In Thomas Mann's Der Tod in Venedig
, Gustav von Aschenbach, nationally acclaimed and recently ennobled author, is swept away by a sudden pang of Wanderlust sparked by a homoerotically charged exchange of stares with an unknown man in a park.
But he is also acutely aware that the theme of lateness saturates all of Mann's writing and so he frequently refers back to earlier works, especially Der Tod in Venedig
. At the centre, though, is Doktor Faustus, because Mann himself regarded the works that came afterward as the writings of a man who had outlived himself, late works.
After publication of the novellas Kroger, Tonio and Tristan (both 1903), he took up the tragic dilemma of the artist with Der Tod in Venedig
(1912; Death in Venice), a somber masterpiece.
(Der Tod in Venedig
, 1912; translated as 1925) A novella by Thomas Mann.
Excellent examples of the former are Ehrhard Bahr's essay on art and society in Mann's early novellas and Clayton Koelb's discussion of Der Tod in Venedig
, both of which present lucid expositions of the texts together with introductions to the interpretative issues which have traditionally surrounded them.
There is a strange gap apropos Der Tod in Venedig
. In a reference work so thorough that it even reports people's unsuccessful efforts to trace the Mary Smith with whom Mann had some kind of romance in Florence in 1901, there is no word of a much more important figure, the well-documented model for Tadzio, Baron Wladyslaw Moes--Adzio, as the family called him.