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The Tables of the Law

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The Tables of the Law (German: Das Gesetz) is a 1944 novella by German writer Thomas Mann. It is a dramatic retelling of the Biblical story of Moses contained in the Book of Exodus, although some of the laws which Moses proscribes for his followers are taken from Leviticus. It was the only story that Mann was ever commissioned to write, and he finished it in just eight weeks, beginning on January 18, 1943, and ending on March 13, 1943. Publisher Armin L. Robinson, believing the Ten Commandments to be the basis on which civilization was founded, wanted to make a movie detailing the Nazis' "desecration of the Mosaic Decalogue." Instead, he settled on a book, entitled The Ten Commandments: Ten Short Novels of Hitler's War Against the Moral Code, with ten authors, one for each commandment. Mann's novella, which he was paid $1000 to write, was originally meant to be the introduction to the volume, but Robinson liked it so much that he decided to make it the first story, under the heading "Thou Shalt Have No Other God Before Me." Mann considered his story to be greatly superior to that of his fellow contributors, and he considered the overall book a "failure".
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original title: Das Gesetz
language: German
date of publication: 1944
based on: Exodus
inspired by: Exodus
genre: novella, powestvovanie
main subject: The Exodus
characters: Moses, Aaron
follows: Listen, Germany!
followed by: Doctor Faustus

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