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Death in Venice and seven other stories by…
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Death in Venice and seven other stories (1954)

by Thomas Mann (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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I was recommended this book on the basis that I would like the main character. Which I did, as I have a horrible weakness for old stoic men. Death in Venice was fascinating, and I highly recommend it as Modernist (or Post, I don't remember) reading. ( )
  cendri | May 30, 2014 |
This may be the best short novel ever written and is certainly one of the best I have read. The plot tells the story of the writer Gustav von Aschenbach who travels to Venice, where he falls in love with an adolescent boy before subsequently dying in the cholera-stricken city. Mann’s masterly command of language and play with mythology, his psychological profile of the artistic mind, and the novella’s contrast between cold artistic discipline and the power of love has generated great admiration.
Aschenbach is introduced as an esteemed author who has produced literary works known for their formalism and neo-classical style. He has chosen an ascetic, disciplined life, a life of “noble purity, simplicity and symmetry”, for the sake of his creativity, success and national reputation. At the beginning of Death in Venice, we find the fifty-three year old writer unable to write a perfectly balanced work. He decides to take a walk by the north cemetery in an unnamed town that can be identified as Munich. The year, presented in the text as “19—”, is actually 1911. Since Mann opted not to provide a precise date, the narrative contains a timeless, ahistorical dimension despite being grounded in contemporary events.
In the figure of a stranger whom Aschenbach sees at a chapel by the cemetery, Mann alludes to medieval personifications of death, and also to the Greek god Hermes, the guide to the Underworld. But the messenger of death is also a messenger of life. The text links him to the cult of life and the god of Asian origins, Dionysos. Mann's intention was to write a treatise on the Nietzschean contrast between the god of reason, Apollo, and the god of unreason, Dionysus.
In his description of Aschenbach’s journey into Venice, Mann includes encounters with a Charon-like figure, and an old man bereft of dignity. These characters serve as messengers signalling Aschenbach’s looming fate, and as conspicuous representations of the transience and ugliness of life.
The Venice depicted by Mann is "the fallen queen, flattering and dubious beauty . . . half fairy tale, half tourist trap". It is a vision presented in its sordid reality and in its mythical splendor. At the hotel Aschenbach catches sight of a beautiful, fourteen-year-old Polish boy named Tadzio who is vacationing with his family. Aschenbach is immediately attracted to him, comparing him to a Greek statue and an artistic masterpiece. Although the sultry air of Venice makes him feel unwell, he reverses his intention to leave the city. From now on, his life is controlled by his desire to continue to observe Tadzio.
With references to the Platonic idea that physical attraction leads to spiritual knowledge, Mann diverts readers from the fact that Aschenbach’s attraction to Tadzio is primarily physical, not metaphysical. The ability of Thomas Mann to weave together character and theme and setting to achieve this perfection is uncanny and I do not believe he achieved any better in his longer fictions, great as they are. This is also one of the few novels that received a superlative treatment on film though, in the end, Visconti's film does not surpass the original. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Dec 21, 2013 |
read Death in Venice and Mario & the Magician
  FKarr | Apr 6, 2013 |
This review has been crossposted from my blog Review from Rose's Book Reviews Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me.

'Death in Venice' is an assigned text for one of my literature classes. It is a collection of short stories by Thomas Mann, including his possibly most famous - the same titled Death in Venice. Mann is the perfect example of a Modernist writer, and by no means are his works comfortable to read. But read on!

The title story, Death in Venice, is about Aschenbach, an aging writer who falls in lust with a younger boy when taking a holiday. The work is resplendent with images and symbols, and to be fair, it is a very good text to analyse. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but it wasn't bad either.

I couldn't tell you whether it is a great example of Modernism - but it is according to my tutor. The story lacks a concrete feeling to the ending, which is something I personally hate. I'm also not very fond of short stories, as I feel like I never get to know the characters well before they are killed off. This story is more like a short novella though, and there is room for some 'plot' development.

Although not required for my class, I read a number of the other short stories in the book. I found them all to expand on the same themes of death and wanton destruction, and felt like once you had read one, you would expect the ending of the next to be the same (and indeed it is, with some subtle twists).

This book of short stories is certainly not suitable for younger readers. Adults may struggle with the uncomfortable, and often graphic, contents of the novel. This is not something I would normally read, and I probably wouldn't seek out any of his other works. ( )
1 vote Rosemarie.Herbert | Feb 26, 2013 |
contents: Death in Venice, Tonio Kröger, Mario and the Magician, Disorder and Early Sorrow, A Man and His Dog, The Blood of the Walsungs, Tristan, Felix Krull
  dankhaus | Mar 28, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mann, ThomasAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cohen, Marc J.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dekle, MerrittCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lowe-Porter, H. T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Contains: Death in Venice, Mario and the Magician, Disorder and Early Sorrow, A Man and His Dog, Felix Krull [short story], The Blood of the Walsungs, Tristan, and Tonio Kroeger. Do not combine with other collections containing different stories.
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Book description
Includes Death in Venice, Tonio Kröger, Mario and the Magician, Disorder and Early Sorrow, A Man and His Dog, The Blood of the Walsungs, Tristan, Felix Krull.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679722068, Paperback)

Eight complex stories illustrative of the author's belief that "a story must tell itself," highlighted by the high art style of the famous title novella.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:50 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Translates twentieth-century Nobel Prize-winning German writer Thomas Mann's novella "Death in Venice," as well seven of his short stories: "Tonio Kroger," "Mario and the Magician," "Disorder and Early Sorrow," "A Man and His Dog," "The Blood of the Walsungs," "Tristan," and "Felix Krull."… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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