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Portraits of the Artist

Dionysian Creativity in Selected Works by Gabriele D’Annunzio and Thomas Mann

Jessica Wood

The Dionysian – an impetus towards abandon, intoxication and creativity, but also chaos, death and dissolution – captured the imagination of both Gabriele D’Annunzio and Thomas Mann, two authors whose work otherwise seems antithetical. Both admired Friedrich Nietzsche and engaged with his iconic yet enigmatic idea of the «Dionysian» in their depictions of writers and artists. Like many of their own fictional characters, D’Annunzio and Mann appear to have been drawn towards this idea and its significance in an artistic context. In their novels and short stories, both portray writers and artists who rely on the precarious form of creativity that results from interactions with the Dionysian. This book argues that the portraits of the artist offered by D’Annunzio and Mann, and the depictions of creativity found within these portraits, demonstrate that these two giants of European literature were more alike than has hitherto been acknowledged – and more alike than they would perhaps have liked to think.

This book was the winner of the 2016 Early Career Researcher Prize in German Studies, a collaboration between the Institute for German Studies at the University of Birmingham and Peter Lang.

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List of Abbreviations


← x | xi →


Works by Gabriele d’Annunzio

Works by Thomas Mann

Works by Friedrich Nietzsche

References to Nietzsche’s writings are to the texts as they appear in the electronic version published in the Nietzsche Source collection (), edited by Paolo d’Iorio.

Citations are identified by abbreviations of the titles of the works in which they appear, followed by Arabic numerals referring to the relevant sections or paragraphs. Where necessary, Roman numerals are used to identify the parts of the works in which they are located. This form of citation should enable the reader to find the passages cited in German or English editions of Nietzsche’s works. Nietzsche’s letters are identified by ← xi | xii → the abbreviation BVN (‘Briefe von Nietzsche’), followed by the year in which the letter was written, which is followed by the number given to the particular letter in question by d’Iorio. Nietzsche’s notes are identified by the abbreviation NF (‘Nachgelassene Fragmente’), followed by the year in which the note was written, which is followed by the number given to the note by d’Iorio.

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