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Does Aschenbach die for love, or does he die for lust?

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chauncyphillips | eNoter

Posted February 18, 2012 at 4:31 AM via web

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Does Aschenbach die for love, or does he die for lust?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 18, 2012 at 5:31 AM (Answer #1)

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Firt, let us dispose with the Manichean fallacy: he died of a heart attack or some physical cause -- after all, he vacationed in the south of Italy for his health (note: Mann often used the north-south duality to stand for the duality of reason and passion, for example the name "Tonio Kroger," the Italian, warm half and the Germanic, cold half). In "Death in Venice" his rational self battles with his emotional (lustful or romantic) self when he sees the young boy by the seaside. But the novella is not about the consummation of that relationship but about the universal struggle in all of us between the two sides of being human. Mann uses illness to represent the facticity of our bodies (see Magic Mountain) and love attraction to represent the emotional, mental aspect of being alive. Consequently, love and lust are not in conflict here. But the short answer is "no," lust did not kill Aschenbach (whose name, not incidently, means "Ash Brook," another duality (death and life).

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