The Artist and the Historian. Thomas Mann’s Letters to Otto Seeck

  • Simone Rendina Università degli studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale, Italy
  • Sascha Schäfer University of York, UK
Keywords: Otto Seeck, Thomas Mann, correspondence, Conservatism, First World War


Thomas Mann and the historian of the Late Empire Otto Seeck corresponded from 1911 until at least 1917. While all of Seeck’s letters to Mann appear to have been lost, there are five surviving letters from Mann to Seeck, four of which are being published here for the first time. Between 1911 and 1917, Mann generally professed conservative political ideas, and during the First World War he enthusiastically supported his country’s war efforts. A similar conservative and nationalistic trait can be found in Seeck’s popularising works at the time. Thus, before Mann turned to a republican allegiance, he had had an affinity with Seeck, and mentioned the writing of his conservative essay Betrachtungen eines Un­politischen in two letters to him. On 24 January 1911, Mann thanked Seeck for his hospitality on a visit to Münster and sent an autograph for one of Seeck’s daughters. In a letter dated 9 April 1916, Mann outlined the qualities and weak­nesses of his own essay on Frederick the Great, mentioned its reception among scholars and the wider public, and gave his opinion on historical fiction. On 16 February 1917, he thanked Seeck for sending him one of his essays, and, just over a month later (24 March 1917), for sending him a new essay, and men­tioned his own forthcoming book, Aufzeichnungen eines Unpolitischen (not yet entitled Betrachtungen).

Author Biographies

Simone Rendina, Università degli studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale, Italy
Sascha Schäfer, University of York, UK

© Simone Rendina, Sascha Schäfer