This is the story of Klaus Mann, son of Thomas and a bold political activist who strove beyond his father’s shadow to become an important author. Klaus was an exile, forced abroad while the Nazis defiled his homeland; a homosexual in a time of bigotry and intolerance; a heroin addict slithering between recovery and relapse. Above all he was a writer.
Allan Massie vividly imagines Klaus’s final days — traipsing from cafe to bar in the haze of his various vices, replaying a lifetime of affairs and relationships while he toils over an unfinished manuscript. Encounters with family, old flames and famous literary figures reveal the stems of his fragile state. References to Mephisto, his most famous work and the battle for its German publication expose the bitter fall-out with Gustaf Grundgens, his brother-in-law and ex-lover.
With compassion, familiarity and subtle prose, we are lead into Klaus’s Mind and discover the dashed hopes and inner turmoil of a flawed, singular character. Beyond the addictions and entanglements, Massie explores one writer’s struggle for identity and recognition in a time of historical and personal crisis.