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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Self Destructive Potential of Love
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...
Am 14. Juli 2000 veröffentlicht

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2.0 von 5 Sternen Much less to this than I had supposed
There is an old review of mine in this page that praises _Death in Venice_ as "one of the greatest works of short fiction ever written." After seeing Visconti's film adaptation I realized that I had been quite wrong. _Death in Venice_ is actually a rather slight story of homosexual infatuation made to look like it has the gravity of the ages by Mann's skill...
Am 25. Mai 1999 veröffentlicht


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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Self Destructive Potential of Love, 14. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Death in Venice (Taschenbuch)
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. Pale, with long hair and chiseled features and full of the exuberant charm and sweetness of youth, von Aschenbach silently acknowledges the fact that he has never witnessed anyone or anything, in nature or in art, that exhibits the perfection of this Polish youth. Although as yet unaware of its significance, this is the moment that seals von Aschenbach's fate.
The next morning, after experiencing revulsion at the sight and smell of the city's lagoons, von Aschenbach decides to leave Venice, but a mixup with his luggage compels him to remain. When he once again encounters the Polish youth, whose name he has learned is Tadzio, he comes to a partial realization of his heretofore subconscious desires and gives himself over to contemplation of "every line and pose" of Tadzio's exquisite form.
Though aware that an outbreak of cholera in Venice is being suppressed and concerned with a series of premonitions (reminiscent of the Wandervogel in the English Gardens) von Aschenbach chooses not to flee and even seeks to win Tadzio's attention by making himself up to appear younger than his true age, a sight which, only a short time ago, he had found revolting.
The days pass in a dreamlike state for von Aschenbach, caught in the trap of Tadzio's youth and beauty. When Tadzio catches von Aschenbach staring at him, he returns the stare with a smile. Tormented, as well as exhilarated, von Aschenbach flees into the shadows of the park where he utters what he has known all along, "I love you."
von Aschenbach's confession of love for Tadzio brings about the tragic climax of Death in Venice. The once dignified and distinguished von Aschenbach has allowed his passion for Tadzio to engulf him, pulling him into the vortex of a whirlpool of sensuality that can only lead to death and destruction.
Mann, himself, described the theme of Death in Venice as that most Wagernerian of ideas, the Liebestod (love-death), or fascination with death. Everything about this book has been crafted to illustrate the triumph of despair over discipline, destruction over restoration.
The complex, figurative prose of Death in Venice is different from everything else written by Mann. Even in translation, the contrast is instantly apparent between Death in Venice's elevated and elegiac tone and the more conversational idiom of A Man and His Dog, Disorder and Early Sorrow or even the more serious Mario and the Magician.
Mann wisely chose to write Death in Venice in rich, almost over-elaborate images. While this could (and should) be denounced as artifice when employed by an author of lesser talent, Mann knew that elaboration was necessary if we were to believe a man of dignity and ethics, such as von Aschenbach, falling in love with Tadzio. In describing Tadzio, Mann writes: "His face recalled the noblest moment of Greek sculpture--pale, with a sweet reserve, with clustering honey-colored ringlets, the brow and nose descending in one line, the winning mouth, the expression of pure and godlike serenity."
Death in Venice is a highly symbolic novella, with the symbolism centered around death. While some of it is readily apparent, much is more elusive. The Wandervogel encountered by von Aschenbach in the opening is only the first of many portents of death. Even Mann's description of the Wandervogel is evocative of a skeleton or a ghoul: "His chin was up, so that the Adam's apple looked very bald in the lean neck rising from the loose shirt; and he stood there sharply peering up into space out of colorless red-lashed eyes...At any rate, standing there as though at survey, the man had a bold and domineering, even a ruthless air, and his lips completed the picture by seeming to curl back, either by reason of some deformity or else because he grimaced, being blinded by the sun in his face; they laid bare the long, white, glistening teeth to the gums."
Once the story moves to Venice, Mann introduces other images of death in the form of the gondolas and discerning readers will quickly realize that the gondolier, the "despotic boatman," embodies Charon, ferryman of the Styx in Hades.
By the book's climax, Tadzio, essentially a two-dimensional character, takes on the characteristics of Hermes, who, with his smile, which becomes the kiss of death, summons von Aschenbach to his ultimate destruction.
Much in Death in Venice reflects Mann's own life, although the work is by no means autobiographical. Nevertheless, much in von Aschenbach can be found in Mann. von Aschenbach, though is an extreme example of the imperfections Mann did battle with during his own lifetime. If we only look closely, we can see that von Aschenbach is a symbol of the frailties and fallacies that plague us all.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A haunting tale about the transcendent nature of beauty, 18. Juni 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Death in Venice (Bibliothekseinband)
Death in Venice is one of the most moving works of fiction I have ever read in my life, and it is also a story that I never tire of reading. There is a haunting, dream-like quality to the tale itself, reinforced by the almost hypnotic prose brilliantly deployed by Thomas Mann. On the surface, it would seem to be a sordid story about a middle-aged man's tragic infatuation for a young boy, whilst on holiday in Venice. On reading it however, it becomes clear that it is not a story about homosexuality as such, but rather a profound consideration of the transcendent nature of beauty perceived by the senses. Yes, Gustav Von Ascherbach presents a tragic figure, chasing the object of his affections all over Venice. And, yes this infatuation also leads to his eventual doom. But, paradoxically, this new-found passion leads to his spiritual rebirth, as he realizes how beauty not only gives meaning to his art, but also to his own life. His love for Tadzio is a pure love. Through Tadzio he is being reconciled with himself, and his own sensual nature, after a lifetime of restraint and relentless self-discipline. So,for me, the underlying theme of this magnificent story is that "love really does conquer all" Please read it- you will be hooked for life!
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Apollo v. Dionysos, 27. April 2000
Mann is a sophisticated and complex writer, and thus not the most accessible. Familiarity with Greek mythology is a great help in understanding the symbolic subtleties of the book, which were lost on me at times. Mann shows us the basic Nietzschean opposition between Apollo and Dionysos by portraying the main character first as a brilliant, but dignified and rather conservative writer; and then as an intoxicated dreamer obsessed with a young Polish boy. His irrational and dangerous passion for this image of divine artistic perfection overcomes his sense of dignity and decency. It is a wonderful tragicomic aspect of this book that the main character continually runs into other decadent pleasure-seekers (an old drunkard, a guitar player, etc.), and is appalled by them, yet he is unable to control his own passion. We should not forget, however, that the main character might be as happy in his insane longing for the idealized boy as he was as a neurotic workaholic. Great writing, although very little actually happens in the book, most of the time Mann is dwelling on more abstract psychological and artistic themes. Finally, the book may very well make you want to visit Venice.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen An older man's love of a young boy leads to his death., 26. Februar 1999
Von Ein Kunde
A few pages into this literary classic and one might be tempted to put this novel down in search of less challenging fare. Beginning with an in-depth description of the main character Gustav Aschenbach, the story follows Aschenbach's degeneration from respected moral beacon to a obsessed stalker. After being struck with wonderlust by the sight of a roughened traveller, Aschenbach, a man who has never let himself be free of his own internal discipline, is driven by some inner need to travel to Venice. Once he arrives, Aschenbach begins to loosen decades of emotional repression as he allows his aesthetic appreciation of a fellow vacationer, a young sickly boy, Tadzio, to grow into a lustful obsession. Tadzio's beauty so captures Aschenbach that he ends up dying for his love, as his need to be near the young boy becomes his all-consuming priority. The subject will strike many readers as sickening as we read of a man's lust for a pre-pubescent boy, yet one can appreaciate Mann's remarkable ability with the written word, and the realism he creates as we delve into Aschenbach's mind.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen One of the classics.., 15. November 1996
Von Ein Kunde
This is one of the most beautiful books the 20th century has yet produced. There i s some action in the book, but that is rarely what readers remember afterwards. Somehow, what lingers in the memory is the melancholy and almost dreamy atmosphere that dominates each page. Personally, when I saw Visconti's excellent film version I found I had forgotten the greater part of the actual action. However; to give potential readers an idea of what to expect I suppose I should tell you that the central character is the greatly respected, but ageing professor Von Achenbach, who at the turn of the century leaves his native Germany for a holiday in Venice. Once installed in a comfortable hotel he notices among the guests an almost unaturally beautiful Polish boy, Tadzio. Von Aschenbach is slowly but surely obsessed, and we come to realize that the boy represents the Angel of Death..
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Much less to this than I had supposed, 25. Mai 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Death in Venice (Bibliothekseinband)
There is an old review of mine in this page that praises _Death in Venice_ as "one of the greatest works of short fiction ever written." After seeing Visconti's film adaptation I realized that I had been quite wrong. _Death in Venice_ is actually a rather slight story of homosexual infatuation made to look like it has the gravity of the ages by Mann's skill at ellipsis. But the movie is forced to make it all explicit, revealing that the Reason vs. Emotion debate is in fact rather hackneyed, and that the "voluptuousness of doom" Mann speaks of is just an older man's obsession with a pretty little boy. My hat goes off to Mann as a stylist, but I am ashamed I was taken in by this.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A haunting tale about the inner power of corruption, 18. November 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Death in Venice (Bibliothekseinband)
This is, without a doubt, one of the greatest masterpieces of short fiction ever written. The style is simple, but the narrative is lush, subtle and deeply hauting. The end-result is one of the most quietly disturbing pieces I have read. Mann himself described it as a tale concerned with "corruption, and the voluptuousness of doom." The protagonist, Aschenbach, a famous writer whose work champions reflected self-control, is ultimately destroyed by an overwhelming fascination with a child of unusual physical beauty. His obsession is apparently innocent, but its takes over his mind and becomes his doom. A testimony to the strange and destructive powers that live in us.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen une beauté mortifère, 31. Mai 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Death in Venice (Bibliothekseinband)
Rien en la personne d'ascenbach n'aurait pu nous informer sur cette fin de vie solitaire et tragique. La vision du jeune adolescent,beauté absolue, fut la seule responsable de sa mort prématurée.Cependant son dernier regard fut pour lui-"statue mystérieuse et charmant de l'Eros funèbre qui ramène à la mort et à la nuit l'âme désemparée"-.l'écrivain,déjà anéanti par les préliminaires du choléra n'est plus,dès lors, qu'une loque humaine,qu'un corps vide d'espoir et que seuls les souvenirs et la vision du jeune Tadzio garde en vie. L'aliénation d'ascenbach pour l'objet de sa fascination l'achèvera spirituellement d'abord, pour enfin le détruire physiquement.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Brilliant, beautiful adaptation of Nietzche, 16. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Death in Venice (Bibliothekseinband)
One cannot read this book without having some knowledge of Nietzche's philosophy of the rational and the irrational. I highly suggest reading The Birth of Tragedy -- or at least a synopsis of it. Having read both, I feel there are no homosexual overtones. Indeed, there are no sexual overtones at all. It is the story of a man seeking balance within himself, and failing. He succumbs to the irrational, the utterly useless and beautiful, and he dies. He is not gay, nor is he a pedophile. The boy is inconsequential... he could have been a pretty potted plant. This book is also beautifully written. Mann's command of language is astounding.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Number One???, 6. August 1999
Von Ein Kunde
"Death in Venice" is the type of book that English professors just LOOOOVE, but that the rest of us just don't get. About the best thing I can say about it is that I didn't invest too much time reading it.
As for being the #1 Gay novel -- what an insult. Not only is this story a trial to read, it's (seemingly) about an aging pedophile's lust for a young boy, certainly nothing this gay reader is familiar with or cares to know about!
Other than that, it's an OK period piece.
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Death in Venice
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