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Allan Massie

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Vagabond Voices

Published : 2014

Copyright : Allan Massie 2010

ISBN-10 : PB 1-908251-28-X
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-908251-28-2

Publisher's Write-Up

Klaus is a novella that recounts the last days of Klaus Mann's life, while referring back to the trials of the Mann family (Klaus being Thomas Mann's son) and Klaus's own autobiographical novel, Mephisto, one of his better known works partly because it was banned in West Germany for decades. This unlocks his relationship with both his father and his former lover, Gustaf, who was a communist before collaborating with the Nazi regime and becoming one of its most celebrated actors. On his return to Germany after the war, Klaus was outraged to see that Gustaf had now switched seamlessly to the post-war regime, and was once more the darling of the theatre world. Klaus, who had been isolated as both a homosexual and an anti-fascist, felt that Germans or rather those Germans in prominent positions were refusing to acknowledge their culpability. His isolation was now complete.

About the Author:
Allan Massie, one of Scotland's foremost literary figures, was born in Singapore in 1938, grew up in Aberdeenshire and read history at Cambridge. He has published 23 works of fiction and nine of non-fiction, which include a string of highly successful historical novels. Perhaps his most masterly works are those set in contemporary society, which confront a wide range of difficult moral problems: The Death of Men, A Question of Loyalties (winner of the 1989 Saltire Society Book of the Year Award), Shadows of Empire, Surviving and, of course, The Sins of the Father. He is also one of Scotland's most respected political commentators and a prolific journalist whose book reviews always reflect his deep understanding of the art of writing.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Emma Irwin (300917) Rating (8/10)

Review by Emma Irwin
Rating 8/10
IAllan Massie’s novella Klaus portrays a tale of identity and struggle in a Europe ravaged by war. It follows the tortured writer Klaus in his final months, as he strives to escape the shadow of his father, the philosopher Thomas Mann. The novella imagines Klaus’ varied experiences, from the bizarre recollection of meeting Hitler in a tea room, to his present listless wandering from café to bar in search of young men with whom to bury his loneliness. However, just as his life seems to lack purpose and spirit, so do the characters in his book – which starts to flounder for lack of inspiration.

Meanwhile, to Klaus’ disgust, those who had served the Nazis still enjoy fame and success in an all-too-forgiving society. Massie excellently conveys the despair that Klaus feels in returning as a stranger to Germany from his forced exile during the war – to find that his homeland has moved on too soon, while he is still haunted by memories of those affected by the “Brown Plague”. Whiskey and heroin are shown to be Klaus’ self-destructive escape from his tormented mind and his stagnated manuscript, as well as his bittersweet recollection of past affairs in a time of fascism and bigotry. Massie’s novella is sometimes cynical, and often thoughtful, drawing the reader in to sympathise with Klaus’ struggle while we appreciate the vividly imagined setting of post-war Europe.
Emma Irwin (30th September 2017)

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