Death in Venice

January 21, 2017 Psychology

One of the main techniques Thomas Mann uses to portray, as Cicero would call it, eloquence in his art is to connect his literature to ancient beliefs and characters in Greek mythology. If his style of writing by never wasting a word, tying everything together for more than its worth isn’t enough, Mann incorporates a link to history to create and ascend his writing to the level he describes his character, Gustav Aschenbach, to be All of these mythological references serve to “universalize” the characters and their encounters in the story. The allusion to mythical figures suggests a mythical feel to imply the story’s larger, mythical magnitude. To be honest, I didn’t know too much about ancient mythology when I chose to write the review of Death in Venice on this subject, but the recurring references to Apollo and Dionysus and others struck me as an important mark for this novella. To most accurately describe the novel in respect to mythology, I spent more time learning about the myths from the internet than the book, and then attempt to link the two. Although not entirely sure, I tried to represent the mythological figures without extending the author’s credit too far. I hope this doesn’t sound too much of a stretch.

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Death in Venice has many references to antiquity. In fact, Mann himself expressed his novel as “myth plus psychology”. The story begins in the northern half of Europe (Southern Germany), the more conservative half of the continent and finishes in the South, in where else but Venice, a mystifying city made for the gods. Aschenbach starts off walking alone by a cemetery and one that’s not even real. The Greek lettering on the Byzantine mortuaryalludes to the afterlife and introduces the motif of the classical world, which will be referenced to throughout the novella. On the steps of this mortuary, he notices a strange-looking man with red hair, dressed as a tourist, which with the color red, symbolizes death and decay.


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