Sibling Revelry

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In the Shadow of the Magic MountainIn the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: 
The Erika and Klaus Mann Story

by Andrea Weiss
Univ. of Chicago.  272 pages, $27.50

 

THE TWO oldest children of Thomas Mann, both born in the earliest years of the 20th century, were possessed of enormous intellect, charm, and charisma. They were openly gay in the case of Klaus, bisexual in the case of Erika; and they were decades ahead of their time. Although they began to drift apart in their early thirties, their lives had been deeply intertwined in ways that are apparent even to casual observers of photographs in their earlier years. Andrea Weiss, author of Paris Was a Woman (1995) and professor at CCNY, has done a tremendous amount of research using original resources in Munich, where the Manns were born and grew up, interviewing relatives, lovers, and friends, many of whom were able to enumerate instances of the siblings’ emotional, if not physical, incestuousness.

Mann
Klaus and Erika Mann, ca. 1928-32. Photo by Lotte Jacobi.

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