Name: Lowe-Porter's translations of Thomas Mann

Date:  1926 - 1950

Location:  Europe , North America

SubjectExplicit Sexuality , Political/Economic/Social Opinion , Religious


Artist: Thomas Mann

Confronting Bodies: Helen Lowe-Porter

Date of Action: Throughout the 1930's and 40's

Specific Location: N/A

Description of Artwork: Mann's work often undermined western culture's patriarchal structure of social, sexual, and spiritual premises. His novels are known for being highly symbolic and giving insight into the minds of artists.

Description of Incident: Being Jewish in Nazi Germany, Mann quickly had to shift his target audience away from Germany. He relied on the rushed English translations of Helen Lowe-Porter. Although these were suitable for establishing an audience in the English-speaking world, they were widely in accurate and often censored. Not only were metaphors destroyed through sloppy translating, but many deliberate acts of censorship also came into play. Simple but powerful statements on "idealism and socialism" were verbally toned down to being about "the social and the ideal." A huge passage where he enthusiastically describes his conversion from a monarchist to a democrat is purged completely. Even homosexual desires are rewritten to be heterosexual.

Results of Incident: Lowe-Porter's monopoly on all Mann's work lasted for 50 years. It was not until the 1990's that new English translations of Mann's work started coming into the market.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

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