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Death in Venice and Other Tales

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  15,866 Ratings  ·  607 Reviews
Featuring his world-famous masterpiece, "Death in Venice," this new collection of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann's stories and novellas reveals his artistic evolution. In this new, widely acclaimed translation that restores the controversial passages that were cut out of the original English version, "Death in Venice" tells about a ruinous quest for love and beauty amid degene ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 1911)
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european men, stay put. seriously, nothing good ever happens to you when you leave whatever small european town you are from and venture into the wider world. whether it is gide and tunisia, conrad and the congo, robbe-grillet with wherever that was, various graham greenes; statistically, there will be temptations which you are not equipped to resist and you will either succumb or drive yourself to humiliation and despair with the wanting to succumb. and i totally get it - different surroundings
Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy
Elements in a Composition

"Death in Venice" was published in 1912, when Thomas Mann was 37. The protagonist is in his mid-50’s.

Both Mann and his wife, Katia, acknowledged that virtually all of the elements of the plot were modelled on their trip to Venice in 1911. However, I don’t see any value in trying to analyse the novella as an exploration of Mann’s own homoeroticism.

Mann had to choose, prioritise, sublimate and arrange his inspiration as "elements in a composition".

I’d prefer to approach
Don't know if I've read all these stories or not, so the rating is primarily for Death in Venice. I remember (not very well) reading it years ago, and just now scanned it again.

That scanning was enough to convince me it fulfilled all my criteria for a 5-star read. But now I must still go back and read it more carefully. Not because I might change my mind, but because I know I'll enjoy it even more.

When I wrote this short review, I was reading Buddenbrooks, and noted that it was amazing to experi
Read "Death in Venice." Love and Death. No wonder Woody Allen referenced the story in Annie Hall. Aschenbach, a writer in his fifties, an artist raised by the Kaiser to the aristocracy, sees the boy-god Tadzio on a beach in Venice and promptly loses his reason. It's a very human story. Who hasn't lost their head over someone? The references to Plato's Symposium are spot on. The prose might be a little dense for some. I enjoyed it but found it excruciating, so affecting is its theme. In that sen ...more
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"What do you mean, Diotima,' I said, 'is love then evil and foul?' 'Hush,' she cried; 'must that be foul which is not fair?' 'Certainly,' I said. 'And is that which is not wise, ignorant? do you not see that there is a mean between wisdom and ignorance?' 'And what may that be?' I said. 'Right opinion,' she replied."
— Plato. The Symposium (trans. by Benjamin Jowett).

Fuzzy Logic is a paradigm often applied to Artificial Intelligence, though its applications may vary. It’s a kind of logic that was
Nov 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It's fantastic to be completely swayed by century-old works; to be turned- on completely by some German dude who probably thought so differently from you that anything he produced is just receptive to awe alone, and no discernible connections between you and the author exist. Not true. If you saw the dreadful film "A Single Man" (or read the novel) & thought that the idea for that was elsewhere inscribed, well, you were super right! It is this masterpiece by Thomas Mann it tries to emulate; ...more
Jason Koivu
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"Read this," you said, handing me Death in Venice, "you'll enjoy it!"

"What's it about," I asked.

"It's a story whose entire premise is based on a perverted old man lusting ghoulishly after the youth of a handsome, young boy," you said.

"Fuck off," I shouted.

I don't usually go in for the old-man-desires-the-youthful-essence-of-a-boy genre, but Death in Venice spoke to me. Maybe it's vanity and the fear of losing the beauty and natural exuberance of youth, or the sadness felt at the passing and irr

--Little Herr Friedemann
--The Joker
--The Road to the Churchyard
--Gladius Dei
--Tonio Kröger
--Death in Venice
Jetzt gleich mal ein Fazit: Thomas Mann und seine Kurzgeschichten sind meiner Meinung nach total überbewertet. Die Germanisten unter Euch mögen mich hinrichten, aber dieses nutzlose verkrampfte geistige Gehirnwichsen ergibt einfach keinen Sinn. Eines muss man dem Autor lassen: Er kann Schachtelsätze, aber das ist auch schon alles. Ausführliche Details ob dieses Trauerspiels in den Einzelbeurteilungen.

1. Tod in Venedig 2,5 Sterne
Der Beginn ist ein unnötiges verkrampftes nichtssagendes Geschwurbel
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
a brief chronology ::

19xx, May :: purchased Bantam Death in Venice and Other Stories by Thomas Mann.

19xx, June :: read “Death in Venice” in class along with two things from Dubliners, Mrs Dalloway, something from Sartre, something from Robbe-Grillet, and a few other things. Pretty cool.

19xx, May(?) :: saw the Orlando film. Still have not read the novel.

20xx, Sept :: read “Little Herr Friedemann”, “The Joke”, “The Road to the Churchyard”, “Gladius Dei”, “Tristan,” and “Tonio Kröger” in the hops
James Catt
I just finished reading this marvelous book of short stories. My favorite among them was "Little Herr Freidman", a sad tale of a mans peace of mind turned on its head by desire.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Finishing fantastic books should be like beating levels in Zelda...wait, WAIT! Here me out...

All I mean to say is that, as a reward for reading something as near-perfect as Death in Venice, Goodreads should unlock an extra star, so that we may properly rate such rare gems of literature...sort of like extra hearts in Zelda, no?
Fine, fine, never mind.

You indulge in the illusion that your life is habitually steady, simple, concentrated, and contemplative, that you belong entirely to yourself-and t
Richard Derus
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
The Book Report: I feel a complete fool providing a plot précis 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 ...more
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
When I was in college, I read Death in Venice for the first time. I can't imagine what I made of it then. Of course, the story of an older man drawn to a beautiful young boy is compelling, but the sense of time running out can't have meant much to me at that point in my life. I read the novella again recently and was struck by its power. Mann captures so effectively the emptiness of Von Aschenbach's life. Though the story is full of people, he is apart, alone, a writer, a recorder of life, not a ...more
I did this a bit of a disservice by reading the first two stories in October last year, and then not picking it up again until January - my intention was to spread the stories out over a couple of months, in the hope that this would make me savour and appreciate them more, but... it didn't really work out. Though a couple of characters grated, and the repetition of themes dulled their impact slightly by the end, I loved these stories, with 'Little Herr Friedemann', 'The Joker', and 'Death in Ven ...more
Nov 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tormented German writers who have the hots for young boys
I stand between two worlds, am at home in neither, and in consequence have rather a hard time of it. You artists call me a commoner, and commoners feel tempted to arrest me ... I do not know which wounds me more bitterly. Commoners are stupid; but you worshippers of beauty who call me phlegmatic and without yearning, ought to reflect that there is an artistry so deep, so primordial and elemental, that no yearning seems to it sweeter and more worthy of tasting than that for the raptures of common
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
I know, it’s a crying shame I haven’t read this classic years ago. And now, having read it, I can say, “What a fascinating, disturbing little melodrama, ” set this brief but dense book aside, and then never pick it up again.

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann was published in 1912. It’s about Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful septuagenarian German author who leaves his very staid, regimental life for a whim-filled holiday in Venice. While there, Aschenbach slowly shrugs off his straightjacket exist
Holy hell, Death in Venice is fucking amazing. If, like me, you somehow just never got around to reading it, pull yourself together and do something about that now.
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation
Knocking another one down for the novella challenge, I finished Death in Venice this evening. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting when I choose this story, but it certainly wasn’t the tale of a respected older writer gentleman who falls in love with a fourteen year-old demigod boy and eventually dies of cholera because of it. Nope. That’s not what I expected at all.

Gustav von Aschenbach sees a strange red-headed man in Munich and suddenly decides to go on vacation. Before retiring to his s
I'm ambivalent about this one. Perhaps it was the translation I was reading (I think I have the actual Der Tod in Venedig in the house somewhere, but frankly I couldn't face literary German at the moment), but I never really felt at ease when reading this. Not because of any of the themes that Mann tackled, or because of the denseness of the work; they were challenging and thought-provoking aspects, of course, but I found myself able to grapple with them.

What unnerved me was the way in which all
Yair Ben-Zvi
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It can be a joy to be wrong sometimes. Going into this collection I didn't have much to go on regarding Thomas Mann. I'd heard some biographical details and titles of works, but nothing more. I'd heard his name mentioned in the same breaths and sentences as Kafka, Goethe, Hesse, in German literature particularly, and in the same vein along some of the writers of the highest echelons of the world generally, but I, for lack of a better term, never got around to him. I expected him to be the runt o ...more

Richard Wagner saw the premier of his revolutionary opera Tristan und Isolde at the Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. It was revolutionary for the music was unlike any the audience had heard before; specifically the "Tristan chord" with which the opera begins and which remains unresolved until the final moments of the opera, and marked the beginning of a new age of music that would see the rise of composers from Mahler to Debuss
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to get to Mann, but I feel in good company with him. Lots influence of Poe and Conrad and clearly in company with Dineson, who he obviously influenced, an operatic tone, ironic, comic, erudite, and seemingly a strange mix of a 19th century feel with more modern concerns and anxieties. Paul Bowles and Bruno Shultz, who are two of my favorite writers, also claim Mann as an influence, and I can see parallels in their work. “Death in Venice” is a masterpiece of symbolism and f ...more
There are some wonderful short stories in this collection, but the real meat of the book is, of course, the title novella, Death in Venice. I'm in no way diminishing the other stories and highly recommend them but still, moving right along...

Gustav von Aschenbach is a middle-aged writer who decides he needs to do a little traveling to find self-fulfillment and chooses Venice as his destination. While there he falls in love with (or obsessed with, it's all a very thin line) a young Polish boy, Ta
Keith Michael
Aug 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
firstly, i don't feel like this is a story is about a pedophile. to apply terms like "homosexual" and "pedophile" is to grossly malign the intentions of the author. just like calling somebody a "black" instead of a "human being" is a limiting statement, not a summary. this is a story about desire. nothingness, perfection and humanity are all explored in the story also. the vastness of the sea represents a sort of perfect nothingness, a void. in one particular scene, a human actually interrupts t ...more
Golly. I can't believe how much I hated the title novella here. Surprising, I know. Usually, if it's a classic, having stood the test of time, I can find SOMETHING to enjoy about it... and eventually I guess I did find something, but CRAP! it was hard to find, because, through most of the book, I was thoroughly distracted with plans for building a time machine so I could go back and kick Mr. Mann in the nuts (BTW while I'm there I'd like to kick Freud in the nuts too). Mann constantly confuses b ...more
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Karen Blixen fans
This review isn't going to make sense. I should just say that right now.

I have never read Mann before. Of course one keeps hearing about "Death in Venice" and then one feels guilty about not reading it and so on. Finally, in terms of this year's late resolution of doing something about my TBR pile and book buying addiction (though I didn't buy this. My friend put it on a pile of books he was giving away) and because of a buddy read (thanks Jeanette) I read it.

It is poetry, really truly. You jus
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In 'Death in Venice', Thomas Mann allows his readers to view a respectable man's descent into madness, into a dark, disturbing obsession where reason and logic have no impact on actions - where passion reigns sovereign... and it's jarring to *witness*.

The story begins with such attention taken to establish the story's protagonist (*Gus von A*) as hyper-disciplined, possessing the utmost aplomb and self-mastery - only to have him come undone as the book progresses.

This is one of those stories wh
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story
4.5 for the collection as a whole, definitely 5.0 for the novella "Death in Venice." Any quibble I have with this book is about the collection, not the stories within. Reading them all together made me notice how very similar many of them were in characters and theme and it all got a little one-note: the tortured artist, self-consciously contemplating his alienation from the rest of “life." Same tortured artist is often tormented by the unavailability of some nearby beauty, often encountering cr ...more
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-goals
There's only one thing I need to point out about this and it's after the fantastic Death in Venice, the excellent Tonio Kroger, the good Mario and the Magician, and the underwhelming Disorder and Early Sorrow that the most baffling curveball in any story collection I've read comes barreling in. A Man and His Dog is a novella in which the most respected German writer of the 20th century tries his hand at writing Marley & Me. Maybe someone could point out to me the German sociopolitical allego ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Page number and title issue 2 15 Aug 11, 2015 07:21AM  
  • The Marquise of O— and Other Stories
  • The Stories of Heinrich Böll
  • Simplicissimus
  • Professor Unrat
  • Selected Stories
  • The Flounder
  • Tales of Hoffmann
  • The Confusions of Young Törless
  • The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
  • Faust, Part Two
  • The Sleepwalkers
  • Berlin Alexanderplatz
  • Vertigo
  • The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • The German Lesson
  • Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady - Volume 1 (of 9)
  • Man in the Holocene
  • White Walls: Collected Stories
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, 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 intel
More about Thomas Mann...

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“Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous - to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.” 1566 likes
“Nothing is more curious and awkward than the relationship of two people who only know each other with their eyes — who meet and observe each other daily, even hourly and who keep up the impression of disinterest either because of morals or because of a mental abnormality. Between them there is listlessness and pent-up curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally suppressed need for communion and also a kind of tense respect. Because man loves and honors man as long as he is not able to judge him, and desire is a product of lacking knowledge.” 200 likes
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