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Thomas Mann: Königliche Hoheit (Royal Highness)

I must admit that this is my favourite Mann novel even though most critics consider it slight. It certainly is not a great novel like some of the later ones but it is definitely enjoyable. The story is set in a minor German principality, presumably around the beginning of the twentieth century. Klaus Heinrich, the prince, has various problems. Firstly, he has a withered left arm (a birth defect). Secondly, his country is broke. And thirdly he feels isolated from everybody – his subjects and women in particular. Enter Mr. Spoelmann or, more particularly, his daughter Imma. Imma teaches the prince economics and, of course, ends up marrying him. In doing so, his old-fashioned European ways are brought into the twentieth century, the American century. Mann gives a lovely and witty portrait of the old style European and the new style European but I prefer the old, fuddy-duddy principality before it was Americanised.

Publishing history

First published in German by Fischer 1909
First published in English 1909 by Grosset & Dunlap
Translated by Cecil Curtis