Novelist (Mephisto), memoirist (Turning Point), and playwright (Anja and Esther), Klaus Mann could never outrun his father's preeminence as a writer, but could he also never get over his father's love? Colm Tóibín notes the many times in Thomas Mann's diaries when he expresses sexual interest in Klaus, nicknamed Eissi, here at fourteen:
"‘terribly handsome in his swimming trunks. Find it quite natural that I should fall in love with my son . . . It seems I am once and for all done with women? . . . Eissi was lying tanned and shirtless on his bed, reading; I was disconcerted.’ Later that year he ‘came upon Eissi totally nude and up to some nonsense by Golo’s bed’ and was ‘deeply struck by his radiant adolescent body; overwhelming’"
Far quicker than his father to grasp the evil of the Nazi ascent, Klaus left Germany for Paris in 1933 when he was 26. He was granted Czech citizenship and came to America in 1936, the year of Mephisto, dividing his time between Princeton and New York. The following year he met his partner, Thomas Quinn Curtiss, who would become a critic for the IHT and Variety and wrote the screenplay for The Iceman Cometh. Klaus wrote one more novel, Der Vulken, about German exiles during WWII, published in 1939; his autobiography; and one nonfiction work Andre Gide and the Crisis of Modern Thought. As Tóibín says, Klaus "was fluid and generous and flighty. He kept nothing in reserve, and this, despite his obvious literary talent, or maybe because of it, made him melancholy...instead of writing about death as his father did obsessively, he allowed the aura of death to enter his own spirit." He was also addicted to heroin. He killed himself with an overdose of pills, in Cannes, in 1949. Curtiss lived until 2000. Andrea Weiss illuminates it all in her fascinating dual biography, In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story, including their mainly queer circle of friends: Gide, Isherwood, Cocteau, Brecht, McCullers, and Auden, whom Erika married for citizenship.