"death in Venice" Is Both a Physical and Mental Journey for Von Aschenbach

Published: 2021-09-11 10:10:09
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Category: English

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Thomas Mann's Death In Venice, first published in 1912 is a novel describing the death and final time of the fictional author Gustav von Aschenbach. It is a story portraying the theme of conflict between life and art which Mann is known for exploring and it has been said that Death In Venice is a reflection of his own trip to Venice with his wife where Mann had a reported fascination with a young boy from an Austrian family who were sharing the hotel with the couple. Although at first glance it may appear that von Aschenbach endeavours a physical journey to Venice, upon a deeper inspection it is seen that he also endures a mental journey of exchange between his original controlled morals and self-dignity to his unfamiliar passion-driven alter-self.

The novel commences with Aschenbach as a distinctly different character to the person that he ends up being, as his morals are incomparable from start to end. As a concentrated writer, Aschenbach was determined to write and do nothing but, seeing indulgences as unnecessary and exorbitant. His remarkable solitary lifestyle means that the author had previously shunned travel, unless it was for the purpose of this writing, and he had no previous desire to travel to exotic destinations. His wanderlust appeared after inspecting a red-haired stranger, with "appearance of a foreigner, of a traveler from afar" - and this instigates his interest in getting away from his work for self-indulgent purposes rather than for his writing and signifies the beginning of his mental and physical journey. At the beginning of the novel, he suffers from an unhealthy mentality and physicality, due to exhaustion from his work, in particular; the mental disability of writers block. After considering his choices, Aschenbach decides that he wants to travel to Venice, as can be seen in this extract "If one wanted to travel overnight to a fantastic mutation of normal reality, where did one go? Why, the answer was obvious". Aschenbach's journey from Germany to Italy also carries symbolism, as northern Europe is known for being disciplined and orderly, whilst the southern European countries such as Italy are known for being passionate and sensuous. This change is evident in Aschenbach himself, as he exchanges his previous submissive and conventional self, for a more fiery and impassioned view on life.

In the third chapter upon the beginning of his physical journey, von Aschenbach encounters an old man on the boat to Lido, clearly attempting to appear visually younger than his real-age, surrounded by a group of younger men. Von Aschenbach finds this sight repulsive based on the old mans aesthetics. This sets off Aschenbach's mental journey, as it should be noted that what repels him about the old man, his false teeth, wig, dyed moustache and fake rosy cheeks, will eventually become a part of himself as he undergoes a mental journey through the discovery and awakening of new passion, love and vanity. He transforms from his repressed sexuality and fear of showing overt emotions, to putting himself and his feelings on show, resulting

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