Death In Venice and Seven Other Stories, by Thomas Mann. Trans. H.T. Lowe-Porter. Although it’s a hundred years old, this novella feels timeless and pretty near flawless. Gustave Aschenbach, esteemed writer, leaves his home in Munich for a vacation, seeking rest for his strained nerves. He alights at last in Venice, and there begins his doomed pursuit of Tadzio, the perfect boy vacationing with his family at the same hotel. Aschenbach ignores both internal and external signs that he should leave—he dyes his hair, wears makeup, becomes aware that Venice is overtaken by a cholera epidemic—because he cannot bear to stop pursuing Tadzio, until it is too late. Mann somehow connects the reader sympathetically with this difficult, peevish and judgmental man. A compelling read.
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