, taking in their old employees.

This ended the physical affinity of two of the most famous writers of the twentieth century, but not Mann’s curiosity about Huxley’s books. After “Brave New World” was published in German in 1950 for the first time since 1932, Mann followed with interest its reception in his former home, freed from totalitarianism, as well as the vitriolic criticism of Huxley’s book by Theodore W. Adorno, which the author had given him months earlier, had been leaked as a manuscript.

Thomas Mann’s sympathy for Adorno’s view, documented in the diaries, now revealed a fundamental divergence movement on Huxley’s part: in July 1950, he still felt he belonged to him literaryly and Huxley set up alongside Joyce and Proust “bourgeois and “formalist” relatives” “However, Huxley’s last personal word was harsh. It was in 1954, a year before Thomas Mann died and after his return from America to Switzerland. Upon reading The Doors of Perception, Huxley’s accounts of his dealings with psychedelic drugs, Mann noted in his diary: A preoccupation with Huxley’s glorification of Mescaline. You don’t like her and you don’t like him. He will not accept any intoxicant but tea for the bourgeoisie.

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