Tobias Boes University of Notre Dame

Tobias Boes

book project

I’m currently working on a book called Thomas Mann’s War: Literature and Politics in the Age of World War II, which I hope to complete in early 2018.

My book tells tells the story of how the German author Thomas Mann rose to become what one newspaper called “Hitler’s Most Intimate Enemy” during the time of his American exile from 1938 to 1952. While the work is chronologically structured and written with a general audience in mind, it is not primarily a biography of Thomas Mann. Instead, it asks how a certain image of the author was created during this time period by publishers, translators, reviewers, and the reading public, and how Mann then harnessed this image to present himself as an antagonist of the Nazis.

The story I tell is colorful and sheds new light on the cultural dimensions of the Second World War. As I further show, however, it holds lessons for the present day as well. For Thomas Mann was arguably the first author to consciously turn the fame he had earned in the eyes of a global literary community  against his own government. This makes him the forerunner of contemporary authors like the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, who was accused by the Turkish regime of being the puppet of an “international literature lobby” out to besmirch “Turkishness.”

Writing samples and a full proposal for the project are available upon request.