The Poetics of the Possible: Arnold Schoenberg and Thomas Mann

By Angeles Sancho-Velazquez.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 22, 2015 $US5.00

In the 1940s Thomas Mann and Arnold Schoenberg got entangled in a feud on occasion of the publication of Mann’s "Doctor Faustus." Advised by Theodor Adorno, Mann had modeled the musical breakthrough of his main character, the composer Adrian Leverkühn, on Schoenberg’s twelve-tone method. Living then as exiles in Southern California, both of them had created works that grappled with the darkness of their times. They did so by means of very different aesthetic approaches. Despite this, and despite their disagreement with regards to "Doctor Faustus," Mann and Schoenberg were offering creative solutions to the same fundamental problem—the need to find new aesthetic possibilities for a culture in crisis. Drawing from Paul Ricoeur’s notion of concordance-discordance, this article discusses the different ways in which Mann’s and Schoenberg’s works configure a synthesis between order and disorder. In doing so, they both succeeded in presenting two different but equally compelling instances of the power of imagination to bring about the possible.

Keywords: Doctor Faustus, Twelve-Tone Method, Paul Ricoeur’s Concordance-Discordance

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 14, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.35-43. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 22, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 462.700KB)).

Dr. Angeles Sancho-Velazquez

Associate Professor, Department of Liberal Studies, California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, California, USA