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Death in Venice / Tristan / Tonio Kröger (1903)

de Thomas Mann

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This Penguin edition includes also Tristan and Tonio Kröger. I liked the famous novella, but wasn't blown away by it; everyone knows what the plot is, and to a large extent it's also what the whole thing is about, told lucidly enough to be sure, but moored in the sexualities of a bygone age.

I didn't particularly care for Tristan, a short story of manly one-upmanship for the affections of a fellow-patient in a sanatorium. I see other reviewers commenting on the story's humour; perhaps it was the translation, perhaps just my frame of mind, but I didn't get it.

But I thought Tonio Kröger much more interesting, with the title character struggling with the artistic identity which, he believes, sets him apart from the common herd; and yet his evidence for this doesn't even really convince himself. One can imagine it as a somewhat rueful self-portrait. ( )
1 vota nwhyte | Jul 14, 2014 |
These are three short stories, each set in different places and with different characters, but with themes in common: beauty, tragedy, youth, death, and the artistic man. The characters described in the stories are portrayed as being different from those around them, and it is made clear from their introspections that they both suffer and gain pleasure from this.
In some places the stories made me feel a bit uneasy, as it is not always immediately clear what they are trying to tell us, only that there is more going on than what appears on the surface. Nothing of great importance happens in any of the stories. They are all about the psychology of the main characters, what they think, how they perceive the world, how they deal with their inner conflicts, and the aesthetics of the situations. Mann is obviously writing in part about himself, in at least some of these stories, and because of this he has a direct view into the minds of his characters, and can describe them convincingly.
Mann was an anti-fascist, but he revels in the German ideals unashamedly. They hadn't become tainted yet when he wrote these stories, they were drawn more closely from their Hellenic origins, via Nietzsche. It is interesting how the character in Death in Venice becomes obsessed with the ideal he thinks he sees before him, how it possesses him, and how it leads him towards his fate. It is almost prophetic of the fate of Germany, and it is the same ideals that work on the person in the story, that lead him to his futile and destructive damage to himself, and which did the same to the Reich. Death in Venice might seem to be superficially about homosexuality, but I think this is a misunderstanding of Mann's pre-occupation with the boy. He is projecting an archetype upon the boy, which naturally leads to his fascination with him, and of course he doesn't understand why he is fascinated, only that he is. His poetic sensibilities make him vulnerable to being overwhelmed by things which the ordinary eye does not see, and this is what causes him to behave irrationally. He is overtaken by the ideas which are inspired in him by the world, and loses touch with the world as a result.
These stories can perhaps be read as a warning, about what can happen if we do not stop to analyse situations from a third person perspective. The characters all suffer because they rely on their senses too much, and get carried away by what they think they want, without trying to understand why they want it, and what exactly it is that they want. This is something that the artist cannot avoid, if he is to be productive, and is why the artist is always tormented. At least this is what Mann seems to be telling us. ( )
1 vota P_S_Patrick | Sep 4, 2010 |
An excellent collection of three long short stories, centred around the battle between intellectualism and aestheticism, and the pain of repressed sexuality. All three stories are well written, but it was only the first one that really stood out for me. In 'Death in Venice' a famed art critic and intellectual takes a holiday for the first time in his life, and eventually finds himself in Venice. Whilst there, he sees a young Polish boy, and falls in love. Initially unable to interpret his emotions intellectually, he eventually accepts his feelings, and their origin, leading to a frightening decline in his mental health and behaviour.
Mann's story is touching and disturbing in equal measure. It is based on a true incident, in which Mann developed an obsession with a young boy while on holiday. Mann struggled with barely repressed homosexuality for his whole life, adding both realism and poignancy to the protagonist's behaviour. The battle between intellect and emotion is therefore examined not through the lens of cold intellectualism (as Herman Hesse was wont to do), but rather from the perspective of someone who has suffered as a victim of this battle. All three of the stories in this collection benefit from this, and one can only feel for Mann as he parades his tortured academics for his readers. The subject matter itself is disturbing, but Mann does not pander to, or hide behind, sensibilities. 'Death in Venice' is a painful and dark love story, but one written from the heart, and is deservedly recognised as a classic.
1 vota GlebtheDancer | Apr 27, 2009 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Mann, ThomasAutorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Lowe-Porter, H. T.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Gustave Aschenbach - or von Aschenbach, as he had been known officially since his fiftieth birthday - had set out alone from his house in Prince Regent Street, Munich, for an extended walk.
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[La morte a Venezia] È bene, senza dubbio, che il mondo conosca solo l'opera insigne e non anche le sue origini, le condizioni in cui è nata; giacché la conoscenza delle fonti donde l'ispirazione fluisce all'artista, sarebbe non di rado cagione di sgomento e di orrore, sì da cancellare l'influsso benefico della grandezza.
[Tristano] Coi suoi modi bruschi e riservati tiene in suo potere i pazienti, ossia tutti quegli individui che, troppo deboli per prescriversi delle leggi e attenersi ad esse, gli danno il loro denaro per ottenere la protezione della sua severità.
[Tristano] … nella sua attività eccezionale è implicito un permanente biasimo all'intero mondo maschile, di cui nessun rappresentante ha mai pensato a chiedere la sua mano. Ma in due rotonde chiazze cremisi, arde tuttavia sulle sue gote l'inestinta speranza di diventare un bel giorno la signora Leander…
[Tristano] A quanto sembrava, le parole non gli facevano affatto ressa; anzi, per essere uno la cui professione è lo scrivere, andava avanti con lentezza penosa; e a vederlo c'era da trarre la conclusione che lo scrittore è un uomo a cui lo scrivere riesce più difficile che a chiunque altro.
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