Decision magazine's title
Vike: many thanks for this fascinating presentation. I wondered, did Mann give any explanation as to the magazine's title?: it suggests a call to arms, a declaration of some urgent cultural, or political(?), intent. But that seems rather at odds with the nostalgic "sad reminiscences" and "confused self-questioning" that the reviewer describes. So what was the 'decision' that Mann was urging on his readers? Or is that hopelessly reductive?
Hi Tim, thanks for that great question. Klaus Mann had initially thought of calling his new magazine Crossroads but his father--or so the anecdote goes--said that it sounded a little undecided. Klaus responded that there would be nothing indecisive about his new magazine and promptly selected Decision as a new title. But you are absolutely right in pointing out that the magazine tried to pull in different (or too many) directions. Klaus wanted it to be interventionist, helping to define a new form of “international culture” that would bring about the development of politically cohesive, democratically organised future states after the end of the war. The problem was that he relied a lot on the old guard (his father Thomas, Stefan Zweig even Sherwood Anderson or William Carlos Williams) when commissioning contributions. He did this to generate interest in his new magazine, assuming that these famous names would attract readers. But with these older writers came philosophies and attitudes at odds with Mann’s political activism. Many of these older German-language writers tried to hold on to highbrow traditions they explicitly associated with a better, cultured version of Germany that could be offered as an alternative to the Nazi-dominated ideology of pan-Germanism. This is, I believe, how the nostalgic elements that the quoted reviewer identified managed to creep in. I hope this makes sense.
It makes perfect sense. It sounds like he maybe needed a few more issues to get it off the ground - and get properly decisive! But what a time and place to launch a literary magazine - and with a German editor... I can see why the investors might have had their doubts.