This article accompanies the fable
Thomas Mann’s The Beloved Returns
In the novel, Mann imagines what it might have been like if Lotte (Charlotte Kestner), the childhood sweetheart of Goethe’s who inspired The Sorrows of Young Werther, comes to Weimar many decades later to see him. The incident never happened but like the Immortal Beloved, the occasion is a way to explore the time-honored notion of what-might-have-been. It is the tempting idea that life might have been different if a door had been opened somewhere and not closed. The photo below is of Mann in 1937.