Death in Venice Additional Summary

Thomas Mann


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Death in Venice is one of the greatest novellas of the twentieth century and has been adapted for film (1971, directed by Luchino Visconti) and opera (1973, with music by Benjamin Britten and libretto by Myfanwy Piper). In this story, Mann further develops many of the ideas that he had so successfully explored in Tonio Kröger.

The story is centered on Gustav von Aschenbach, a famous writer who has come to Venice for a vacation. Aschenbach is suffering from fatigue and world-weariness, the result of intense literary efforts and an incipient emotional crisis. When Aschenbach arrives at his hotel in Venice, he notices a Polish family that is also on vacation, in particular, a young boy named Tadzio....

(The entire section is 644 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The opening pages of the novella brilliantly foreshadow the theme of death by cholera in Venice, a city whose history of sensual self-indulgence has led to moral decline and physical collapse. The first of three symbolic messengers of death—a distinctly exotic figure with straw hat, red hair, snub nose, prominent Adam’s apple, and glistening white teeth laid bare to the gums—suddenly appears in the Byzantine-style mortuary chapel (a parody of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice) while Gustave von Aschenbach is walking near the North Cemetery in Munich. This disturbing apparition weakens Aschenbach’s repressive self-control, stimulates his visionary dream (which represents the source of the Asiatic cholera in the moist swamps of...

(The entire section is 729 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Gustav von Aschenbach is a distinguished German writer whose work brings him world fame and a patina of nobility from a grateful government. His career is honorable and dignified. A man of ambitious nature, unmarried, he lives a life of personal discipline and dedication to his art. In portraying heroes who combine the forcefulness of a Frederick the Great with the selfless striving of a Saint Sebastian, he believes that he speaks for his race as well as for the deathless human spirit. However, his devotion to the ideals of duty and achievement bring him close to physical collapse.

One day, after a morning spent at his desk, he leaves his house in Munich and goes for a walk. His stroll takes him as far as a cemetery on...

(The entire section is 1145 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The fascination which decay and death have held for the artistic imagination can be traced back at least to the beginnings of German...

(The entire section is 259 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

Chapter 1
In the opening chapter of Death in Venice, von Aschenbach, physically and emotionally exhausted by his work,...

(The entire section is 1155 words.)