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Goethe Book Club: Thomas Mann's Death in Venice (1912)

A book club discussion of Death in Venice / Der Tod in Venedig (1912) by Thomas Mann, translated by Kenneth Burke (1925), H.T. Lowe-Porter (1928), Michael Henry Heim (2005)

Renowned writer Gustav von Aschenbach is trapped in the doldrums. A widower who leads an ascetic and rigidly structured life in early-1900s Munich, his days are defined by writing, naps, and long walks. But he begins to unravel when his writer’s block and midlife crisis collide, leading him to go on holiday in Venice. There, as a cholera epidemic and the mysterious sirocco winds descend on the sultry Italian city, Aschenbach develops a dangerous obsession with a young Polish boy staying at his hotel. As he pursues the object of his fixation through the increasingly sinister streets of Venice in summertime, the severe and no-nonsense writer loses all sense of himself. As the title might suggest, none of this can possibly end well…

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