- Publisher: Bantam USA
- Format: Paperback | 263 pages
- Dimensions: 102mm x 170mm x 20mm | 136g
- Publication date: 1 March 2006
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0553213334
- ISBN 13: 9780553213331
- Edition statement: Reissue
- Sales rank: 29,015
"Death in Venice, " tells about a ruinous quest for love and beauty amid degenerating splendor. Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but lonely author, travels to the Queen of the Adriatic in search of an elusive spiritual fulfillment that turns into his erotic doom. Spellbound by a beautiful Polish boy, he finds himself fettered to this hypnotic city of sun-drenched sensuality and eerie physical decay as it gradually succumbs to a secret epidemic. In his novella "Tonio Kroger, " Mann poetically traces a young writer's struggle between bourgeois strictures and artistic genius. Skillful dialogue and language reflect the title character's emotional conflicts, especially in his wistful visit to his home town and his sentimental journey to the Baltic. "Gladius Dei, " in contrast, is a sardonic depiction of a self-styled warrior of God, who battles against the sexual openness and profanity of Munich, the art center of northern Europe. In "The Blood of the Walsungs, " set in turn-of-the-century Berlin, a wealthy Jewish family, modeled after the family of Thomas Mann's wife, is excoriated in a Wagnerian evening that ends in self-loathing and self-loving incest.
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Thomas Mann was born in 1875 in Germany. He was only twenty-five when his first novel, "Buddenbrooks," was published. In 1924, "The Magic Mountain" was published, and, five years later, Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Following the rise of the Nazis to power, he left Germany for good in 1933 to live in Switzerland and then in California, where he wrote "Doctor Faustus" (first published in the United States in 1948). Thomas Mann died in 1955.
This superb new translation of "Death in Venice" and six other stories by Thomas Mann is a tour de force, sure to establish itself as the definitive text for English-speaking readers. The seven stories in this collection represent the early part of Mann's literary career, beginning with work he produced in 1896 at the age of 21, and culminating in his most celebrated novella, "Death in Venice" (1912). Although Mann continued working until the end of his life in 1955, he despaired of ever matching the quality of his early writing. In these stories, Mann began to grapple with themes that were to recur throughout his work. In the first piece, "Little Herr Friedemann," as in "Death in Venice," a character's carefully structured way of life is suddenly and unexpectedly threatened by sexual passion. In "Gladius Dei," puritanical intellect clashes with beauty. In "Tristan," Mann presents an ironic and comical account of tension between an artist and bourgeois society. All seven of these stories are accomplished and memorable, but it is "Death in Venice" that truly forms the centerpiece of the collection. Themes that weave their way through many of the shorter stories come to a climax in this novella, out century's most haunting, magnificent tale of art and self-destruction.