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Posted July 18, 2006
My Favorite Translation Of This Work
This translation, by H. T. Lowe-Porter, was done during Mann's lifetime. He and Mrs. Lowe-Porter knew one another and he was aware of her method of translation. I find her rendition to be more in the spirit of Thomas Mann than later ones, if only because it is through her translations that I became aware of his work. If you compare her lines to those of other translators, she seems more intellectual, or, if you will, academic, and Mann was nothing if not an academic writer. It's a shame this translation is being shunted away into history. In a sense, she was his collaborator. This novel is a bit like MOBY-DICK in that there are several chapters of narrative and then several chapters of technical description. In the case of MOBY-DICK, the technical descriptions are of whale biology and in the case of DOCTOR FAUSTUS, the technical descriptions are of music. I learned an incredible amount about music history, theory and practice from this stunning epic. It is also a tragic story. Anybody with a serious interest in the mid-20th-century crisis in Europe should read this novel.
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