Posted at 10.14.2018
Thomas Manns Fatality in Venice is a literary work of fiction that both embodies components of German literature and arts of the nineteenth century and it is affected by composers Gustav Mahler and Richard Wagner as well as philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. It had been written in 1912, just before the First World Conflict. As such, it was influenced mainly by important contributors to German arts and books in the nineteenth century. Elements including the leitmotif, the dual nature of the artist as a mix of Apollonian and Dionysian elements, nihilism, the love-death theme, and decadence appear in Death in Venice. Several elements were signature philosophies and styles that came out in the works of Mahler, Nietzsche, and Wagner.
Friedrich Nietzsche is a nineteenth century German philosopher that composed on themes that included religious beliefs, morality, the type of man, and the world. Philosophies that influenced Loss of life in Venice include decadence, the death of God, nihilism, and the dual-nature of the musician. Nietzsche's viewpoint was controversial because of its blasphemous nature and criticisms on Christianity. After his death, Nietzsche's works became better known among readers and have purchased numerous replies and critiques because of this (. His philosophies would have a hidden occurrence in Thomas Mann's Fatality in Venice through the protagonist, Gustav von Aschenbach.
Decadence is often thought as the decline of the person or thing because of the drop of moral standards(citation). In literature, decadence is often observed in the primary or auxiliary identity in which he or she goes through a reliable drop in moral standards, engaging in more and more immoral and socially unacceptable behavior. Often, the character holds a higher moral standard for himself or herself, but ends up decaying under a given situation that exams the character's moral strength. In Death in Venice, Gustav von Aschenbach undergoes a serious circumstance of moral decline upon falling in love with a young man during Aschenbach's vacation to Venice. Aschenbach is reputable for his willpower and adherence to his company personal morality. Aschenbach's motto, "stay the course, was an indicator of the disciplined life Aschenbach led throughout his job (Mann 1560). However, this rigorous adherence to a company personal morality and too little inspiration triggers Aschenbach to be lifeless and uninspired. To ease this, Aschenbach takes a vacation to Venice, which notably was also a city that was in decay at that time. Aschenbach partcipates in decadence upon slipping deeply in love with a boy called Tadzio, whom he considers to be always a person of great beauty. Aschenbach practices the boy, observes the young man at every possible chance, makes a personal declaration of love, and stays throughout a cholera epidemic therefore of the decadence. This moral decline resulted in his ever more irrational behavior that would indirectly be the cause of his fatality.
The loss of life of God and nihilism were two other values that Nietzsche placed throughout his life that produce a more understated appearance in Death in Venice. These beliefs were controversial in characteristics as both view God as either nonexistent or useless (Nietzsche 759). The loss of life of God states that God is no longer a way to obtain moral principles because of the fact that the secularization of Western society experienced essentially killed God(Nietzsche 472). Nihilism is the belief that there is actually little or nothing in the universe; that worth have a lack of foundation as there is nothing right or incorrect, and this life has no value or goal (Nietzsche 418). The death of God sometimes appears in Death in Venice through the setting up of the storyplot and the given information of Gustav von Aschenbach and Western society at that time. There is absolutely no emphasis on God in the morals that Gustav has followed nor will there be any reference to God's impact during Aschenbach's time. Nihilism is also present, mainly through the activities Gustav does to be able to follow Tadzio. No character or passing in the storyline defines Aschenbach's activities as right or wrong.
The dual-nature of the artist is a subject and philosophy mentioned in Nietzsche's The Labor and birth of Tragedy. It records that life was a struggle between the Apollonian and Dionysian virtues. Apollo is seen as the god of music, recovery, real truth, and prophecy (Hard 642). Dionysus, also called Bacchus, is the god of grapes, wines, winemaking, and therefore religious decadence and spiritual ecstasy (Hard 529). If one were to prevail, the other would have been defeated in the struggle(Nietzsche 788). Nietzsche states that the tragedies of Ancient Greece were the greatest forms of art because the tragedies embodied elements of both the Apollonian and Dionysian elements(Nietzsche 816). Essentially, Apollonian virtues embodied self-control and the revelation of real truth and prophecy while Dionysian virtues embodied the uninhibited aspect of rowdiness and becoming spiritually aware (usually through euphoria) (Hard 533). Gustav von Aschenbach is seen as an Apollonian body as he's an extremely disciplined man who has become well known for his works that studied human nature, the formation of new ideas, and downsides to extreme characteristics such as possessing too much knowledge. Gustav's Apollonian dynamics clashes with the Dionysian characteristics when he chooses to indulge in the beauty of the boy he is in love with, Tadzio. The Apollonian and Dionysian natures clash, but as Nietzsche's belief stated, one dynamics prevailed while the other was defeated. In cases like this, the Dionysian aspect prevailed even though Aschenbach is a Apollonian amount that has lived by Apollonian virtues for the majority of his life.
Richard Wagner is the second one who has inspired Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. His influences are shown in the plotline and main personality of the storyline. Wagner was a nineteenth century German composer, conductor, and article writer renowned for his operas. Wagner was recognized to use leitmotifs in his works and is the composer that is often associated with leitmotifs (May 72). He also became well known for using the love-death theme in Tristan and Isolde. Another opera written and constructed by Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Diamond ring of the Nibelung), features the tragic/flawed hero (May 117). These components of Wagner affected Mann's Death in Venice for the reason that they are present in both plot and the protagonist and are the main driving causes of the happenings of the storyplot.
A leitmotif is a continuing musical term that is associated with a style, person, place, idea, or event (May 70). It is also commonly thought as a recurring theme in literature and music. Wagner did not invent the leitmotif but his constant use of these in his operas resulted in his relationship with leitmotifs. The leitmotif is present in Loss of life in Venice in the form of a symbolic and multidimensional color, red. Red symbolizes love and passion but at the same time, red is associated with sin, demons, blood, and death. This very characteristics of the colour red is similar to the type of Aschenbach's love of Tadzio and quest for that very love. Aschenbach has never experienced love and such strong interest towards on a single thing, in this case a person. Upon experiencing the love, Aschenbach partcipates in decadence that results in his over-indulgence of Tadzio's beauty that eventually leads to Gustav von Aschenbach's fatality. The color red is brought up throughout the love ordeal through the foodstuffs that Gustav eats and the casual red haired figure that he fits. The red haired heroes that Aschenbach complies with insinuate that his loss of life will appear soon. The foodstuffs that he eats during his pursuit of Tadzio are red which symbolizes love and love. One of these foods is a pomegranate, a fruits that symbolizes Persephone and the underworld. It also happens that the strawberries Aschenbach eats before his loss of life were one of the foods that people weer advised never to eat because of the fact that they could be polluted with cholera. Inside the culminating incidents of the story, Gustav von Aschenbach passed on of any fever triggered by cholera.
The love-death theme is another aspect that has been integrated with the story of Loss of life in Venice. Wagner used this theme in his opera Tristan and Isolde. The love-death theme features a passion which faces obstacles that cannot be overcome and is also ultimately ended by death (May 168). The passion and desire Gustav von Aschenbach has for Tadzio is the example from Death in Venice that shows this theme. Gustav's love for Tadzio cannot be returned as the son is young and na‡ve, and is also not likely to fall deeply in love with another person, especially one of the same gender as he. There is also a permanent socialization barrier that stands between Aschenbach and Tadzio. They cannot talk with each other as they are complete strangers and Tadzio's family will not will any such thing, and that both characters can only exchange glances as they go by one another. This one-sided passion culminates with the Aschenbach succumbing to a fever triggered by cholera.
The flawed hero is Wagner's third major impact on Thomas Mann's Fatality in Venice. The flawed hero appears in Wagner's opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Wedding ring of the Nibelung). The flawed hero is a person of commendable delivery who suffers an unfortunate destiny scheduled to an individual and fatal flaw (May 141). Aschenbach had not been a person of commendable labor and birth, but his literary successes had gained him the honorable list of a noble, hence his last name officially being von Aschenbach. Gustav got one flaw, and this was the imbalance in his life which he did not indulge in youth's idleness and the excitement of relaxation. Because of this trait, Aschenbach becomes dreary and takes a vacation in Venice. He falls in love with Tadzio and the ones events establish the situations that cause Aschenbach to desperately pursue the person of his affections and eventually ends in the loss of life of Gustav von Aschenbach.
Mahler is the ultimate person that has already established a major effect on Mann's Fatality in Venice. His affect is due to his style of music that he previously composed. Mahler stated that "The symphony must be like the earth. It must embrace everything. " (Floros 29) As he mentioned, Mahler found creativity for his songs and symphonies from his environment and personal encounters. These included the tunes of birds and characteristics, neighborhood melodies and fanfare of his years as a child and place of residence, hurting and despair, the desire to fulfill one's personal, and distortion (Floros 43). The healthy lifestyle of embracing all was the lifestyle that Mahler got lived and was the lifestyle Gustav von Aschenbach failed to achieve. Gustav von Aschenbach is Loss of life in Venice's example of a character that leads an imbalanced life and the consequences of living such a life. Aschenbach resided a life that was devoid of the casual self-indulgence. This void triggered him to be unhappy with his circumstances. Upon going for a getaway in Venice, Aschenbach becomes obsessed and comes in love with a guy he perceives, Tadzio. This pursuit and aspire to indulge in the beauty of Tadzio and the relentless pursuit of his love was a means for Aschenbach to engage in the self-indulgence of which he had restrained himself from in most of his life. This imbalance in Aschenbach's life was area of the reason why he had made this effort to gain the love of Tadzio.
Many works of literature tend to be affected by the dominating culture of that time period and quite individuals who inspired that era ever sold. Death in Venice, written in the first years of the twentieth century, shows the German culture of the nineteenth century and the affects that Mahler, Wagner, and Nietzsche all got on the German and European culture of the nineteenth century and writers of that era. Each of these three influential numbers had some sort of concealed prescence in Thomas Mann's Fatality in Venice which included: Wagner's use of leitmotifs, love-death theme, and the flawed hero; Mahler's lifestyle and use of everything around him as ideas for his works; to Nietzsche's philosophies on God, real human dynamics, and morality.