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THEODOR ADORNO: THOMAS MANN’S CONSULTANT OR CO-WORKER?

E. Selesneva, D. Tavberidze, E. Kartseva
Friday 9 November 2018 by Libadmin2018

ABSTRACT

This article considers the influence of Theodor Adorno’s cultural and philosophical ideas on the concept of creativity of a fictional composer Adrian Leverkühn, presented in the novel “Doctor Faustus” by Thomas Mann.
Based on the comparative analysis of the text of the novel “Doctor Faustus” and Adorno’s philosophical treatise “Philosophy of New Music”, as well as the reference to the history of the creation of the novel reflected in Th.Mann’s diaries, in the author’s commentary on the novel “Die Entstehung des Doktor Faustus. Roman eines Romans” (The Story of a Novel: the Genesis of Doctor Faustus) and in the correspondence between Mann and Adorno, there is a question of how important was the influence of Adorno’s ideas both on the creation of the novel chapters directly devoted to music and on the implementation of the general idea of the work: to present the fate of modern art in relation to the German catastrophe through the example of the fate of a German composer.
The acquaintance with Adorno’s work helps Th.Mann solve a number of problems related to the creation of the novel about a musician: to authentically show the creative becoming of the composer born in 1885, i.e. a contemporary of the new Viennese (representatives of the Second Viennese School); to technically accurately represent the innovative technique of musical writing; to authentically describe Leverkühn’s fictional musical works.
Adorno’s criticism of the artwork and postulated canon of prohibitions of overused artistic devices suggest either the complete abandonment of creativity or the transformation of creativity into the creation of parodies. Another possibility is the break-through to a new art, which probably will no longer be art in the traditional sense. Showing the creative becoming of his hero-composer, Thomas Mann consistently demonstrates all three possibilities. The description of the method called “the strict style”, which actually belongs to A. Schönberg (twelve-tone technique), is completely borrowed by Th.Mann from Adorno’s work.
Thomas Mann creates an image of a composer whose creativity is in absolute accordance with the logic of development of European musical history. Descriptions of his fictional works are characterized by impeccable professional accuracy. At the same time, Adrian Leverkühn, whose creativity and destiny were intended to become the personification of German history from Luther to the National Socialists, becomes a representative of European culture to a greater extent, which weakens the symbolic parallel of his destiny and the destiny of Germany and shows the possibility of overcoming the crisis of culture without the need for a Faustian deal with the devil.

Keywords: philosophy of music; musical aesthetics; music and literature; German literature of the 20th century; twelve-tone technique; composers.


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