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Death in Venice and Other Tales Paperback – May 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0141181738 ISBN-10: 0141181737

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141181737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141181738
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Mann's classic here gets a fresh interpretation from PEN Award-winning translator Neugroschel, who brings out more of the work's sensuality. Along with the title story, this edition includes "The Will for Happiness," "Tobias Mindernickel," "Tristan," "The Starvelings," and "Harsh Hour," among others.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

New versions of 12 celebrated stories, including the famous title novella, many previously collected in Mann's seminal Stories of Three Decades. Neugroschel's persuasive ``Preface'' makes a strong case for fresh translations, given both this century's inevitable linguistic shifts and Manns employment within individual works of specific vocabularies and styles (e.g., those of Wagnerian opera in the hair-raising ``The Blood of the Walsungs''). And Neugrschel essentially finesses the issue of revealing the stories' inherent sexuality; their author was, after all, a master of elegant indirection dedicated to muted presentations of matters that were anathema to both his public and his own sedulously respectable persona. That said, it's wonderful to have vivid, lucid English versions of Mann's sophisticated portrayals of sexual obsession and humiliation (``Little Herr Friedemann''), illness- as-metaphor in a tale (``Tristan'') that concisely prefigures The Magic Mountain, and the transfiguring intersection of artistic with homosexual passion (Death in Venice, Tonio Krger). Brilliant work, in any case, from one of the century's great writers. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Elfriede Jelinek was born in Austria in 1946 and grew up in Vienna where she attended the famous Music Conservatory. The leading Austrian writer of her generation, she has been awarded the Heinrich B?ll Prize for her contribution to German literature. The film by Michael Haneke of The Piano Teacher won the three main prizes at Cannes in 2001. In 2004, Elfriede Jelinek was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Customer Reviews

The story is brilliant.
Maybe I wasn't in the right place for this, but I found it a difficult read.
B. Doughty
I didn't hate it but I didn't love it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
I can't imagine how difficult it must be to translate a writer so steeped in his original language as is Thomas Mann. "Death in Venice" and the other stories in this collection are great period - no matter what the language, the ideas and characters stand on their own. What makes this translation so much better is the attention Neugroschel gives to giving us prose that is as good as Mann's original German - this writing is simply beautiful; evocative of the period in which it was originally written without sounding like a joke or a bad imitation of turn of the century fiction. (It's no Henry James satire). Neugroschel has won the PEN/Faulkner award three times for his translations and it's easy to see why. Read his introduction where he talks about Mann's ability to "both evoke and to distance" and how he [Neugroschel] set about translating this feeling into English. This is truly the very best that a translation can be.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "lydiacatherine" on August 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
I don't think that Death in Venice operates on the premise that a "life of sensation" is worthwhile, whatever the cost. Mann's story is a complication of the traditional morality tale, and Aschenbach's demise is not a result of his giving in to the pursuit of beauty and visceral experience, but of his previous, total rejection of this kind of surrender. Aschenbach, we are told, lives like a "closed fist," and for this reason is completely unequipped to deal with the combined experience of visiting an unfamiliar and sinister place, and of encountering a boy who provokes a strong physical and emotional response (on a sidenote, occasionally I hear someone label this as a homophobic text, but they are entirely missing the point, I think. As in Henry James's Daisy Miller, Death in Venice, on one level, illustrates the way that forces outside of sex can make sex, or the desire for sex, fatal. It has nothing to do with the act, or desire, itself). It is Aschenbach's perpetual need to take the proverbial "high road" that makes his foray into the world of the sensual so disastrous.
The story is brilliant. Not only does Mann address wonderful themes like the nature of art, artistic impulse, desire, repression, and Orientalism, even, but the writing and narrative trajectory are flawless.
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It seems like a simple story. But yet it is heavily symbolic and its many translations from the original German have been analyzed by literature buffs since it was first published in 1912. The main character is Gustav von Aschenbach, an esteemed writer in his fifties with his own particular world view. The book is deep with meaning and symbolism. And every sentence which is written in beautiful prose has been analyzed and reanalyzed by scholars for almost a century.

Gustav von Ashenbach takes a trip to Venice. Here, he is attracted to a young boy. Most of this short book consists of his thoughts about this boy. He never speaks to this boy but he follows him whenever he can and lusts for him, seeing him as an innocent thing of beauty. His passion takes over and he becomes quite ridiculous as he tries to make himself look younger. In the meantime, Venice is undergoing some sort of plague which the authorities try to hide from the people although rumors are flying. Gustav has a chance to warn the other guests in the hotel, including the boy's family, but his own inner thoughts seem to prevent him from speaking to them at all.

The writing is beautiful and layered with the meaning of this one man's pursuit of beauty at the end of his life. It is all played out in elaborate early 19th century language and the author sure does know how to use his words. The reader gets to see his dreams, his hesitancy and his complicated thought process and I felt pure pleasure just letting my eyes move across the page and soak up the atmosphere the author created. Clearly, this is a work of art and has stood the test of time.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on February 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Thomas Mann was one of the most elegant writers of our century. His prose dances off the page with a fluidity that is all too rare in today's world of literature, and his narrative style is always compelling. This little volume is a collection of twelve short stories. For the most part, the stories are enjoyable, though a couple of them are downright disturbing. Many of them feature dejected and misunderstood people who are desperately struggling to be understood and accepted in the world, and a great deal of the main characters are artists.

But there is much more here than just stories. In fact, nearly all these tales contain deep and complicated questions. What is art? What constitutes legitimate art? Is it true that true art brings pain, and that true artists can never live or enjoy life? These and many other questions are considered throughout this work.

As I said, some of these stories are a bit disturbing, and a couple are downright creepy. I recommend proceeding with caution. It might even be best to start with one of Mann's novels (like Buddenbrooks, for example). Still, if you are willing to brave this one out, it promises to be a richly rewarding experience, both in its quality of narrative and in the message that each of these short tales is meant to convey.
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