D eath in Venice THOMAS MANN Tr a n s l a t e d b y MICHAEL HENRY HEIM Introduction by MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM Introd. 'DEATH IN VENICE' BY THOMAS MANN. In , at the age of thirty, he married Katja Pringsheim, the only daughter of an old, respected German-Jewish . Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. I. LIFE (). 1. The making of an artist. “ When I ask myself the hereditary origin of my characteristics I am fain to recall.
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Death In Venice. Gustave Aschenbach - or von Aschenbach, as he had been known officially since his fiftieth birthday-had set out alone from his house in Prince. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann Translated from the German edition by Martin C. Doege Chapter I Gustav Aschenbach. Occasionally a book like Death in Venice speaks so enduringly to readers that it is translated not once but again, and sometimes again and again. This is as it.
Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Death in Venice: A Gothic Opera? Charlotte de Mille Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice is a drama of alienation and consciousness that pivots upon the fragmentation of self in the face of torturous epiphany. The novella concerns beauty art and its relation to morality, a theme often played out through the fantasies of the main protagonist Gustav von Aschenbach and weighted by his imagined conversations between Socrates and Phaedrus.
In effect, this analysis of Death in Venice can illuminate the interplay of philosophy and literature, and may force us, in the end, to question the absolute distinction between them.
The "story" of Death in Venice is quite straightforward and may be briefly told: Von Aschenbach, a distinguished German writer, is seized one day with a profound longing for travel. He decides to go to Venice, and after a couple of curious incidents with an "old-young man" on the ferry, and a mysterious gondolier, he arrives at his hotel.
Here, Aschenbach soon notices an exceptionally beautiful Polish boy. After a futile attempt to leave, he gradually becomes obsessed with Tadzio, and he even follows his family on their excursions to Venice. Meanwhile, it is rumored that Venice is in the grip ofa plague.
Aschenbach eventually discovers the full extent of the sickness, but rather than leave he continues to follow Tadzio. On the same day that he finds out that the boy's family is leaving, he dies as he watches Tadzio on the beach.
It is fairly obvious, for example, that we are meant to associate the progress ofAschenbach's obsession with Tadzio with the progress of the plague. In the text, almost as soon as he admits his obsession when he whispers the "hackneyed I love you" , he discovers the full extent of the sickness in Venice DV, p.
Regardless of our own moral ideas, it is apparent that Mann wants us to regard Aschenbach's obsession as a moral degeneration which is the inward parallel of the plague itself. Born in the sultry swamps of the Ganges delta, ascended with the mephitic odor of that unrestrained and unfit wasteland, that wilderness avoided by men, in the bamboo thickets of which the tiger is crouching, the epidemic had spread to Hindustan, to China, to Afghanistan and Persia and even to Moscow.
But while Europe was fearing the specter might make its entrance over land, it had appeared in several Mediterranean ports, spread by Syrian traders, had arrived in Toulon, Malaga, Palermo, and Naples, also in Calabria and Apulia. The North seemed to have been spared. But in May of that year, the horrible vibrios were discovered in the emaciated and blackened bodies of a sailor and of a greengrocer.
The deaths were kept secret. But after a week it had been ten, twenty or thirty victims, and in different quarters.
An Austrian man had died in his hometown under unambiguous circumstances, after he had vacationed for a few days in Venice and so the first rumors of the malady appeared in German newspapers. The hostility of the tropical environment is evident here, and interestingly enough, a crouching tiger hiding in bamboo thickets is even mentioned, completing the orientalist vision marking the unstable, dangerous tropics.
Here, it is also important that the spread of cholera is also via Syrian traders who pass on the disease to Italy via ports. Both land and space enact a crisis of colonial imaginary through the spread of disease. That the source of the disease is the Ganges delta in India then becomes important in the way it generates the colonized space also as a space of disorder, needing supervision, medicine and civilizational modernity.
In early June the quarantine barracks of the hospital had been filling silently, in the two orphanages there was no longer enough room, and a horrific traffic developed between the city and San Michele.
But the fear of general damage, regard for the recently opened exhibition of paintings in the municipal gardens, for the enormous financial losses that threatened the tourist industry in case of a panic, had more impact in the city than love of truth and observation of international agreements. Emerging Infe Since the fourteenth century, quarantine has been the cornerstone of a coordinated disease-control strategy, including isolation, sanitary cordons, bills of health issued to ships, fumigation, disinfection, and regulation of groups of persons who were believed to be responsible for spreading the infection.
However, soon this translated into preventing minority groups, strangers, Jews, persons with leprosy from entering the cities. Sick people and travelers from places where cholera was prevalent were inspected and separated for the forty-day period and sent to lazarettoes. But soon with the wave of cholera outbreaks, in , Naples stopped the free mobility of prostitutes and beggars, who were automatically considered carriers of the disease.
Here, [he] concentrates on someof the most consistent features of this discourse: the representation of India's historical and geographical environment as being "diseased"; the representation of cholera as an embodied "invasion" of the European body which was a problematic reversal of the historical invasion of India by the British.
That the cholera outbreak happened in Italy in is not a case of debate, or one is also not challenging the fact that Asiatic cholera or the Indian strain of cholera was a tough communicable disease to reckon with, but what I am interested in is how the idea of the disease became a dominant factor to understand native space as disease ridden and lacking civilization.
And later when the ideas of quarantine and germ sanitation entered the medical discourse, the gap grew wider with medicine impacting the social and racial divide.
As the narrator states: 25 Mann, Death in Venice, p. He saw, as a sample of all those wonders and horrors of the diversity on earth which his desire was suddenly able to imagine, an enormous landscape, a tropical swamp under a moist and heavy sky, wet, lush and unhealthy, a primordial wilderness of islands and mud-bearing backwaters that men avoid. The shallow islands, the soil of which was covered with leafs as thick as hands, with enormous ferns, with juicy, macerated and wonderfully flowering plants, ejected upwards hairy palm trunks, and strangely formless trees, whose roots sprung from the trunks and connected to the water or the ground through the air, formed disorienting arrangements.
On the brackish, glaucously-reflecting stream milk-white, bowl-sized flowers were floating; high-shouldered birds of all kinds with shapeless beaks were standing on tall legs in the shallow water and looked askance unmoving, while through vast reed fields there sounded a clattering grinding and whirring, as if by soldiers in their armaments; the onlooker thought he felt the tepid and mephitic odor of that unrestrained and unfit wasteland, which seemed to hover in a limbo between creation and decay, between the knotty trunks of a bamboo thicket he for a moment believed to perceive the phosphorescent eyes of the tiger—and felt his heart beating with horror and mysterious yearning.