Yngvild's Reviews > Der kleine Herr Friedemann

Der kleine Herr Friedemann by Thomas Mann
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Jul 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: literature
Read in July, 2010

Little Herr Friedemann is a sad little story in which Thomas Mann never lets us forget that Johannes Friedemann is physically, and therefore socially, less than other men. His spinal deformity means that he can never display his manliness in sports or by bragging of his conquests with girls. The text makes the point by always referring to him as little Herr Friedemann (der kleine Herr Friedemann), never just Herr Friedemann.

Friedemann’s sisters are plain, and therefore also unmarried. Like their brother, to outward appearances they accept their lot in life with good grace. There is some irony in that the sisters, of course, are each called Fräulein Friedemann, which means literally little Frau Friedemann. The point does not translate well into English, but there is a subtle implication that anybody who is not a tall, heterosexual male is in some sense diminutive or “lesser”. Sad.
Niemand beachtete den kleinen Herrn Friedemann. . . Es war nichts Leidenschaftliches in seinem Blick und kaum ein Schmerz; etwas Stumpfes und Totes lag darin, eine dumpfe, kraft- und willenlose Hingabe. --Der Kleine Herr Friedemann, Thomas Mann (1896)

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