Book Notes: "Death in Venice" by Thomas Mann

Death in VeniceDeath in Venice by Thomas Mann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I must admit to a dose of uneasiness with the protagnist's creepy paiderastial stalking, but I put it down to a sign of the times much like one would with the stalker-story lyrics in Daddy Cool's "Come Back Again". But as Appelbaum (the translator) suggests in the notes, in basing the novel on an the author's personal experience, Mann "preserved his decorum and his wits, or we would never have had a story", so the reader need not get too morally involved in the details. At first glance some recurring grotesque characters belie the Dionysion versus Appolonian development of the plot as Aschenbach's infatuation takes over. The title, of course, does not hide the ending. Nonetheless, Mann's interweaving of Greek mythology in support of the central theme neatly presents German philosophy in this rather deep novella. I have started to watch the 1971 movie based on this novel but I must say I am glad (as always) at having read the book first - the mythological figures which one can re-imagine after my initial reading of the characters is most certainly lost in the opening scenes of the movie - but that should come as no surprise.

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