The Black Swan (novella)

The Black Swan (novella)

"The Black Swan" (in German, "Die Betrogene: Erzählung") is a German novella written by Thomas Mann, first published in 1954.

A period work, it takes place in Germany in the late 1920s.

Plot Summary

Rosalie, a 50 year old widow, finds her youthful manner diminished by the "organic phenomena of her time of life," or menopause. She lives with her adult, but unmarried, daughter and an adolescent son all of who juxtapose youth and her "superannuated" purpose in life.

The family hires a young, American-born man to tutor for her son. Rosalie is strongly attracted to him and is soon infatuated. Her abnegating daughter disapproves more strongly now of her still socializing mother. Then, seemingly miraculously, Rosalie's menopause reverses. Where her vitality, and sexual awareness would be in decline, she is in a heightened state of sexual awareness including the return of menstrual bleeding.

Rosalie plans a family trip and declares her intentions and availability to the young man. They plan a liaison in the Rhine castle, but it never takes place, however. She is found dead of a hemorrhage caused by a metastatic tumor in her uterus.

The surgeons' commentary include a discussion on the possible causes of Rosalie's newfound youth. Cancer was an obvious cause of her tumor, but one doctor supposes that it could have been the yearning for love and her altered or re-awakened erotic personality that stimulated her ovaries thereby causing the cancerous growth.

Themes

Thomas Mann was 78 years old when he wrote the novella. The setting for the story and Europe in transition after the First World War creates the old-fashioned and modern age comparisons which are developed strongly in the characters of Rosalie's family. The graphic descriptions in female biology, symbolic and overt sexuality and death create a dark picture for life's twilight. He revisits mortality and like Death in Venice, of 1912, comments on societal attitudes and age. As in that work, Rosalie dies before any interest is consummated.

Cultural Impact

It stands as one of the first works to bring hard medicine into popular culture.

See Also

* Medicalisation of falling in love: medical students' responses to Thomas Mann's "The Black Swan" http://mh.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/33/1/44.pdf


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Black Swan (disambiguation) — Black Swan is the common name for Cygnus atratus , an Australian waterfowl. It is the state emblem of Western Australia.Black Swan may also refer to:Arts, literature and entertainment*Black Swan Records, a record label * The Black Swan , nickname …   Wikipedia

  • Black Swan (film) — Not to be confused with the 1942 swashbuckler film The Black Swan. Black Swan Theatrical release poster …   Wikipedia

  • The Magic Mountain — Magic Mountain redirects here. For other uses, see Magic Mountain (disambiguation). The Magic Mountain   1st US edition (Kno …   Wikipedia

  • Swan Lake (Bourne) — The company of swans from Matthew Bourne s Swan Lake during the company s 2005 UK tour, featuring danseur Alan Vincent as the lead Swan. Matthew Bourne s Swan Lake is a piece of ballet influenced contemporary dance choreographed by Matthew Bourne …   Wikipedia

  • The House of the Seven Gables — For other uses, see The House of the Seven Gables (disambiguation). The House of the Seven Gables   …   Wikipedia

  • Mario and the Magician — 1st UK edition (publ. Martin Secker, 1930) Mario and the Magician (Mario und der Zauberer) is a novella written by German author Thomas Mann in 1929. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake — is a piece of ballet influenced contemporary dance choreographed by Matthew Bourne that was first staged at Sadler s Wells theatre in London in 1995. The longest running ballet in London s West End and on Broadway, it has enjoyed two successful… …   Wikipedia

  • Hutchinson Novella — Hutchinson Novellas was a series of short novels published by the Hutchinson Group in the United Kingdom and Australia in the late 1980s. The books were also published as The Harper Short Novel Series in the United States.Bibliography *Brian… …   Wikipedia

  • Mercedes Lackey — signing autographs at CONvergence Born June 24, 1950 (1950 06 24) (age 61) Chicago, Illinois, U.S …   Wikipedia

  • Death in Venice — This article is about Thomas Mann s novella. For other uses, see Death in Venice (disambiguation). Death in Venice   …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”