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message 1: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1929 comments Mod
Ratings and Reviews


message 2: by Eadie (last edited Mar 05, 2016 07:19AM) (new)

Eadie (eadieburke) 3 stars
I did not really care much for this novella by Thomas Mann which is considered a classical masterpiece. It is a very disturbing short story about Aschenbach, a famous writer, and his fascination for a beautiful 14 year-old young boy. Although he only stalks the boy, his death is a result of his obsession by not leaving Venice during an outbreak of cholera. There is lots of symbolism in the work and for being written in 1911 the subject matter of male heterosexuality was unheard of. I would like to read other books by Thomas Mann because I do believe him to be a talented writer but I think the subject matter turned me off from really liking this one. I would recommend it to those who would like to read about the destruction powers of the mind that could live within us.


message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna Fennell | 107 comments I gave this two stars. I did not care for the writing style. The subject did not bother me. I think my main problem was I just finished A Fine Balance and although I tried not to I kept comparing the two. This one in terms of story telling was just not working for me. I also found Achenbach to be a sniveling whiner. It was hard for me to feel for him in his situation especially since he stayed during a cholera outbreak and died. In addition, his obsession was just lust not love. He never conversed with the boy and did not really know him but liked his looks.


message 4: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1929 comments Mod
I am going to buck the trend :) I gave this 4 stars and really enjoyed the writing.

I think I enjoyed it because I read it differently from Anna and Eadie. I read this as a book about a mans obsession with youth and beauty with admiring what he has lost and wanting it back. He was obsessed but in my reading he was obsessed with the human form and not the boy himself.

He was a writer who couldn't write because he could not find the right words to capture the beauty he saw before him.


message 5: by Zombie (new)

Zombie Kitten (monsterkids) | 43 comments I both loved and disliked this book, leaving me conflicted enough to give it 3 stars. I liked the writing style for the most part, and the subject didn't bother me, but I didn't really care for the main character. I did find his perspective interesting though.


message 6: by Sushicat (new)

Sushicat | 292 comments I gave it three stars. I was not bothered by the subject matter. Though the story worked for me and I had an excellent audio version, I found the way it was written somewhat overdone, to the extent that it lessened the enjoyment of reading. Though his idea of perfect art is the complete melding of thought and feeling, the two remain mutually exclusive for Aschenbach.


message 7: by Jan (new)

Jan (mrsicks) I gave it three stars as well. It was almost a four, but there were a few too many obstacles for me to really love it. I appreciated the beauty of the writing. The descriptions at times were stunning, but the initial coolness in the writing meant I struggled to feel sympathy with the characters. Aschenbach is self centred and leaves no room for anyone else's emotions, but his descent into obsession and his surrender to passion was compelling and I ended by finding him very human. I thought Mann cleverly drew parallels between Ancient Greek society and that of early 20th century Europe, but it felt more like an intellectual exercise than a novel at times. The motifs of death, fate, obsession and trying to stir up passion in a regulated heart were interesting, but real feelings seldom broke through the cleverness, and only really succeeded towards the end. That kept me from loving the book.


message 8: by Gina (new)

Gina Andrews | 58 comments I give it 3 stars. Like Book, I think main character was obsessed with youth and the beauty of what he considered the perfect male form, but not with the boy himself. Some of the descriptions were very good, but there was just something about it that left me less than impressed.


message 9: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Robitaille | 904 comments Death in Venice (Thomas Mann) ****

One of my ex-girlfriends many times recommended that I watched the movie based on this novella, stating that it was impossible to watch it without weeping at the end. While I am yet to see the Visconti masterpiece, I can now somewhat understand the emotional perspective emanating from this story. A German writer feeling the inspirational fire deserting him decides almost fortuitously to travel to Venice where he encounters the paragon of Beauty in a Polish teenage boy. His infatuation develops into an obsession until his untimely death, succumbing to a cholera epidemic. While the writing often enables you to feel what Aschenbach felt (for example, I was just as annoyed as he was at all the hurdles and inconveniences marring the beginning of his trip), the novella is made even richer by its multiple references to Greek philosophy and its allegorical use of the cholera epidemics plaguing the Mediterranean at the beginning of the 20th century. This text had all the elements of a classic novella (mounting tension, abrupt ending, albeit predictable) and more.


message 10: by Jen (last edited Apr 01, 2016 09:48AM) (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
4 stars

I went back and forth on how to rate this and after answering the questions and reflecting a little more, I have decided to bump it up to a 4-star rating.

The elements that Patrick mentioned in his last two sentences made it worth 4-stars for me. I think those getting caught up in a reaction to his "obsession" to Tadzios as a perversion are missing the point of the novel. Not saying that is true of anyone here (but I've read lots of reviews where people complain about this element). For me, like Book Worm, this was a novel about the artistic process, the struggle between the intellectual and the creative, and the dangers of living according to either extreme.

As a psychologist, I also really enjoyed this book for its explorations of human nature. While I am most certainly NOT a Freudian psychologist, I can guarantee that he would have loved this book.


message 11: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3964 comments Mod
This is my first Mann that I have read. I think it was a good one to get a sense of the author's writing. I've wanted to read Magic Mountain for a long time but the length has kept it on the TBR pile. I think his books are ones that should be read slowly as obviously there is much there to appreciate. I liked it for all the things you all have listed. I give it 4 stars too.


message 12: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1357 comments This was a re-read for me and I took my time and enjoyed it more the second time round. Mann's description of his wait at the tram stop was so vivid and familiar and his unease with the stranger who prompted his decision to travel so extraordinarily described that I revelled in the rest of the story. Who hasn't had a magnificent and doomed obsession? Mann skilfully contrasts the author's disgust at an older man trying to look younger and just being a pathetic figure, to the degeneration of the protagonist himself when he becomes obsessed with youth and beauty in a decaying city.


message 13: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (zippymom) | 95 comments Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
3 stars

This was an amazingly quick read. I thought the writing was very descriptive but I had a difficult time feeling anything for the protagonist. I really enjoyed the introduction written by Michael Cunningham and feel glad that I read this particular translation by Michael Henry Heim. Cunningham seems to think that this is better book because of this translation which makes Aschenbach much more "human" and subject to human foibles. Basically, Aschenbach travels alone to Venice for vacation. During his travels, his attention is caught by a Polish family consisting of 4 daughters and a son, who, to Aschenbach, is exquisitely beautiful and he becomes obsessed with the boy, Tadzio. Soon, without actually making any acquaintance with the boy, Aschenbach realizes that he is in love with him.


message 14: by Diane (new)

Diane | 2022 comments Rating: 4 Stars
Read: 2010

I read this book a few years ago, and I remember feeling a lot of conflict about how to rate it. I thought the writing was very good and it kept me engaged enough to read it all in one sitting. The subject matter was creepy, and I felt guilty about enjoying the writing as much as I did. I thought the writing was quite beautiful. I still have yet to read his other books on the list, but I look forward to doing so.


message 15: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3964 comments Mod
I've not read his other books either


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