film literature

mann book films

Another book I read recently is Donald Prater’s biography of Thomas Mann. It’s a good way of finding out about the man, but I would not rate it very highly in terms of classic biographies. On consideration I’m not sure what you would class as classic biographies. Vasari’s Lives of the Artists? Well I’ve never read it so couldn’t possibly say, but maybe George D Painter’s masterly Marcel Proust life or even Ross Russell’s Bird Lives in many ways flawed but still marvellously conjuring up the feel of what it was to be alive in those days.

It amused me slightly to produce this list of some of Mann’s novels that were turned into films.


There are at least 3 film versions of this novel.

Tonio Kroger

Royal Highness

The Confessions of Felix Krull

Mario The Magician

The Magic Mountain

  • The 1982 version
  • Alexander Korda’s brother, Zoltan was supposed to make a version sometime I think in the 50s or 60s, but it never happened

Lotte In Weimar

  • The 1974 film by Egon Günther

Finally I suspect that you don’t have time to watch a whole film right now, but if you do here is Death In Venice Luchino Visconti‘s masterpiece from 1971. To tell you the truth I haven’t seen any of the other films mentioned above, but even so I’m confident that none of them come anywhere near this one. If you don’t have time to watch the whole film then at least I would humbly submit that it is worth watching the beautiful opening sequence after the credits from 2:30 to 6:00 approximately.

angels film literature quotations


I recently finished reading Memoirs of a Revolutionist by Peter Kropotkin – a superb book (especially first two thirds) which I heartily recommend. Kropotkin himself comes over as a man of genius but there are many other characters that appear in the narrative who were obviously extraordinary people and deserve to be more than historical footnotes.

One of the most striking is Sofiya Peróvskaya, who was hanged in 1881 for her part in the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. In Kropotkin’s words

The letter she wrote to her mother a few hours before she went to the scaffold is one of the best expressions of a loving soul that a woman’s heart ever dictated.

Here is a translation of the letter that I managed to find on the internet.

Mother, mother! Beloved, beloved one! If you only knew how cruelly I suffer at the thought of the sorrow and torture I have caused you, dearest! I beg and beseech you not to rack your tender heart for my sake. Spare yourself and think of all those who are round you at home, and who love you no less than I do, and need you constantly; and who, more than I, are entitled to your love and affection. Spare yourself too, for the sake of me, who would be so happy if only the agonising thought of the sorrow I have caused you did not torture me so unspeakably. Sorrow not over my fate which I created for myself, as you know, at the strict behest of my conscience. You know that I could not have acted differently, that I was obliged to do what my heart ordered, that I had to go and leave you, beloved mother, when my country called me. Do not think that the death that inevitably awaits me has any terror for my soul. That which has happened is only, you know, what I have been expecting every day, every hour, during all those years, and what sooner or later, must overtake me and my friends. Soon in the course of a few days I must die for the cause, for the idea, for which I devoted my life and all the powers of my soul and body. How happy I should be then, dearest, beloved! Once more I beseech you not to mourn for me. You are well aware how ineffably I love you. I have always, always loved you. By this love I conjure you to forgive your Sonya! Again and again I kiss your beloved hands, and on my knees, thank you for all you have given me during every moment of my life. On my knees I beseech you to bear to all the dear ones at home my last loving greetings! Tomorrow I shall stand once more in the presence of my judges; probably for the last time. But my clothes are so shabby and I wanted to tidy myself up a bit. Buy and send me, dearest mama, a little white collar and a pair of simple loose sleeves with links. Perhaps it will be vouchsafed us once again to meet. Until then, farewell! Do not forget my last fervent prayer, my last thought: forgive me and do not bewail me.

A 1967 Russian film directed by Lev Arnshtam dramatised her life. Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the score. If you’d like to watch it, here it is. No subtitles though.

literature micromuseum sea

micromuseum 7

The story of John Lane and his starting of a publishing dynasty, which is in my opinion one of the great monuments of the last 100 years in the history of the country which has the difficulty of being prone to doubt about what it should be called by natives such as I and is the one I pertain to, is an interesting one. The creation of Bodley Head publishing company by someone who came from a Devon farming family and had been a low-paid railway clerk before he penetrated the world of books is enough in itself but the fact that his sister’s son, Allen, took over from his uncle and then went on to found Penguin deepens the significance.

I look forward to a future history which will discern that rulers and governments hardly matter at all. They try to take control of a system which is like a racing steed, bucking furiously in a constant attempt to throw them out of the saddle. Instead it is men like John and Allen Lane whose lives and cultural achievements are far more important in the development of human life/society.

The images from this book, Stars and Primroses constitute this micromuseum instance. Published by Bodley Head in 1945, my edition is from the 1947 reprint. The first reprint and possibly the only one. It was made and printed in Holland by L Van Leer & Co. By this time John Lane was long dead and Allen had left to start Penguin in 1935. But this is still a classic of children’s poetry anthology compilations.

It’s by M C Green who chose the poems (presumably) and certainly lettered and illuminated them. My parents’ first child, my brother, was born in 1948 so they probably didn’t buy this book until at least that year, quite possibly later. The book today would be classified in an over 8 age group category at least, but back then there weren’t the equivalent of baby books we have today, which are designed to handle violent laying of hands on and to provide simple concepts. These were books designed for the tastes of the parent rather than the child. For the child sometimes the tacky is as formative as the sublime.

This book is a little battered and the covers have been attached by sellotape which has now stiffened and dried out, in fact I’ve removed it and have a front cover, a rear one, and the stitched together 62-odd pages as 3 separate items. I am reluctant to apply new sellotape. Maybe a solution will arise some day. Luckily the other M C Green volume I have which is called Magic Lanterns is in better nick. It is dated 1949. I make no assumptions based on these facts. I am one of those people who have never mistreated books, though in my late teens I went through a period of writing things in the margin of books, usually ones that I was studying at school and had to write essays on. But always in pencil, thankfully. Generally I think that people who underline passages in library books are 1 step away from doing away with small animals for kicks and then the next thing you know they’re serial killers.