Bashan and I
Thomas Mann. Herman George Scheffauer, Translator
"Termed the finest study of the mind of a dog ever written, a few boldly assert that it is no doubt one of the greatest portrayals of a man's mind. . . . An extremely lovable story. . . . An enchanting classic."—New York Times
"The life of a dog is a simple and strangely marvelous thing; and that finally may be what sets Bashan and I apart: it is true to the life of a dog."—Gary Amdahl, Ruminator Review
Bashan and I is the moving story of Thomas Mann's relationship with his spirited German short-haired pointer. From their first encounter at a local farm, Mann reveals how he slowly grows to love this energetic, loyal, and intelligent animal. Taking daily walks in the nearby parkland, Mann begins to understand and appreciate Bashan as a living being, witnessing his native delight in chasing rabbits, deer, and squirrels along with his careful investigations of stones, fallen branches, and clumps of wet leaves. As their bond deepens, Mann is led to contemplate Bashan's inner life, and marvels at the ease with which his dog trusts him, completely putting his life into his master's hands.
Over time, the two develop a deep mutual understanding, but for Mann, there is always a sense of loss at never being able to enter the private world of his dear friend, and he slowly becomes conscious of the eternal divide between mankind and the rest of nature. Nonetheless, the unique relationship quietly moves to the forefront of Mann's life, and when master and companion are briefly separated, Mann is taken aback by the depth of his loneliness without his dog. It is this deep affection for another living creature that helps the writer to reach a newfound understanding of the nature of love, in all its complexity.
First published in 1916 and translated into English in 1923, Bashan and I was heralded for its simple telling of how a dog became a priceless companion, an animal who brought meaning to the author's life.
Thomas Mann (1875-1955), author of many novels and stories, including Magic Mountain, Death in Venice, Buddenbrooks, and Doctor Faustus, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. An ardent antifascist, he left Germany in 1933 and became a U.S. citizen in 1944.