Humanist discourse in Mann’s Faustus : rereading the novel in light of the refugee “crisis” in Europe
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SubjectResearch Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::Aesthetic subjects::Literature; English; German; Humanism; Doctor Faustus; Thomas Mann; WWII; Diversity; Germany
Thomas Mann’s 1947 novel, Doctor Faustus tells the story of a composer who sells his soul to the devil in exchange of twenty four years living as the “genius of music.” Often read as an allegory to Nazism, the novel asks the question of what defines a culture as “good” or “bad” by focusing on the difference between medieval Humanism and German Humanism; the latter emphasizes the importance of human beings and supports dissent. However, not long after WWI, as German nationalism gained support, the movement lost its purpose; as a result, the seeds of National Socialism were planted. According to Mann’s Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen, Germany would risk losing German culture and Humanism if it embraced the French ideals of supporting homogenous views of liberty. The purpose of this research is to understand the relevance of reading Doctor Faustus today by examining how organizations in Germany support refugees to contribute to German culture through literature, music, culinary arts, etc. As a part of the research, organizations that provide such opportunities for refugees and aid in their integration are observed. It is anticipated that parallels between the “German question” - that lies at the core of Doctor Faustus - during WWII and in the midst of the refugee “crisis” today will be drawn. Reading Doctor Faustus makes clear the dangers of losing a culture which accommodates different and multiple voices; the novel is relevant today in the current political situation in Germany because it sheds light on the importance of aiding refugees in becoming part of German culture.
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