The starving

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The Starving , with the subtitle: Study , is a short story by Thomas Mann . It was first published in 1902 in the literary magazine Die Zukunft and in 1909 it was included in the short story collection Der kleine Herr Friedemann .


The young artist Detlef doesn't dare to approach his secretly adored Lilli with the "dainty, lovely head". Only from afar does he cast longing glances at a lavish party at the "bright and ordinary child of life", who suspects nothing of his passion and chats with "a little painter" without any worries. He watches the two wistfully as they join the dancers and rock them blissfully to the beat of the waltz. “Oh, once, just one night like this, not being an artist, but a person! Escape once the curse, which is inviolable: You mustn't be, you should look; you must not live, you must create; you mustn't love, you should know! Live, love and praise once in a sincere and simple feeling! To be once among you, to be in you, to be you, to be alive! Sip once in delighted gulps - you delights of the ordinary! "

The sweet triviality and loud zest for life fascinate the highly sensitive outsider - and yet torment him at the same time. His dream remains an illusion, and so he finally disappears from the colorful company long before the festival ends. Hesitantly, because he still hopes Lilli will miss him and call back. But he has long known that he is fooling himself. He knows only one quiet and questionable satisfaction: to feel superior to those ladies and gentlemen in taste and spirit. But “what is spirit? Gambling hatred. What is art Visual longing! "

As he is about to get into a carriage outside on the cold winter night, his gaze falls on the emaciated face of a freezing man who looks like a wild beggar and looks him up and down "both maliciously and sorrowfully". Detlef suddenly realizes that this poor creature envies him and must consider him a happy person. “What a mistake, my God, what a tremendous misunderstanding! [...] You are wrong, friend, you have missed the effect; Your picture of misery is not a terrifying and shameful warning to me from a strange, terrible world. We are brothers! "


  • Vaget indicates an affinity with Tonio Kröger . Indeed, there are numerous parallels and repetitions right down to the formulations.
  • Kurzke discusses Detlef's encounter with the proletarian.
  • Sprengel mentions the study in his literary history with a reference to Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy .


  • Thomas Mann: Little Mr. Friedemann and other short stories . S. Fischer Berlin 1909. 171 pages, content: The will to happiness / disappointment / the Bajazzo / Tobias Mindernickel / Luischen / the hungry / the railway accident.
  • Thomas Mann: All the stories. S. Fischer Frankfurt 1963. Linen. 763 pages, red spine label with gold writing. Vision, Fallen, The Will to Happiness, Disappointment, Death, Little Herr Friedemann, The Bajazzo, Tobias Mindernickel, The Wardrobe, Revenge, Luischen, The Way to the Cemetery, Gladius Dei, Tristan, The Hungry People , Tonio Kröger, The Child Prodigy , Fortune, With the Prophet, Difficult Hour, Wälsungenblut, Anecdote, The railway accident, How Jappe and Do Escobar fought, Death in Venice, Lord and dog, Disorder and early suffering, Mario and the magician, The exchanged heads, The law , The Deceived, The Boy Enoch (fragment).
  • Thomas Mann: All the stories. Volume 1. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt 1987, ISBN 3-10-348115-2 , pp. 364-372, pp. 257-264


  1. ^ The future , 11th year, issue 17, Berlin (1903).


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