Unique ensemble with numerous autograph corrections

Mann, Thomas & George R. Marek, German writer and Nobel laureate (1875-1955) & music producer and biographer (1902-1987). "Das Gesetz" and "The Law". 2 typescripts with numerous autograph corrections, inscribed and signed.

New York, October 1943.

I: "Das Gesetz". 60¼ pp. on 61 ff.

II: "The Law". 71½ pp. on 72 ff. With a typed list of corrections bound between both parts: (1½+1½ =) 3 pp. on 2 ff. Bound with an alternative version of the ending (1½ pp. on 2 ff.), 4 envelopes (2 with autograph address) by Thomas Mann to George Marek and 6 typed carbon copies of Marek's letters to Thomas Mann. Gilt green calf binding with gilt cover title. 4to. Addendum.


Unique ensemble of Thomas Mann's only commissioned work in the German original and the English translation, both containing numerous autograph corrections by Thomas Mann as well as a few more by George Marek, who had the typescripts bound as a personal memento of their collaboration. Thomas Mann inscribed the volume to him on 20 October 1943: "An George Marek / tief gerührt von der Ehre, die er diesen Blättern erwies. Dem glänzenden Uebersetzer herzlich dankbar [...]".

The Vienna-born music publisher, librettist and scriptwriter Armin L. Robinson had emigrated to the USA in 1941, where he succeeded in persuading Thomas Mann to write his first (and ultimately only) commissioned work, a contribution for Robinson's anthology "The Ten Commandments. Ten Short Novels of Hitler's War Against the Moral Code". A total of ten writers - Mann, Rebecca West, Franz Werfel, John Erskine, Bruno Frank, Hendrik Willem Van Loon, Jules Romains, André Maurois, Sigrid Undset, and Louis Bromfield - composed original stories, each about a different Biblical commandment. When Mann finished his labour in March 1943 after two months of writing, his usual English translator Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter was busy on other projects of his, and so the author approached the Austrian-born music critic and writer George Marek (1902-87), who was based in New York since 1829 and worked for an advertising agency (in 1950 he would join RCA Victor as manager and later serve as Vice President). Throughout spring and summer, Mann and Marek corresponded about details of the translation (the carbon copies of Marek's six letters are preserved here), and in late summer or autumn, Mann's story was published by Simon & Schuster within the anthology, under the title "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me". The first German publication, by Bermann Fischer in Stockholm, followed in 1944, giving rise to a copyright quarrel that was deeply odious to the author. Mann was basically committed to Bermann Fischer (and, through him, to Alfred A. Knopf for the English-language editions), but he had rashly granted copyright to Robinson and permitted Felix Guggenheim to issue a "luxury edition" in his Pacific Press. "As if this weren't enough, Knopf insisted on having the English version of the story done again from scratch by Mann's regular translator, Helen T. Lowe-Porter, a directive Mann described in his diary as 'a terrible blow for Marek', adding, 'I am disgusted by these trivialities' [...]" (Faber/Lehmann, Introduction, p. x). That same year, Mann gifted his autograph manuscript to the Library of Congress, on whose stationery he had penned the story.

Slight traces of handling, otherwise very well preserved with the exception of Marek's carbon copies, which are typed on brittle, severely browned paper. Hinges and extremeties rather strongly rubbed, else fine.

Includes: Thomas Mann, Das Gesetz. Erzählung (Stockholm, Bermann Fischer, 1944). 160 pp. Illustrated original boards. 8vo. First German edition (WG² 90). Binding slightly loosened, wrappers browned, interior perfectly preserved.


Thomas Mann, The Tables of the Law. Translated by Marion Faber and Stephen Lehmann (Philadelphia, Paul Dry Books, 2010).