Thomas Mann

May 10, 2006

mann.jpg
(1875-1955)

Great german novelist of the twentieth century
Statements on art, modern society, and the human codition
Visible disintegration of an entire society: universal conflicts between art and life, sensuality and intellect, individual and social will.

Death in Venice (1912)

Claimed as Mann's most important short narrative
Gustav von Aschenbach, a novelist, travels to Venice and becomes preoccupied with an adolescent boy named Tadzio.  An epidemic of Asiatic cholera breaks out and Aschenbach refuses to leave because of his homoerotic obsession with Tadzio.
Mann's wife claims the story's events came from an actual holidy taken in Venice

Quotations:

"But it seems that nothing so quickly or so thoroughly blunts a high-minded and capable spirit as the sharp and bitter charm of knowledge"

"Indeed, even on the personal level art provides an intensified version of life.  Art offers a deeper happiness, but it consumes one more quickly."

"But in empty, undivided space our sense of time fails us, and we lose ourselves in the immeasurable."

"Strangely fertile intercourse between a mind and a body!"

"There is nothing stranger or more precarious than the relationship between people who know each other only by sight"

"For beauty, Phaedrus-mark me well-only beauty is both divine and visible at the same time, and thus it is the way of the senses, the way of the artist, little Phaedrus, to the spirit.  But do you suppose, my dear boy, that anyone could ever attain to wisdom and genuine manly honor by taking a path to the spirit that leads through the senses?"

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