Death in Venice and Other Tales
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Death in Venice and Other Tales

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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  9,383 ratings  ·  360 reviews
Published on the eve of World War I, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity, Death in Venice tell the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doom.

In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he b...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 1912)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
The Book Report: I feel a complete fool providing a plot précis for this canonical work. Gustav von Ascherbach, literary lion in his sixties, wanders about his home town of Munich while struggling with a recalcitrant new story. His chance encounter with a weirdo, though no words are exchanged between them, ignites in Herr von Ascherbach the need to get out of town, to get himself to the delicious fleshpots of the South. An abortive stay in Illyria (now Bosnia or Montenegro or Croatia, no knowing...more
Schmacko
I know, it’s a crying shame I haven’t read this classic years ago. And now, having read it, I can say, “What a fascinating, disturbing little melodrama, ” set this brief but dense book aside, and then never pick it up again.

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann was published in 1912. It’s about Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful septuagenarian German author who leaves his very staid, regimental life for a whim-filled holiday in Venice. While there, Aschenbach slowly shrugs off his straightjacket exist...more
Jessica
Knocking another one down for the novella challenge, I finished Death in Venice this evening. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting when I choose this story, but it certainly wasn’t the tale of a respected older writer gentleman who falls in love with a fourteen year-old demigod boy and eventually dies of cholera because of it. Nope. That’s not what I expected at all.

Gustav von Aschenbach sees a strange red-headed man in Munich and suddenly decides to go on vacation. Before retiring to his s...more
Siria
I'm ambivalent about this one. Perhaps it was the translation I was reading (I think I have the actual Der Tod in Venedig in the house somewhere, but frankly I couldn't face literary German at the moment), but I never really felt at ease when reading this. Not because of any of the themes that Mann tackled, or because of the denseness of the work; they were challenging and thought-provoking aspects, of course, but I found myself able to grapple with them.

What unnerved me was the way in which all...more
El
There are some wonderful short stories in this collection, but the real meat of the book is, of course, the title novella, Death in Venice. I'm in no way diminishing the other stories and highly recommend them but still, moving right along...

Gustav von Aschenbach is a middle-aged writer who decides he needs to do a little traveling to find self-fulfillment and chooses Venice as his destination. While there he falls in love with (or obsessed with, it's all a very thin line) a young Polish boy, Ta...more
Barbara
When I was in college, I read Death in Venice for the first time. I can't imagine what I made of it then. Of course, the story of an older man drawn to a beautiful young boy is compelling, but the sense of time running out can't have meant much to me at that point in my life. I read the novella again recently and was struck by its power. Mann captures so effectively the emptiness of Von Aschenbach's life. Though the story is full of people, he is apart, alone, a writer, a recorder of life, not a...more
David
Mar 16, 2012 David rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tormented German writers who have the hots for young boys
I stand between two worlds, am at home in neither, and in consequence have rather a hard time of it. You artists call me a commoner, and commoners feel tempted to arrest me ... I do not know which wounds me more bitterly. Commoners are stupid; but you worshippers of beauty who call me phlegmatic and without yearning, ought to reflect that there is an artistry so deep, so primordial and elemental, that no yearning seems to it sweeter and more worthy of tasting than that for the raptures of common
...more
Bruce
I've formed a book club in my neighborhood, and this is the selection for our next meeting, along with Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. In this, my second time reading it, I was impressed by the readability of Mann's style. I was somewhat reminded of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, also about middle-age passion for adolescence, but without Nabokov's finely calculated irony that sets the author at just the right esthetic distance to avoid unpleasant complicity with the subject matter. I had t...more
Becca
In 'Death in Venice', Thomas Mann allows his readers to view a respectable man's descent into madness, into a dark, disturbing obsession where reason and logic have no impact on actions - where passion reigns sovereign... and it's jarring to *witness*.

The story begins with such attention taken to establish the story's protagonist (*Gus von A*) as hyper-disciplined, possessing the utmost aplomb and self-mastery - only to have him come undone as the book progresses.

This is one of those stories wh...more
Nigeyb
Death In Venice was published in 1912 and is the tale of Gustav von Aschenbach, a famous and successful ageing author, who goes on holiday to Venice, and falls in love with a 14 year-old boy. I only read Death in Venice, and not the other short stories in "Death in Venice and Other Stories".

Death In Venice is one of those stories that, for the average reader, needs some explanation from an informed commentator. It's a brief, albeit dense, tale and (thanks to Wikipedia) I can confidently report...more
Julia Boechat Machado
All my reviews are currently in Library Thing. I'm no longer updating my GR since it was bought by Amazon.
Ally
I've only read 'Death in Venice' so my review is only on that novella even though the book I bought has the other stories in it I have not and at this moment in time, intend not to read them.

Gustav von Aschenbach, a famous author in his early fifties has a carefully structured way of life that is suddenly and unexpectedly threatened by sexual passion for a young boy while on holiday in Venice.

The first three chapters were quite hard to get into after that though the story flowed quite well.

How...more
Jenn McCollum
When I was called out for teaching some provocative contexts in my "Strange Children" course this quarter, my supervisor came to my defense by saying, "Well, it's not like you're teaching Death in Venice, or anything." I had heard of Thomas Mann's novella -- and really enjoyed reading the obscure The Transposed Heads, which I consider a really masterful work despite some scathing criticisms to the contrary -- but had never read it. I headed to the library and checked it out right away. Would Man...more
Suzanne
4.5 for the collection as a whole, definitely 5.0 for the novella "Death in Venice." Any quibble I have with this book is about the collection, not the stories within. Reading them all together made me notice how very similar many of them were in characters and theme and it all got a little one-note: the tortured artist, self-consciously contemplating his alienation from the rest of “life." Same tortured artist is often tormented by the unavailability of some nearby beauty, often encountering cr...more
Bruce
What are we faced with here? A writer, Aschenbach, past 50 years of age, apparently with a degree of renown, driven and obsessed, tiring, feeling the need of a break or a rejuvenation, sees a young man from afar near a cemetery and experiences a burst of wanderlust, a vision of something different in his life, and decides on a month’s vacation somewhere different from his usual summer retreat in the mountains. We know nothing of what kind of writing the protagonist does, nothing of the significa...more
Jenny Blounts
While on the quintessential backpacking-through-Europe trip in my early 20s, my traveling partner and I, of course, went to Venice. We arrived and were immediately charmed by the uniqueness of this mythic city, checked into a super cheap room and ventured out to explore. After a warm afternoon/evening of flirting with gondoliers, getting lost down tiny alleyways, admiring glass jewelry, and drinking inexpensive wine, we returned to our room. It was dark. We turned on the glaring overhead lights...more
Keith Michael
firstly, i don't feel like this is a story is about a pedophile. to apply terms like "homosexual" and "pedophile" is to grossly malign the intentions of the author. just like calling somebody a "black" instead of a "human being" is a limiting statement, not a summary. this is a story about desire. nothingness, perfection and humanity are all explored in the story also. the vastness of the sea represents a sort of perfect nothingness, a void. in one particular scene, a human actually interrupts t...more
Thomas
I don't think I know enough about German aesthetic philosophical traditions to truly appreciate everything in this story. But then, I seriously doubt even Kant or Nietzche himself would have caught everything in here.

For such a short story (just over 60 pages), Mann manages to cram in a lot of stuff. I'll leave all the dissecting to literary scholars, and here say that I enjoyed the story immensely. And I'm sure I'll come back to it again. In fact, I look forward to picking it up years from now...more
Rachael Gutierrez
Rachael Gutierrez

Mrs Kuhn

English III

October 14, 2007

1. Gustav von Aschenbach sees a vacationer in his hometown of Munich. He has a sudden aspiration to travel after he sees the tourist.

2. It is apparent that Gustav suffers from a continuous illness and works out his troubles through art.

3. Gustav travels to an Adriatic island and disliked the weather there. Ten days after he arrives on the island he leaves for Venice.

4. When boarding the ship for Venice Gustav spots a group of young men also bo...more
Erik Hanberg
I didn't have a clue about what to expect when reading this novella except that someone would die in Venice. Partway through, I started to wonder if the death would be allegorical. It wasn't. Someone dies.

I did like this story, but then again, I'm an English major, and I like picking up some of the harder-to-read classics now and then. Written in 1911, so it's a slower read, with lots of Greek allusions that went over my head. But the core of it was compelling.

Not as much Venice in it as I would...more
Ugh
Basically I just advise that you not read this book from back to front, like I did. I bought it for Death in Venice, so I read that first, then I read the other stories, and then - because most introductions are really annoying and give away crucial aspects of the plot, and I know it's probably really lowbrow of me to care even a mote about what actually happens in books, rather than purely revelling in the manner of it all, but I just fucking do, okay? - I read the introduction.

But Mann basical...more
Melissa
Death in Venice is a philosophical examination of the plight of the artist.

Aschenbach--the fallen artist--has lost his soul in his pursuir of success. He goes on vacation, where he falls in love with Tadzio, a young boy. As cholera overtakes Venice, Aschenbach slips deeper and deeper into his love affair.

This novella is a really masterful combination of action and philosophy, seemlessly interwoven through Aschenbach's character.
Ray
I only read the title story. I keep reading the gay canon backwards. I am sure comparisons to Isherwood abound. But really this reminded me more of a gussied up Dennis Cooper. I did enjoy it. I wonder why so many gay authors longly peer through the windows to look at lives they can not lead. Well actually I know why but all the isolation does get tiresome.
Michael
Mar 21, 2007 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: myself
i stalk mr. mann's corpse. one of the first serious writing exercises i gave myself was to write death in venice from gustav's p.o.v. and that story is only the beginning - i have a big soft spot for all of his work.
Avital
Death in Venice, like The Heart of Darkness, is a strong novella-a very short novel-huge in its emotional outcome. The attraction of an old man to a beautiful boy causes him delight and deathly suffering. A must read.
Sophie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
WK
How this story is told is masterful, but what is told I don't appreciate.
Hortense
Couldn't someone have just shown the poor bastard over to Lido.
Ann L.
Prose style is superb. Top-notch writing skills and sentence structure for high impact. The plots are dynamic. I have read a lot and generally do not care for short-stories, but somehow these have so much quality packed into them that they shot up to the top of my list of all-time favorite author. In fact, I am writing a mystery series now and these short stories are one of my 5 go-to books for checking on writing quality. "Little Herr Friedeman" was my absolute favorite. I thought I was used to...more
Rebecca
Document of perilous aesthetic temperament.
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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...more
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