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"Hee, hee, hee," the small, wizened German professor laughed. "Who else thought it was really Hans and Inge? I don't understand it. Even good students of German make this mistake." I too had believed it was the original Hans and Inge who arrived at the Danish resort to revive a jaded Tonio Kroger. A coward, I pressed my lips firmly together and let my fellow student take the heat. The same professor had some weeks earlier laughed at me for a naive observation, and at nineteen, I didn't relish making myself a target a second time. But in fact I loved this course on Thomas Mann. I took it in English when my German was not yet good enough to speed through Mann's principal works in a single semester. I thus knew Mann through H. T. Lowe-Porter's translation before I knew him in his own German words. When asked about my favorite author in the following decade, I'd reflexively answer, "Thomas Mann"--and not without a little intellectual arrogance. Later on I wondered why I had swallowed Mann hook, line, and sinker, hadn't been more critical, hadn't, like fellow feminists of my generation, considered whether this pompous German male writer had anything to say to a Midwestern teenage girl in late twentieth-century America. Indeed, why hadn't I, like rebellious students of my generation, questioned whether I had to defer to the authority of greatness? In the mid 1990s, although my romance with Thomas Mann was over, I myself began teaching "Tonio Kroger" in English in a course designed to introduce German majors and curious Anglophone students to thirteen of the greatest hits of German letters. I had repeated occasions to cringe at my early love for Thomas Mann and recall my disenchantment.

September 22
American Association of Teachers of German
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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