Guardian Newspaper 1000 Novels discussion

Death in Venice
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Longer Reads > August/September - Death in Venice

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Debbie This is our chosen book for August/September reads from the Love category.

message 2: by Leslie (new) - added it

Leslie | 825 comments I am going to try to get to this sometime this month but have been in a bit of a reading slump lately.

Jeremy Neal | 9 comments I'll not shrink from saying it, I found this hard work. Mann is an accomplished writer, his prose is technically excellent. His sentence structure is complex and often quite magnificent. His characters are usually intriguing, albeit they carry a similar provenance, that of the misunderstood artist and thus outsider. Liminal characters. It ought to be highly readable, and after all, a Nobel prize in literature should be the outright hallmark of quality.

But, boring. Mann's work reminds me most strongly of Lovecraft or Ashton Smith with all the weirdness sucked out. The writing style is similar, but the characters are entirely intellectual and in every case their thoughts, rather than their feelings dominate the proceedings. Since all literature must be autobiography, I guess we get a good insight into Mann himself from this. He clearly valued his great intellectual grasp of himself and his world. He delighted in the unusual and the fascinating, but it's all very literature lite, even if it is complex. You can tell he was a Gemini.

So strangely for me, Death in Venice didn't work. It worked on many levels, but not, crucially on the visceral, urgent plane that it needed to. There's implied tragedy in his work, but it never quite connects with you in a meaningful way (I speak for myself of course). It's like a butterfly's wing, beautiful, fascinating but unutterably fragile.

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