Thomas Mann's 1912 novella Death in Venice is one of the most famous and widely read texts in all of modern literature, raising such issues as beauty and decadence, eros and irony, and aesthetics and morality. The amount and variety of criticism on the work is enormous, and ranges from psychoanalytic criticism and readings inspired by Mann's own homosexuality to inquiries into the place of the novella in Mann's oeuvre, its structure and style, and its symbolism and politics. Critics have also drawn connections between the novella and works of Plato, Euripides, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Platen, Wagner, Nietzsche, Gide, and Conrad. Ellis Shookman surveys the reception of Death in Venice, analyzing several hundred books, articles, and other reactions to the novella, proceeding in a chronological manner that allows a historical perspective. Critics cited include Heinrich Mann, Hermann Broch, D. H. Lawrence, Karl Kraus, Kenneth Burke, Georg Lukacs, Wolfgang Koeppen, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Thomas Mann himself. Particular attention is paid to Luchino Visconti's film, Benjamin Britten's opera, and to other more recent creative adaptations, both in Germany and throughout the world.
Ellis Shookman is associate professor of German at Dartmouth College.
ELLIS SHOOKMAN is associate professor of German at Dartmouth College.