Friday, June 3, 2011

Thomas Mann - Death In Venice II

"A disenchanted middle-aged German scholar stalks a young teenage boy during his retreat to Venice during the plague."

"The boy represents 'ideal beauty', but why? I know that may seem like a dumb question to some, but, I never quite got it. Why did HE have to represent it?"

"There is a running joke within myself that whenever I am in a tiresome situation, I would say, 'You know, I feel like Dirk Bogarde at the end of the movie.' Well, yeah...ironically, that's how I felt the same when I was reading the book Death in Venice, especially in the last twenty pages or so. I did see the movie and found it lacking in details. There were too many of unexplained moments that had me peeved, so I dismissed the movie as an artificial exercise of the intelligence. While browsing around at a used bookstore, I was surprised that there was a novel before the movie was made. My hope was to gain more insight about the main character Gustave von Aschenbach and the motives behind his obsession. While reading the book, I felt overwhelmed by several aspects drawn out by the author. One is that he wasted too many pages when describing Gustave. Two is he tends to go off a tangent with his philosophical statements. I kept waiting until he got back to the main character and his actions. I would say more aptly, his writing tends to become purple prose in disguise. Three is that the writer is stuck in the moment for a prolonged period of time before moving on. In the end, I didn't learn anything new or discover very much. In the movie, I was confused if it was a plague in Venice, but in the book, there are three explanations: sirocco (but not really), cholera, and plague. The bottom line is that Gustave von Aschenbach is a newborn pedophilic, and that sort of thing doesn't interest me. I would say that Death in Venice is much like Lolita but in a different league. All in all, Death in Venice isn't worth reading because nothing seems to happen, and there isn't much difference between the book and the movie."

"it was gay pedo fantasy disguised as Greek angst? Art as agit-prop."

"I was a philosophy major in college and I hated this book. But then again, the whole NAMBLA fic genre really doesn't do it for me. I'm sure some literary aesthetes are going to pick this review apart, good for them. I'm incredibly well-read and thought this one was just a tepid bore."

"It is a gay pedo fantasy, nothing more."

"It is considered great tragic literature and even added to the 'Cannon' of Western Literature. I, for one, found the plot disgusting; dense and boring text does not help the struggle to finish the reading. Hemingway, Faulkner, and Conrad, though dense (and at times, dull in their own right), capture the attention and imagination of the reader, creating an adequate encounter."

"If you like short stories about grown men who are sexually attracted to boys, suicide, incest, and self-absorbed German narcissism, you'll love Death in Venice. Me, I don't much cotton to such themes in what I read, so I had trouble wading through this morass of early 20th century European bourgeoisie decadence.
As a whole, this is exactly the type of work that made me dislike studying modern literature as a student. The prose is dense and despite Mann's impressive descriptive ability, the stories do little to uplift the human spirit. Instead, the reader is left encumbered with a myriad of very negative ideas and dreary observations about life. In short, this book was a depressing, annoying, and occasionally disgusting read.

If you want to read something interesting and uplifting, try Angels in Iron."

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