Death in Venice and Other Tales

ISBN: 0141181737
ISBN 13: 9780141181738
By: Thomas Mann Joachim Neugroschel

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Classic Classics Currently Reading Favorites Fiction German German Literature Literature Short Stories To Read

About this book

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. "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.

Reader's Thoughts

Daniel Pecheur

I just finished reading this and I was really blown away. Thomas Mann is an extraordinary writer who provides brilliant insight about the condition of the suffering artist. Using the character of Tadzio as the ideal of beauty, Mann describes the final days of a famous writer named Aschenbach, who while vacationing in Venice discovers this young male who becomes the apotheosis of all his ideals of beauty and intoxicates him in a rapture of emotion that carries him, like a sickness, to the throes of anguish and unremitting, fiercely irrational obsession. It brings to my mind some other works I've read this year, like Wilde's Picture of Dorian Grey and Camus' The Plague. Dorian Grey because like Wilde, Mann uses a young male to represent the ideal of beauty, though with far greater depth and penetrating language. Like Camus' Plague, Mann uses the motif of an omnipresent plague to parallel with the inner turmoil of his central character, who succumbs to the obliterating madness of his love for Tadzio, losing all sense of his inveterate rational composure. The Apollonian cedes to the Dionysian, Aschenbach stumbles into the abyss of passions and dies in the captivated sight of his fetishe, the godlike image of beauty. The ending yields an inevitable and yet powerful catharsis that the entire novella has been building up to and waiting to burst in some excruciating crescendo of despair, here seen as the physical death of Aschenbach which consummates the other "death" in Venice-- that of his life-long sober and contained artistic convictions that have burned up under the raging influence of an emotion that spells his annihilation, that undermines every belief he has lived by and sends him crashing impotently in the fires of uncontrollable passion. Aschenbach's inner struggle and ultimate death embodies the troubled soul of the artist that expends all its energy in wistful contemplation of the Ideal, and when it is finally seen in physical form, it results in a devouring pang of insatiable desire that can be nothing less than fatal.

Suzanne

4.5 for the collection as a whole, definitely 5.0 for the novella "Death in Venice." Any quibble I have with this book is about the collection, not the stories within. Reading them all together made me notice how very similar many of them were in characters and theme and it all got a little one-note: the tortured artist, self-consciously contemplating his alienation from the rest of “life." Same tortured artist is often tormented by the unavailability of some nearby beauty, often encountering cruelty from said beauty. I think if I’d encountered these stories one at a time it would not have been as issue. The individual stories were beautifully, beautifully written. And I cannot say enough about the last story/novella, “Death in Venice.” There’s a reason it’s a classic. There is so much going on here, so much ambiguity of meaning and motives, I would not try to say much more with only two readings. But definitely a fascinating read. And the writing! Janet Fitch said it best in her GR review of this book: “Ravishing.” Kudos to translator Joachim Neugroschel.

Joseph Raffetto

Death in Venice is a story of repression and beauty and youth and obsession more than decadence or eroticism.Gustave von Ashenback is a repressed, aging German writer, battling the demon of living a cerebral and repressed life. Becoming run down, he decides to travel to Venice for some Italian charm, romance and beauty. It is there that he first sees a fourteen-year-old polish boy of rare beauty named Tadzio. Tadzio is an age where beauty and youth radiate perfect skin, hair and androgynous beauty. The sight of Tadzio begins to stir the lifetime of repression in Gustave.Gustave soon spends his days watching Tadzio on the beach and following him around Venice. Even though there is a cholera plague in Venice, Gustave goes out openly obsessed the boy. The boy understands the man's attention and seems pleased with the old man's adoration. The boy poses and smiles for Gustave, before his guardians notice the lonely old man's obsession and work to protect Tadzio from the old man.Although he never speaks or touches the boy, Gustave's obsession had turned erotic. On the beach the boy half-turns to him. Gustave rises but collapses and dies.I believe all beautiful young men and women have experienced a mild obsession or a sense of admiration from their youth from an adult who obviously is attracted to him or her in an innocent or not so innocent way.

David

I stand between two worlds, am at home in neither, and in consequence have rather a hard time of it. You artists call me a commoner, and commoners feel tempted to arrest me ... I do not know which wounds me more bitterly. Commoners are stupid; but you worshippers of beauty who call me phlegmatic and without yearning, ought to reflect that there is an artistry so deep, so primordial and elemental, that no yearning seems to it sweeter and more worthy of tasting than that for the raptures of common-placeness.IT'S SO HARD TO BE AN ARTIST, YOU GUYS!Oh, God, I have heard Thomas Mann described as this towering literary genius, a monumental figure of German literature. So I was kind of looking forward to Death in Venice and other stories as a sampler before maybe I try one of his novels. Well, his short stories have killed that desire stone cold dead.Okay, he's great with language. I won't deny it. He slowly, painstakingly, verbosely paints the inner and outer lives and pained souls of all these lugubrious connoisseurs of truth and beauty, who are all just so woeful and tormented and woe! woe! woe! But each and every story was slooooooow and went basically nowhere. It's like staring at a painting. And staring. And staring. And staring. The first few minutes, yeah, it's beautiful, and I suppose if you are a true lover of fine arts you can probably stare at it for hours and be entranced, but I would like to move on and look at something else.The most interesting part of this collection was the translator's notes on how difficult it was to render Thomas Mann's elegiac German into equally elegiac English. The linguistic structures of German, which Mann makes proficient masterful use of, are different enough from English that translation requires nearly as much artistry as that possessed by the original writer. A straightforward idiomatic translation simply won't capture Mann's use of language.I mean, for a bunch of racy tales about incest and an old writer who becomes so infatuated with a young boy that he stalks the kid all over Venice while moping about how unbearably beautiful the boy is, Mann managed to bore me out of my mind and also make me squirm at what a creeper he is, and it's not like I'm some short-attention-span teenager who can't stand literary fiction.Oh yes, there are also lots and lots of allusions and metaphors. Death in Venice is a protracted exercise in literary allusions, as are Sieglinde and Siegmund in The Blood of the Walsungs.She kissed him on his closed eyelids; he kissed her on her throat, beneath the lace she wore. They kissed each other's hands. They loved each other with all the sweetness of the senses, each for the other's spoilt and costly well-being and delicious fragrance. They breathed it in, this fragrance, with languid and voluptuous abandon, like self-centred invalids, consoling themselves for the loss of hope. They forgot themselves in caresses, which took the upper hand, passing over the tumult of passion, dying away into sobbing...Aww, that's so sweet and kind of steamy.Oh, by the way, they're brother and sister.So, from the incestuous Sieglinde and Siegmund to the tormented, angsty, artist Tonio Kröger to the doomed writer Gustav von Aschenbach in Death in Venice, there are an awful lot of whiners and people who are either having inappropriate sex or wallowing in misery thinking about people they want to have inappropriate sex with. This is stroke fiction for tormented German intellectuals. I really, really wanted to like this collection 'cause like I said, Thomas Mann is supposed to be epically great and I can't even...This collection included the following stories, of which only a couple left an impression on me and the rest kind of passed over me as I sank into a glazed stupor:The Will for HappinessTristanLittle Herr FriedemannTobias MindernickelLittle LizzyGladius DeiThe Starvelings: A StudyThe WunderkindHarsh HoursTonio KrögerThe Blood of the WalsungsDeath in VeniceOkay, go ahead and tell me I'm an uncultured peasant. But I'm starting to think I just don't like German literature. I still need to give Hermann Hesse one more shot, and maybe, maybe, I will try one of Thomas Mann's novels. But not any time soon. I am giving this 2 stars, which I'm sure is a crime against the Aesir, but even though I normally rate books based on a combination of how well I enjoyed them and how well-written I think they are, and Mann is a great writer, I can see that, 3 stars would mean that I didn't find the experience completely unenjoyable, and frankly, I was dying to be done with this.

Maya

Clearly a classic for obvious reasons. The craftsmanship, and eloquence is just gripping. What is mystifying about Death in Venice for me, is the context. For some reason, this book is accepted by German culture? The story revolves around an old man's forbidden homosexual attraction to a 12 year old boy. This, especially coming out of 40s Germany, is unreal. And it was hailed as brilliant in its time, as well! Totally forgot to update this post-ANYWAYDeath in Venice, and the excerpts I read from other stories, seem to focus on the struggles of excellence and the struggles of the artist. Mann seems to examine this from a few points of view- protagonists both young and old, and the characters he surrounds them with for contrast.Is love the death of excellence and art? Or are excellence and art the birth and brilliance of real love? Honestly, I may agree with critics in general- It seems as though Death in Venice is the quintessential Mann read, the capstone. The other stories are informative but not as compelling of protagonists (in my opin). Kinda like This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby. It's like the writer has found his form in Death in Venice, as well as his thesis.

David

In this collection of stories Thomas Mann has one subject, and one alone: the provincialism and decline of the bourgeoisie of late Wilhemine Germany. The stories exude a brooding sense of decay that is symbolized in the lives of their protagonists, who are all troubled by an inability to merge cultural idealism with the material requirements of daily life. The practical men are cut off from the artists, and the artistic men are cut off from society as a whole. The result is, for the artist primarily, a disabling and often unbearable social alienation. Two character types reappear in most of the stories: the properly bourgeois individual, and the bourgeois révolté -- or the artist. What distinguishes these two types one from the other is their soundness of health: the bourgeois proper lives in a concrete world of practical ends and objective attainments, and is unselfconscious and ruddy with life. The révolté is a product of the same bourgeois civilization, but rejects its requirements of cultural conformity and practical discipline. In pursuit of art, the bourgeois révolté suffers from a self-imposed ostracism. In Mann’s portrayals, Aschenbach chief among them, the révolté is sterile and, in a few of the stories, quite literally physically defective. They cannot reproduce either physically or culturally, and they fail to integrate either themselves or their work with the culture from which they were born. This mood of pessimism is precisely what led Marxist literary critic Georg Lukacs to praise Mann as the greatest novelist of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Lukacs valued Mann’s ability to portray the subjective experience of alienation as it resulted from the (often unspecified) contradictions of bourgeois civilization. The European literary establishment shared Lukac’s esteem, if not his politics, awarding Mann the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929 for his 1901 novel, "Buddenbrooks". Yet, unlike near contemporaries such as Joyce, Proust, and Maupassant – none of whom received the Nobel Prize – the range of Mann’s stories is much more limited, and his prose style much more conventional. For all the suffering of his protagonists, cut off from their friends, families, and lovers on account of their heightened sensitivity to artistic beauty, they are still very much creatures of the dark and padded nineteenth century bourgeois interior, unable or unwilling to make the gesture of complete rejection, just as Mann himself steered well clear of modernism and its experiments. The world-consuming appetite of modernism, its urge to take in the whole of human experience, is missing in these stories. Joyce aims to embrace his native city, his “race,” and the whole of language within his fiction; Maupassant spreads his observations of noblemen, peasants, sailors, soldiers, mothers, wives, and lovers across his hundreds of compact stories. With Mann, we have the same story, told skillfully and with great variation in detail, over and over again.The result is a fiction of decline, of blocked egress, symbolized in the fate of Aschenbach himself. Mann’s most famous character is a man who is driven to extremes by his desire, but is unable to either abandon or fulfill it, a contradiction that is only resolved by his extinction.

Raluca

Though I found Mann's style to be a bit boring, I did find comfort in the similarities between his characters and my own ego. The motif of the outsider, the person who cannot fit in society's predetermined roles and must struggle to come to the facts that he will forever be on the outskirts, observing society rather than taking part in it, is one I am quite familiar with. But while I still keep optimism in the ideas I form for stories I will never write, Mann's work overwhelmed me with sadness. I found this tone to be accentuated more in the way the stories trailed off without a finality, as if to suggest that this struggle he's been carrying within him for so much time will never let him go, that he had long lost hope to ever find peace of heart. THow would I have loved to find out how the young Tadzio would react when his elder admirer finally approached him. But it was not written in the stars for the two to be acquainted and I suppose it was a parallel of sorts of the times that Mann lived in, when one was bound to keep their inner turmoils inside and though two kindred souls might recognize each other by their gaze, their association would be improbable.

Barbara

When I was in college, I read Death in Venice for the first time. I can't imagine what I made of it then. Of course, the story of an older man drawn to a beautiful young boy is compelling, but the sense of time running out can't have meant much to me at that point in my life. I read the novella again recently and was struck by its power. Mann captures so effectively the emptiness of Von Aschenbach's life. Though the story is full of people, he is apart, alone, a writer, a recorder of life, not a participant. His growing infatuation with Tadzio threatens his safe world, but his desire for contact with the boy overwhelms everything else. Here is part of how Mann describes Tadzio when Von Aschenbach seems him for the second time. "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." In the beginning, he is a statue, something beautiful to admire. Yet at the end of the book, Mann writes, "Once more he paused to look: with a sudden recollection, or by an impulse, he turned from the waist up, in an exquisite movement, one hand resting on his hip, and looked over his shoulder at the shore. The watcher sat just as he had sat that time in the lobby of the hotel when first the twilit grey eyes met his own. . . It seemed to him the pale and lovely Summoner smiled at him and beckoned"

Ugh

Basically I just advise that you not read this book from back to front, like I did. I bought it for Death in Venice, so I read that first, then I read the other stories, and then - because most introductions are really annoying and give away crucial aspects of the plot, and I know it's probably really lowbrow of me to care even a mote about what actually happens in books, rather than purely revelling in the manner of it all, but I just fucking do, okay? - I read the introduction.But Mann basically tackled the same two themes in each of these stories - sensuousness vs a more moral, less base approach in the arts, and whether the act of creating art distances the artist from humanity - and built and evolved as he went, and the introduction provides fairly crucial context for people who aren't well versed in Naturalism and Nietzsche. So I essentially read the lot ass-over-tit and without any background knowledge.The rating is based on my ill-informed impressions. Having now read David Luke's superb introduction, I realise I'm in no position whatsoever to comment, but on the other hand certain authorial approaches Mann took, which Luke explains he took for a reason, still got on my tits: e.g. the repetition, and the prissiness of the narration. Context is everything.Favourite quote (from the introduction by David Luke): aesthetic epicurianism cannot in the end compensate for human isolation.

Michael

i stalk mr. mann's corpse. one of the first serious writing exercises i gave myself was to write death in venice from gustav's p.o.v. and that story is only the beginning - i have a big soft spot for all of his work.

Tommy

So spoiler alert...Basically this was an older man's ultimately lethal obsession with a young boy. Wish I knew that ahead of time because that's not exactly my thing. It was short, that's about all I can say about it that was good. Besides that, there just wasn't anything that hit me as exceptional about this. Maybe it's just personal as I just don't get off or see much in the old person sexual obsession with youth, regardless of sex. I mean I'm pretty liberal about things like this and welcome everyone to get the most out of life as long as all parties agree and it doesn't exploit children. Fantasies about young children even as literature strike me as a bit creepy and I wonder if they don't get more credit for that than their actual literal merit.This is just sticking in the back of my mind I guess as I read Lolita recently too and was equally underwhelmed. The writing was better at times there, but not nearly as good as One Hundred Years of Solitude. If you feel the need to read a classic that deals with this type of relationship, I'd read that and let it go there.This is getting long, so try to wind down and get off the soapbox. I'm not convinced that literary arguments or the amount of symbolism discussed actually redeem these works as much as they're hyped. I guess I'm cynical enough to believe it's just a dated PG sexual fantasy regardless of what others say. So to wrap up, in this day there's much better porn out there on the internet if that's your thing. I wish we'd just call this type lit what it was, risque soft porn of the time, that way I don't accidentally waste time reading more of these type "classic works of literature".

Jenny

While on the quintessential backpacking-through-Europe trip in my early 20s, my traveling partner and I, of course, went to Venice. We arrived and were immediately charmed by the uniqueness of this mythic city, checked into a super cheap room and ventured out to explore. After a warm afternoon/evening of flirting with gondoliers, getting lost down tiny alleyways, admiring glass jewelry, and drinking inexpensive wine, we returned to our room. It was dark. We turned on the glaring overhead lights and were faced with something out of a horror movie. Dozens upon dozens of plump, well-fed mosquitoes had been squashed against the eerily blank white walls and the quivering shadows of their still-living counterparts could be seen hovering in the corners. Further investigation of the room turned up several swatters and some toxic-looking bug spray. The next day we checked into a place that cost slightly more, but that was air conditioned and had no need for opening the windows. We spent a lovely few days in Venice, exploring its many charms, but the insect-infested nightmares and itchy welts lingered like the reek of the canals...reminding us of the city's more gruesome underbelly. I was reminded of this experience while reading "Death in Venice." Aschenbach is both charmed by Venice, and troubled by it. Much like Aschenbach, I would go back to the city in a heartbeat. The first thing that drew me into this little masterpiece was his vibrant and well-balanced description of the setting through Aschenbach's eyes (perhaps partially because I have been there and could relate...and even all of these years later, Venice remains quite a bit the same.)Obviously, as I look toward teaching this book to my European Lit class in the fall, I'm wondering how to head off the "Eeew. He's a creepy pedophile!" comments before they even start. Admittedly, as I witnessed the development of Aschenbach's love for the young Polish boy, Tadzio, over the course of the book, I had my own moments of "ew," but I felt that Mann's candid and unguarded exploration of Aschenbach's psyche helped me to see that this story goes far beyond that of an older man obsessively stalking a beautiful young boy. As Aschenbach nears his final moments of his writing career (and his life), he is grasping for that perfect beauty that every artist hopes to achieve, represented in the symbol of Tadzio.I find it quite crafty that Mann is able to create such an intimate relationship between the reader and Aschenbach that, at times, the reader knows and understands Aschenbach's innermost feelings, intentions, and motives even better that Aschenbach does himself. I'm also anxious to go back and the story more slowly, in the process reading up on the many layers of mythological references that Mann makes. I read it quickly the first time--I almost couldn't help it--but it is clearly a book meant to be savored, reread, digested slowly. At the book's end, I found myself flipping back in search of this quotation, seeking something to help me make sense of it: "Yes, even on a personal basis art is an enhancement of life. It makes you more deeply happy, it wears you out faster. It engraves on the face of its servant imaginary, intellectual adventures and, with time...makes him spoiled and fastidious, producing a weariness and nervous curiosity that could hardly be generated by a lifetime full of extravagant passions and pleasures." Ultimately, and in its simplest terms, Aschenbach's story is about what it means to be an artist, what it means to pursue beauty. A hefty theme for such a slim volume, but one that he seems to explore adeptly in all of its complexity of pleasure and pain.

Schmacko

I know, it’s a crying shame I haven’t read this classic years ago. And now, having read it, I can say, “What a fascinating, disturbing little melodrama, ” set this brief but dense book aside, and then never pick it up again.Death in Venice by Thomas Mann was published in 1912. It’s about Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful septuagenarian German author who leaves his very staid, regimental life for a whim-filled holiday in Venice. While there, Aschenbach slowly shrugs off his straightjacket existence and starts to feel fiery passion. This is brought on by another vacationer to the island – a 14-year-old Polish boy named Tadzio.Death in Venice is about what 70-year-old Aschenbach’s passion means. Is it an artist’s appreciation of physical beauty? Is it the sickly old author longing after his own youth, acknowledging that that Tadzio takes youth for granted, not even realizing that his beauty is fleeting. Is Aschenbach a pedophile? Is his unnatural lust brought on by Aschenbach’s previously restrictive existence?Mann does a beautiful job of balancing all these complicated questions in a story that is both prosaic and tense. The book veers from being a confessional of sickness to an uncomfortable apologist creed for pedophilia as an education for the youth and an appreciation of physical beauty by older men. I happen to be a strong believer in social structure and propriety on this given subject, so I found myself a little squeamish, even the though the book itself is otherwise chaste. I was frustrated by Mann’s ability to both vilify the emotion and then create a shaky logic for why it exists. In that sense, the book is very successful.In another sense, this book is pure 1912 melodrama. A horrible plague has befallen Venice, a mysterious malady that becomes a major plot point. Aschenbach plummets from his formerly logical and lofty moral values into an obsessed and passion-controlled wisp of a thing. Achenbach is erudite enough that he goes into long narratives about the history of man-boy love and its acceptance in other cultures. You can feel the German trying to justify his own increasingly senseless emotions as he grows both physically and mentally sicker. Finally, it’s blindingly clear that the mystery disease and Achenbach’s lust are parallel metaphors, in which Mann gives his final judgment on the overarching subject of the book – the appreciating of youthful beauty versus pedophilic lust.I get it. I read it. I can move on.

Jenny Blounts

While on the quintessential backpacking-through-Europe trip in my early 20s, my traveling partner and I, of course, went to Venice. We arrived and were immediately charmed by the uniqueness of this mythic city, checked into a super cheap room and ventured out to explore. After a warm afternoon/evening of flirting with gondoliers, getting lost down tiny alleyways, admiring glass jewelry, and drinking inexpensive wine, we returned to our room. It was dark. We turned on the glaring overhead lights and were faced with something out of a horror movie. Dozens upon dozens of plump, well-fed mosquitoes had been squashed against the eerily blank white walls and the quivering shadows of their still-living counterparts could be seen hovering in the corners. Further investigation of the room turned up several swatters and some toxic-looking bug spray. The next day we checked into a place that cost slightly more, but that was air conditioned and had no need for opening the windows. We spent a lovely few days in Venice, exploring its many charms, but the insect-infested nightmares and itchy welts lingered like the reek of the canals...reminding us of the city's more gruesome underbelly.I was reminded of this experience while reading "Death in Venice." Aschenbach is both charmed by Venice, and troubled by it. Much like Aschenbach, I would go back to the city in a heartbeat. The first thing that drew me into this little masterpiece was his vibrant and well-balanced description of the setting through Aschenbach's eyes (perhaps partially because I have been there and could relate...and even all of these years later, Venice remains quite a bit the same.)Obviously, as I look toward teaching this book to my European Lit class in the fall, I'm wondering how to head off the "Eeew. He's a creepy pedophile!" comments before they even start. Admittedly, as I witnessed the development of Aschenbach's love for the young Polish boy, Tadzio, over the course of the book, I had my own moments of "ew," but I felt that Mann's candid and unguarded exploration of Aschenbach's psyche helped me to see that this story goes far beyond that of an older man obsessively stalking a beautiful young boy. As Aschenbach nears his final moments of his writing career (and his life), he is grasping for that perfect beauty that every artist hopes to achieve, represented in the symbol of Tadzio.

Sophie

** spoiler alert ** Ahhh short stories.. novellas.. not my favourite type of read - I hate the emotional cut-off between each story! However, this was a book that I've had on my shelf for many years now and have kept meaning to read. I bought the book because I wanted to read Death In Venice - probably Mann's most famous novella. However, since this edition had the other novellas included I also read those. Below are my thoughts on each story..Little Herr Friedman - A story of deformity, love, and suicide. Some parts are inferred rather than explicitly told, but still enjoyable.The Joker - a story about wanting to live free from the constraints of society - to shun societal companionship - and yet realize that it denies you love and contentment.The Road to the Churchyard - the shortest story in this collection, and yet still rather poignant. It is about a man who has lost his wife and 3 children - one was born dead, one died of illness, and the other malnutrition. Subsequently, he drinks. On his way to the Churchyard, he becomes angered with a boy who is riding his bicycle on the wrong part of the road. He becomes angered, and chases the boy down.The boy gets away, and a crowd gathers around the man as he rages once more, and then collapses, seemingly dying. I think it's not insignificant that the boy on the bike was called Life. The man chases after Life, and yet life runs away from him. Very simple symbolism, yet very effective.Gladius Dei - a short story about a cloaked man called Jerome who becomes enraged about a lustful painting of the Madonna on display in a popular art shop in the heart of Munich. A devout religious man, he confronts the shop owner with religious zeal, and demands the picture be burned, as it is a sinful, lustful painting in the cult of beauty. He gets thrown out, and sees before him all the sinful works of art that belong in the cult of beauty, and a righteous sword of God hanging above him in the sky. He shouts, "The sword of God over the Earth, swiftly and speedily."Tristan - Progressing though the book, it is clear that Mann's style is advancing. I enjoyed this tale of patients in a sanatorium, and their friendship that hints at romantic intrigue, and certainly jealousy from Herr Spinell. Fundamental to this story is that Spinell only wishes to see the beauty in everything, to the point that in his written confrontation to Herr Kloterjahn he invents a beauty vision of GabrielleTonio Kroger - one of the longer stories, it conveys, yet again the feelings of an outsider, literary genius, and stuck between the two cultures of his parents. Tonio is forever the outside - the richest kid in class, no social qualities, unconventional looking, always in a one-sided love, troubled by matters that appear largely due to his intellectual capabilities and over-thinking, outsider at the holiday ball.. forever ignored and feeling like he doesn't fit in. An extension of the author's own internal struggles?Death In Venice - yet again centered around an intellectual, and famous writer, who is stuck in this ugly routine and order, and so decides to holiday in Venice. One thing I noticed was that everything was ugly and vulgar in this story, apart from Tadzio - a Greek-like image of beauty, of poise and upper class behaviour, of youth and innocence. Aschenbach has an awful journey to Venice (the weather, the criminal gondolier), he is described as being old with a leather face, the heat is disagreeable to him and makes him ill, the sickness of cholera spreading (with the details of the symptoms expressed for effect).. so much vulgarity, and yet he becomes entranced with Tadzio, who shines bright against the vulgarity and infatuates Aschenbach. Aschenbach holds the boy on another level - he is god-like and nothing he does is unfavourable. It comes to the point where Aschenbach stalks the child and feels he should die if he fails to see him - in fact he stays on in Venice despite knowing of the sickness because he cannot bare to part with the child, and in so suffers illness, and as Tadzio and his family leave, Aschenbach dies from sickness.. but also seemingly from the inability to part with the child he has become so entranced by.I'm glad that I chose to read all of this collection because it certainly shows Mann's growth as a writer, but also chronicles how he revisits concepts and improves on them each time, or approaches the subject in an entirely different way. Nearly all stories included an intellectual, often a writer, and his struggles with the feeling of being an outsider, and yet each story was fresh and new and took on a different approach - many times showing the growth in Mann's maturity as a person and a writer.The introduction is well worth a read, though I would recommend reading it after you have read the novellas. It gives a great background to Germany and the literary scene at the time of these novellas, as well as Mann's life and how this influenced his work, particularly referencing his inspiration from Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Wagner, and his interest in nihilism and naturalism. I will say, however, that if you haven't read Buddenbrooks then elements are revealed in the introduction which may spoil it for you..I would definitely recommend this! Very interesting and thought-provoking. I found the Germanic literary style difficult at times - the vocabulary! Amazing! But, nevertheless, this was brilliant,and it is understandable that Mann's literary talents were recognized with a Nobel Prize.I will definitely be picking up another Thomas Mann book in the future..

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