THOMAS MANN'S 'INDIAN' LEGEND: THE TRANSPOSED HEADS
A lecture of German indologist Heinrich Zimmer about the Goddess Kali inspired Thomas Mann to write a novella 'Die Vertauschten Köpfe' (The Transposed Heads). The author himself did not make a great fuss of the fact that he didn't deem the work important. He considered it just a divertissement and intermezzo. The work shares some common themes and features with Mann's major works. Nevertheless, the author of the study is interested in its potential in the intercultural dialogue and shows how Mann transformed the Indian original of the story, and consequently confronts the ideological content of the novella with concepts of Indian thought. The novella deals with the problem of spirit (Geist) and nature (Natur); intellect and beauty are further terms that qualify the dichotomy Mann is concerned about. The author of the study compares Mann's concepts of spirit and nature with Indian concepts of 'kama' and 'buddhi' that he sees as their possible equivalents. The author of the study concludes that despite the milieu in which the story is set, the novella is truer to Schopenhauer's philosophy, which was a constant influence on Mann, than to Indian concepts and values. The dilemma between spirit and nature as Thomas Mann expounds it, is alien to Indian thought. The novella is thus problematic in that sense that it creates a false image of Indian culture.
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