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Literature / Professor Unrat

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Professor Unrat, oder Das Ende eines Tyrannen' (translated as "Professor Unclean, Small Town Tyrant"), is a 1905 novel by German author Heinrich Mann about a despotic teacher.

The book caricatures the middle and upper class educational system of Wilhelmine Germany and the double standards of the title character. In the United States, an abridgment of the English translation was published in 1932 under the title The Blue Angel.

The novel served as the basis for the 1930 film The Blue Angel.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Lohmann, who slacks off studying and educates himself instead, but still would get good grades if Unrat graded him justly.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: For Unrat, ruining the former disobedient students is worth ruining his own fortune and allowing his wife to cheat on him.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The basis of the Professor's mania, hatred and tyranny towards his students is the nickname "Unrat" ("Garbage"), which is completely justified in-universe: he is described as very ugly, disheveled, prematurely aged, rather incompetent and a failure in anything including his own former marriage.
  • Loving a Shadow: Ertzum, loving Rosa for reminding him of a peasant girl, who made him a man.
  • Married to the Job: Unrat to the school, later to seizing power on the town.
  • Nouveau Riche: The reason for which the wealthy men of the town are so easily ensnared and swindled in Unrat's gambling ring.
  • Sadist Teacher: Unrat is a petty tyrant who hates all of his students, and delights in punishing them or giving them bad grades.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: Rosa is a cheap hooker but she wouldn't be with Ertzum for his whole inheritage. Justified in-universe by the fact Ertzum—despite his aristocratic standing—is extremely stupid and boorish, so stupid he makes the Professor appear brilliant by comparison.