November 11, 2012

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

Death in Venice is a short novella, but there's much in it. I must warn you, that the plot can seem very creepy. That's how Goodreads puts it:
Published on the eve of World War I, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity, Death in Venice tell 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.
This sums up the plot pretty well. But Aschenbach's unhealthy obsession with the boy is paralleled with the myths of Greece and is not really that horrible. Nothing happens between them, anyway. They just look at each other, and that's all. Their relationship is purely aesthetic, higher than any ordinary, plain feeling. This relationship crowns a well-organized, normal life of a well-known, respected author, and it is so much not like him, that it leads him finally to his death. He reminds me a bit of Humboldt, of course, and of Faber (from Lolita and Homo Faber, resp.) or rather they should have reminded me of him, as this novella was written long before both.

The novella is full of beautiful (in form, not in content) descriptions of Venice, of touching and chaotic feelings of the main hero and or intricate philosophical passages about beauty, love, age and life. Pretty much about everything, yes. It reads fast, and you just can't put it down. It left a great impression on me, and I totally recommend it to everybody. Read it!

Death in Venice is a book from my Classics Club list


  1. I was just looking at this book wondering if I should read it for German Literature Month.

    I finally decided that I MIGHT try reading it this month, but it probably won't happen. Since you conveniently read it, you might jog on over there and see if they'd like to post your review. :) Or did you already know about that theme-read?

    1. I've checked German month after I saw Dickens month on your blog, but I decided it's too late already. So thanks for a suggestion, I'll probably try =)

      You MUST read it, it's awesome, and it's only 90 pages. Took me only two wonderful hours =)

  2. It's well worth it, even if you feel a little unclean by the end of the book. A great novella :)

    1. "Unclean" is a very suitable word here! But... diversity is great, isn't it? =)


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