This English-language edition . . .


. . . of Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig celebrates the centennial of the German original in book form in 1912. Mann began writing his long-planned treatment of the debasement of dignity by illicit desire in 1911 soon after returning from a trip to Venice with his wife and older brother, the writer Heinrich Mann. Heinrich, in fact, had treated the theme in his novel Professor Unrat (1905), which in 1930 was filmed as The Blue Angel. Thomas Mann’s tale took shape after his experience on the Lido where he observed a striking young boy whom he transformed into the obsession of his intellectual protagonist in this novella. Eroticism, however, is only one of the work’s several threads. The evocation of turn-of-the-century Venice; the depiction of the city in its mystery, beauty, and tawdriness; and the portrait of the interior life of a great writer combine with the focus on classical beauty and morality – compared with human frailty and mortality – to touch on themes that never age.

In this Centennial Translation the translators have preserved the tone of Mann’s elevated, highly intellectualized, and intentionally formal style, while making his text accessible to a contemporary readership.