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Death in Venice

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  12,857 ratings  ·  627 reviews
One of the most famous literary works of the 20th century, the novella "Death in Venice" embodies themes that preoccupied Thomas Mann (1875–1955) in much of his work; the duality of art and life, the presence of death and disintegration in the midst of existence, the connection between love and suffering, and the conflict between the artist and his inner self. Mann's handl ...more
Paperback, 74 pages
Published August 10th 1995 by Dover Publications (first published 1912)
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Community Reviews

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Brilliant prose, expertly crafted, and an audacious, masterful blending of mythology, allusion and symbolism. In many ways, a work of considerable genius.

Unfortunately, the story itself felt ho hum and left me cold and rather unenthused. Given this considerable dichotomy, between the me that was significantly impressed by Mann's obvious talent, and the more emotional, "enjoyment-centric" me left wanting more by a narrative that seemed dry and lifeless, I’ve resolved to revisit this work in a fe

This is Beauty.

Male human Beauty but it transcends the particular.

Contemplating Beauty brings Happiness.

We seek this Happiness, this complete Harmony with one’s Life.

Perfect Harmony is Divine.

Beauty is the Path.

How to find the Path, how to reach the final goal?

And in seeking, we Desire.

Is Art the Artifice that creates the Divine?

Goodness, Virtue, Health, Order, Perfection, Restraint, Discipline. All are required.

Talent has to be wedded to Dignity. Only then is it Moral.

But also
Since the piece is well known as being a landmark work of fiction regarding male homosexuality, I am not going to focus on that in my review, or on its other element that has been flogged to death as well, being the rather extreme youth (age 14) of the love object.


Well! What a conflicting piece of fiction. The novella seems fairly divisive amongst critics, but one thing that I think most of us can agree on, is that the novella is a discomfiting piece of writing. I suspect this was so for t

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Lovis Corinth: Self Portrait as Howling Bacchant, 1905, Insel Hombroich

There is a haunted dread in the eyes of this bacchant. That howl - more distress than joy. Mania, frenzy, delirium; a Dionysian letting go.

This is the mental picture that furnished my mind as I read of Gustav von Aschenbach. Aschenbach is the eminent artist of disciplined control, he has based his whole career on fame, he has achieved recognition through hard graft, a hundred little inspirations that have accrued, that have
Thomas Mann's prize winning novella is a classic because it continues to reveal itself to readers decades after its publication. This is the tale it told me. After a storied career championing reason and reserve, a German writer in his sixth decade leaves the familiar for a trip to the mysterious island of Venice. Along the way he meets three men who physically resemble each other and are confrontational toward him. These everyday occurances are foreboding of what is ahead.

Something unexplainabl
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Report: I feel a complete fool providing a plot precis 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

I find this a difficult work to review. On the one hand, I’m awed by the complexity of the narrative, its haunting imagery, the richness of the symbolism and the layers of meaning which Mann was able to give such a short work. On the other hand, a plot involving an older man becoming obsessed with and stalking a beautiful young boy is designed to make 21st century readers feel uncomfortable. Or at least, it’s designed to make me feel uncomfortable. I have difficulty seeing the Ancient Greek prac
I bet someone could write a masterpiece by taking this book’s premise and elongating it into a fuller exploration of the child-adult love taboo. Oh, really? Oh.

This book really does read like a Lolita written 40 years prior with Lo’s gender switched and a premature ending just before things get really interesting (if you know what I mean). Death in Venice is equally engrossing and sports a protagonist, Aschenbach, who’s as well developed, far more relatable, and nearly as interesting as our dear
A good book to be taught in tandem with Lolita, methinks. A literary achievement with the psychology of Tolstoy and a Greek commitment to The Story; and that is not the only thing about this book that is 'Greek'. A treatise on Death, Life, Sex, Desire, and Fear, Death in Venice is both enticing and terrifying, and for the self-same reason.

Here is the face of wretched animal man, teeth bared, cloudy desperation mocking his vision. Mann's succinct and powerful images are always reversed: the raw
It felt rather odd reading this novella whilst the furore about Jimmy Saville has been going on. This famous/infamous novella is about a writer in his 50s who falls in love with a 14 year old boy who is staying in his hotel whilst he is on holiday in Venice. The story is highly descriptive and internal (Gustav von Aschenbach, the writer, is not a talkative chap, he doesn't even speak to his beloved, Tadzio).
Mann himself wrote that he wanted to portray the passion as confusion and degradation and
الموت في البندقية

توماس مان من الروائيين الذين كنت أتهيبهم، ربما لأن رواياته ضخمة في أغلبها، لهذا وجدت هذا المدخل الصغير له، هذه الرواية القصيرة والتي كتبها متأثراً بزيارة قام بها مع زوجته إلى البندقية، هناك لاحظ المؤلف وأولع بصبي بطريقة غريبة، أيقظت في داخله حس الفنان ورغبته في قنص هذه اللحظة وتحويلها إلى رواية، هكذا يبتدع روائياً مشهوراً باسم (جوستاف آشنباخ)، يتوقف هذا الكاتب في لحظة لم يخطط لها وتحت مرأى رجل رحال عن روتينه الكتابي اليومي، ويقرر السفر، هكذا يزور البندقية، ليفتتن هناك بصبي بولن
I have reread Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice several decades after reading it in the original German in college, having in the interim enjoyed the film version directed by Luchino Visconti. My main impression of the relatively recent translation by Michael Henry Heim (2004) is that it preserves the author’s long-winded and intricate sentence structure. Unpacking Mann’s sentences is one of the challenges of reading his books. Stylistically, therefore, the translation is quite authentic.

As I read
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I address in this review those of you here at goodreads who are young and beautiful. Please pay attention to what I have to say.

When you go to the beach, in you bikini or swimming trunks, what do you do? You preen, you display your half-naked body around, hoping to catch the attention of equally-young and good looking vacationers like you. I bet you never pay attention to the old men or women who may throw you a glance or two. That is a big mistake.

Here is a semi-autobiographical novel. The prin
I would probably give this book a 3.5 star rating. The language it was written in was quite beautiful and philosophical, and I liked how Mann interspersed mythology into his story. The protagonist, Gustav von Aschenbach, was quite a fascinating character who becomes obsessed with a 14 year old Polish boy who he deems as beautiful and resembling a Greek god. This book was quite reminiscent of Lolita at times, though von Aschenbach was nowhere near as heinous as Humbert
Gustav Aschenbach è un anziano scrittore di successo che ha dedicato la sua vita alle fatiche della scrittura, sacrificando così diletti e piaceri. Si reca a Venezia per un soggiorno estivo e, nell’hotel dove alloggia, la sua attenzione viene catturata da una nobile famiglia polacca, in particolare dall’adolescente Tadzio. Dapprima Aschenbach sembra solo ammirarne l’efeba bellezza che incarna i principi estetici classicheggianti che hanno sempre ispirato la sua opera. Con il passare dei giorni, ...more
Harry Kane
This is a novella detailing the decline and death of aged respectable author, who has subjugated his entire adult life to his formidable intellect.

The repressed unconscious material emerges in three symbolical orgiastic manifestations: 1) paranoia of ginger men and feeling that they keep popping up everywhere; 2) hysterical disgust at an aged man he sees, who tries to fraternize greasily with strapping young lads; 3) the aged author’s increasingly disturbing fascination with beautiful 14 year o
"On a personal level, too, art is life intensified: it delights more deeply, consumes more rapidly; it engraves the traces of imaginary and intellectual adventure on the countenance of its servant in the long run, for all the monastic calm of his external existence, leads to self-indulgence, overrefinement, lethargy, and a restless curiosity that a lifetime of wild passions and pleasures could scarcely engender."

Read this if you appreciate long, wordy passages (like the one above) so exquisitely
Shahr Baran
یکی از تاثیر گذار ترین کتابهایی بود که من تا حالا خوندم ..توماس مان عموما به نوشتن شجره نامه ویا زندگی نامه شهرت داره ..مانند کتاب های زندگی نامه یوسف یا یعقوب ویا خاندان بودنبرک ها که به نام زوال یک خاندان هم چاپ شده اما این رمان کوتاه مدرن نشانگر نبوغ او در عرصه رمان های سبک جدید است ..پیشنهاد میکنم این رمان رو بنام مرگ در ونیز حتما بخونید ..
Another 'classic' that I never read that vacation time has got me reading on the 'cheat' -- or make that 'reading' on the cheat (audible). I find Mann, frankly, repulsive -- and his style so full of pompous neuroticism that I can't really stomach him. I have a dual-lingual edition of this novella, and I should try to read it in German someday... clearly, he is formidible... but he represents a world and a set of complexes, and has a prose style (if this translation is any judge) - that is at onc ...more
Gustav von Aschenbach is a middle-aged, successful writer who has lived a very controlled, cerebral life. He feels that a break from his scheduled life might help his writing, and travels to Venice. He sees a beautiful Polish boy named Tadzio at his hotel, and compares him to a classical Greek god. Although he never touches or speaks to Tadzio, Aschenbach becomes totally infatuated with the beautiful boy, watching him play on the beach and eventually following him through the streets of Venice. ...more
What a beautiful yet sad novella! it is a ode to beauty and the end of life, the loss of beauty and the confusion over what is beautiful. It is a story about yearning for something one can no longer obtain. It is a tale about narcissism and a tragic one at that. I'm glad I read this now. I do not believe the young version of me would have got it.
Carmo Santos

Thomas Mann não é um autor fácil, tem uma escrita elaborada e requintada com reflexões profundas e complexas que se espraiam ao longo de parágrafos extensos e capítulos enormes. As descrições dos ambientes são rigorosas e muito sensoriais. Quase se sentem os cheiros e os ruídos, nos passeios a pé ou de gôndola através da cidade.
É uma leitura que exige concentração - algo difícil nestes dias de calor abrasador - e por vezes terminava uma frase, sem já saber como ela tinha começado. Foram tantas
One scene at the end of this short, powerful novella gave me the shudders.

A middle-aged man is sitting in his barber's chair, gazing delightedly at himself in a mirror. Due to his ridiculous and repulsive obsession with a beautiful fourteen year old boy, he has dyed his hair black and applied makeup and rouge in a sad effort to look youthful. Without realizing it, he has transformed into the very thing that disgusted him at the beginning of his journey.

This is a story of love as obsession. Gusta
Just finished reading this for the second time. The few extra years and small amount of insight I've gained since the time of my first reading in 2009 just made this book seem a deeper well, rather than a shallower, more manageable one. It's definitely brilliant, and the movie version--however interesting--fails to capture all of its richness.

Reading this with the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy in mind (something I didn't much consider the first time) definitely enhanced my understanding of
The main character of this novella, a writer called Aschenbach, seriously got rather creepy with his fixation on a beautiful young Polish boy called Tadzio while on vacation in Venice, but Mann is amazing the way he captures Aschenbach. It seems so true to life as a characterisation to me. I could see Aschenbach as a T.S. Eliot: a cold and sterile intellectual artist type of person who writes perfect things.

Aschenbach's romantic fixation on the young boy can either be taken as straight forward
I did not love this all. Very weird. The writing is dense & complex, which is not necessarily bad, but Aschenbach is a character that I find rather repulsive. His obsessive nature creeps me out, and it's not just his obsession with Tadzio, but his obsessively dismal outlook, his obsessive need for change, and his obsessive desire to learn what is really happening in Venice. He is such a strange, off-putting individual (and in fact, all the characters are off-putting) that it is dif ...more
Maria João Fernandes
"Encontrar o repouso na perfeição é o sonho daquele que se esforça por atingir a excelência; e o nada não é também uma forma de perfeição?"

Aschenbach, um escritor viúvo, famoso mas solitário, aos 50 anos decide voltar a Veneza, por um impulso provocado por um encontro casual com um desconhecido misterioso, num cemitério. Na cidade sobre a àgua, a beleza de um rapaz adolescente fascina-o, envolve-o e domina todas as suas emoções. O escritor enfraquecido rejeita partir, mesmo quando as razões são
Philippe Malzieu
I acknowledge to have read the book after having seen the film of Visconti. Difficult to forget the Lido, Dick Bogarde and the adagio of the 5° symphony of Malher. There is all in this short account: life and death, old age and youth, the desire and homosexuality, the beauty and the ugliness, there is all.
Aschenbach wishes Tadzio because his beauty fascinate him. Allusions to Greece are there to attenuate the homosexual aspect. But there is a risk to see only that and the film of Visconti is the
Seductions proliferate in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, though not the intimate sort upon noticing the main character’s association with youth. In the beginning, readers find Gustav von Aschenbach inspired or, in the novella’s sense, seduced to the idea of travel, to the idea of escaping life’s demands—seen as a response to a “strange expansion of his inner space, a rambling unrest, a youthful thirst for faraway places (Mann 1841).” Clearly the stranger in the church is nothing more than an ins ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 24, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Maurice Lieberman
Shelves: literature
This novella was assigned reading for the freshman humanities class at Grinnell College. Sadly, we were given a day to read the thing and devoted only a bit of time to its discussion. It was likely the first thing I'd ever read by Mann. At the time I was only eighteen, still a virgin, and probably only abstractly sensitive to the plight of age represented in the story. The eroticism of the dream description, however, made an impression. It was both powerfully evocative and scary.
Two years late
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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 about Thomas Mann...
The Magic Mountain Death in Venice and Other Tales Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family Doctor Faustus Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories

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“Nothing is stranger or more ticklish than a relationship between people who know each other only by sight, who meet and observe each other daily - no hourly - and are nevertheless compelled to keep up the pose of an indifferent stranger, neither greeting nor addressing each other, whether out of etiquette or their own whim.” 43 likes
“The observations and encounters of a solitary, taciturn man are vaguer and at the same times more intense than those of a sociable man; his thoughts are deeper, odder and never without a touch of sadness. Images and perceptions that could be dismissed with a glance, a laugh, an exchange of opinions, occupy him unduly, become more intense in the silence, become significant, become an experience, an adventure, an emotion. Solitude produces originality, bold and astonishing beauty, poetry. But solitude also produces perverseness, the disproportionate, the absurd and the forbidden.” 21 likes
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