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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to Thomas Mann - Intriguing, Complex Stories
The long novels of Thomas Mann can prove challenging, not unlike those of Henry James. Fortunately, this varied collection - Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories - offers an easier way to become acquainted with Mann's intellectual, psychologically complex literature.

Thomas Mann's lengthy sentences and complex grammatical structures markedly complicate the...
Published on August 20, 2005 by Michael Wischmeyer

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The return of the repressed/Dionysos
Aschenbach, an ageing, ascetic author makes up his mind to visit Venice in the hope of encountering "distant scenes". There he becomes wildly infatuated with a fourteen-year-old Polish boy, the Hyacinth of myth, named Tazio. The narrative centres around the fumbling and pathetic attempts made by the protagonist to address the object of his love, eventually...
Published on February 7, 2001 by TheIrrationalMan


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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to Thomas Mann - Intriguing, Complex Stories, August 20, 2005
This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
The long novels of Thomas Mann can prove challenging, not unlike those of Henry James. Fortunately, this varied collection - Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories - offers an easier way to become acquainted with Mann's intellectual, psychologically complex literature.

Thomas Mann's lengthy sentences and complex grammatical structures markedly complicate the task of translation. H. T. Lowe-Porter's translation is considered the most accessible version, although at the expense of subdividing many of Mann's sentences. (For comparison with an excellent literal version, look at Stanley Appelbaum's translation of Death in Venice, Dover Publications, 1995).

Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories was first published by Vintage Books in 1954. My edition was printed by Vintage International in 1989; it has neither an introduction nor explanatory notes.

Death in Venice (1911): While vacationing in Venice, the aging, highly respected author Gustave Ashenbach becomes mesmerized by a young boy staying at the seashore with his Polish aristocratic family. Although intellectually aware of his growing obsession, Ashenbach is unable to break away. This somber portrayal of a troubled man is a masterpiece of subtle nuances that illustrates Thomas Mann's ability to create layers of meaning.

Tonio Kroger (1903) is perhaps more biographical as it explores a writer's internal conflict between his desire to be accepted, that is to fit in to a bourgeois life, and his contradictory need to follow his artistic temperament wherever it might lead him.

Mario and the Magician (1929) is more explicitly political, depicting in the guise of an unscrupulous hypnotist a Mussolini-like character. The ending of this intriguing account is a surprise.

The setting in Disorder and Early Sorrow (1925) is Munich, less than a decade after World War I, amid rampant inflation and social upheaval. The narrator, Professor Cornelius, is saddened by the loss of tradition, exemplified by modern art, music, and dance forms so popular with his older children, now young adults. He finds refuge in his study of history. Early sorrow refers to an incident involving his five year-old daughter, Ellie.

A Man and His Dog (1918) is personal, humorous, and almost idyllic, quite different from the more serious topics addressed in the other stories in this collection.

The Blood of the Walsungs (1905) is the most disturbing story in this collection. The two key characters exhibit an aristocratic arrogance and elitism that culminates in incest. In an opera scene Mann draws a close parallel between his two protagonists and Siegmund and Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walkure.

Tristan (1902) has been described as a retelling of the legend of Tristan and Isolde set in a sanatorium. Detlev Spinell, a tuberculosis patient staying in the Dr. Leander's medical facility, becomes infatuated with another patient, Herr Kloterjahn's wife. Spinell is a largely unsuccessful writer, one that has difficulty relating to others.

In Felix Krull (1911) the narrator is a self-serving, unscrupulous, amoral, confidence man that is somehow likeable. The story ends abruptly, leaving the reader wondering what happens next. Forty years later Thomas Mann resumed work on this story and in 1954 he published the novel The Confessions of Felix Krull, a light, often hilarious account of a man who wins the favor and love of others by enacting the roles that they desire of him.

Thomas Mann was born in Germany in 1875. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. He left Germany in 1933, living primarily in Switzerland and the United States until his death in 1955.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to reading Thomas Mann, November 27, 2001
This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
Thomas Mann may be an acquired taste in literature; he himself admitted that he had great difficulty knowing when to stop. Buddenbrooks, his autobiographically-based novel of a Northern German merchant family before WWI was supposed to be a short book of about 250 pages, like a Scandinavian novel. Well, it is far longer, and if you like Mann, you are glad of it.
However, tackling The Magic Mountain, with its long philosophical discourses, or other Mann novels is a lot easier if you begin with these short works. (Short is relative; Death in Venice was supposed to be a short story and ended up, predictably, a novella.) The themes in these works show up again in Mann's other writings; Tristan in particular, is a sketch for The Magic Mountain (thumbnail sketch, to be sure.) Tonio Kroger resembles Buddenbrooks in the autobiographical details and setting. The theme of sexual perversion and decadence heading to destruction (supposedly a metaphor for the society of pre-war Germany) appear in both Death in Venice and Blood of the Walsungs.
If you are new to Thomas Mann, these works are a wonderful place to start. If you grow to love his writing, re-reading these is always a pleasure.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Literary Fiction (Literally), January 7, 2001
By 
N. Lee "ski429" (Conway, AR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
I was given "Death in Venice" by a close friend. Scary how well she knows me. It was the perfect gift.
"Death in Venice" is a collection of eight of Thomas Mann's best short stories. Usually, I'm not really one for short stories, as most times I find myself hanging at the end and disappointed in the development of the plots and characters. I was not disappointed with this book.
Through his eight stories, Mann explores many aspects of human nature...most notably love. Each story has a different theme, but there is an underlying passion for life and meaningful relationships that fills each tale with beauty and a bittersweet longing. Topics in this collection range from a look at the world from the view of a young artist, a man's respect for the family pet that worships him, a stark look at an incestuous relationship between twins, a family trip to Venice gone awry, and many others.
My only difficulty is that the language used is a bit more obscure than most of us are used to. I hadn't realized how important commas were, and there usefulness was proven by the lack of them in Mann's work. Usage and structure was different at the time of these writings, however, and not much time is needed to adjust.
I would recommend "Death in Venice" to anyone who enjoys classic literature, or who enjoys reading the work of someone who is passionate about what they do and how they live. It is definitely worth the time invested.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The return of the repressed/Dionysos, February 7, 2001
This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
Aschenbach, an ageing, ascetic author makes up his mind to visit Venice in the hope of encountering "distant scenes". There he becomes wildly infatuated with a fourteen-year-old Polish boy, the Hyacinth of myth, named Tazio. The narrative centres around the fumbling and pathetic attempts made by the protagonist to address the object of his love, eventually resulting in the death of the aged Aschenbach. Mann seems interested in establishing parallels between Aschenbach's condition and the ideals of classical antiquity, as the substantial [mis]-quotations from Plato's "Phaedrus" make clear. However, the story lends itself to other interpretations, such as the asethetics of Nietzsche, with its duality of "Apollinism" and "Dionysism", of which Mann was a fervent disciple. Aschenbach's dignified, ordered, rational, harmonious, Apolline existence can be read as being ruptured by the irrational force of the Dionysian, the instinct of intoxication and self-destructive excess. Similarly, Mann's portrayal of Aschenbach's infatuation with Tazio can be interpreted along Freudian lines. What of the scene in which Aschenbach is set to leave Venice but loses his bags, then returns and it is only *after* the fact that he discovers the real reason for his return? This is clearly a dramatisation of what Freud terms neurosis, the conflict between an unconscious desire and a prohibitive command of the conscious. The elevated, detached, "objective" style shows Mann to have been committed to the classical paradigms of narrative and composition and, in this respect, he invites comparison with Flaubert.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderfully Complex Writer, April 20, 2003
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This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
Mann is to be struggled with; his work to be attacked and repulsed - it is the embodiment of engaging, challenging fiction. It may be advisable to start out with Mario and the Magician, a splendid and accessible story of a hypnotist performing amazing acts on an incredulous audience that is itself hypnotic in alluring its character audience and the reader into a seeminly pedestrian story that turns out to have a whimsical, fantastic denouement. M&M also doubles as a grand metaphor for the fascism that was beginning to grip Germany - the awesome power of a tyrant and the dangerous nakedness of a raptured audience.
Mann passes the test of great writing, in that even in translation, one can appreciate the literary dexterity of a master at work - a writer carried away, inhabiting each sentence of his story. Some of his lesser stories, towards the end of the anthology, are sprawling introspectives and thoroughgoing accounts of places and things.
Death in Venice is a seminal work and sets the tone for Mann's subtle revelations of repressed passions and the tabboo. Mann elegantly lays bare human souls, yet keeping the lid safely fastened to the pressured jar. One of my favorites was Toni Kroger - a touching story of an artist's life, from young man to mature adult. Mann renders beautifully unrequited love and homosocial admiration by the introverted for the extroverts. In reading his stories, we may find that he expresses memories and feelings that were always there, but could not find the words for before. That, perhaps, is the highest achievement of a writer.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Classic Literature, November 8, 2003
By 
-_Tim_- (The Western Hemisphere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
Thomas Mann wrote "Death in Venice" in 1911. The protagonist, formerly a self-controlled and respectable public figure, gives himself over to obsessively stalking a 14-year-old boy for whom he has erotic feelings. While these feelings would be unacceptable to most people in our era, it is still difficult for us to appreciate the degree of condemnation they would have attracted when this story was written. Yet, Sigmund Freud had published The Interpretation of Dreams a decade earlier, and German intellectuals like Thomas Mann were aware that censurable urges lurk beneath conscious notice within all of us. Through this story, the author was surely struggling to come to terms with his own homoerotic urges. Judging from what he wrote, these were deeply troubling to him: corruption, decay, and condemnation are the themes he presents to us. While the images conveyed through this story are repugnant and shocking, the writing is beautiful and affecting.
Several of the other stories in this volume are of similar quality, and similarly deal with troubling themes ("Mario and the Magician," "The Blood of the Walsungs"). Yet, Mann was also capable of an extended and sincerely felt appreciation of the more benign and wholesome aspects of our world ("A Man and His Dog").
These stories are worth reading and re-reading. Thomas Mann won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929, and these stories, if not Nobel prize quality, at the very least show Mann to be an engaging and entertaining writer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mann for All Seasons: A festschrift of the Nobel Prize Winning author's best short works, March 16, 2009
This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
Death in Venice is a novella published in 1911, The work has inspired an opera by Benjamin Britten and has been filmed. In it Mann tells the story of famous author Gustav Von Aschenbach. He is jaded, disillusioned with fame finding that writing has become difficult. He decides to visit Venice. In that decaying city he goes to the beach each morning. While there he discovers a young Polish lad who is named Tadzio., The two make eye contact and there is a homoerotic element in the relationship though they do not converse. The novella ends as Aschenback dies of the cholera epidemic sweeping the Italian city of canals.
Underneath this taut and beautifully written story there are many themes which resonate. We see how Venice is a symbol of death and decadence. All of the city is filled with disease, death and foul odors permeate the tale and town. The novella was published in 1911 as the old Europe of peace, relative prosperity and staid middle class morality was about to explode with the roaring of the guns of August igniting the Great War and the end of nineteenth century civilization. Mann often links love and death as he also does in his short story "Tristan." As in
"Tonio Kroger" we see in this tale the way an artist/intellectual is asked to relate to a society hellbent on business success and the accumulation of wealth. Aschenbach is a surrogate for Mann who was cold and reserved as a man but was a cauldron of seething Freudian emotions underneath the surface of his frigid persona.
This collection of short stories is a good introduction to the sober art of Mann whose long sentences and literary references will keep an alert reader's attention. Mann is not everyone's cup of tea but he is an important writer whose works should be wider read in America.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to a litery giant, December 12, 2005
This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
This is my first time reading Thomas Mann, save for the few excerpts that appear in college literature studies. Thomas Mann is notorious for his lengthy sentences and his never-ending novels, so I picked this as a gentle introduction to his works.

Even just flipping through the short stories will give an impression of how versatile and varied Mann's writing styles could be. Death in Venice, while being his most famous work in this book, is also one of the more difficult ones to read. This was Thomas Mann at his best - his sentences, long and tortuous, rolls through the imagination paragraphs at a time. Felix Krull, on the other hand, is short and succinct, with almost a feel of modern satire permeating through it.

The translation reads pretty clean and straightforward. While this probably probably loses a bit of feel in terms of grammar and structure of the sentences, Mann's styles and the suitability of the German language to this task means that a direct translation would have less flow and may seem cumbersome.

Overall I would say this is a nice illustration of Mann's literary prodigy, without overwhelming those who are not yet initiated into reading his full-sized novels.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the best translation., April 23, 2014
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This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
Although Lowe Porter was the authorized translator of Thomas Mann, her translations are now out of date. In Death in Venice, she omitted the most important sentence of the story because it did not suit her high moral standards. The sentence, I quote from memory: "And as he had done so many times in the past, he turned and followed him." I assume she objected to the frank homoeroticism of the statement. It is not, however, the function of the translator to interpret the story, but to translate its meaning as clearly as possible one sentence at a time. Confine Lowe Porter to the dustbin and read David Luke.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man as Artist in "Death in Venice", December 11, 1999
This review is from: Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories (Paperback)
In "Death in Venice," Mann crafts an exquisite portrait of "man as artist." Through the character of Aschenbach, Mann explores the artist's role in the public realm as well as his need for fulfillment in his private life. Using the character of Tadzio as a symbol of true artistic beauty, Mann weaves a love story that is at once both destructive and redemptive. This novella is painfully beautiful and hauntingly memorable -- a staggering accomplishment.
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Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories
Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories by Thomas Mann (Paperback - March 13, 1989)
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