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142 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1912
This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty--this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.While there, von Aschensbach becomes infatuated with the striking, classical beauty of a teenage boy named Tadzio. Slowly, the writer begins to lose control of his emotional austerity as his long-bottled passions avalanche over him. Despite never acting on his impulse of having any contact with the youth whatsoever, von Aschenbach's infatuation descends into a destructive obsession that leaves him unhinged and adrift from his rationality.
THE KRITIOS BOY
„Se părea că numărul celor contaminaţi, numărul cazurilor mortale, ar fi de douăzeci, de patruzeci, ba chiar de o sută, şi poate şi mai mult, pentru ca numaidecît după aceea să se pretindă nu că n-ar fi nici o epidemie, dar că nu e vorba decît de cîteva cazuri izolate. Ici-colo mai găsea şi unele îndemnuri şi consideraţii, cîteva proteste împotriva jocului primejdios al autorităţilor italiene. Nu era deci chip să afle ceva sigur”.
It had been an artistic service & he a soldier; art was war--a grilling, exhausting struggle that nowadays wore one out before one could grow old. It had been a life of self-conquest, a life against odds, dour, steadfast, abstinent; he had made it symbolical of the kind of over-strained heroism the period admired & he was entitled to call it manly, even courageous.En route to the Hôtel des Bains , Ashenbach is accosted by the image of a red-haired man amidst boys, somehow attempting to be one of them & then an unruly red-haired gondolier, both men gargoyles as it were, foreshadowing things to come. At the hotel, amidst guests that include "dry Americans, large-familied Russians, English ladies, German children with a French governess", he quickly takes note of a Polish family with 3 teenage girls but also a young boy of around 14 with long hair & incomparable beauty.
a feeling of delicacy, a qualm almost like a sense of shame, childish fanaticism, directed against the good-natured simplicity of the world, providing a godlike & inexpressive final human touch. The figure of a half-grown lad, a masterpiece from nature's own hand had been significant enough when it gratified the eye along but now it evoked sympathy as well.There follows a period of what might be called "stalking" of the boy & his family, a longing for increased proximity, something I took as bewildering & sad but not malicious and most certainly not the action of a pederast. I've read Mann's tale 3 times over many years & feel that Aschenbach would have been unable to act on his impulse, that being the very essence of his complicated fixation with Tadzio, one layered with ambiguity.