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Book review: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

Death in Venice is one of those novels (or is it considered a short story?) that seems a little out of place in our time, despite its powerful writing.

The story centres on a writer who decides to visit Venice for its beauty that helps to sooth his unsettled nature.

There, he becomes infatuated with a boy who is also visiting the city.

The writer blames his romantic nature on his obsession with this beautiful boy, somehow conflating the artistic nature with his indulgence in watching, and even following the boy, as plays on the lido and explores Venice.

It is not suprising that I found this fixation unsettling, although perhaps even the eyes of the past would view the situation as suspect.

Certainly, even the writer observed that the boy’s family started to take steps to remove the boy from his vision.

Despite this element, the story was quite intoxicating in its Venetian location (one of the reasons I decided to read the book was out of a desire to lose myself in the city’s canals).

I loved the descriptions of the writer’s feeling on nearing the gorgeous city, and of his contentment when he arrived.

I also enjoyed (although that probably isn’t the most appropriate word!) the sense of impending doom as the writer became more and more fixated on the boy, at the same time as a mysterious illness emerged in the narrow streets and canals of Venice.

Even though the story is short it is an evocative and affecting novel that makes an oversized impact on the reader.

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