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The Ascetic Artist

Prefigurations in Thomas Mann's "Der Tod in Venedig</I>


E. L. Marson

By approaching the text of Mann's novelle from the direction of its classic prefigurations a new interpretation is possible in which the dynamic of Aschenbach's failure as ascetic artist is of prime importance. Examination of the pervasive structuring use of The Bacchae of Euripides makes it possible to move beyond assertions of isolated, motif-like use of classic material. At the same time, a clearer view of Aschenbach as failed literary artist is necessary after examination of the relevance of all of Plato's Phaedrus dialogue. After interpretation of the text of Der Tod in Venedig a final section of the study draws typological, normative and literary-historical conclusions which should result in a re-situating of the novelle.