In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio. "It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom," Mann wrote. "But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist's dignity."
Translation ©2004 Michael Henry Heim; (P)2004 HarperCollins Publishers
This long short story is one of the greatest ever written. While not really modernist in the sense of Woolf, Faulkner, etc, I found myself in a 'symbolic' state of dreamy, beautiful imagery & thought the whole way. This is a journey near the end of a basically proper classic intellectual European life that turns into a quest for the nectar of the gods at a distance. Lolita is clearly prefigured here. You will think of Durrell and Nabokov and so many others who must follow and the myths and so many who are encompassed. I felt like Death in Venice was one of those works that will stay in my mind the rest of my life.
"Death" in Venice" can be enjoyed on several levels. I continue to enjoy it, time and time again, if only for the sheer beauty of Mann's writing. He is the Mozart of the written word; there are no unnecessary or discordant notes. This new translation is so superb as to be beyond criticism. We simply need more like it.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. I know this is one of the giants of modern literature, the prose is brilliant, the exposition is brilliant, the one and only real character is brilliantly detailed and nuanced, but the subject just didn't resonate with me. OK, so it's the biggest most important subject in the world. Yes, I agree with that. It is also, within the boundaries of this book, a very tiny exploration of a specific perspective on that subject. Maybe audio just isn't the right medium for a first trip through this book. It's the kind of book that requires you to just stop and savor each thing the author says.
No Pink Ponies
This is a great way to read Thomas Mann, who can be long and wordy.
The descent into lust, madness, obsession and degradation is one of literature's most dramatic scenes. The master artist Aschenbach, restrained, honored, and successful debases himself in a pursuit of beauty. That it is forbidden love makes the debasement more horrifying and sickening. There is always a combination of gorgeousness with absolute ugliness and horror.
This is a restrained, refined performance.
The end is one of those passagese in literature that you read and re-read. Though it's inevitable, it still is shocking.
I listened to this audiobook because Death in Venice was listed in classic lit of the 20th century. It was beautifully written but CREEPY! The entire story is the internal angst of a pedophile stalking a young adolescent boy. Publish this now and the FBI will be watching your computer downloads. It was super disturbing.
The narrator was excellent- great attention to nuance, emotion, etc. An example of why audiobooks are a great way to absorb classic lit.
Just beware the subject matter- or you'll get halfway into this book and feel like I did: "Wait is this guy really getting obsessed with a 12 yr old boy? Oh wow this is happening... Oh this is disturbing..."
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