“Fein deutsch mit der Sprache heraus”: Irony, Multilingualism, and the Use of Early New High German in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus

Peter Brandes


This article examines the significance of the so called ‘Lutherdeutsch’ in Thomas Mann’s late novel Doktor Faustus while referring to the philology of multilingualism as a key term for the interpretation of the text. In Mann’s novel multilingualism can be observed in ironized citations from Luther’s letters and Grimmelshausen’s Simplicissimus. While calling this usage of literary quotes Lutherdeutsch, Mann creates a fictitious branch of Early New High German that can be read as a language of irony as oppossed to the narrator’s language of earnestness. The paper argues that Mann’s text itself practices a philology of multilingualism by juxtaposing languages of seriousness and languages of irony, thereby deconstructing ideological concepts such as monolingualism and national philology. Note that this text is a translation of Brandes' German-language original, which also appears in this issue of CMS.


philology, rhetoric, irony, narratology, deconstruction, Thomas Mann, Doktor Faustus

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