Monday, 5 May 2014

Mann, Thomas "Death in Venice"

Mann, Thomas "Death in Venice" (German: Der Tod in Venedig) - 1912

I have read two of Thomas Mann's major works, "Buddenbrooks" and "The Magic Mountain", and they were just fantastic. This is a smaller story, a novella. You cannot compare it to the larger novels but you can certainly find Thomas Mann in the story.

This book is about a dream and the hope of its fulfillment. It is a story of defeat but also of love. It is as actual as it was a hundred years ago when it was written. Maybe one of the most actual books written on the subject of homosexuality.

Thomas Mann manages to describe the obsession of an elderly man to a young boy without either of them ever talking to the other. But the author finds the right words. An excellent (but not an easy) read.

From the back cover:

"Celebrated novella of a middle-aged German writer's tormented passion for a Polish youth met on holiday in Venice, and its tragic consequences. Powerful evocation of the mysterious forces of death and disintegration in the midst of existence, and the isolation of the artist in 20th-century life. This edition provides an excellent new translation and extensive commentary on many facets of the story.

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 the story of the voluptuousness of doom,' Mann wrote. 'But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist's dignity.'"

Thomas Mann received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929 "principally for his great novel, 'Buddenbrooks', which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature".

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

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