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L.A. Review of Books on “The Magician”

Conjuring in Wartime: Colm Tóibín Evokes the Art of Thomas Mann

By Anne Goldman

A curator once explained to me that the job of art museums is to deprive objects of environment. Moisture ravages vellum. Changes in temperature grind ceramics into rubble. Sunlight maps the surface of Old Master paintings with as many fine cracks as a windshield attacked with a bat. These days, when I look at an Egyptian amphora or a Greek vase under glass, I’m reminded of what perishes as much as what lasts.

But what happens to the artists themselves when they are torn from their own atmospheres? In The Magician, Colm Tóibín reimagines what it cost Thomas Mann to sustain his writing life after fleeing Germany in the early 1930s. Mann shuttled for a time between France and Switzerland, then escaped the continent altogether for Princeton before resettling in Pacific Palisades, where he built the house that still bears his name. Read the full review at the L.A. Review of Books.

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