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Thomas Mann: Tonio Kröger (Tonio Kröger)

The Germans call then Novellen, the French nouvelles, the Italians novelle but there is no good word for them in English – just something like long short story unless you use the foreign word novella. And this is a novella. The story is quite simple. Like Mann himself, Kröger is an artist from a bourgeois background. His father is the very proper Consul Kröger and Tonio grows up in a very bourgeois background, despite the fact that he is, at heart, an artist. However, there is a dichotomy in his life because the two people he really loves are the blond and blue-eyed Ingeborg and Hans Hansen who are very bourgeois. When his father dies, Tonio becomes a writer and starts mixing with the Bohemians – particularly the Russian painter Lisaweta Iwanowna. Indeed, one chapter consists primarily of a dialogue between Tonio and Lisaweta on the role and responsibilities of the artist. And it is no real surprise that Tonio goes back home, back to his roots, realising that the artist has to reconcile his artistic temperament and his roots.

Publishing history

First published in German by Fischer 1903
First published in English 1931 by Appleton-Century-Crofts
Translated by David Luke