chapter  19
19 Pages

Wrecked by Desire: Thomas Mann

There is a remarkable moment in Thomas Mann's novel Death in Venice (1912.) when the fifty-three-year-old Gustave von Aschenbach recklessly surrenders to his infatuation with a fourteen-year-old boy called Tadzio - surrenders in the sense not of consummating his desire, but of acknowledging it. For Aschenbach this surrender marks a self-disintegration which is also a temporary, intense self-awakening. Long-repressed energies and desires break into consciousness, momentarily bringing him alive even as they destroy h im.