Aug 24, 11
Recommended to Erik by:
Read in April, 1970, read count: 1
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 later, in 1971, the film version appeared. I only saw the trailer, but it brought back the memory of the novella. The soundtrack, Mahler being my favorite classical composer, effectively intensified the pathos. Then, that night, a couple of us had the real, serious discussion about the story which had not occurred in the classroom.
Now, having read a great deal of Mann and grown quite a bit older, the respect I have for the work has only increased. One is accustomed to think that frank treatments of sex, homosexuality and pederasty are modern, but this was first published in 1912!--and, compared to a great deal of modern fiction, it is far less sensationalistic, far more true to common lived experience.
Upon finishing the class, I finished the other stories in the book.