Death in Venice probes the final days of Thomas Mann’s main character, Gustave Aschenbach, with a riveting and pulsating account. It is tough to read, I think, since it expects a tenacity of mind that must ruthlessly follow the demands that Mann’s brilliance expect. The novel holds the reputation of “one of the most perfect novellas ever written” and as such insists that the 21st Century reader trades casual reading for amusement for serious contemplation over the ideas of life, memory and the search for significance.
What struck me so forcefully is the value that the novel brings to learning and herein I see, once again, the unique contribution that Death in Venice, and many other great novels, bring to the acquisition of knowledge. As Mann illuminates the pulses in Aschenbach’s soul, the reader acquires pictures of Mediterranean beauty, the history, the culture and … the deepest desires of man.
Good teachers will capitalize on Mann’s gift and incite a needed revolt for integrated learning and excite a generation with ideas for life.