Spiritual Selfishness: The Limitations of Dance in Klaus Mann's der fromme Tanz and die zerbrochenen Spiegel

Wesley Lim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Klaus Mann's knowledge of writing and staging plays led to interest in exploring dance. His novel Der fromme Tanz (1925) and the dance-pantomime libretto Die zerbrochenen Spiegel (1926) deal specifically with this movement medium. This article first addresses Mann's experience of watching Weimar dance performances, which developed his idea of "erschütternde Anmut," and explores its connection with his conceptualization of spirituality. The novel's protagonist, Andreas Magnus, desires to break away from his bourgeois home and embark on a "pious dance" in Berlin. In the pantomime, the main character, Prinz Narzissus, lives a decadent, self-absorbed existence, dancing ecstatically between three mirrors, but gives no regard to an impending mass of workers. I argue that, for Mann, dance serves predominantly as a solitary spiritual guide that celebrates the body and the carnal. This self-absorbed model, however, does not fit into the changing society of the workers' demonstration and demands social awareness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-178
Number of pages20
JournalSeminar - A Journal of Germanic Studies
Volume53
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes

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