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am 2. März 2000
This collection of Thomas Mann's early short works presents one of the greatest authors of the 20th Century in an expert and fluent translation, unbowdlerized.The title story, Death in Venice, is an example of lush late Romanticism in its most extravagent and vivid form. Mann, as always, dramatizes the tension between the bourgeois life of strict propriety, symbolized by the renowned Gustav Aschenbach, the protagonist, a literary titan specializing in learned tomes, and the seductions of art and beauty as symbolized by Venice and Tadzio, the focus of Aschenbach's fatal obsession. Some might find the description of the dissolution and its content as repugnant. But if you allow yourself to visualize the words as written and at least allow yourself to feel something of what Aschenbach is feeling, you will be transported outside of yourself strangely and hauntingly .The other stories, including Tonio Kroger, an earlier work that brought Mann great renown after the publication of Buddenbrooks, his first novel, are also wonderful examples of how the tensions of art and life, growing up and thinking affect their main characters. Not to be ignored is the sexual tension that pervades all of Mann's work and is deeply embedded in his consciousness. (I highly recommend Anthony Heilbut's critical biography of Mann for an understanding of the man, his work and the context of German life, literature and history in which it was written.)
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am 20. März 1997
Thomas Mann at his best. These stories prove that Mann can display his genius also in a shorter form than in his novels. Death in Venice is definitely the most important story in this book. It magnificently shows how the poet Gustav Aschenbach from Munich slowly loses control over his long incarcerated world of feelings as he approaches death in Venice. Full of great symbolism
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am 18. März 1997
This book is so full of pointless symbolism that when you toss the book away in disgust, you'll wonder at the symbolic significance of your action
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