Thomas Mann was born into a well-to-do upper class family in Lubeck, Germany. His mother was a talented musician and his father a successful merchant. From this background, Mann derived one of his dominant themes, the clash of views between the artist and the merchant. Mann's novel, Buddenbrooks (1901), traces the declining fortunes of a merchant family much like his own as it gradually loses interest in business but gains an increasing artistic awareness. Mann was only 26 years old when this novel made him one of Germany's leading writers. Mann went on to write The Magic Mountain (1924), in which he studies the isolated world of the tuberculosis sanitarium. The novel was based on his wife's confinement in such an institution. Doctor Faustus (1947), his masterpiece, describes the life of a composer who sells his soul to the devil as a price for musical genius. Mann is also well known for Death in Venice (1912) and Mario the Magician (1930), both of which portray the tensions and disturbances in the lives of artists. His last unfinished work is The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man (1954), a brilliantly ironic story about a nineteenth-century swindler. An avowed anti-Nazi, Mann left Germany and lived in the United States during World War II. He returned to Switzerland after the war and became a celebrated literary figure in both East and West Germany. In 1929 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.