June Books 18) Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann

This Penguin edition includes also Tristan and Tonio Kröger. I liked the famous novella, but wasn’t blown away by it; everyone knows what the plot is, and to a large extent it’s also what the whole thing is about, told lucidly enough to be sure, but moored in the sexualities of a bygone age.

I didn’t particularly care for Tristan, a short story of manly one-upmanship for the affections of a fellow-patient in a sanatorium. I see other reviewers commenting on the story’s humour; perhaps it was the translation, perhaps just my frame of mind, but I didn’t get it.

But I thought Tonio Kröger much more interesting, with the title character struggling with the artistic identity which, he believes, sets him apart from the common herd; and yet his evidence for this doesn’t even really convince himself. One can imagine it as a somewhat rueful self-portrait.

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