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The Black Swan

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3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  250 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Thomas Mann's bold and disturbing novella, written in 1952, is the feminine counterpart of his masterpiece Death in Venice. Written from the point of view of a woman in what we might now call mid-life crisis, The Black Swan evinces Mann's mastery of psychological analysis and his compelling interest in the intersection of the physical and the spiritual in human behavior. I ...more
Hardcover, 155 pages
Published November 12th 1990 by University of California Press (first published 1953)
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Community Reviews

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Carmo Santos
Desta vez Mr. Mann torrou-me a paciência. Não o detestei mas andei lá perto.
O excesso de formalismo da linguagem - sobretudo se tivermos em conta que a maioria dos diálogos são entre mãe e filha - cansa rapidamente. São demasiados salamaleques e um sentimentalismo exagerado que tornou os diálogos forçados e inverossiméis.
Depois, a própria temática do livro. Os amores impossíveis já recorrentes no autor, que desta vez escolheu uma mulher de cinquenta anos e um jovem de vinte e quatro. Nada demai
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Gini
This was an interesting little book. Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks" was recommended to me as a historical novel of Germany. I decided to read this first because it was much shorter. I would not classify it as historical fiction though it does take place in the past. I'm not sure how I would classify it. Basically I would say it is about a woman learning to deal with widowhood, her changing relationship with her son and daughter, mostly her daughter, growing older and the physical changes that brin ...more
Msmurphybylaw
I was neither peppered nor slashed and didn't get my Easter properly smacked by the rod of life. I believe all this was lost in translation and I do wish I could find a copy of this book that was translated by one of Mann's more fluid translators that understood his prose. This one was clunky and rudimentary which is so unlike Mann's other works. It was hysterical and even silly given that it was written in 1952 by an eighty-year-old who had breached much deeper taboo subjects.
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Anthony
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Benan
Ruh ve beden arasındaki uyum ve çelişkiler temelinde “ben” ya da toplum tercihi üzerine yazılmış öyküyü beğendim.İki ana karakter arasında geçen diyaloglar Platon ya da Sokrates’in bir öğrencisi ya da yabancı bir kişi ile yaptığı sohbetleri hatırlatıyor. Bazı cümleler o kadar derin ki, bu cümleleri sarf eden kişinin bir erkek olması kadınlar için ayrı bir umut kaynağı oluyor.Öyküdeki sohbetlerde normalde pek de yan yana kullanmadığımız bazı kelimelerin çok başarılı bir şekilde bir araya getirilm ...more
Clara
I liked the way it was old fashioned and modern at the same time, but I wish I could read it in German, for I think the formality of the characters' speech might come across as merely formal and not cheesy. I skimmed through parts of this book, and while I think I experienced its complexities, I might have missed some of its brilliance. I give it three stars for itself and one star for Thomas Mann's American, the soul-numbingly boring Ken Keaton.
Susan Grodsky
A subtle psychological novel. No wars no duels no explicit sex. But the most common, most forgettable events --such as the hiss of a swan -- become freighted with meaning.
Nesli
Thomas Mann'ın okuduğum ilk kitabı. Yazarın hayatıyla ilgili birazcık araştırma yaptığımda taşlar yerine oturdu.
Kitapta eşi ölmüş, topal kızı ve ergen oğluyla yaşayan bir kadının ilerleyen yaşına rağmen, kendisinin yarı yaşındaki bir adama umarsızca nasıl tutulduğu anlatılıyor. Aşık kadının kızıyla yaptığı konuşmalar, doğanın ve aşkın doğallığını savunan yaklaşımlar gayet hoştu. Ancak anladığıma göre bu, buz dağının görünen kısmı. İçerisinde bambaşka bir hikaye yatıyor. Yoksa yazarın kadın ruhu
...more
John
They say on the back cover that Black Swan is a kind of retelling of Death in Venice from the perspective of a heterosexual woman going through menopause. It is superficially: older person desires younger object of affection. But the writing is very different, almost purposefully clunky at times (only to give way to a strange kind of rushed elegance in the concluding pages). And the concerns seem different, too. The themes are less about sacrifice and beauty and more about the clash of systems o ...more
Victoria
So short that it seems more of a long story, I read it in a couple of days which might be the best approach to it, given its structure. Although it's a very late work, it's set in the 1920s, which might be a reason for the fairy-tale quality of both the story and the telling. Perhaps therefore the reader is meant to take a moral from it, but if this is intended, it's less appealing, though there's certainly enough of a plot to carry one along -- if the ending isn't telegraphed, which in my case, ...more
5thrtb
Aug 05, 2014 5thrtb rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I found this novella absolutely boring. I would have given it a 1 star, but the last 4 pages were amusing enough to give it a second star.
Nichole
Even more beautiful the second time through.
"But how should there be spring without death?"
Clifford
You are never to old to fall in love.
Lloyd Scott
Here is a short gem of a novel written by the late great thomas mann; I had no idea wat it was about and I am glad that I did not find out until the end, it literally blew me away. This is truly a must read, if you've ever wanted to read a book by thomas mann, start here, this is easy to read unlike some of his many other novels that are long, intense and at times they seem endless, and lest you forgot he studied to be a Doctor, hence his intense writing.
Elizabeth
Very interesting twist on "Death In Venice." Loved that this is from a woman's point of view. Very interesting voice and unique novella.
Elizabeth
I thought this was kind of funny in a melodramatic way. (spoilers) First, I think the moral of the story is don't love a man who is young enough to be your son. You will get cancer. And die. And second, Mann writes about women talking about their womanhood in the way Austen writes about women talking about men. I'm sorry. I definitely do not get giddy over my bodily functions.
Glenn
The female side of Death in Venice. A menopausal German widow becomes infatuated with her son's American tutor. Unlike Death in Venice where we are locked into Gustav's head, Mann's shift of perspective between Rosalie and her daughter dilutes the story somewhat. Still, it must have been revolutionary for its time and the prose is lyrical. 3 and half stars if I could.
Maggie
A little slice of life.. a good short story, with enough content to spread into a novella, though the beginning is a bit slow, and the end is a bit fast. Hits some major themes of aging and human nature, with a message about appreciating the feelings our natures give us. Maybe. Probably could be analyzed more deeply than I have done, but it holds up without that too.
Amanda
I didn't hate it, but I also didn't love it. It really didn't leave much of an impression on me beyond being a bit surprised at how well Mann understands the complex relationship between women and their periods. I also was a bit saddened for the Frau.
Lukas Kain
Jun 04, 2008 Lukas Kain rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people going through menopause
Recommended to Lukas by: Auntie's classics shelf
Apparently supposed to be a companion piece to Death in Venice, I appreciated this one a lot. Basically, an older woman falls in love with her children's tutor, and suddenly feels the rush of youth again. Interesting ideas on love, aging, and what have you.
Yvette
An interesting and racey book! Wonderful character treatments and divine prose. Having just finished this novella, I must say that the theme of "mid-life crisis" is relevant for today. Mann has treated the "feminine psyche" as it were, quite well.
Sheri-lee
I always find it interesting how Mann's character's can be so blinded by their own motivations...and how it makes me reflect how a book written about myself would likely be very similar.
Tess
Between 2 and 3 stars on this one. Just for the fact that it was a bi-sexual author in the 50's writing about menopause makes it worth a look. Not a page turner though
Iris
trans. by willard r. trask. interesting pacing of book, from slow to deathly fast. want to read magic mountain in the near future to clarify mann's central vein.
Kosara
Großer Schriftsteller. Das Buch ist sehr kurz, aber gut geschrieben, in der späteren Phase des Taus Kreativität.
Catherine
you prefer the aristocratic sadness of the pair of black swans in the moat

-Thomas Mann, The Black Swan
Aley Martin
meh. I liked Death in Venice much better than this one. The ending stunk.
Ana-Catrina
Nowhere as interesting as its male counterpart, Death in Venice.
Jillian
Worth reading.
Sanna
Sanna added it
Nov 27, 2014
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intel
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More about Thomas Mann...
The Magic Mountain Death in Venice Death in Venice and Other Tales Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family Doctor Faustus

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