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Death in Venice

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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 fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doom.
In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio. "It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom," Mann wrote. "But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist's dignity."

142 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1912

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About the author

Thomas Mann

1,719 books4,066 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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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 psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer. His older brother was the radical writer Heinrich Mann, and three of his six children, Erika Mann, Klaus Mann and Golo Mann, also became important German writers. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Mann fled to Switzerland. When World War II broke out in 1939, he emigrated to the United States, from where he returned to Switzerland in 1952. Thomas Mann is one of the best-known exponents of the so-called Exilliteratur.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,404 reviews
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,084 reviews6,999 followers
January 30, 2023
A short review because there are 3,000+ others! [Edited 1/30/23]

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 his foot down in its white shoe – it was all so light, it was at once dainty and proud, it wore an added charm in the childish shyness which made him twice turn his head as he crossed the room, made him give a quick glance and then drop his eyes. He took his seat, with a smile and a murmured word in his soft and blurry tongue; and Aschenbach, sitting so that he could see him in profile, was astonished anew, yes, startled, at the godlike beauty of the human being. The lad had on a light sailor suit of blue and white striped cotton, with a red silk breast-knot and a simple white standing collar round the neck – a not very elegant effect – yet above this collar the head was poised like a flower, an incomparable loveliness. It was the head of Eros, with the yellowish bloom of Parian marble, with fine serious brows, and dusky clustering ringlets standing out in soft plenteousness over temples and ears.”

The older man constantly monitors the boy in the hotel dining room and at the beach and eventually starts stalking the boy as he travels through Venice with his family.


But a plague is also stalking Venice. He considers leaving the city because of the 'miasma' but decides to stay because of the boy – a bad decision.

Mann uses many classical references: in just a few pages Achelous, Phaedrus, Eros, Cleitos, Cephalus, Orion, Poseidon, Pan and others are mentioned.

Truly a classic – from 1911. I first read it many years ago.


Mann (1875-1955) was a German writer who won the 1929 Noble Prize. He fled Germany for Switzerland and then the USA, not because he was Jewish, but because he opposed Hitler’s ideology and he knew his sexually-charged writings wouldn't help. He lived in the US (Princeton and then Los Angles) from 1939 to 1952 and became a US citizen. However he was hounded by the McCarthyites as a ‘communist’ and went back to live his final years in Switzerland. I read The Magician, Colm Toibin's fictionalized biography of Mann, and thought it was a great book.The Magician

Top photo from c.pxhere.com
Middle photo from anamericaninrome.com
Photo of the author from the Thomas Mann archives at nebis.ch
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
May 22, 2012
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 few years (it's only 150 pages) for a follow up. Hopefully, at that point, one of me will hold sway.

For now...both of me will straddle the fence of wishy-washy indecision. However, regardless of whether my future interactions with the story add to or subtract from my first impression, there’s no denying that there is much to admire, even be amazed by, in this slim, tightly compacted work loaded with full-bodied ideas. I just wished for a deeper connection to the characters and the tale.


It’s the early 20th century, and in a decaying Europe that is drifting towards war, an austere, deeply repressed author suffers from a severe bout of writer's block. To clear his mind and get his creative juices flowing again, Gustav von Aschenbach takes a holiday and winds up amidst the beautiful decadence of Venice.
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.

Meanwhile, a deadly cholera epidemic is stealthily spreading through the city, and von Aschenbach, though he can feel the onset of symptoms, is too enthralled to make his escape.

Eventually...a death occurs...in Venice.


Despite being written by a German author about a Prussian author, and set in 20th century Italy, this story has Greek tragedy written all over it. Mann's story is steeped in allusions to mythology, and is strongly influenced by Plato's The Symposium and ]Phaedrus, carrying forward their central arguments regarding the man’s struggle between passion and wisdom.

Having not read either of these works, I'm sure there are some references that strolled right past me without me having a clue they were even in the room. Nevertheless, I don't think a familiarity with these texts is essential to enjoying this story, though it could certainly enhance it.

In keeping with the Greek sympathies central to Mann’s novella, the relationship between von Aschenbach and Tadzio (the boy) is clearly a reference to the platonic ideal of erotic love described by Plato and Socrates. Additionally, Mann includes a whole host of mythological allusions to highlight our protagonist's psychological and physical demise, beginning with von Aschenbach’s gondola ride into Venice that mirrors the journey of many a Greek hero into Hades.

At its heart, this is a cautionary tale regarding the danger of extremes, and the need to maintain a sense of balance in the conduct of one's life. Mann shows us someone who has lived a carefully controlled, passion free life in the pursuit of moral, intellectual art. When we first encounter von Aschenbach, he is an emotional corpse existing in the extreme state of pure reason and utter sensual denial. Mann shows us this not as an ideal, but as one end of the spectrum to be avoided.

Now, when confronted with the exotic, sensation-filled atmosphere of Venice, von Aschenbach’s suppressed desires bubble to the surface, and his carefully constructed, intellect-driven world crumbles in the face of the onslaught. <>"His head and his heart were drunk, and his steps followed the dictates of that dark god whose pleasure it is to trample man's reason and dignity underfoot." Swiftly, our protagonist finds himself at the other extreme, a slave to his passions, the object of which is encapsulated in the character of Tadzio.

Excessively rigid morality exchanged for unrestrained passion…reason abandoned and moderation impossible, von Aschenbach's world deteriorates under the weight of his unchecked desires. It is his falling from one extreme to another, and his inability to achieve a balance, that leads eventually to his self-destruction.

My biggest problem with the above is that understood it without feeling it. I would spot an allusion that Mann was incorporating and think how impressive it was…but it never translated into an emotional connection to the story. Thus, I was kept at a distance from the story, and this left me feeling less enamored with the work as a whole, than its prodigious technical achievements might otherwise merit.

Still, as I mention above, there is much to love about this work, and part of my tepid reaction to the story may be my unfamiliarity with some of the source texts that Mann draws upon for inspiration. I intend to visit Plato’s The Symposium and/or Phaedrus, and check back in with this work further down the road.

For now, an impressed 3.5 stars. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,858 reviews513 followers
May 27, 2023
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 and does not offer itself easily. It also relentlessly demonstrated in this novel that is 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 Visconti's film against the backdrop of Mahler's fifth symphony. These images, centered on the aging artist Gustav von Aschenbach pursuing the painful beauty of the ephebe Tadzio on Venice's beach, are perfectly synchronized with the short story's synopsis and the heavy emotions the chiseled pen of Thomas Mann makes feel. Moreover, they helped me go deeper into the depths of this text, from the fetid dampness of Venice to the older man's switch from rigorous integrity to the madness of love to the splendid and sepulchral final scene.
This work is a moving reading and a mediation on death, not reading on a depressing day.
Profile Image for Adam Dalva.
Author 8 books1,552 followers
April 27, 2019
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 LOST TIME. Consider:

"Nothing gladdens a writer more than a thought that can be come pure feeling and a feeling that can become pure thought."


“Solitude favors the original, the daringly and otherworldly beautiful, the poem. But it also favors the wrongful, the extreme, the absurd, and the forbidden."


"Like any lover, he desired to please; suffered at the thought of failure.”

These lines spill out as the aged writer Aschenbach begins getting more extreme in his behavior, stalking young Tadzio, the boy he loves, through the diseased streets of Venice. Here, Mann achieves something extraordinary: he unlocks the close correspondence between creativity and obsession, between the propriety of making art and the tremendous improprieties that can be side-effect of leaving yourself open to the making of art. Tight in on Aschenbach as we are, morality barely enters into the novella. Instead, in an autobiographical turn by Mann, we see the that repression and beauty often work in counterpoint.

As the book accelerates toward its (extremely foreshadowed) ending, we get an especially good scene, as Aschenbach, who derides men who attempt to be younger than they are at the beginning of the book, dyes his hair and gets slathered in make-up in an attempt to please Tadzio. It's a gorgeous moment of pathos, the clown at midnight (soon after a night sequence with a clown), and it will stick with me.

Death In Venice is humorless, but you know that going in with Mann. This translation seemed good to me - I have the earlier one as well and when I compared them it wasn't particularly close. Nowhere near the heights of MAGIC MOUNTAIN, which is one of my favorites, but worth your time.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
December 1, 2021
(Book 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; meanwhile, Venice, and finally, the writer himself, succumb to a cholera plague.

The boy in the story (Tadzio) is based on a boy (Władzio or Tadzio, nicknames for the Polish name Władysław or Tadeusz respectively) Mann had seen during a visit to Venice in 1911.

The main character is Gustav von Aschenbach, a famous author in his early fifties who has recently been ennobled in honor of his artistic achievement (thus acquiring the aristocratic "von" in his name).

He is a man dedicated to his art, disciplined and ascetic to the point of severity, who was widowed at a young age. As the story opens, he is strolling outside a cemetery and sees a coarse-looking red-haired foreigner who stares back at him belligerently.

Aschenbach walks away, embarrassed but curiously stimulated. He has a vision of a primordial swamp-wilderness, fertile, exotic and full of lurking danger. Soon afterwards, he resolves to take a holiday. ...

مرگ در ونیز - توماس مان (نگاه) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه نوامبر سال2002میلادی

عنوان: مرگ در ونیز؛ توماس مان؛ مترجم: حسن نکوروح؛ تهران، نگاه، سال1379، در159ص؛ شابک9646736238؛

عنوان: مرگ در ونیز؛ توماس مان؛ مترجم: محمود حدادی؛ تهران، افق، سال1393، در141ص؛ شابک9789643699468؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان آلمان - سده20م

شخصیت اصلی، نویسنده ای است، که توان نوشتن ندارد، او به «ونیز» میرود، و در آنجا عاشق پسر جوانی می‌شود؛ و با آنکه هرگزی این دو باهم گفتگویی نمی‌کنند، اما آن عشق، نویسنده را، به حال دیگری، از رهایی و اعتلای روحی می‌رساند؛ با همه‌ گیری «وبا» در «ونیز»، نویسنده نیز بیمار می‌شود

نقل از مقدمه مترجم جناب «حسن نکوروح»: (مرگ «آشنباخ» در «ونیز»، آنگونه که در این اثر به نمایش گذاشته میشود، از عناصر مختلف و متنوعی ترکیب شده، که برای درک صحیح آن باید همه ی عناصر را به درستی شناخت، در اینجا از «رئالیسم» و «ناتورالیسم» گرفته تا «امپرسیونیسم» و «سمبولیسم» و ...؛ همه در دهه ی دوم سده بیستم میلادی، و پیش از جنگ جهانی اول -تاریخی که اهمیت ویژه ای برخوردار است- دست اندر کار پایان دادن به جریانی بوده اند، که آغاز آن به سالهای پایانی سده ی نوزدهم میلادی بازمیگردد)؛ پایان نقل

نقل از متن: (آنگاه او، این نظرباز ظریف‌ترین نکته را به زبان آورد: اینکه عاشق خداگونه‌تر از معشوق است، چون خدا در اوست، و در دیگری نیست؛بزرگ‌ترین سعادت یک نویسنده در اندیشه‌ای است که در مرز احساس، و احساسی که در مرز اندیشه باشد؛ یک چنین اندیشه‌ای، اندیشه‌ای با تپش احساس، و ا��ساسی با دقت اندیشه، آن زمان از آن قهرمان تنهای ما بود؛ «آشنباخ» ناگاه میل نوشتن کرد)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 09/09/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
969 reviews17.6k followers
May 26, 2023
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 recant!

For you MUST fight City Hall if City Hall is wrong.

I know, I know, why bother? Cool it, right?

Sorry. Can’t. And neither could Mann.

For his goal, like so many of his Old Guard entre-deux-guerres writers, was to keep SUBLIMATING his inner turmoil until it left him in PEACE.

Ha ha, you say, and good luck with that.

In answer I grin, a thoughtful aged man now - well, I rejoinder, IT WORKS.

If you can’t otherwise reach your Promised Land, the placid spawning pool which is your own Heart’s Delight - for that grim Medusa’s head that now Blocks your Way must WITHER - you just DO IT.

We have our Marching Orders.

And they are all we need.
Profile Image for Swrp.
662 reviews
December 15, 2021
"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 Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful writer and about his stay in the city of Venice. Gustav sets out from his apartment in Munich, with a desire to travel.

But for me, the book was about the beautiful words and lines... I did not focus much on the story. It was about flowing through the words and emotions.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews865 followers
January 26, 2022
“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 Vladmir Nabokov's Lolita both because of themes and the wonderful use of language. In the story, aging writer Gustav von Aschenbach travels to Venice to recharge his creativity. Instead, in the midst of an epidemic that takes control of the city, he becomes obsessed with a Polish boy named Tadzio.

Melancholy permeates the life and journey of Aschenbach. Death in Venice is a gripping story about the limits of creativity, obsession, language and a life nearing its conclusion. 4.25 stars
Profile Image for Kalliope.
691 reviews22 followers
July 6, 2015

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 Freedom is needed. Freedom from the thinking mind. Freedom in open and infinite spaces.

Simplicity and the Sea.

But there is Time, and Chronos easily brings decay. Or Destiny strikes.

For Salvation the only thing we have to defend us is Art.

And as the sun and its light drag us to the Senses they can also intoxicate us.

And yet, Art — Writing -- cannot reproduce sensuous Beauty, but they will praise it.

How to avoid the lurking Danger?

They are too close to Emotions. Mirrors of Love.

This is Eros, the Divine.

The Senses are the Forbidden Fruit.

Overripe strawberries, already dragging us, with them, into irreversible decay.


The Abyss.

Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,240 followers
February 29, 2020
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 healing rays, heating his cold, old heart, the image can not be denied. Still in the early 20th Century, things aren't perfect, the weather is bad , the winds make him sick, the dirty canals, odious smells, and decaying buildings, are unsettling, not content, he decides to return to the nearby mainland...and find a better place. His desires aren't successful, on the way, losing his precious luggage, he must go back, it will be uncomfortable, but he has no choice...which strangely makes him glad...just before a handsome, Polish boy, of 14, Tadzio, from an aristocratic family, vacationing also there, he sees at the hotel. The beauty of this child, infatuates the tired , discouraged man, the despondency is lifted , a new life surfaces. Every day Gustave, visits the beach, lies down on his flimsy chair, soaks up the Sun and watches the boy cavorting with other children, swimming in the shallow waters, skipping, dancing, playing, the writer likes the view, but is careful not to be observed, he has two pretty sisters, mother and a governess to deal with. And the weeks slowly pass by, the contented tourist is happy just to be alive, no worries, only happiness permeates , sitting on the hot sand, the re-
energized author , begins to follow the Polish family, around Venice, not being conspicuous, sneaking , hiding, walking in back alleys, never having the bravery to talk to Tadzio...A quiet rumors is whispered , foreign newspapers say that a plague has arrived in the ocean city, malignant cholera, especially in the German periodicals, people from Germany and Austria , suddenly disappear from the premises, not believing the local authorities , denials...the strong, medicinal scent, in Venice, is troubling, Aschenbach, needs confirmation, receiving it from the stoic British, nevertheless he remains , too enchanted to leave. ...An unusual novella from the great Thomas Mann, he got the idea, talking with his wife, in this very city, in 1911, (the story was published, a year after) while vacationing in The Grand Hotel des Bains, on the Venetian island of Lido, in the fabled, Adriatic Sea..
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,915 reviews683 followers
November 4, 2022
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.
Profile Image for Seemita.
180 reviews1,584 followers
January 1, 2016
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, gropes for purpose in his new found state of ripe mind. Nothing is a bigger curse for a writer than to have hit a plateau from where all the previous works appear a distant dream and the present air leaves nothing for the fertile imagination to latch on. In search of this elusive purpose, after declaring many destinations unfit for ideation, he halts at Venice at a quaint hotel and opens the window of his room to the sea, inviting both its calmness and ferocity to wash his rusted mind panes with inspiring waves.

And the sea obliges, in the form of the ethereal Tadzio, who happens to be a guest of the same hotel as Gustav. The stunning beauty of this young Polish boy of golden skin, flowing locks, delicately-crafted ribs and carefree demeanour, first catches Gustav unawares and then, slowly like a persisting rain, fogs his mind panes with sensual dew. His senses, in a natural gesture, follow Tadzio’s movements like a sunflower follows the sun’s trail. From the day he sets his eyes on Tadzio, he gets transported to a new world where he increasingly finds just the two of them, talking about art and beauty, exchanging life wisdoms and sinking in the loving companionship of each other.

But does this throbbing one-sided passion render a purpose to the debilitating parchment of his life or relegate it further to insurmountable lows? Hold the hand of Mann to find out. And yes, he has a lot to say in this compact work.

He softly pits intellectual beauty against corporeal beauty and questions whether attaining the fulsome body of the former, can, in any way, deride the necessity of the latter’s blossoming. He also nudges us to consider the propriety of actions taken under the influence of relationships which, in the safety net of sanguinity, can deluge the delicate fabric of morality. He also presses us to weigh the artistic liberties in the light of societal approvals and take a stand.

For the striking questions and delicately coherent wordplay, I was about to give this work a rating of four. But Mann snatched the solitary star from my hand by playing this masterstroke: A dream where Gustav has donned the garb of Socrates and Tadzio, of Phaedo and the former is giving his life lessons to the young warrior of tomorrow.

’Because beauty, Phaedo, is the only thing that is divine and visible at the same time, and so it is the way of the artist to the soul. But do you believe, my dear Phaedo, that the one who reaches the intellectual through the senses can ever achieve wisdom and human dignity? Or do you believe (and I am leaving this to you) that it is a lovely but dangerous road that leads nowhere? Because you have to realize that we artists cannot take the path of beauty without Eros joining us and becoming our leader; we may be heroes in our own way, but we are still like women, because passion is what elevates us, and our desire is love—that is our lust and our disgrace. Do you see that poets can be neither sage nor dignified? We do not like final knowledge, because knowledge, Phaedo, has no dignity or severity: it knows, understands, forgives, without attitude; it is sympathetic to the abyss, it is the abyss.’

An artist is able when he can turn thought to emotion and emotion to thought with equal finesse. But he is legendary when he can turn a non-artist, artist. And I know Gustav, in the end, did both jobs well.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,686 followers
May 12, 2018
“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 position where I really felt I could delay no longer, I started with his shorter work - Death in Venice.

First, the introduction by Michael Cunningham is a fantastic introduction of the difficulties associated with translation. All fiction is a translation. All works differ, since they all are impacted by writer and reader. Both imperfect, both carrying their own history. Even the same work, read by the same reader at different times (think King Lear) will be interpreted anew, feel different to the reader at different stages and ages. So, it is with translations. Different translators are going to experience Mann's Death in Venice in different ways. Gustav von Aschenbach will appear the fool to some or an artist gripped by obscession and passion by others. There is no exactly right answer.

This book was probably a 4-star book for me, but I added the star because I really did like the Cunningham intro (so extra-credit, why not?). So, how was this translation? I don't know. I don't read German and have only read ONE translation, but I loved Heim's take. I love the idea of Aschenbach's obscession overtaking him and ultimately (perhaps?) destroying him. We all would be so lucky if our passions destroyed us, perhaps.

So, perhaps, I am ready for Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family.
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
June 8, 2019
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 that line goes straight through the work of the last German novelist of the dying 19th century? Thomas Mann may be building sentences of old-fashioned eloquence, but his characters wither and die of suffocation in a world that can't carry the ideas of the European 19th century anymore without also acknowledging the deep evil and the inherent flaws that grow out of that society: the restrictions on personal, individual happiness that the intolerance of a predominantly Christian society puts on anyone who desires outside a church-approved wedlock, the exclusion of anyone from power and fame who doesn't play the game of the white man's burden with dignity and conviction.

Thomas Mann lived and wrote on the thin line between belief in European culture and his lifelong struggle with his own role and position within that culture. He lived long enough to suffer from the complete breakdown of his native country. Death in Venice, telling the story of "forbidden" desire and of the quite literal breaking of hearts to abide by the standards of thought of the collective, could be seen as the dying of the spirit of excellence facing a reality that doesn't fit the idea. And it is dying and dying. Forever dying like the overcrowded, dirty, real Venice choking on its own popularity as a symbol of European grandeur.

We are still stifling our dreams to conform with the bullying crowd of petty mediocrity. We are still longing for beauty without being able to let go of ideas that put us in the position of being ashamed of what we are, rather than questioning the shame itself as a tool of Christian control. We are still loving Thomas Mann for the death he describes in all of his works - from Buddenbrooks to Doktor Faustus.

Death in Venice is bittersweet, and as good as Mann can get!
Profile Image for Kasia.
240 reviews48 followers
September 8, 2016
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 house into place of worship tax deductible?)
Profile Image for Traveller.
228 reviews714 followers
December 17, 2015
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 the author as well as for his readers.
For me this was not because of how the protagonist's obsession affected his love-object, but because of how this obsession affected the protagonist himself.
... and, I couldn't shake the feeling that the novella was pretty much autobiographical in many senses. (I found out later that it was so in many respects, and the love-object is based on a real person. Most uncomfortable of all, is that the 'real' Tadzio, was the 10-year old Wladyslaw Moes).

Achenbach, the protagonist, is a well-respected author, who, like Mann, tends to engage with political and intellectual issues in his work. Like Achenbach, Mann visited Venice, where he made the acquaintance of a young boy whose beauty he apparently admired; with the difference that Mann was accompanied by his wife and brother, while Achenbach was alone. Okay, there are a few other differences as well - and one pretty large one, but that's a spoiler.

Many reviewers and critics have made much ado about the protagonist's homosexuality and/or his pederastic inclinations, but I think what disturbed me most was the stalker-ish intensity of the protagonist's infatuation, and to an extent also how he totally overromanticized the idea of physical beauty, using purple prose and overblown idealistic sentiments to describe his thoughts on physical human beauty, (which I deeply disagree with), and which Mann propped up with symbolism from Greek mythology, and references to Platonic ideals.

Ironically, Björn Johan Andrésen, who played the role of the fourteen-year-old Tadzio in Luchino Visconti's 1971 film adaptation of Death in Venice, is credited with saying: “One of the diseases of the world is that we associate beauty with youth. We are wrong. The eyes and the face are the windows of the soul and these become more beautiful with the age and pain that life brings. True ugliness comes only from having a black heart”.

Because I have long known that beauty is only skin-deep, I like those sentiments a lot better than:

... he believed that his eyes gazed upon beauty itself, form as divine thought, the sole and pure perfection that dwells in the mind and whose human likeness and representation, lithe and lovely, was here displayed for veneration. This was intoxication, and the aging artist welcomed it unquestioningly, indeed, avidly. His mind was in a whirl, his cultural convictions in ferment; his memory cast up ancient thoughts passed on to him in his youth though never yet animated by his own fire. Was it not common knowledge that the sun diverts our attention from the intellectual to the sensual? It benumbs and bewitches both reason and memory such that the soul in its elation quite forgets its true nature and clings with rapt delight to the fairest of sundrenched objects, nay, only with the aid of the corporeal can it ascend to more lofty considerations. Cupid truly did as mathematicians do when they show concrete images of pure forms to incompetent pupils: he made the mental visible to us by using the shape and coloration of human youths and turned them into memory's tool by adorning them with all the luster of beauty and kindling pain and hope in us at the sight of them...

Some interesting thoughts there, though I disagree with the sentiments expressed in bold. Were these the thoughts of the protagonist, or the author himself? From his notes, it would seem that these were actually Mann's own sentiments. They do seem a perfect rationalization for a man in Achenbach's position to make though, which makes them pretty fitting in their context, I must concede.

I am surprised that so many people, with so much evidence to the contrary, can still invoke Plato's ideas of essence = form when it comes to physical beauty = spiritual beauty. Surely, it doesn't require too much contemplation to come to the conclusion that physical beauty does not equal spiritual beauty?

One could muse that perhaps what Achenbach is rather saying, in what seems like a rationalization for his passion, that beauty can inspire love, the latter which is in itself beautiful. ...and yet, since in this specific context the object of that passion is so young, and vain, and since they had never even exchanged a word with one another, could this be love? Methinks not - this could surely be but an infatuation of the senses.

From the notes Mann made for the writing of the novella, it is clear that part of what he wanted to show, was that an artist (an author like himself) cannot be a dignified, purely rational creature, that he needs to be in touch with his passions and emotions, and that the act of creating art is inherently not a dispassionate activity.

Something else that Mann seems to be saying behind the scenes, is that love itself cannot be dignified, that love pushes an individual into undignified behavior.

Mann being a fairly obviously repressed individual, one can read a certain parallel between the disease that infects Venice, with Achenbach's almost insane passion (insanity features in Mann's notes). Mann seems to see these homosexual pederastic impulses that one surmises he felt himself, as at the same time degrading and ennobling. Ennobling, so the reasoning seems to go, in the sense of that when a person degrades himself for love, it can be seen as a kind of sacrifice of dignity for a higher cause (being, in this case, "love").
But one can only follow such reasoning if you can agree that a passion that seems so distant, unrealistic and physical can be ennobling and can be described as "love".

To put the matter in a slightly different context - make a small leap in your mind and imagine that the love-object here is instead a 40-year old woman. If the latter was the case, would the scenario in DIV still be creepy? Indeed, it would. What would make the scenario still creepy? It would still be a purely physical obsession characterized by stalkerish behaviour.

So one ends up asking yourself how far selfishly and obsessively stalking someone can really be an expression of love? ..and if it is to the extent that one puts this behaviour of yours above the wellbeing of its object? ..and what when the continuation of this behaviour puts the other's life in danger, then is it not actually selfishness and the opposite of love?

Of course, when the object of your obsession is only 14 years old, not making contact can probably be seen as the nobler action to take than to make contact; and sticking to stalking behaviour is probably preferable to some potential alternatives.

In spite of my criticism of Mann's ideas and of his patches of overwrought, overemotional purple prose, the latter suits the subject of the story well, and there are certainly a lot of thought-provoking ideas and well-executed imagery.

Mann also displays keen insight into his characters. He portrays the aging, smitten homosexual well, and the dissolution of his personality via the intensity of his obsession is conveyed with pathos despite the relentless dissection under Mann's unnerving microscope.

One feels torn between pity for Achenbach while at the same time suppressing a shudder at the creepiness of his stalking behavior - but Mann manages to make him look pathetic more than anything else.

Mann also remarks on Tadzio's narcissism with acute insight. According to The Real Tadzio: Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and the Boy Who Inspired It, the latter was indeed a pretty narcissistic person who enjoyed the attentions of older men, so Mann was pretty spot-on with his portrayals.

All-in-all, as with all good fiction, the novel leaves one with conflicted feelings. And, like all good fiction, it makes you roll around its various elements in your head, considering and re-considering; trying to find definite stances. The fact that the latter is so hard to do with this work of fiction, is a part of what makes it good fiction, whether one agrees with all of the specific ideas put forward by it or not.

I must mention that I started the novella with the e-book version of the translation by Michael Henry Heim, and finished with the translation by Clayton Koelb, with some cross-over where I read passages out of both. The latter claims to be the most natural and most US-friendly translation out there, but these two translations appeared fairly similar to me.
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
778 reviews
December 2, 2021
My plan this morning was to post a brief review (my practical side always gains the upper hand in December) of Heinrich Mann's Professor Unrat. The review would go like this:

A solitary individual in his late fifties, a studious type who likes nothing better than to sit at his desk and write about the past, is overcome by a sudden and unexpected passion. He abandons his usual pursuits and follows the passion until it destroys him.

When I'd typed it out, it struck me that it was also a description of Heinrich Mann's brother's book, Death in Venice which I also read recently!

Leave it to me, says Practical.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,291 followers
April 21, 2021
Jurnaliștii, librarii, istoricii literari, autorii de topuri au răscolit bibliotecile și au întocmit cataloage de cărți despre epidemii. Povestirea lui Thomas Mann a fost adesea uitată.

Firește, interesul prozatorului se îndreaptă, cum știm deja, îndeosebi asupra trăirilor „celebrului scriitor” Gustav von Aschenbach îndrăgostit brutal de tînărul polonez Tadzio. Discuția despre relația dintre rațiune și simțire, dintre interdict și dorință, dintre eros și moarte a mobilizat toată subtilitatea și astuția criticilor. Epidemia de holeră care devastează orașul și grăbește sfîrșitul lui von Aschenbach a rămas un subiect secundar.

Mulți au pretins că trebuie să privim din unghi simbolic și gondolele întunecate „ca niște sicrie”, și „aerul putred, de mlaștină” de deasupra străzilor strîmte, și figura bătrînului de pe vasul care-l aduce pe scriitor în oraș. Eu aș citi literal (și nu alegoric) întreaga desfășurare a epidemiei, fiindcă ea poate fi comparată cu evenimente reale și foarte apropiate de noi. Să vedem...

Ceea ce-l intrigă pe protagonist este mai întîi un miros ciudat de dezinfectant, de acid fenic. Are o vagă bănuială cînd ascultă liturghia în basilica San Marco: „în mireasma dulceagă şi grea a catedralei simţi deodată strecurîndu-se un alt miros, mirosul oraşului bîntuit de molimă”. Ceva nu-i în ordine. Dorește să afle adevărul, consultă ziarele italiene, dar nu găsește nimic despre holeră. A intervenit cenzura. Îl întreabă pe patronul hotelului, dar primește răspunsuri vagi, ocolitoare: „Aşa a poruncit poliţia. Astea sînt prescripţiile, domnule”. E limpede că „blestemata sete de bani” îi oprește pe comercianți să recunoască franc realitatea: ar da faliment. Cînd vorbesc despre epidemie, îi diminuează proporțiile: nu-i ceva grav, e doar o măsură preventivă. Sună cunoscut, nu-i așa?

Citez doar acest pasaj despre zvonurile care bîntuie orașul:
„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”.
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,001 reviews
February 4, 2022
يبحث توماس مان في فكرة الجمال المطلق كقيمة ورمز
من خلال افتتان آشنباخ بطل روايته بجمال مدينة البندقية والفتى الصغير تادسيو
جمال يُغلفه شيء من سحر الكمال يزول تدريجيا لتبدو الصورة عادية وواقعية
تتناول الرواية رؤية الفن والإبداع والحداثة والفارق ما بين المظاهر والحقيقة
وتشير في النهاية لقوة الواقع بعيدا عن أوهام وخيالات الجمال المثالية

Profile Image for Annetius.
307 reviews85 followers
April 11, 2021
Ένας σοβαρός και διάσημος συγγραφέας που χαίρει της γενικής εκτίμησης και αναγνώρισης του κοινού, αποφασίζει να ξεσκάσει για κάποιες εβδομάδες στη Βενετία, διακόπτοντας την αυστηρή και άκαμπτη προσήλωσή του στην καθημερινή πνευματική εργασία όπου είναι ταγμένος. Μοιάζει θαυμάσιο.

Όμως, ο Τόμας Μαν, σε αυτή την υπέροχη ιστορία, φροντίζει από νωρίς να στείλει τα μαύρα κοράκια να μηνύσουν τον αναγνώστη για το κακό που καιροφυλακτεί. Οι μαύρες λακαρισμένες γόνδολες και οι σκοτεινές μορφές των γονδολιέρηδων σκίζουν τα κανάλια σαν φέρετρα επανδρωμένα με δημίους. Το ελώδες, υγρό σκηνικό, εκεί όπου μπορεί να ευδοκιμήσει η αρρώστια, γίνεται ταυτόχρονα το ιδανικό μέσο για να γεννηθεί και να πολλαπλασιαστεί η νοητική παραζάλη, η μεγαλύτερη πλάνη όλων, ο έρωτας.

Η λογική και η σοβαρότητα υποτάσσεται, γονατίζει μπροστά σε ένα φρέσκο, δυνατό συναίσθημα. Ο γέρος σοφός Άσενμπαχ υποκλίνεται μπροστά στην ομορφιά που θαρρείς αποστάζεται μπροστά στα μάτια του, και γέρνει προς αυτήν όπως το λουλούδι που κλίνει προς τον ζωοδότη ήλιο για να αντλήσει τα μέγιστα από αυτόν. Ο νους χάνει έδαφος από τη γλώσσα του συναισθήματος που γλείφει λάγνα την περιοχή -ποιος μπορεί να αντισταθεί στην ομορφιά; Ακόμα και ο πιο αξιοπρεπής, ο λογικότερος όλων, δελεάζεται και χαλαρώνει τον χαλινό της αυτοσυγκράτησης που τον χαρακτηρίζει, για να αφεθεί έμπλεος από την πρωτόλεια συγκίνηση που τον περιζώνει. Ο ηθικός νόμος της αξιοπρέπειας υποχωρεί, γίνεται κομματάκια· ο έρωτας και η σαγήνη, άμετρα καθώς είναι, κατά τη μετωπική σύγκρουση μαζί τους, σαρώνουν μέσα σε έναν εσωτερικό ανεμοστρόβιλο κάθε ίχνος λογικής που επιμελώς φροντίζεται, με συνέπεια χτίζεται και ανελλιπώς στιλβώνεται από τον πειθαρχημένο και συγκροτημένο νου. Και κάπως έτσι, η ομορφιά, ο έρωτας, η φυσικότητα, ο αυθορμητισμός γίνονται τελικά η καταδίκη που οδηγεί στον θάνατο.

«Γιατί πρέπει να ξέρεις πως εμείς οι ποιητές δεν μπορούμε να ακολουθήσουμε το δρόμο της ομορφιάς χωρίς τον Έρωτα σύντροφο κι οδηγό μας· ναι, ακόμη κι αν, με τον δικό μας τρόπο, είμαστε ήρωες και πειθαρχημένοι πολεμιστές στην τέχνη ας, πάλι είμαστε σαν τις γυναίκες, γιατί ανάταση στην ψυχή μας φέρνει μονάχα το πάθος, και βαθιά μας επιθυμία μένει πάντα η αγάπη -αυτή είναι η απόλαυσή μας και η ντροπή μας. Καταλαβαίνεις μήπως τώρα ότι εμείς οι ποιητές δεν μπορούμε να είμαστε ούτε σοφοί ούτε αξιοπρεπείς; Πως η παραπλάνησή μας είναι μοιραία, πως αναγκαστικά παραμένουμε ακόλαστοι τυχοδιώκτες του συναισθήματος;»

Μέχρι ένα σημείο απλώς διάβαζα. Από ένα σημείο και μετά, έφαγα το δόλωμα, δάγκωσα το αγκίστρι της αφηγηματικής τέχνης του Τόμας Μαν, παγιδεύτηκα στην ελεγεία του κάλλους που έχει υφάνει· κι έμεινα να απολαμβάνω, πλανημένη και εγώ, από τον αυθορμητισμό και την ορμή του συναισθήματος.

Η ομορφιά θα σώσει τον κόσμο. Αλλά και θα τον κάψει, χωρίς διαπραγμάτευση.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,887 reviews1,923 followers
September 22, 2021
Rating: 3.5* of five
The Publisher Says: Death in Venice tells how Gustave von Aschenbach, a writer utterly absorbed in his work, arrives in Venice as a result of a 'youthfully ardent thirst for distant scenes,' and meets there a young boy by whose beauty he becomes obsessed. His pitiful pursuit of the object of his abnormal affection and its inevitable and pathetic climax is told here with the particular skill the author has for this shorter form of fiction.
Do I really need to explicate for even the meanest, least gay-friendly mouth-breather that this "blurb" is exactly why there is, and needs to be, a Gay Pride Movement and there is not, and need not be, a straight-people equivalent? And may I just add that this is exactly why I detest this book, pretty phrases or no.

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 Croatia, no knowing which since we're not given much to go on) leads him to make his second journey to Venice. Arriving in the sin capital of the early modern world, and even in the early 20th century possessed of a louche reputation, brings him into contact with two life-changing things: A beautiful teenaged boy, and cholera. I think the title fills you in on the rest.

My Review: I know this was written in 1911-1912, and is therefore to be judged by the standards of another era, but I am bone-weary of stories featuring men whose love for other males brings them to disaster and death. This is the story that started me on that path of dislike. Von Ascherbach realizes he's in love for the first time in his pinched, narrow life, and it's with a 14-year-old boy; his response is to make himself ridiculous, following the kid around, staying in his Venetian Garden of Eros despite knowing for sure there's a cholera epidemic, despite being warned of the dangers of staying, despite smelling decay and death and miasmic uccchiness all around, because he's in love. But with the wrong kind of person...a male. Therefore Mann makes him pay the ultimate price, he loses his life because he gives in and falls hopelessly, stupidly in love. With a male. Mann makes his judgment of this moral turpitude even more explicit by making it a chaste, though to modern eyes not unrequited, love between an old man and a boy. Explicit references to Classical culture aside, the entire atmosphere of the novel is quite evidently designed to point up the absurdity and the impossibility of such a love being rewarding or rewarded. It's not in the least mysterious what Mann's after: Denial, denial, denial! It's your only salvation, faggots! Deny yourself, don't let yourself feel anything rather than feel *that*!

This book offends my sensibilities. Gorgeously built images and sonorously elegant sentences earn it all of its points.
Profile Image for Gabriel.
484 reviews639 followers
May 21, 2023
No hay sombra de duda que como lector siempre me voy a cruzar con alguna novela que me parecerá un poco redundante y demasiado superficial y pretenciosa para mi gusto. Bueno, este ha sido mi caso.

La muerte en Venecia es en esencia la historia de un pedófilo que se enamora de un joven de 14 años mientras se encuentra de vacaciones en el lugar para tomarse un respiro de su profesión como escritor. Ya, no hay nada más... o bueno, sí que lo hay pero al ser tan corta no vi la necesidad de querer utilizar tantos temas en casi nada de páginas, porque la final termina en mucho por abarcar pero poco por apretar.

Los dos primeros capítulos se pierde muchísimo en un contenido que básicamente son divagaciones del personaje principal sobre la literatura, la creatividad, el arte y la escritura y su oficio como alguien en el mundo que debe dar ejemplo moral a través de su profesión.

Luego en los siguientes capítulos nos muestra el interés del señor por el niño, al cual acecha constantemente con miradas y con una obsesión insana que en su mente él jura es algo romántico y que a la vez es correspondido y recíproco por parten de Tadzio, mientras hace alusión a la filosofía y mitos griegos.

Y después se pierde aún más en simbolismos y literariedades sobre la peste que está azotando el lugar y que afecta a la población por la deficiencia y negligencia del estado solo para decir que el gobierno prefiere quedarse callado si se aseguran más dinero en el bolsillo.

En fin, que es corta, que se lee rápido, pero que a mi parecer en tan poco no me compensa con nada. Protagonizada por un ser desagradable que recurre a la filosofía y la historia griega para sentirse válido con su interés evidente hacia un niño que solo le sirve para excusarse y justificarse de su pedofilia. Y que además hace demasiadas reflexiones profundas y con muchas florituras cansinas que no van al grano.

Para mí, hace aguas por todas partes. Se quiere centrar en varias cosas que pudieron ser interesantes pero al final ninguna terminó por convencerme.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,375 reviews2,249 followers
September 30, 2017
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. He had been too preoccupied with the duties imposed on him by the collective European psyche. He needed change, so heads to Venice.

Venice was not enshrined in sun when the ferry docked, a disturbing insult to his aesthetics, and Aschenbach's mood was not improved when a contumacious, red-haired gondolier imposed his services on him. Quite naturally his thoughts turned to death. And death really pays as the main theme here, He disembarked at the Hotel on the Lido and was reassured to hear the sounds of all the major world languages. And Polish. As he was waiting for dinner he spotted three austere, expressionless girls with their extremely beautiful 14-year-old brother. He went to sleep in a transport of delight and entered a dreamland where he was a great deal more active than he ever was awake.

Aschenbach would spend the rest of his stay, studying with passionate observations, the boy, Tadzio, in all his god-like physique, he is fascinated by the boy's dashing good looks, watching on in a state of euphoria, while a calm washes over him. He has never felt so in love.

But by his forth week's stay, rumours are circulating there is sickness in the city, he doesn't want to leave. He starts to follow Tadzio more openly, he learned there was a cholera epidemic but still he could not bring himself to tell Tadzio's mother, but can't tear away from his burning infatuation. He started to feel ghastly on the beach whilst gazing across the sand at Tadzio, Was he beckoning him?. Crushed by the weight of the symbolism, he wouldn't rise again.

This by Novella standards is quite rightly regarded as a classic of German literature, reading the second time around didn't strike me as much as the first, so have knocked a star of my rating,
but it's very well written, and I don't understand the criticism, but then no one book is going to please everybody. 4/5
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book487 followers
February 8, 2020
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 understanding of the story and most foreshadowing the outcome.

The strange conveyance, handed down without any change from days of yore, and so peculiarly black--the only other thing that black is a coffin--recalls hushed criminal adventures in the night, accompanied only by the quiet splashing of water; even more, it recalls death itself, the bier and the dismal funeral and the final taciturn passage. And have you observed that the seat in such a boat, that armchair painted black like a coffin and upholstered in a dull black, is the softest, most luxurious and enervating seat in the world?

What a visceral writer he is! Once he engaged me, he kept me to the end, which was one of the finest endings I could imagine. I would caution other readers that the start of this is extremely laborious and slow. It provides information that is essential to understanding this man and his ramblings, but I had to push through the first two chapters. Once Aschenbach makes the decision to go to Venice, the writing begins to flow.

There is a predatory element to this novel that makes the reader cringe. Unlike the perversion in Lolita, this perversion is kept in the right perspective for me; the child is innocent and there is no pretense that there is anything pure or acceptable about the thoughts of this old man.

There are numerous themes running through this novel. The irony of a man who criticizes others for faults he so obviously shares; the contrast between youth and old age, innocence and corruption; the presence of death in the midst of life; and the corrosive nature of self-importance. It is a novel that begs to be dissected with a scalpel. Can’t say I “enjoyed” it, but I do think it is an important piece of literature that conjure up Poe’s Mask of the Red Death and Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Grey for me.
Profile Image for Quo.
284 reviews
February 8, 2022
Thomas Mann's Death in Venice resembles a portrait of the artist as an older man, a figure forced to confront & evaluate his path in life, regretting much of what he sees. Throughout, Gustav Aschenbach speaks of an artist's being conditioned to rather ruthlessly pursue truth as he envisions it, with that pursuit being an intellectual one that almost precludes much in the way of overt emotion or revealed passion.

Aschenbach, a widower, considers travel a necessary evil, not something embraced willingly but rooted within his own sphere for ages & with with life seemingly on the wane, he craves a distant scene as a kind of release, to counter his fastidious self-discipline, his life as an ascetic writer. He comments that he has "done homage to the intellect & overworked the soil of knowledge" & so in quest of change, he heads by degrees for a grand hotel in Venice.

The novella offers the reader a juxtaposition of the Apollonian ideal, the stately artistic profile, as countered by the visceral Dionysian type of man defined by more robust motion & sensuality. But beyond this & with reference to the former, I kept thinking of T.S. Eliot's poetic portrait of the rigidly austere J. Alfred Prufrock, growing old & destined to "wear the bottoms of his trousers rolled", as an artistic kinsman to Aschenbach. In fact, in checking I noted that both Eliot's poem and Mann's Death in Venice were written in 1911.

Here is Aschenbach's own appraisal of his life:
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.

Aschenbach reckons the young lad in a sailor outfit to be "beauty's very essence" as he phrases it & reminiscent of a work of Greek sculpture. He felt a sudden urge to write, with the boy serving as his artistic model as the image of perfection, "like a young god". Alas, over the course of a month at the hotel, fascination with the young boy named Tadzio becomes a preoccupation, which accelerates into a form of obsession. He even silently mutters "I love you", as Aschenbach is drawn to the boy, as a moth to a flame.

But all is not well in Venice, even as Aschenbach feels a kind of degradation within himself, a turning away from the role he has so consistently played throughout his life. Beyond the sense of his own pending frailty, Aschenbach has arrived at Venice in the midst of a plague of cholera, news of which the hotel & the city have desperately tried to forestall. Still, the scent of carbolic acid becomes increasingly present in an attempt to disinfect the city.

Within the beauty of the young lad, Aschenbach sees signs of a flaw, at first imperceptible but still causing him to sense that Tadzio will not live a long life. Thomas Mann casts the image of sand through an hourglass, a childhood memory, with time ultimately destructive as "the rust-red sand, soundless & fine, filters through the narrow neck, making as it declines from the upper cavity, an exquisite little vortex."

There is a song in the iconic 1930 German film, The Blue Angel, with Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings as an aging professor who, late in his somber life, is drawn to a sultry temptress, with Dietrich singing about how she scorches the wings of men attracted to her. I sensed something similar at play in Death in Venice, with my own interpretation that Aschenbach came to the hotel with a sense of impending doom & Tadzio quite able to serve as a symbol of a road not taken, erotic desire but one caused by what Aschenbach takes to be intrinsic beauty.

There is mild flirtation by Aschenbach, aimed at Tadzio becomes more complex when the boy returns his glance, causing...
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.

At one point, he comments that his "mind & heart were drunk with passion, his footsteps guided by a demonic power whose pastime is to trample on human reason & dignity." The story represents an unraveling of a human life at its end, one that almost seems to invite the mocking accusations & insensitivity I've read in some reviews of Death in Venice, though I view it differently.

Some interpreters have Gustav Aschenbach &/or Thomas Mann as bisexual or gay, with Tadzio even adopted by some as an icon to serve a particular sexuality. The Portuguese writer, Fernando Pessoa, commented that "within each of us is a hidden orchestra" & perhaps Thomas Mann was attempting to express the sound of an instrument not frequently given a voice. My vote is that at the end of the road, Aschenbach laments the lack of passion in his life but in a far more generic sense.

Death in Venice is a beautifully worded but a formally written novella, something that is also the subject of displeasure for some readers. It is a book of a particular time & place but one that remains fully alive for me within the pages of the brief novel by Thomas Mann. Times & literary styles do change & even the once splendid Hôtel des Bains, no longer receives guests. However, it is with good reason that the book has generated so many subsequent interpretations, including a wonderful 1971 film by Luchino Visconti and the 1973 opera by Benjamin Britten.

*Within my review are images of Thomas Mann; Tadzio in the Visconti film version; Dirk Bogarde as Aschenbach from the Visconti film; the now-shuttered Hôtel des Bains in Venice in a 1915 photo; a young & rather boyish-looking Katia Mann, wife of Thomas.

**My version of Death in Venice appears within the hardcover book, Thomas Mann: Stories of 3 Decades, published by Modern Library, First Printing, 1936, with a translation by H.T. Lowe-Porter. However, I have also read the story in the edition atop my review, with a rather more lyrical recent translation by Michael Heim & an interesting preface by Michael Cunningham.
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
491 reviews237 followers
May 28, 2020
کتاب مرگ در ونیز اثر توماس مان ، کتابی ایست سرشار از ایهام ، نماد و اسطوره ، اثری تکان دهنده و پر رمز و راز که با قلم کمی خشک اما بسیار لطیف استاد نگارش شده است .

خطر فاش شدن داستان

بدون شک شمایلی که استاد از آشنباخ نویسنده آلمانی اوایل قرن بیستم آفریده است فراموش ناشدنی ایست ، یک آلمانی کلاسیک با همان دقت و پشتکار ، انسانی منظم که عمری برنامه کاری روتین خود را داشته حالا قصد دارد که به خود استراحتی دهد و به ونیز جادویی برود ، که شاید این استراحت کمی از خستگی روحی او کم کند ، او با کشتی به ونیز می رود ، کشتی با پرچم ایتالیا ، اما کهنه ، زنگار گرفته و غم آلود
سفر برای او به منزله تغییر است ، به معنای حرکت و جنبش ، خارج شدن از سکونی که به آن گرفتار شده است . در ونیز است که او را می بیند ، تحسینش می کند ، به او عادت می کند ، گرفتارش می شود عاشق و شیدای او.
توماس مان خواننده را شوک�� کرده ، قهرمان سالخورده داستان او مانند شیخ صنعان عاشق دختری جوان نشده است ، معشوق او پسر نوجوانی ایست زیبا که عواطف آشنباخ را بر انگیخته .
زندگی آشنباخ دیگر عوض شده ، او هر روز به آرزوی دیدن پسرک به ساحل می رود ، تا او را بیابد و ببیند ، دلش گرفتار حال عجیبی ایست :
گر ز حال دل خبر داری بگو
ور نشانی مختصر داری بگو
لطافت قلم نویسنده هنگامی که پسرک لهستانی به آشنباخ مجنون شده لبخند می زند به اوج می رسد :
این لبخند نرگس بود که بر آینه ی آب خم می شود ، لبخند هوش ربا و شیفته نرگس وقتی که دست پیش می برد تا بازتاب زیبایی خویشتن را در آغوش بگیرد ، آن هم با پریشانی کم و بیش از بیهودگی قصدش در بوسه زدن بر لب های دلاویز پس تاب خود ، و با وجود این ، مغازله جو ، کنجکاو و با خود در کلنجار ، سِحر زده و سحر انگیز
آشنباخ در راه این عشق عجیب شهره خاص و عام شده ، راز او را همگان می دانند و شاید بر این پیرمرد عاشق اندکی دلسوزی هم می کنند ،در این میان در ونیز گرم ، بیماری وبا هم شیوع پیدا می کند ، در رفتاری مشابه امروز ، مقامات به خاطر کسب در آمد از توریستها وجود بیماری را انکار می کنند ، پیرمرد در دوراهی مرگ و زندگی ، عقل یا عشق تصمیم می گیرد در ونیز وبا زده بماند ،بیماری گسترش می یابد و کم کم مرگ به نزدیکی آشنباخ می رسد ، روزی که معشوق عازم وطن خود است مرگ آشنباخ را فرا می گیرد ، در حالی که نگاهش به سمت پسرک است :
مرگ را دانم ولی تا کوی دوست
راه اگر نزدیکتر داری بگو
استاد با نثر نسبتا پیچیده ای داستان را روایت کرده اما دشوار بودن نثر خود به زیبایی اثر اضافه کرده است ، به همین ترتیب از انبوهی از اسطوره ها و نمادها استفاده کرده که مترجم کتاب می توانست اندکی آنان را توضیح دهد . علاوه بر نمادها ، آقای مان چندین بار افرادی شر به سراغ آشنباخ می فرستد که به او هشدار دهند که مرگ در این سرزمین به انتظار او نشسته است . عشقی که توماس مان توصیف کرده عشق افلاطونی ایست اما شاید به گونه ای آنرا بتوان انحراف هم دانست .
شاید بتوان آشنباخ را فردی در نظر گرفت که فقط عاشق زیبایی شده و برای او مهم نیست این زیبایی و کمال از آن پسری لهستانی باشد یا کس دیگری ، عشق نظاره گر , عشق توصیفی که عاشق فقط می خواهد معشوق را ببیند و توصیف کند ، نه عشقی سلطه گر و در آرزوی رسیدن به او .....
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,051 reviews525 followers
January 11, 2022
Trailing the beautiful boy one afternoon, Aschenbach penetrated the stricken city’s tangled core. His sense of direction having failed him—the alleys, canals, bridges, and tiny squares in the labyrinth were too much alike—he was no longer certain of even the compass points; all he cared about was keeping track of the vision he was so ardently pursuing...

I decided to read this novella in preparation for ‘The Magician’ by Colm Tóibín. (I also have yet to read ‘The Master’, which is Tóibín’s take on the life and times of Henry James.) Interestingly, I see that Scribner has reissued ‘Death in Venice’ with an introduction by Tóibín and an extract from the novel itself.

Tóibín writes that Mann “thought constantly about a sexual life that was not available to him, that would have to reside mostly in eager thoughts about young men.” He adds:

There was so much concealment. Thomas Mann was the most respectable German of his time, the father of six children. Even when ‘Death in Venice’ appeared in 1912, no one imagined that it was based on real desires, real happenings.

If this strains incredulity for the modern reader, one has to remember that it was a very different world that Mann was writing (and living) in. Much of Aschenbach’s infatuation with Tadzio is couched in rarified talk about the Muse and perfection instilled through art.

It is only with the fateful declaration “I love you!” that the Great Man’s downfall truly begins (largely in part due to the belief that a true artist has to shield him [or her] self from sordid reality and the even baser desires imposed by the human condition.)

The HarperCollins edition I read has a fascinating introduction by Michael (‘The Hours’) Cunningham that gives much insight into the ‘new’ translation by Michael Heim. This updates the traditional 1930 translation by H.T. Lowe-Porter, who apparently disapproved of the book’s subject matter (and Mann himself probably).

Hence the old translation is a bit of a whitewash. Lowe-Porter, for example, gets the name of ‘Phaedrus’ wrong and completely misses the Greek reference, according to an article I read in ‘The Guardian’.

I was unaware that ‘Death in Venice’ as a title has a double allusion. What I found interesting is how Mann transforms Venice into such a brooding cesspit of a place, which is in total contrast to its traditional appeal as the City of Love.

The novella has lost none of its disturbing power, and one can only imagine what Mann would have thought of this slight tome becoming his enduring legacy (or how he would have reacted to Tóibín concocting an ‘autobiographical experiment’ that focuses on some of the more lurid details of his life).
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
568 reviews3,928 followers
February 15, 2019
Extraña y compleja novela... La primera parte cuesta bastante, hasta que te haces al estilo y al cuidadísimo lenguaje que utiliza el autor (que sinceramente resulta algo abrumador al principio).
No es una novela para todo el mundo, tanto por el estilo (que ya digo que no es fácil) como por el tema (habla del enamoramiento platónico de un hombre hacia un chico de 14 años) pero todas las sensaciones del personaje principal están tan bien hiladas y el autor las transmite tan bien que al final consiguió conquistarme.
La recta final es impactante, me gustó muchísimo.
En fin, me cuesta puntuar este relato, me costó al principio, disfruté muchísimo del final y sospecho que me va a dejar un buen poso... ¡Ahora a por la peli!
Por cierto, la edición ilustrada de Edelvives es la cosa más bonita que os podéis encontrar EN EL MUNDO.
Profile Image for Paul.
1,178 reviews1,936 followers
August 19, 2019
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 he does this very effectively using the symbolism of Greek philosophy; especially Apollo and Dioysius in opposition; Apollo representing the intellect and repressed emotion and Dionysius representing passion and the opposite of reason. Aschenbach has lived in the realm of intellect and reason; unreason intrudes (the red haired man at the beginning of the book) and Aschenbach travels to Venice to holiday. He appears surprised by the intrusion of passion and struggles to understand and cope with it.
As Aschenbach becomes more obsessed his decline is described. Early in the book he sees an older man with a group of younger men; the older man is heavily made up to look younger and revolts Aschenbach. He later becomes what he is revolted by. The symbol of cholera ravaging the heart of Venice, secretly, is mirrored in the destructive passion and in the obsession leading to Aschenbach staying in Venice and dying of cholera (it does feel like Mann really does not like Aschenbach). The influences of Freud and Nietzsche are clear and there are lots of Platonic references.
This is a powerful portrayal of doomed and distorted obsession. Mann got the idea when he was in Venice with his family and saw a young Polish boy with his family. He was also a fan of Mahler, who died very suddenly just before Mann conceived the tale. The analysis of passion is stark; Aschenbach gains nothing from it, he becomes ridiculous, diseased and increasingly self-deceiving. Aschenbach does not realise there is a sexual element to his desire until a vivid dream towards the end of the book; that realisation does not lead to direct action on his desires (he still sits on the beach and watches or follows the family at a distance around Venice), but more directly to the onset of the disease and decay.
Contrast with the horrific current revelations about Jimmy Saville; he acted out all of his fantasies with no repression. I cannot imagine Aschenbach having an epitaph on his grave saying "It was good while it lasted" like Saville did (Unfortunately we now know what he meant).
This novella is well worth reading for Mann's analysis of destructive passion and it is very thought provoking.
Profile Image for FotisK.
355 reviews157 followers
December 27, 2020
Όταν το πνεύμα αποφάσισε να κατέβει από τον βωμό της ολύμπιας αταραξίας του και να ακολουθήσει τις επιταγές της σάρκας, το αποτέλεσμα υπήρξε προδιαγεγραμμένο. Αφήνοντας τον λευκό, απαστράπτοντα Βορρά της νόησης, για να κατέλθει του "κακού τη σκάλα", η οποία οδηγεί στον Νότο όπου η "τίγρη ελλοχεύει με τα πυρωμένα μάτια της", οδηγείται στον αφανισμό της, έρμαιο του κάλλους που αποτελεί -υποτίθεται- υπόσχεση ευτυχίας.

Επειδή πολλά έχουν ειπωθεί για τον "Θάνατο στη Βενετία", δεν έχει νόημα να επιχειρήσω να προσθέσω τη σοφία μου. Εντούτοις, θα ήθελα να εστιάσω σε ένα δευτερεύον σημείο που θεωρώ ενδιαφέρον. Διαβάζοντας τη μικρή αυτή νουβέλα διέκρινα έναν κοινό τόπο, ενός είδους μοτίβο που διατρέχει μια σειρά κειμένων, τόσο σε Βορειοευρωπαίους όσο και σε Βορειοαμερικανούς συγγραφείς (κατά βάση η ίδια λογική): είτε πρόκειται για τον Τ. Μαν στο εν λόγω είτε για τον Χ Τζέιμς (στο "Ντέϊζυ Μίλλερ" αλλά και σε άλλα) ή ακόμα και τον Σ. Φιτζέραλντ ("Τρυφερή είναι η νύχτα"), η ιστορική χώρα του Νότου, η Ιταλία, αποτελεί το σκηνικό της δράσης, και συχνά της τραγικής κατάληξης των πρωταγωνιστών.

(Απαραιτήτως να τονίσω εδώ ότι όσα περιγράφω έχουν σχέση με την Ιταλία -μα και την Ελλάδα- των αρχών του 20ού αιώνα, μιας και πλέον η παγκοσμιοποίηση έχει αμβλύνει τις αντιθέσεις σε σημαντικό βαθμό, αν και όχι απολύτως.)

Μπορεί η επιλογή της χώρας αυτής να βασίζεται στον θαυμασμό του παρελθόντος της, στη μακραίωνη ιστορία της και όλα τα συναφή, αλλά είχα πάντα την αίσθηση (ιδίως στο εν λόγω βιβλίο) ότι η Ρώμη ή η Βενετία αποτελούν σκηνικά, υπέροχα στημένες μακέτες, τις οποίες οι επισκέπτες από τον Βορρά ενοικούν όσο διάστημα απαιτείται και στη συνέχεια το ειδικευμένο προσωπικό του studio αποσυναρμολογεί και αποσύρει στον κατάλληλα διαμορφωμένο αποθηκευτικό χώρο. Ένα Palazzo από εδώ, ένα ξενοδοχείο από εκεί, κάποια πλατεία ή παραλία, όλα όσα είναι απαραίτητα για να κινηθεί άκοπα ο επισκέπτης του βιβλίου.

Το πιο ενδιαφέρον, κατά την άποψή μου, παραμένει η απουσία του ντόπιου στοιχείου: όπου και όταν εμφανίζεται, παραπέμπει σε χάρτινες φιγούρες θεάτρου σκιών που κινούνται παράλληλα στον ίδιο χώρο με τους πρωταγωνιστές. Οι ντόπιοι (Ρωμαίοι, Βενετσιάνοι ή ό,τι άλλο) είναι απλά κομπάρσοι στην ίδια τους τη χώρα, guest εμφανίσεις, περιορισμένοι σε υποστηρικτικά ρολάκια. Και αυτό στην καλύτερη περίπτωση, καθότι συνήθως όταν καταγράφονται, έστω αδρομερώς, η σκιαγράφησή τους είναι συνήθως…προσβλητική. Εν προκειμένω, στον "Θάνατο στη Βενετία", οι γηγενείς είναι σκοτεινοί τύποι γονδολιέρηδων, δουλοπρεπείς ξενοδόχοι και προσωπικό, γλοιώδεις και πιθανώς κακ��ποιοί διασκεδαστές, μπουφόνοι και ανεύθυνοι κρατικοί λειτουργοί, την ίδια στιγμή που οι αρχές (συνήθως απουσιάζουν) αποδεικνύονται τουλάχιστον ανεπαρκείς και επικίνδυνες στη διαχείριση της ενσκήπτουσας επιδημίας.

Συνεχίζω λοιπόν, ισχυριζόμενος ότι είναι προφανής ο ενδόμυχος (;) ρατσισμός του Μαν, του Τζέιμς και όλων των Βόρειων αδελφών τους απέναντι στον Νότο και τα θέλγητρά του. Υπενθυμίζω τον Μαν του "Τόνιο Κρέγκερ" όπου ο καλλιτέχνης προκρίνει την παραμονή σε κάποιο νησί της Βόρειας Θάλασσας, ώστε να αποφύγει "τον κτηνώδη αισθησιασμό των Νοτίων". Είναι επομένως πολύ λογικό, όποτε οι συγγραφείς αυτοί επιλέγουν να ακολουθήσουν την αντίστροφη πορεία προς τους αντίποδες, να στήνουν ένα σκηνικό δράσης που διασώζει θεματικά το ιστορικό, αρχαιολογικό, πολιτισμικό περιβάλλον της χώρας, απομακρύνοντας εμμέσως πλην σαφώς το πιο ενοχλητικό στοιχείο της: τους παρηκμασμένους ιθαγενείς που… τυχαίνει να κατοικούν σ' αυτό το μέρος!

Είναι εξίσου προφανές ότι όχι μόνο δεν με ενοχλεί η συγκεκριμένη επιλογή, αλλά τη θεωρώ εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρουσα και επιτυχημένη. Οι λόγοι προφανείς: Κατά πρώτον, το έργο μυθοπλασίας δεν οφείλει να είναι ρεαλιστικό (αναπαράγοντας πιστά), εφόσον θέλει να είναι άξιο λόγου. Επομένως, ο δημιουργός σκηνοθετεί μια ολόδική του πραγματικότητα που υπακούει αποκλειστικά στις μορφολογικές ανάγκες του έργου του και όχι σε εκείνες της εμπειρικής πραγματικότητας. Κατά δεύτερον, ο συγγραφέας υποτάσσεται και λογοδοτεί αποκλειστικά στο όραμά του και επουδενί στις πρόσκαιρες αντιλήψεις που πιθανώς έχουν οι αναγνώστες για το τι αποτελεί φλέγον, τιμητικό, προσβλητικό για τις όποιες "ευαισθησίες" τους (εθνικές, ιδεολογικές, θρησκευτικές, φυλετικές κλπ.).

Η ερώτηση παραμένει μία και σαφής: αντιστοιχούν οι θεματικές επιλογές, οι εκπεφρασμένες απόψεις, το περιεχόμενο εν τέλει, στον μορφολογικό νόμο που διέπει το έργο τέχνης; Η απάντηση είναι ξεκάθαρα θετική, ως εκ τούτου τα υπόλοιπα είναι περιττά και οποιαδήποτε αλλαγή θα προκαλούσε ανισορροπία στο άρτιο οικοδόμημα του βιβλίου.

Και τέλος, για να είμαι απόλυτα ειλικρινής (ως μη όφειλα), βρίσκω αυτή τη δομική αντίθεση μεταξύ τεχνολογικά/πνευματικά/πολιτιστικά ανώτερου Βορρά (Ευρώπη, Αμερική), σε αντίθεση με τον εκφυλισμένο/υπανάπτυκτο/κακαίσθητο Νότο (τουλάχιστον, τονίζω, ως τον 2ο Π.Π.) αρκετά προσφιλή από λογοτεχνικής απόψεως. Αν μη τι άλλο, ο εγκλωβισμένος στον ράθυμο Νότο εαυτός μου έχει μόνιμα στραμμένη την εσωτερική του πυξίδα στον αγαπημένο Βορρά του Πνεύματος.

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