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A short review because there are 1,500 others A well established older German man visits Venice and falls in love with a 14 year old boy on the beach Here is a key passage very early in the novella about 75 pages that illustrates the author s writing style He the 14 year old Polish boy entered through the glass doors and passed diagonally across the room to his sisters at their table He walked with extraordinary grace the carriage of the body, the action of the knee, the way he set hi A short review because there are 1,500 others A well established older German man visits Venice and falls in love with a 14 year old boy on the beach Here is a key passage very early in the novella about 75 pages that illustrates the author s writing style He the 14 year old Polish boy entered through the glass doors and passed diagonally across the room to his sisters at their table He walked with extraordinary grace the carriage of the body, the action of the knee, the way he set his foot down in its white shoe it was all so light, it was at once dainty and proud, it wore an added charm in the childish shyness which made him twice turn his head as he crossed the room, made him give a quick glance and then drop his eyes He took his seat, with a smile and a murmured word in his soft and blurry tongue and Aschenbach, sitting so that he could see him in profile, was astonished anew, yes, startled, at the godlike beauty of the human being The lad had on a light sailor suit of blue and white striped cotton, with a red silk breast knot and a simple white standing collar round the neck a not very elegant effect yet above this collar the head was poised like a flower, an incomparable loveliness It was the head of Eros, with the yellowish bloom of Parian marble, with fine serious brows, and dusky clustering ringlets standing out in soft plenteousness over temples and ears He constantly monitors the boy in the hotel dining room and at the beach and eventually starts stalking the boy as he travels through Venice with his family But a plague is also stalking Venice He considers leaving the city because of the miasma but decides to stay because of the boy a bad decision.Mann uses many classical references in just a few pages Achelous, Phaedrus, Eros, Cleitos, Cephalus, Orion, Poseidon, Pan and others are mentioned.Truly a classic from 1911 I first read it many years ago Mann 1875 1955 was a German writer who won the 1929 Noble Prize He fled Germany for Switzerland and then the USA, not because he was Jewish, but because he opposed Hitler s ideology and his sexually charged writings didn t help He lived in the US Princeton and then Los Angles from 1939 to 1952 and became a US citizen However he was hounded by the McCarthyites as a communist and went back to live his final years in Switzerland Top photo from c.pxhere.comMiddle photo from anamericaninrome.com Photo of the author from the Thomas Mann archives at nebis.ch THE KRITIOS BOY This is Beauty.Male human Beauty but it transcends the particular.Contemplating Beauty brings Happiness.We seek this Happiness, this complete Harmony with one s Life.Perfect Harmony is Divine.Beauty is the Path.How to find the Path, how to reach the final goal And in seeking, we Desire.Is Art the Artifice that creates the Divine Goodness, Virtue, Health, Order, Perfection, Restraint, Discipline All are required.Talent has to be wedded to Dignity Only then is it Moral.But al THE KRITIOS BOY This is Beauty.Male human Beauty but it transcends the particular.Contemplating Beauty brings Happiness.We seek this Happiness, this complete Harmony with one s Life.Perfect Harmony is Divine.Beauty is the Path.How to find the Path, how to reach the final goal And in seeking, we Desire.Is Art the Artifice that creates the Divine Goodness, Virtue, Health, Order, Perfection, Restraint, Discipline All are required.Talent has to be wedded to Dignity Only then is it Moral.But also Freedom is needed Freedom from the thinking mind Freedom in open and infinite spaces Simplicity and the Sea.But there is Time, and Chronos easily brings decay Or Destiny strikes.For Salvation the only thing we have to defend us is Art.And as the sun and its light drag us to the Senses they can also intoxicate us.And yet, Art Writing cannot reproduce sensuous Beauty, but they will praise it How to avoid the lurking Danger They are too close to Emotions Mirrors of Love.This is Eros, the Divine.The Senses are the Forbidden Fruit Overripe strawberries, already dragging us, with them, into irreversible decay.Falling The Abyss Odd novella about unrequited pederasty that, like so many novellas with their single themes and small casts, feels a bit overstretched But there is reason this is still so widely read today curious how, unlike LOLITA, the subject of this book isn t as important as the theme when it comes to criticism the writing Mann s marvelous turns of phrase carry the day and his ruminations on the nature of creativity stand in wonderful counterpoint to Marcel sspiritual realization near the end of Odd novella about unrequited pederasty that, like so many novellas with their single themes and small casts, feels a bit overstretched But there is reason this is still so widely read today curious how, unlike LOLITA, the subject of this book isn t as important as the theme when it comes to criticism the writing Mann s marvelous turns of phrase carry the day and his ruminations on the nature of creativity stand in wonderful counterpoint to Marcel sspiritual realization near the end of LOST TIME Consider Nothing gladdens a writerthan a thought that can be come pure feeling and a feeling that can become pure thought and Solitude favors the original, the daringly and otherworldly beautiful, the poem But it also favors the wrongful, the extreme, the absurd, and the forbidden and Like any lover, he desired to please suffered at the thought of failure These lines spill out as the aged writer Aschenbach begins gettingextreme in his behavior, stalking young Tadzio, the boy he loves, through the diseased streets of Venice Here, Mann achieves something extraordinary he unlocks the close correspondence between creativity and obsession, between the propriety of making art and the tremendous improprieties that can be side effect of leaving yourself open to the making of art Tight in on Aschenbach as we are, morality barely enters into the novella Instead, in an autobiographical turn by Mann, we see the that repression and beauty often work in counterpoint.As the book accelerates toward its extremely foreshadowed ending, we get an especially good scene, as Aschenbach, who derides men who attempt to be younger than they are at the beginning of the book, dyes his hair and gets slathered in make up in an attempt to please Tadzio It s a gorgeous moment of pathos, the clown at midnight soon after a night sequence with a clown , and it will stick with me.Death In Venice is humorless, but you know that going in with Mann This translation seemed good to me I have the earlier one as well and when I compared them it wasn t particularly close Nowhere near the heights of MAGIC MOUNTAIN, which is one of my favorites, but worth your time If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.The language of the book Tod in Venedig Death in Venice by Thomas MannI finally decided to tackle Thomas Mann s work My first contact with him took place when I was preparing myself for the ZMP Certification in German We were able to read in class some excerpts from his main books Buddenbrooks , Der Zauberberg , Tonio Kr ger , and so on What I remember most from those texts was the extreme difficulty of understanding some p If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.The language of the book Tod in Venedig Death in Venice by Thomas MannI finally decided to tackle Thomas Mann s work My first contact with him took place when I was preparing myself for the ZMP Certification in German We were able to read in class some excerpts from his main books Buddenbrooks , Der Zauberberg , Tonio Kr ger , and so on What I remember most from those texts was the extreme difficulty of understanding some passages Some of his vocabulary belongs to another level, that it s no longer used today let alone by German writers of today Another trait of his writing is his ability to write long and encapsulated sentences without losing meaning That s the feature that I remember the most [ Free E-pub ] ♝ La muerte en Venecia ♍ The world famous masterpiece by Nobel laureate Thomas Mann here in a new translation by Michael Henry HeimPublished 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 doomIn the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom, Mann wrote But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist s dignity Steelheart (The Reckoners, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity Economic Man in Sha Tin Death in Venice tells the story of Gustav von Aschenbach Testifying to Trauma a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doomIn the decaying city The Myth Of The Male Breadwinner besieged by an unnamed epidemic Shelter Me he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy Metal Gear Tadzio It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom Voyage dans la Haute Egypte Mann wrote But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist s dignity 750 Der Tod in venedig Death in Venice, Thomas MannDeath in Venice is a novella written by German author Thomas Mann, first published in 1912 as Der Tod in Venedig The work presents a great writer suffering writer s block who visits Venice and is liberated, uplifted, and then increasingly obsessed, by the sight of a stunningly beautiful youth Though he never speaks to the boy, much less touches him, the writer finds himself drawn deep into ruinous inward passion meanwhile, Venice, and fi 750 Der Tod in venedig Death in Venice, Thomas MannDeath in Venice is a novella written by German author Thomas Mann, first published in 1912 as Der Tod in Venedig The work presents a great writer suffering writer s block who visits Venice and is liberated, uplifted, and then increasingly obsessed, by the sight of a stunningly beautiful youth Though he never speaks to the boy, much less touches him, the writer finds himself drawn deep into ruinous inward passion meanwhile, Venice, and finally, the writer himself, succumb to a cholera plague.The boy in the story Tadzio is based on a boy W adzio or Tadzio, nicknames for the Polish name W adys aw or Tadeusz respectively Mann had seen during a visit to Venice in 1911.The main character is Gustav von Aschenbach, a famous author in his early fifties who has recently been ennobled in honor of his artistic achievement thus acquiring the aristocratic von in his name He is a man dedicated to his art, disciplined and ascetic to the point of severity, who was widowed at a young age As the story opens, he is strolling outside a cemetery and sees a coarse looking red haired foreigner who stares back at him belligerently Aschenbach walks away, embarrassed but curiously stimulated He has a vision of a primordial swamp wilderness, fertile, exotic and full of lurking danger Soon afterwards, he resolves to take a holiday 2002 1379 159 9646736238 1393 141 9789643699468 20 Gustave Aschenbach or von Aschenbach, as the German writer has now been honored, at home, all is his fame , fortune , prestigeyet he is alone, his wife has died their only child a daughter, married, living far away, the man is feeling his 50 plus years, restless , unsureunhappy, he must leave Munich and geta warmer, climate south would do, Italy, and the glorious city of Venice, above the sea, blue lagoons, sandy beaches, in a beautiful hotel, and the bright, shining Sun spraying its he Gustave Aschenbach or von Aschenbach, as the German writer has now been honored, at home, all is his fame , fortune , prestigeyet he is alone, his wife has died their only child a daughter, married, living far away, the man is feeling his 50 plus years, restless , unsureunhappy, he must leave Munich and geta warmer, climate south would do, Italy, and the glorious city of Venice, above the sea, blue lagoons, sandy beaches, in a beautiful hotel, and the bright, shining Sun spraying its healing rays, heating his cold, old heart, the image can not be denied Still in the early 20th Century, things aren t perfect, the weather is bad , the winds make him sick, the dirty canals, odious smells, and decaying buildings, are unsettling, not content, he decides to return to the nearby mainlandand find a better place His desires aren t successful, on the way, losing his precious luggage, he must go back, it will be uncomfortable, but he has no choicewhich strangely makes him gladjust before a handsome, Polish boy, of 14, Tadzio, from an aristocratic family, vacationing also there, he sees at the hotel The beauty of this child, infatuates the tired , discouraged man, the despondency is lifted , a new life surfaces Every day Gustave, visits the beach, lies down on his flimsy chair, soaks up the Sun and watches the boy cavorting with other children, swimming in the shallow waters, skipping, dancing, playing, the writer likes the view, but is careful not to be observed, he has two pretty sisters, mother and a governess to deal with And the weeks slowly pass by, the contented tourist is happy just to be alive, no worries, only happiness permeates , sitting on the hot sand, the re energized author , begins to follow the Polish family, around Venice, not being conspicuous, sneaking , hiding, walking in back alleys, never having the bravery to talk to TadzioA quiet rumors is whispered , foreign newspapers say that a plague has arrived in the ocean city, malignant cholera, especially in the German periodicals, people from Germany and Austria , suddenly disappear from the premises, not believing the local authorities , denialsthe strong, medicinal scent, in Venice, is troubling, Aschenbach, needs confirmation, receiving it from the stoic British, nevertheless he remains , too enchanted to leave An unusual novella from the great Thomas Mann, he got the idea, talking with his wife, in this very city, in 1911, the story was published, a year after while vacationing in The Grand Hotel des Bains, on the Venetian island of Lido, in the fabled, Adriatic Sea. As long as we breathe, we live We do not possess the power to embrace death at will So, we live And for living, we cling to a purpose The purpose may be clear or clouded, animate or inanimate, expressed or hidden, stable or fickle but we have it nonetheless Even the person accused of leading a purposeless life is surviving on the shredded purpose of vagrancy.So it doesn t come as a surprise that even Gustav Aschenbach, notwithstanding the fame and dignity safely held in his bag of accolades As long as we breathe, we live We do not possess the power to embrace death at will So, we live And for living, we cling to a purpose The purpose may be clear or clouded, animate or inanimate, expressed or hidden, stable or fickle but we have it nonetheless Even the person accused of leading a purposeless life is surviving on the shredded purpose of vagrancy.So it doesn t come as a surprise that even Gustav Aschenbach, notwithstanding the fame and dignity safely held in his bag of accolades, gropes for purpose in his new found state of ripe mind Nothing is a bigger curse for a writer than to have hit a plateau from where all the previous works appear a distant dream and the present air leaves nothing for the fertile imagination to latch on In search of this elusive purpose, after declaring many destinations unfit for ideation, he halts at Venice at a quaint hotel and opens the window of his room to the sea, inviting both its calmness and ferocity to wash his rusted mind panes with inspiring waves.And the sea obliges, in the form of the ethereal Tadzio, who happens to be a guest of the same hotel as Gustav The stunning beauty of this young Polish boy of golden skin, flowing locks, delicately crafted ribs and carefree demeanour, first catches Gustav unawares and then, slowly like a persisting rain, fogs his mind panes with sensual dew His senses, in a natural gesture, follow Tadzio s movements like a sunflower follows the sun s trail From the day he sets his eyes on Tadzio, he gets transported to a new world where he increasingly finds just the two of them, talking about art and beauty, exchanging life wisdoms and sinking in the loving companionship of each other But does this throbbing one sided passion render a purpose to the debilitating parchment of his life or relegate it further to insurmountable lows Hold the hand of Mann to find out And yes, he has a lot to say in this compact work.He softly pits intellectual beauty against corporeal beauty and questions whether attaining the fulsome body of the former, can, in any way, deride the necessity of the latter s blossoming He also nudges us to consider the propriety of actions taken under the influence of relationships which, in the safety net of sanguinity, can deluge the delicate fabric of morality He also presses us to weigh the artistic liberties in the light of societal approvals and take a stand.For the striking questions and delicately coherent wordplay, I was about to give this work a rating of four But Mann snatched the solitary star from my hand by playing this masterstroke A dream where Gustav has donned the garb of Socrates and Tadzio, of Phaedo and the former is giving his life lessons to the young warrior of tomorrowBecause beauty, Phaedo, is the only thing that is divine and visible at the same time, and so it is the way of the artist to the soul But do you believe, my dear Phaedo, that the one who reaches the intellectual through the senses can ever achieve wisdom and human dignity Or do you believe and I am leaving this to you that it is a lovely but dangerous road that leads nowhere Because you have to realize that we artists cannot take the path of beauty without Eros joining us and becoming our leader we may be heroes in our own way, but we are still like women, because passion is what elevates us, and our desire is love that is our lust and our disgrace Do you see that poets can be neither sage nor dignified We do not like final knowledge, because knowledge, Phaedo, has no dignity or severity it knows, understands, forgives, without attitude it is sympathetic to the abyss, it is the abyss An artist is able when he can turn thought to emotion and emotion to thought with equal finesse But he is legendary when he can turn a non artist, artist And I know Gustav, in the end, did both jobs well Solitude produces originality, bold astonishing beauty, poetry But solitude also produces perverseness, the disproportionate, the absurd, and the forbiddenThomas Mann, Death in Venice Portrait of the artist as an old man.I ve been intimidated by Mann He s a mountain I own a bunch of his works, in various translations, but keep finding reasons to walk another road, skip ahead, fall behind For me he has sat waiting like a distant leviathan or like death So, finding myself in a positioSolitude produces originality, bold astonishing beauty, poetry But solitude also produces perverseness, the disproportionate, the absurd, and the forbiddenThomas Mann, Death in Venice Portrait of the artist as an old man.I ve been intimidated by Mann He s a mountain I own a bunch of his works, in various translations, but keep finding reasons to walk another road, skip ahead, fall behind For me he has sat waiting like a distant leviathan or like death So, finding myself in a position where I really felt I could delay no longer, I started with his shorter work Death in Venice First, the introduction by Michael Cunningham is a fantastic introduction of the difficulties associated with translation All fiction is a translation All works differ, since they all are impacted by writer and reader Both imperfect, both carrying their own history Even the same work, read by the same reader at different times think King Lear will be interpreted anew, feel different to the reader at different stages and ages So, it is with translations Different translators are going to experience Mann s Death in Venice in different ways Gustav von Aschenbach will appear the fool to some or an artist gripped by obscession and passion by others There is no exactly right answer.This book was probably a 4 star book for me, but I added the star because I really did like the Cunningham intro so extra credit, why not So, how was this translation I don t know I don t read German and have only read ONE translation, but I loved Heim s take I love the idea of Aschenbach s obscession overtaking him and ultimately perhaps destroying him We all would be so lucky if our passions destroyed us, perhaps So, perhaps, I am ready for Buddenbrooks The Decline of a Family Since the piece is well known as being a landmark work of fiction regarding male homosexuality, I am not going to focus on that in my review, or on its other element that has been flogged to death as well, being the rather extreme youth age 14 of the love object Well What a conflicting piece of fiction The novella seems fairly divisive amongst critics, but one thing that I think most of us can agree on, is that the novella is a discomfiting piece of writing I suspect this was so for Since the piece is well known as being a landmark work of fiction regarding male homosexuality, I am not going to focus on that in my review, or on its other element that has been flogged to death as well, being the rather extreme youth age 14 of the love object Well What a conflicting piece of fiction The novella seems fairly divisive amongst critics, but one thing that I think most of us can agree on, is that the novella is a discomfiting piece of writing I suspect this was so for the author as well as for his readers.For me this was not because of how the protagonist s obsession affected his love object, but because of how this obsession affected the protagonist himself and, I couldn t shake the feeling that the novella was pretty much autobiographical in many senses I found out later that it was so in many respects, and the love object is based on a real person Most uncomfortable of all, is that the real Tadzio, was the 10 year old Wladyslaw Moes.Achenbach, the protagonist, is a well respected author, who, like Mann, tends to engage with political and intellectual issues in his work Like Achenbach, Mann visited Venice, where he made the acquaintance of a young boy whose beauty he apparently admired with the difference that Mann was accompanied by his wife and brother, while Achenbach was alone Okay, there are a few other differences as well and one pretty large one, but that s a spoiler.Many reviewers and critics have made much ado about the protagonist s homosexuality and or his pederastic inclinations, but I think what disturbed me most was the stalker ish intensity of the protagonist s infatuation, and to an extent also how he totally overromanticized the idea of physical beauty, using purple prose and overblown idealistic sentiments to describe his thoughts on physical human beauty, which I deeply disagree with , and which Mann propped up with symbolism from Greek mythology, and references to Platonic ideals.Ironically, Bj rn Johan Andr sen, who played the role of the fourteen year old Tadzio in Luchino Visconti s 1971 film adaptation of Death in Venice, is credited with sayingOne of the diseases of the world is that we associate beauty with youth We are wrong The eyes and the face are the windows of the soul and these becomebeautiful with the age and pain that life brings True ugliness comes only from having a black heart.Because I have long known that beauty is only skin deep, I like those sentiments a lot better thanhe believed that his eyes gazed upon beauty itself, form as divine thought, the sole and pure perfection that dwells in the mind and whose human likeness and representation, lithe and lovely, was here displayed for veneration This was intoxication, and the aging artist welcomed it unquestioningly, indeed, avidly His mind was in a whirl, his cultural convictions in ferment his memory cast up ancient thoughts passed on to him in his youth though never yet animated by his own fire Was it not common knowledge that the sun diverts our attention from the intellectual to the sensual It benumbs and bewitches both reason and memory such that the soul in its elation quite forgets its true nature and clings with rapt delight to the fairest of sundrenched objects, nay, only with the aid of the corporeal can it ascend tolofty considerations Cupid truly did as mathematicians do when they show concrete images of pure forms to incompetent pupils he made the mental visible to us by using the shape and coloration of human youths and turned them into memory s tool by adorning them with all the luster of beauty and kindling pain and hope in us at the sight of themSome interesting thoughts there, though I disagree with the sentiments expressed in bold Were these the thoughts of the protagonist, or the author himself From his notes, it would seem that these were actually Mann s own sentiments They do seem a perfect rationalization for a man in Achenbach s position to make though, which makes them pretty fitting in their context, I must concede.I am surprised that so many people, with so much evidence to the contrary, can still invoke Plato s ideas of essence form when it comes to physical beauty spiritual beauty Surely, it doesn t require too much contemplation to come to the conclusion that physical beauty does not equal spiritual beauty One could muse that perhaps what Achenbach is rather saying, in what seems like a rationalization for his passion, that beauty can inspire love, the latter which is in itself beautiful and yet, since in this specific context the object of that passion is so young, and vain, and since they had never even exchanged a word with one another, could this be love Methinks not this could surely be but an infatuation of the senses.From the notes Mann made for the writing of the novella, it is clear that part of what he wanted to show, was that an artist an author like himself cannot be a dignified, purely rational creature, that he needs to be in touch with his passions and emotions, and that the act of creating art is inherently not a dispassionate activity Something else that Mann seems to be saying behind the scenes, is that love itself cannot be dignified, that love pushes an individual into undignified behavior Mann being a fairly obviously repressed individual, one can read a certain parallel between the disease that infects Venice, with Achenbach s almost insane passion insanity features in Mann s notes Mann seems to see these homosexual pederastic impulses that one surmises he felt himself, as at the same time degrading and ennobling Ennobling, so the reasoning seems to go, in the sense of that when a person degrades himself for love, it can be seen as a kind of sacrifice of dignity for a higher cause being, in this case, love.But one can only follow such reasoning if you can agree that a passion that seems so distant, unrealistic and physical can be ennobling and can be described as love To put the matter in a slightly different context make a small leap in your mind and imagine that the love object here is instead a 40 year old woman If the latter was the case, would the scenario in DIV still be creepy Indeed, it would What would make the scenario still creepy It would still be a purely physical obsession characterized by stalkerish behaviour.So one ends up asking yourself how far selfishly and obsessively stalking someone can really be an expression of love..and if it is to the extent that one puts this behaviour of yours above the wellbeing of its object..and what when the continuation of this behaviour puts the other s life in danger, then is it not actually selfishness and the opposite of love view spoiler Achenbach deliberately does not tell Tadzio s mother about the epidemic in order to avoid the outcome that Tadzio s family would leave the resort which would remove Tadzio from the older man s proximity In fact, I was sort of visualizing an ending in which Tadzio dies of Cholera, and Achenbach is racked with guilt, possibly even driven totally mad with guilt hide spoiler Of course, when the object of your obsession is only 14 years old, not making contact can probably be seen as the nobler action to take than to make contact and sticking to stalking behaviour is probably preferable to some potential alternatives.In spite of my criticism of Mann s ideas and of his patches of overwrought, overemotional purple prose, the latter suits the subject of the story well, and there are certainly a lot of thought provoking ideas and well executed imagery Mann also displays keen insight into his characters He portrays the aging, smitten homosexual well, and the dissolution of his personality via the intensity of his obsession is conveyed with pathos despite the relentless dissection under Mann s unnerving microscope One feels torn between pity for Achenbach while at the same time suppressing a shudder at the creepiness of his stalking behavior but Mann manages to make him look patheticthan anything else Mann also remarks on Tadzio s narcissism with acute insight According to The Real Tadzio Thomas Mann s Death in Venice and the Boy Who Inspired It, the latter was indeed a pretty narcissistic person who enjoyed the attentions of older men, so Mann was pretty spot on with his portrayals.All in all, as with all good fiction, the novel leaves one with conflicted feelings And, like all good fiction, it makes you roll around its various elements in your head, considering and re considering trying to find definite stances The fact that the latter is so hard to do with this work of fiction, is a part of what makes it good fiction, whether one agrees with all of the specific ideas put forward by it or not I must mention that I started the novella with the e book version of the translation by Michael Henry Heim, and finished with the translation by Clayton Koelb, with some cross over where I read passages out of both The latter claims to be the most natural and most US friendly translation out there, but these two translations appeared fairly similar to me