Klaus by Allan Massie

In this deliberate and unswerving novel Massie imagines the last days of Klaus Mann, author of ‘Mephisto’ and son of recognised genius Thomas Mann. It is a story of exile from his country, love, his legacy and the possibility of a happy life set in a haze of cafés, affairs and unfinished manuscripts.

Written as a sometimes jarring synthesis of memory and expectation, Klaus’ narrative is one of escape. Escape from the Nazi’s overtaking the golden homeland of his memories, escape from his father’s irrefutable and overshadowing genius, and escape from himself, from his perceived failures both literary and personal. Often walking the thin line between recovery and relapse, Klaus seeks sanctuary in the arms of gigolos, drugs and depression.

This novella is a complete examination of how art interacts with the rest of human endeavour, and analyses to what lengths an artist may go to retain his integrity in face of insurmountable oppression. Klaus has many advantages many would be writers are not furnished with, such as talent, a subject and connection and yet his actualisation is betrayed by both his and his country’s history. He is unable to find any solid ground in war ravaged Europe upon which he can begin to build a life for himself and so is doomed to wonder a wasteland without the comfort of a home.

Klaus is a subject of infinite potential yet it has taken a writer as gifted as Massie to fully evoke the essence of a man so clearly that he is instantly recognisable and relatable to all. Massie writes with compassion and the empathy of one who has experience first hand the struggles of Klaus. He makes the local universal, telling the story of all those who have ever struggled for identity in an unkind world. By attempting to unlock Klaus’ relationship with his art, Massie has created a work far surpassing any previous output. With his simple yet charged prose he manages to recreate situations with absolute truth and clarity.

Lawrence Hodkinson – St. Pancras Bookseller


£8.95 and in stock

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