In the summer of 1911, the German writer Thomas Mann visited Venice in the company of his wife Katia. There, in the Grand Hotel des Bains, as he waited for the dinner-gong to ring, the author’s roving eye was drawn to a nearby Polish family, the Moeses, consisting of a mother, three daughters, and a young sailor-suited son who, to Mann, exuded an almost supernatural beauty and grace. Inspired by this glancing encounter with the luminous child, Mann wrote Death in Venice, and the infatuated writer made of that boy, Wladyslaw Moes, one of the twentieth century’s most potent and enduring icons. According to Gilbert Adair in his sparkling evocation of that idyll on the Adriatic, Mann wrote his novella, “as though taking dictation from God.” But precisely who was the boy? And what was his reaction to the publication of Death in Venice in 1912 and, later, the release of Luchino Visconti’s film adaptation in 1971? In this revealing portrait, including telling photographs, Gilbert Adair brilliantly juxtaposes the life of Wladyslaw Moes with that of his mythic twin, Tadzio. It is a fascinating account of a man who was immortalized by a genius, yet forgotten by history.