A Gorgon's Mask: The Mother in Thomas Mann's Fiction by Lewis A. Lawson

By Lewis A. Lawson

The thesis of A Gorgon’s masks: the mummy in Thomas Mann’s Fiction will depend on 3 psychoanalytic innovations: Freud’s early paintings at the dating among the newborn and its mom and at the psychology of creative construction, Annie Reich’s research of the grotesque-comic sublimation, and Edmund Bergler’s research of writer’s block. Mann’s situation of sexual nervousness in overdue formative years is gifted because the defining second for his complete inventive existence. within the throes of that problem he incorporated a cartoon of a feminine as Gorgon in a ebook that might no longer get away his mother’s observe. yet to guard himself from being conquer through the Gorgon-mother’s stare he hired the grotesque-comic sublimation, hiding the mum determine at the back of fictional characters bodily beautiful yet psychologically repellent, the entire whereas couching his fiction in an ironic tone that evoked humor, in spite of the fact that missing in humor the subtext will be. during this demeanour he may perhaps deny to himself that the mummy determine continuously lurked in his paintings, and by way of that denial deny that he was once a sufferer of oral regression. For, as Edmund Bergler argues, the inventive author who recognizes his oral dependency will unavoidably succumb to writer’s block. Mann’s overdue paintings unearths that his safeguard opposed to the Gorgon is crumbling. In health care professional Faustus Mann portrays Adrian Leverk?hn as, eventually, the sufferer of oral regression; however the indisputable fact that Mann was once in a position to compete the unconventional, regardless of serious actual ailment and mental misery, demonstrates that he himself used to be nonetheless conserving writer’s block at bay. In Confessions of Felix Krull: self assurance guy, a story that he had deserted 40 years sooner than, Mann was once eventually pressured to recognize that he was once depleted of inventive power, yet now not of his capability for irony, brilliantly couching the successful go back of the repressed in ambiguity. This research might be of curiosity to common readers who get pleasure from Mann’s narrative paintings, to scholars of Mann’s paintings, specially its mental and mythological points, and to scholars of the psychology of inventive creativity.

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Extra resources for A Gorgon's Mask: The Mother in Thomas Mann's Fiction (Psychoanalysis and Culture, 12)

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In a sense, Mann’s creation of “Mvtter Natvr”--or Mother’s nature--in the artwork of his twentieth year, is his lifting of the Gorgon mask to defend himself against the “remarkably beautiful” but “cold and cruel” mother who always lurked in his memory. What could be more “cold and cruel” to a person attempting to reconstruct his past than the denial of the maternal breast, whether actual or only imagined? The “remarkably beautiful” mother will continue to force her way into his Early Works 43 fiction, but his ironic treatment of her will always indicate that he is still holding up the Gorgoneion against her hidden Gorgon nature.

As Hans Castorp might say, his life is “hermetic”. But the day comes when Friedemann sees Gerda von Rinnlingen, the wife of the new district commander. Friedemann is indulging his“delophilia”: He was strolling, tiny and self-important, alongside Wholesaler Stephens, an unusually big and burly man with rounded sideburns and dreadfully bushy eyebrows. Both men wore top hats and had unbuttoned their overcoats because of the heat. ]. (Neugroschel 1998: 31) In this scene, when contrasted with Wholesaler Stephens, Herr Friedemann is indeed “Der Kleine”, “tiny and self-important”, but he is not worried about “Der Kleine”, an affectionate name for “the genital”, as Freud observes in The Interpretation of Dreams (357, 362).

The homoerotic element is made prominent by one youth, erect but bent forward with his weight resting upon his left knee, gazing fixedly at the drinking youth’s buttocks. But an object-relations element is announced by the Early Works 37 second observant youth, reclining on an elbow so that his plumbingless pubes are revealed, who directs his gaze toward the youth’s mouth as he drinks the quenching water. Gutheil notes that often in dreams a lactating breast is symbolized as a spring (1951: 153).

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