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Looks like it's finally turning spring... Temperatures are rising, the last snow melted in the yard today, the Schneeglöckchen are out.

Had to drive out & check on the horse because Ch. is sick (again), feeling extremely irritated, but it turned out rather nice, I even got to ride; followed by family lunch, exasperating as usual, no surprises there.


Otherwise, continuing to read Th. Mann's diaries & enjoying it...

It must be about ten years ago now, I borrowed from the British Council library a volume of Virginia Woolf's diaries (or letters, can't quite remember which), and was suddenly struck with an acute sense of guilt at the voyeurism of reading something that was never meant for me to read. I vowed (sort of) never to do it again and one way or another actually kept the promise, though that might have been at least partly due to the fact that no author since sufficiently tempted me to want a direct glimpse into his/her life.

For whatever reason, reading Mann's diaries doesn't feel like such a breach of privacy. Either my attitude has changed, or the style and brevity make the reader feel less like a voyeur (was he aware that they might/would be published after his death? did he care?), or again, because his novels are in many ways much more intimate than the accounts of daily comings and goings, dinner parties, letters or problems with household staff.

What I found interesting in reading about the process of creation of 'Doktor Faustus' is how the relationship between Adrian and Rudi was consciously made more vague, all (comparatively) explicit mention of homosexuality erased. (Möglichkeit des geheimnisvollen Verschleierns [10.9.46], Knappe Kondensierung, Disretisierung der Äußerungen über Adrian-Rudi [21.12.46])

Geheimnisvolles Verschleiern, indeed. Across the cultural and linguistic barrier of fifty years and dealing with a character so emotionally distant as Adrian, who barely even has friends, for the greatest part of the novel (until Adrian's ... daß ich [...] lieben dürfte in Fleisch und Blut, was nicht weiblich war... ) I never was altogether sure how this was meant to be read, as friendship tinged with mostly sublimated sexual elements or outright sexual attraction/seduction. Maybe it doesn't matter at all and it's a misguided tendency of this day and age wanting to compartmentalise everything and slap a label on it, but it's interesting that where in the manuscript 'love' and 'sensuality' are presented as an unity there is only 'love' in the novel.

I think the cut makes sense, though - the reasons aren't given in the diary (and may be artistic, first and foremost) but the manuscript-text in question reads very much like a justification and I could see how he might have wanted to avoid the impression that there was a need for justification, especially with a first person narrator. Adrian's sense of guilt and subconscious destruction of the one person he dared love are ambivalent enough. (Just a thought, though, I may be wrong. Probably am.)

The way Mann tends to treat (read: kill off) his gay characters always bring to mind what his contemporary, E.M.Forster, another of my favourite authors, though dating back to an earlier period of my life, wrote in respect to his (unpublished until after his death) novel Maurice:

A happy ending was imperative. I shouldn't have bothered to write otherwise. I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, and in this sense Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood. I dedicated it 'To a Happier Year' and not altogether vainly. Happiness is its keynote - which by the way has had an unexpected result: it has made the book more difficult to publish. (...) If it ended unhappily, with a lad dangling from a noose or with a suicide pact, all would be well, for there is no pornography or seduction of minors. But the lovers get away unpunished and consequently recommend crime.

It's maybe not the best novel ever, but I think one can't but admire the attitude, especially in the light of the fact that his love for personal honesty ultimately ruined his career as a writer. ("I should have been a more famous writer if I had written or published more, but sex has prevented the latter")


solitary summer

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