While the general importance of music for Thomas Mann is well recognized, the specific relationship of Der Tod in Venedig to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde rewards close attention. Mann knew Wagner's drama intimately, and drew on the composer's autobiography, which was published as the novel was written. Especially important is the motif of the gaze or Blick, which has roots in Wagner's main source, Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan. Mann's propensity toward irony is abundantly evident, and the import of Wagner's symbolism is often inverted, as is the narrative structure as a whole. Analysis reveals an extensive network of Wagnerian parallels whose import is very different from the Tristanesque resonances of Buddenbrooks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)