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Monday Fun: The Holy Sinner by Thomas Mann


One of the books I’ve recently read was The Holy Sinner by Thomas Mann. I kept giggling while reading it, or at least thinking of giggling.

Now, this is not a review. It’s more my impressions, and what made me giggle so much; there’s a bunch of spoilers too, so proceed at your own risk. Oh, and there’s religious matter, so if you’re easily offended, you might be offended by this too.

The story is told by a monk Clemens, in a somewhat old-fashioned way and in a sugary tone. He tells us of a brother and sister, twins, of noble birth, who loved each other very, very much. They loved each other so much that they were expecting a baby (so now you know how they loved each other). Realizing that they have a problem, they talked to their trusted advisor, who suggested that the brother went on a pilgrimage, while the sister would go to the advisor’s castle and have her baby there, in secrecy. Not knowing what else to do, they agreed.

The sister was oh so mourning being separated from her beloved brother (the sugary tone, remember?). She gave birth to a beautiful little boy, whom the advisor wrapped in expensive silk, placed him in a barrel, put lots of gold and a message on a plate in it, and left the barrel in the sea, to God’s mercy.

And so on, and so forth; the little boy grew up into a strong young man, Gregory, who helped a noble woman when her city was under siege, and married her, and had two daughters with her, only to discover he had married his own mother. And oh, they were so horrified, and so she went on to take care of cripples and such, while he went to become a hermit and to sit on a stone far away from the shore. Still the sugary tone.

And then some more things happened, and then Gregory became Pope Gregory.
And there’s the Children, don’t do this at home conclusion (don’t sin, things worked out for them in the end but they suffered a lot, don’t do it, kids).


Now, I’m fully aware that there’s more to this book, that this is Thomas Mann trying to explore some really serious stuff like sin and evil and so on, but still, it’s hilarious, and if someone tells me Germans have no sense of humor, I’ll throw this book at him/her. Well, I won’t, because it’s my mother’s and I gave it back to her, but you know what I mean.

Have you read anything funny recently?


A writer, a reader, a dreamer. Dreaming myself into existence.

7 thoughts on “Monday Fun: The Holy Sinner by Thomas Mann

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