Aschenbach's Artistic Secrets and His Questionable Morality Book Review

Aschenbach's Artistic Secrets and His Questionable Morality
An exploration and review of Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice."
# 129107 | 1,224 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on Sep 01, 2010 in Literature (European (other)) , Literature (German)

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This paper provides an analytical review of Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice," exploring the morality of Aschenbach's pedophilia and his decision to keep the spreading cholera secret. The paper also analyzes Aschenbach's opinion of an artist's source of inspiration and how it relates to Aschenbach's obsession with Tadzio. The paper questions whether Aschenbach has done anything wrong by obsessing over Tadzio and by staying in a cholera-infected Venice. The short answer to this question is yes, the paper asserts - while Aschenbach has done nothing wrong in his obsession with Tadzio, as he never interacted with him, Aschenbach has lied by omission by keeping cholera a secret. At the same time, the paper claims that Aschenbach is wrong in thinking that the public will never know about the inspirations of his final work or the work of any other artist; indeed, admirers will always seek the story behind a work of art. The paper concludes that Aschenbach's willful deception may have served only to enrich the public's view, for it is said that the greatest art is tragedy because it encapsulates human failure.

From the Paper:

"For all his Dionysian release, Aschenbach never broke the law as it relates to his obsession with Tadzio. Instead, the reader may get the sense that Aschenbach wanted only to live as a Greek philosopher with his pupil; that is, perhaps Aschenbach wanted there to be mutual platonic love. Twice Aschenbach recalls the conversations between Socrates and his pupil, Phaedrus. Here Tobin cites Eve Sedgwick as "[seeing] the link between Phaedrus and Tadzio, Aschenbach and Socrates, as indicating that 'the history of Western thought is importantly constituted and motivated by a priceless history of male-male pedagogical and pederastic relations'" (239). Because Aschenbach cannot live that life, the one he now lives is psychological compensation and thus dysfunctional, but it's not wrong."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice. Ed. Naomi Ritter. Boston: Bedford/Saint Martin's, 1998. 23-88.
  • Tobin, Robert. "The Life and Work of Thomas Mann: a Gay Perspective." Death In Venice. By Thomas Mann. Boston: Bedford/Saint Martin's, 1998. 225- 244.
  • Rotkin, Charlotte. "Oceanic Animals: Allegory in Death in Venice." Papers on Language and Literature 23, no. 1 (winter 1987): 84-8.

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