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Death in Venice

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  40,572 ratings  ·  2,339 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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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
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
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
(750 From 1001 Books) - 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; meanwhi
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: germany, classics

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
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cholera and Homoerotic Pedophilia

Death in Venice is a story of obsession. Gustave von Aschenbach is a successful but aging writer who travels to Venice for a holiday. When he notices an exceptionally beautiful young boy who is staying with his family in the same hotel, his days begin to revolve around seeing and following him. His obsession becomes such a distraction, that he doesn’t pay attention to the rumors circulating around about a disease spreading through the city.

Gustav von Aschenbach

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
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I muddled through this book early on in life - back in 1976, when I was trying to backpedal furiously to stave off another collision with the barrelling 18-Wheeler of the establishment mindset.

So go figure who won...

Alas, you’re right.

My dear Mom always used to say you can’t fight City Hall - but I, in my twenties, was like the bloodied Chinook Salmon leaping upwards over the jagged rocks of a mountain brook to its spawning ground.

I knew whereof I believed.

And There Was No Way I would now rec
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: favorites, classics
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. ...more
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
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
Amalia Gkavea
“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.”
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
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
Tamoghna Biswas
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqqip2saa
**4.8 stars**

The story is disregarded, or rather discarded by many as a portrayal of homosexual paedophilia, but actually it's not that and reaches out a quite deeper concept. For Gustave von Aschenbach is an artist and though not everything can pass under the excuse of "art for art's sake", this certainly can. For when you view something as a masterpiece when you are an artist in that similar aspect, that feeling is, I think quite different from what we know paedophilia to be. This is where it
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?

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
Here is a text that frightened me and in which I am happy to have been able to penetrate with delight, with concentration also because it is true that the beast is austere does not offer itself easily. With fear also as it relentlessly demonstrated in this novels that confronting pure beauty, "the only idea that can contemplate", inevitably leads to the idea of ​​death.

Before opening the book, I had the recent impression of "Death in Venice" on the retina and in the ear of a photomontage from Vi
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
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
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
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
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
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Serbian: Tomas Man

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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“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.” 130 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.” 98 likes
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