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Archives > Q8 What is the significance of Tadzio's Polish ethnicity?

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message 1: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1840 comments Mod
What is the significance of Tadzio's Polish ethnicity? Why isn't he an Italian? How would the story be different if he were German like Aschenbach, if he spoke Aschenbach's language?

message 2: by Eadie (last edited Mar 05, 2016 07:18AM) (new)

Eadie (eadieburke) The Polish boy who inspired "Tadzio" was Baron Władysław Moes, whose first name was shortened as Władzio or just Adzio. He was age 10, significantly younger than Tadzio in the novella, when Thomas Man saw him in Venice when on holiday with his wife.

message 3: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1840 comments Mod
Thanks for the info Eadie.

In terms of the actual story I don't think his nationality is of any great significance, they never speak so there is no language barrier.

message 4: by Sushicat (new)

Sushicat | 292 comments The language barrier is another layer of separation between Aschenbach and his obsession. It adds to the idealization.

message 5: by Jan (new)

Jan (mrsicks) | 66 comments Poland was a partitioned country at the time Mann wrote the book, split between Prussia, Russia and Austria. So Tadzio is foreign but also familiar to the German Aschenbach. I think the language difference adds to Aschenbach's ability to layer his own perception of Tadzio onto him - if he understood what he was saying, instead of hearing his fuzzy language, he would also understand his personality and his fantasy would be restricted. Being able to imagine someone as perfect is part of obsession.

message 6: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
I agree with those of you mentioning language as another potential barrier or layer

message 7: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3875 comments Mod
Agree, nothing to add other than if this is a prewar book, the boy being Polish would have some significance because this area was a significant part of pre war Europe.

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