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Death in Venice Paperback – May 31, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0060576172 ISBN-10: 0060576170 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060576170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060576172
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Novella by Thomas Mann, published in German as Der Tod in Venedig in 1912. A symbol-laden story of aestheticism and decadence, Mann's best-known novella exemplifies the author's regard for Sigmund Freud's writings on the unconscious. Gustav von Aschenbach is a revered author whose work is known for its discipline and formal perfection. At his Venetian hotel he encounters the strikingly handsome young teenager Tadzio. Aschenbach is disturbed by his attraction to the boy, and although he watches Tadzio, he dare not speak to him. Despite warnings of a cholera epidemic Aschenbach stays in Venice; he sacrifices his dignity and well-being to the immediate experience of beauty as embodied by Tadzio. After exchanging a significant look with the boy on the day of Tadzio's scheduled departure, Aschenbach dies of cholera. As in his other major works, Mann explores the role of the artist in society. The cerebral Aschenbach summons extraordinary discipline and endurance in his literary work, but his private desires overwhelm him. --Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

A short,beautiful, plenty of meanings, and perfect story.
emanriqu
He succumbs to the irrational, the utterly useless and beautiful, and he dies.
"neshome"
I could only absorb a couple of pages per reading session.
Julie Chang

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on May 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Death in Venice (1912) is a disturbing story, one that is not easy to forget. It is also exceptional literature, a classic of the twentieth century. Thomas Mann's Death in Venice might be best compared to the subtle, psychologically complex fiction of Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

In Munich the aging, highly respected author Gustav Aschenbach is in need of change, rest in a new setting, to overcome his growing fatigue that is impacting his writing. While recovering in Venice, Aschenbach slowly, but inexorably, becomes mesmerized by a young Polish boy staying at the seashore with his aristocratic family. Aschenbach is intellectually aware of his growing obsession, but he is seemingly unable to break away. Thomas Mann's somber portrayal of this troubled man is a masterpiece of subtle nuances and psychological intensity.

Thomas Mann's lengthy sentences and complex grammatical structures severely complicate the task of translating Death in Venice. I have read two excellent and yet substantially different translations. The most faithful translation is by Stanley Appelbaum (in this Dover edition, 1995) that tries to be as literal as possible, carefully preserving the comparative length of the original sentences as well as the internal sequence of each original German sentence. Contrastingly, the H. T. Lowe-Porter translation (found elsewhere) is less literal, but is considered the most delightful and readable version, although at the expense of subdividing many of Mann's lengthy sentences. Lowe-Porter's version has been the standard translation for many years.

The Dover edition provides an excellent 10-page commentary, including footnotes.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Death in Venice is the first serious study of homoerotic love in the modern novel although many precedents do exist: the ambiguous sonnets of Michelangelo or Shakespeare, Marlowe's tortured Edward II, the androgynous aesthetics of Winckelmann, the lyrical allegories of Rimbaud and the dark insinuations of Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde or Wilde's Dorian Gray. E.M. Forester's posthumously published Maurice is exactly contemporary with Death in Venice.
Death in Venice tells the story of Gustave von Aschenbach, a writer living in Munich. One May afternoon, while strolling through that city's famed English Gardens, von Aschenbach encounters the Wandervogel (hiker); an apparition of an angular, hawklike man, who returns von Aschenbach's gaze before disappearing.
A true ascetic, von Aschenbach has never known the sweet idleness and freedom of youth, but after viewing the Wandervogel he is seized by the desire to travel and leave his labors behind. Finally obeying the urges of his long-repressed, primeval, exotic side, von Aschenbach sets out for Trieste, however after only ten days he decides he dislikes that city and take a boat to Venice instead.
While making the short trip. von Aschenbach encounters yet another apparition--that of an old man, who, through the artifice of makeup and a wig, has attempted to make himself appear young again--to no avail. Disgusted, von Aschenbach promptly hires a gondolier and checks into his hotel on the Lido.
Later that evening, von Aschenbach's attention is hypnotically drawn to a Polish boy of fourteen who is dining at the next table with his family.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Schwartz on April 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
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An awesome book that reveals the Dionysus which lives in all of us. One can read about the controlled organized and stable self verses the chaotic center, but it is a story as this that artistically conveys the idea in subjective terms. An older, well respected man in his 50's, one of reputable character, in that of an intellectual and artist, a man who lives and represents the Apollonian man of stability and chiseled living succumbs to his inner chaotic self. It's not that Aschenbach was a fraud or false, yet in a sense he was, as all of us are, whether we are willing to admit it to ourselves or not. Then there are many of us who have ceased to experience our Dionysus since many years, however it lives dormant in us as a part of our true selves.
An so this respectable, reliable, stable man falls in love with an image or eros, that of a 14 year old boy staying at the same hotel as his. He never speaks to the boy, nor has any direct contact other than a handful of eye contact glances that seem to acknowledge each other and his loving adoration for his object of beauty. And that is it: the beauty of this boy was the highest of expression of the intellectual, the eros. His beauty, grace and movement took over Aschenbach's logic of the Apollonian side, exposing his internal turmoil to the point that he followed the boy and his family just to watch and dream, to feel the feelings that come from internal chaos and adulation.
The story itself has much meaning, the writing style is prose and lives as a classic. Amazing how such was written at the time of such repression, but despite all perceived advancements in human tolerance and understanding, there exists little difference today in those of repressive Apollonian character and those of the extreme contrast in Dionysus living.
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