Death in Venice is Thomas Mann’s most famous – and infamous - novella.
Published in 1912, it’s about the fall of the repressed writer Gustav von Aschenbach, when his supposedly objective appreciation of a young boy’s beauty becomes sexual obsession.
It explores the link between creativity and self-destruction, and by the end Aschenbach’s humiliation is complete, dying on a deckchair in the act of ogling. Aschenbach's stalking of the boy and dreaming of pederasty can appal modern readers, even more than Mann expected.
Karolina Watroba, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Modern Languages at All Souls College, University of Oxford
Erica Wickerson, a Former Research Fellow at St Johns College, University of Cambridge
Sean Williams, Senior Lecturer in German and European Cultural History at the University of Sheffield
Sean Williams' series of Radio 3's The Essay, Death in Trieste, can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001lzd4
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Emile Zola's greatest literary success, his thirteenth novel in a series exploring the extended Rougon-Macquart family. The relative here is Etienne Lantier, already known to Zola’s readers as one of the blighted branch of the family tree and his story is set in...
In the 1000th edition of In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss arguably the most celebrated film of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). It begins with an image that, once seen, stays with you for the rest of your life: the figure of Death playing chess with a Crusader on the...
Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex begins with a warning: the murderer of the old king of Thebes, Laius, has never been identified or caught, and he’s still at large in the city. Oedipus is the current king of Thebes, and he sets out to solve the crime.
His investigations lead to a devastating...