Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

DATE PUBLISHED: 1912 DATE READ: December 2009 NOTES: On the surface nothing much really happens in Death in Venice – man travels to Venice, sees a beautiful boy, pursues him but does not speak to him, then dies. But behind all that is much more. From the start Aschenbach is all too aware of his own mortality. He observes the characters around him and is often very denigrating about them. When he gradually comes to realise there is a cholera outbreak he tries to leave but is willingly drawn back when his travel arrangements go awry. At the beginning of the story from his gondola he sees and older man who has made conscious efforts to try to look more youthful and be part of a group of young men. Aschenbach is disgusted by his behaviour – but later on a visit to the barber he succumbs to being “improved” with cosmetics without being aware of how ridiculous he looks. Within Aschenbach there seems to be a constant struggle between the ascetic and publicly respected artist and the lustful fantasising alter ego. An amazing amount is packed into under 100 pages.

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