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Death in Venice

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  35,744 ratings  ·  1,922 reviews
The world-famous masterpiece by Nobel laureate Thomas Mann -- here in a new translation by Michael Henry Heim.

Published on the eve of World War I, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity, Death in Venice tells the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Ecco (first published 1911)
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evie oh my g-d. someone call the police on this fictional man invented over 100 years ago
Jessemy I think Mann wrote about the time he was living in, which would make it just straight fiction, not historical. That is an asset in this case, because …moreI think Mann wrote about the time he was living in, which would make it just straight fiction, not historical. That is an asset in this case, because when he mentions the people's dress and manners they seem authentic.

I see your question is 10 months old. Did you read it? Hope so!(less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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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
Jim Fonseca
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A short review because there are 1,500 others!

A well-established older German man visits Venice and falls in love with a 14-year-old boy on the beach. Here is a key passage very early in the novella (about 75 pages) that illustrates the author’s writing style:


“He [the 14-year old Polish boy] entered through the glass doors and passed diagonally across the room to his sisters at their table. He walked with extraordinary grace – the carriage of the body, the action of the knee, the way he set hi
Adam Dalva
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Odd novella about unrequited pederasty that, like so many novellas with their single themes and small casts, feels a bit overstretched. But there is reason this is still so widely read today (curious how, unlike LOLITA, the subject of this book isn't as important as the theme when it comes to criticism): the writing. Mann's marvelous turns of phrase carry the day and his ruminations on the nature of creativity stand in wonderful counterpoint to Marcel's more spiritual realization near the end of ...more
Manuel Antão
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The language of the book "Tod in Venedig"/"Death in Venice" by Thomas Mann

I finally decided to tackle Thomas Mann’s work. My first contact with him took place when I was preparing myself for the ZMP Certification in German. We were able to read in class some excerpts from his main books : “Buddenbrooks”, “Der Zauberberg”, “Tonio Kröger”, and so on. What I remember most from those texts was the extreme difficulty of understanding some p
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, germany

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 al
Ahmad Sharabiani
750. ِDer Tod in venedig = Death in Venice, Thomas Mann

Death in Venice is a novella written by German author >Thomas Mann, first published in 1912 as Der Tod in Venedig. The work presents a great writer suffering writer's block who visits Venice and is liberated, uplifted, and then increasingly obsessed, by the sight of a stunningly beautiful youth. Though he never speaks to the boy, much less touches him, the writer finds himself drawn deep into ruinous inward passion; meanwhile, Venice, and fi
Henry Avila
Gustave Aschenbach or von Aschenbach, as the German writer has now been honored, at home, all is his fame , fortune , prestige...yet he is alone, his wife has died their only child a daughter, married, living far away, the man is feeling his 50 plus years, restless , unsure...unhappy, he must leave Munich and get...a warmer, climate south would do, Italy, and the glorious city of Venice, above the sea, blue lagoons, sandy beaches, in a beautiful hotel, and the bright, shining Sun spraying its he ...more
As long as we breathe, we live. We do not possess the power to embrace death at will. So, we live. And for living, we cling to a purpose. The purpose may be clear or clouded, animate or inanimate, expressed or hidden, stable or fickle but we have it nonetheless. Even the person accused of leading a purposeless life is surviving on the shredded purpose of vagrancy.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that even Gustav Aschenbach, notwithstanding the fame and dignity safely held in his bag of accolades
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“Solitude produces originality, bold & astonishing beauty, poetry. But solitude also produces perverseness, the disproportionate, the absurd, and the forbidden.”
― Thomas Mann, Death in Venice


Portrait of the artist as an old man.

I've been intimidated by Mann. He's a mountain. I own a bunch of his works, in various translations, but keep finding reasons to walk another road, skip ahead, fall behind. For me he has sat waiting like a distant leviathan or like death. So, finding myself in a positio
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Someone recently asked me which was the most melancholy book I had ever read.

Of course there are many of them, and it is hard to make a choice, but the first one that instantly came to mind was Thomas Mann's sad story of suppressed emotion and life wasted to keep the appearances. When comparing Mann to Brecht, one sees a line between the belief in a possible cultural achievement and the cynical loss of it, but maybe the line is not only detectable between generations of German authors. Maybe th
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mesmerizing. Perfection.
How I'm I supposed to go back to normal life after having experienced glimpses of literary heaven? Thomas Mann, where have you been all my life?
I'm confused, perplexed. What are those feelings? Heartbreak or hangover?
I'm sorry y'all, but I'm unable to utter a coherent sentence here so I'm going back to read Death in Venice again. And later I'm going to build a church and put this book in the center and worship it every day. See ya in seven years. ( is turning your own
J.L.   Sutton
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
“A lonely, quiet person has observations and experiences that are at once both more indistinct and more penetrating than those of one more gregarious; his thoughts are weightier, stranger, and never without a tinge of sadness. . . . Loneliness fosters that which is original, daringly and bewilderingly beautiful, poetic. But loneliness also fosters that which is perverse, incongruous, absurd, forbidden.”

Image result for death in venice quote mann

Thomas Mann's Death in Venice reminds me of both Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time and V
Jon Nakapalau
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, favorites
In each heart there are unrequited desires; desires that hibernate for years only to awaken after the last days of summer have passed into the time when "To love that well which thou must leave ere long" is the only option. While on vacation aging writer Gustav von Aschenbach beholds the beauty of Tadzio, a teenage boy vacationing with his family. After this one look he is enthralled - and cursed - to follow that path which will lead to his destruction.
Steven Godin
On one spring afternoon Gustav Aschenbach, or Von Aschenbach as he had officially been known since his 50th birthday, sets out from his apartment in Munich. Writing had overstimulated him and he needs clarity. As with many German intellects of the early 20th century, his mind had been feasting on the classicism of his surroundings, when he came across a displeasing red-haired man. A strange emotion stirred within him, an emotion he pondered on before he later identified it as a desire to travel. ...more
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-novels
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

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 h
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How did I not know that Mann lived in California for a decade?
Richard Derus
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
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Aschenbach stated outright that nearly everything great owes its existence to "despites" :: despite misery and affliction, poverty, desolation, physical debility, vice, passion, and a thousand other obstacles."


Death in Venice by Thomas Mann is an amazing piece of literature! Michael Henry Heim has done this translation so well, that I actually felt like drinking and floating in this ocean of beautiful words... It makes you to want to drink more and more of this!

Death in Venice is the story of
Glenn Sumi
Death in Venice is one of those works of art that is so familiar it seems to have been around forever.

Stuffy middle-aged German writer Gustav von Aschenbach vacations in the Floating City, where he gradually becomes obsessed with a beautiful Polish youth named Tadzio staying at his hotel and eventually succumbs to a mysterious cholera epidemic.

The novella is a curious mixture of allegorical tale, campy melodrama and academic study of the Apollonian-Dionysian dichotomy.

Mann's prose is alternately
Jason Koivu
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Oh so tragic and rather melodramatic...or maybe I'm just remembering the 1971 Luchino Visconti movie version?

A man longing to regain the vitality and vigor of youth, goes on holiday and turns ghoulish at the sight of a young Adonis.

Death in Venice walks the line of appreciation and pedophilia. Having no problem with homosexuality, but not being down with the man-boy love thing, I cringed more than once. "Don't cross the invisible line!" I may have shouted in my head more than once while reading
This is my first experience of Thomas Mann and I am staggered by how much he can pack into a book that I would term more a novella than a novel. First off, nobody would accuse Mann of not being intellectual enough. I stopped several times to ponder the classical allusions that were scattered throughout the story, some of them obvious references and some of them so subtle that they might easily escape your notice. None of them irrelevant, however; all contributing something to the meaning and und ...more
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
J.G. Keely
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
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Roman Clodia
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short novella, just 83pp. in my edition but one which is immersed in debates about art, creation, beauty and desire. It's deeply allusive (Plato's 'Phaedrus' and 'Symposium', Nietzsche's Apollonian/ Dionysian dichotomy from his 'The Birth of Tragedy') and relies on classical, particularly Athenian, intertexts: the surly, 'uncanny' gondolier who becomes a Charon figure rowing von Aschenbach across the Styx to an 'underworld' from which he never returns; the plethora of beautiful male adolescent ...more
So dense, so lush... exquisite.
Mann was a genius.
And to all those moral apostles pointing their finger at him through the bars of their cages of social normality - please don't judge. Judging art is like judging humanity, because art is the only form left for the soul to express itself in a world full of restrictions and prejudice, otherwise known as morality. And what a sick wor(l)d it is.
"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
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Reading 1001: Death in Venice - Thomas Mann 3 12 Jun 16, 2020 05:51PM  
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Goodreads Librari...: Two identical editions 3 11 Aug 26, 2019 05:33AM  
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Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate in 1929, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psycholo

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“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.” 95 likes
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