Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. I. LIFE (). 1. The making of an artist. “ When I ask myself the hereditary origin of my characteristics I am fain to recall. Thomas Mann was born in Lubeck in northern Germany in. His father, a o, one year before Death in Venice was written, his sister. Carla committed. points. First of all, this is a brief study on Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, that is to say, on a p) already says that Thomas Mann read Plutarch's Eroticus.
|Language:||English, Spanish, Hindi|
|ePub File Size:||20.70 MB|
|PDF File Size:||14.73 MB|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Regsitration Required]|
Thomas Mann. Death In Venice. Gustave Aschenbach - or von Aschenbach, as he had been known officially since his fiftieth birthday-had set out alone from his . For a handful of the greatest writers, Thomas Mann among them, the process of translation continues even further. Occasionally a book like Death in Venice. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann Translated from the German edition by Martin C. Doege Chapter I Gustav Aschenbach.
But the true talent and leader of the ensemble was unequivocally the other man—the one with the guitar and a kind of baritone-buffo character— who, though he had no voice to speak of, was a gifted mime and possessed of remarkable comic energy. Obviously he was not Bavarian: Above that collar, which did not even fit the rest of the suit very elegantly, the flower of his crown rested with unequaled 21 charm — the head of Eros, with the yellowish tint of Parisian marble, with exquisite and somber brows, temples and ear covered by the dark and soft curls of his hair. They kissed their mother's hand, who looked above their heads with an aloof smile of her well-groomed but slightly tired and sharp-nosed face and addressed a few words in French to the governess. The man—of medium height, thin, beardless, and strikingly snub-nosed—was 3 t h o m a s m a n n the red-haired type and had its milky, freckled pigmentation.
His mouth was large, often limp, sometimes small and tense all of a sudden; his cheeks were narrow and furrowed, the well- formed chin sported a cleft. Important fates seemed to have trespassed over the often sideways-tilted crown, and yet it had been art which had shaped that kind of physiognomy which otherwise is the hallmark of a difficult and troubled life.
Behind that brow, the glittering repartees in the conversation between the King and Voltaire about war had been born; these eyes, looking at the world wearily through the glasses, had seen the bloody inferno in the field hospitals of the Seven Years' War. Even on a personal level art is a form of heightened living.
It gives greater pleasures, it consumes faster. It stamps 10 the features of its servants with the signs of imaginary and spiritual adventures, and it produces, even in the most cloister-like atmosphere, a certain fastidiousness, an over-refinement, an exhaustion and curiosity of the nerves, in a way even a life of the most outrageous passions and delights could scarcely effect it. Chapter III Some business of the worldly and literary kind held the hopeful traveler-to-be back in Munich for another two weeks after that walk.
Finally he gave orders to prepare his country house for him within four weeks and then one day between the middle and the end of May he took the night train to Trieste, where he only stopped for twenty-four hours and the next day embarked for Pola. What he was looking for was the unfamiliar and unrelated, which was indeed reached rather easily and so he stayed on a celebrated Adriatic island, situated not far from the Istrian coast, with a gaily ragged people that conversed in an alien-sounding language and with picturesquely broken cliffs where the sea was open.
Unfortunately, heavy rain and an oppressive atmosphere, a parochial and completely Austrian company in the hotel and the lack of calm and easy communion with the sea which only a soft-sloping and sandy beach can afford, caused him distress, prevented in him the feeling that he had reached his destination; an innermost calling of his, he did not know to where, caused him alarm, he studied the passenger ship routes, he looked around searchingly, and all of a sudden, at the same time surprising and expected, his destination became clear to him.
When one wanted to see something without equal, the romantically different, where would one go? There could be no question about it. What was he supposed to do here? He had erred. He should have had traveled to that other location in the first place. He did not hesitate to immediately cancel his abortive stay on the island. One-and-a-half weeks after his arrival on the island, at hazy dawn a fast launch took him and his luggage back to the military harbor and there he only went ashore to directly step onto the damp deck of a ship bound for Venice.
It was a vehicle under an Italian flag, stricken with years, outmoded, serene, and somber. In a cave-like, artificially-lit berth, into which Aschenbach had been instantly ushered with grinning courtesy by a humpbacked and dirty sailor after setting foot onto the ship, there sat a behind a table with his hat slanted on his head and with a cigarette butt between his lips a goatish man who had the physiognomy of an old-fashioned circus director, who with artificially easy demeanor registered the nationalities of the travelers and handed them their tickets.
Here you are, sir! A magnificent city! A city full of irresistible attraction to the well-educated, both due to its history and its present charms!
He speedily cashed the money and let the change fall onto the dirty tablecloth with the dexterity of a croupier. Next please! Aschenbach returned onto the deck. Leaning with one arm on the handrail, he contemplated both the idle people who were mooching at the pier to witness the ship's departure and his fellow passengers.
Those of the second class were crouching on the foredeck, using boxes and bundles as seats. A group of young people formed the company of the first deck, apparently tradesman's apprentices from Pola who had merrily united for a trip to Italy.
They made a lot of fuss about themselves and their enterprise, chattered, laughed, contentedly enjoyed their own gesticulating and mocked those colleagues, who, portfolios tucked under their arms, were walking along the street to pursue their business and who made threatening gestures to the departing.
One in a bright yellow, excessively fashionable summer suit, red tie, and a boldly bent up panama hat, exceeded all the others with his shrill voice and gayness. No sooner had Aschenbach set eyes on him than he realized with a kind of terror that this ephebe was false.
He was ancient, there could be no doubt about it. Wrinkles surrounded his mouth and eyes. The meek crimson of his cheeks was makeup, that brown hair below the colorfully-banded straw hat was a wig, his neck was dilapidated and sinewy, his moustache was dyed, his yellowish and complete set of teeth which he laughingly presented was a cheap counterfeit, and his hands with signet rings on both index fingers were that of a very old man.
With a shudder Aschenbach looked at him and his communion with his friends. Did they not know or notice they he was elderly, that he was wrongfully appropriating their garish dress, fraudulently played one of theirs? As if nothing had happened, seemingly out of habit, they tolerated him among themselves, treated him as an equal, answered his teasing nudges without disgust.
How could that be? Aschenbach covered his forehead with his hand and closed his eyes that were burning from a lack of sleep.
But in that moment he became aware of a sensation of floating and strangely startled he realized that the heavy and dark mass of the ship had detached itself from the quay. Inch by inch, with the engine running alternately forwards and backwards, the strip of dirtily iridescent water between the ship's hull and the shore widened, and after some stodgy maneuvers, the steamer's bow was pointing towards the open sea.
Aschenbach went over the the starboard side, where the humpbacked sailor had prepared a deck chair for him and a steward in a spotted dress coat awaited his orders. The sky was gray, the wind moist; the harbor and the islands had receded, and soon land was no longer visible. A snow of coal dust, soaked with humidity, settled on the freshly-scrubbed deck that refused to dry. After about an hour the tent roof was deployed, as it had begun to rain. Wrapped in his coat, a book in his lap, the traveler rested and time seemed to fly.
The rain had ceased; the linen roof was removed. The horizon was complete. Beneath the broad cupola of the sky the enormous disc of the barren sea extended all around; but in that empty, measureless space our sense of time also suffers, and we daze in the disorienting shapelessness.
Strange and shade-like creatures, the senescent dandy, the goat-bearded man from below decks, traipsed with vague gestures and confused dream- words through the mind of the reclining artist, and eventually he fell asleep. At noon he was required to venture below into the corridor-like dining hall, which was bordered on by the sleeping bunks, eating the ordered meal at a long table, on the other side of which the apprentices, including the senex, had been drinking heavily with the jolly captain since ten o'clock.
The meal was meager and he quickly finished it. He wanted to go outside, to look at the sky: He did not anticipate anything else, for the city had always received him with splendor. But the sky and the sea remained cloudy and leaden, at times a fog-like drizzle fell, and slowly he accepted that he would, reaching it by water, discover a vastly different Venice from that which he had approached over land.
He stood next to the foremast, gazing into the distance, expecting to see land. He thought of that melancholy-enthusiastic poet who had met the cupolas and bell towers of his dreams in this place, he quietly recalled some of the products of that awe-stricken, happy, and sad mood and moved by that ready-made emotion he wondered whether he, although more somber and tired than then, would meet that state of rapture and confusion a second time.
An hour passed before it materialized. One had reached one's destination and yet one had not; there was no hurry and yet one soon got impatient. The youths of Pola, perhaps also drawn to the military trumpet signals that echoed over the waters, had come on deck, and, enthusiastic from the Asti they had drunken, they cheered the Bersaglieri who were being drilled there. But it was repugnant to witness the state into which his faux communion with youth had brought the overdressed old man.
His old and faded brain had not been able to resist the liquor to the same degree as the real youths, he was hopelessly drunk. Looking stupidly around, a cigarette between his trembling fingers, he swayed, barely able to keep his balance, pulled to and fro by his intoxication.
Because he would have fallen down at the very first step, he did not dare to move, yet still displayed a sorry cockiness, holding on to everyone who approached him, speaking with a slur, winking, giggling, raising his ringed and wrinkled index finger to tease ridiculously, and licking the corners of his mouth in the most distastefully ambiguous manner.
Aschenbach watched him with an expression of anger, and again he got a feeling of unreality, as if the world showed a small but definite tendency to slip into the peculiar and grotesque; a sensation which the resumption of the pounding work of the engine kept him from exploring fully, as the ship returned to its course through the San Marco canal.
So he again set eyes on the most astounding landing, that blinding composition of fantastic architecture, which the Republic has to offer the awestruck looks of the approaching seafarer: The engine stopped, gondolas approached, the accommodation ladder was low- ered, the customs officials came aboard and carried out their duty; the debarkation could begin. Aschenbach made it clear that he desired a gondola to bring him and his luggage to the landing of the smaller steamers that cruise between the city and the Lido; because he wanted a room close to the sea.
His wish is approved and hollered towards the water, where the gondoliers are quarreling in dialect. He is unable to descend, as his trunk is taken with great effort down the ladder-like stairs. Au revoir, excusez and bonjour, Your Excellency! Aschenbach was able to escape. Who would not have had to fight a slight unease, a secret resentment and trepidation when one, for the first or after a long time, had to get into a Venetian gondola?
That strange vehicle, which seems unchanged from more fanciful times and which is so strangely black like normally only coffins are, reminds one of silent and criminal adventures in the lapping night, furthermore it is reminiscent of death itself, the bier, the drab funeral and the final, wordless ride.
And has one noticed that the coffin-black-varnished, black-upholstered chair in such a barge is the softest, most luxurious, most deeply relaxing seat in the whole world? Aschenbach noticed it when he took his place at the feet of the gondolier, with his luggage orderly arranged at the front of the gondola.
The rowers were still quarreling, in a raw and incomprehensible way, with menacing gestures. But the peculiar quietude of the city on the sea seemed to absorb and disembody their voices and to disperse them above the water. It was fairly hot in the harbor.
Touched by the warm scirocco, seated on tender cushions, the traveler closed his eyes to enjoy that kind of unusual and sweet lassitude. The trip will be short, he thought; oh would it last forever! The noiseless rocking let him put a distance between himself and that boisterous jostle.
How it became even more still around him all the time! Nothing could be heard except the lapping of the oar, the hollow impact of the waves against the tip of the gondola, that stood erect, dark and like a spear above the water and a third thing, the whispering and murmuring of the gondolier, who was talking to himself between his clenched teeth in occasional outbursts.
Aschenbach raised his head and with a slight bemusement he noticed that the lagoon around him widened and the his course was towards the open sea. Therefore it seemed he should not relax too much but instead supervise the carrying out of his orders. The murmuring ceased. He got no reply. It was a man of unpleasing, even violent physiognomy, dressed in blue sailor's garb, girded with a yellow sash and with a shapeless straw hat that had begun to dissolve at its edges slanted on his head.
The form of his face, his blond and curly moustache below the stubby nose did not make him look very Italian. Although of relatively slender build, so that he did not seem particularly suited to his trade, he showed great energy when he used his whole body to drive the oar at every beat. A few times the exertion caused him to withdraw his lips and expose his white teeth.
With his gaze fixed above the guest and his reddish eyebrows wrinkled he replied in a determined, almost harsh tone: But I only wanted the gondola to take me to St Mark's Square.
I wish to go with the vaporetto. He was silent. But the brusque, boastful, uncharacteristic behavior of that man seemed intolerable. He said: He remained taciturn. The oar was lapping, the water clashed dully against the bow. And the talking and murmuring resumed: What had to be done? Alone on the water with the strangely disobedient, unsettlingly determined man the traveler did not see a way to force upon him his will. And how softly he could be seated if he did not protest. Had he not wished that the trip should take longer, or forever?
It was most prudent to let things take their course, and besides it was most comfortable. A spell of torpidity seemed to emanate from that low and black seat, so tenderly rocked by the oar beats of the defiant gondolier in his back. The notion of having fallen into the hands of a rogue streaked dreamlike through Aschenbach's mind — unable to summon his senses for active defense.
Less appetizing was the possibility that this was just an act of extortion. A certain feeling of duty, the realization that one had to guard against such a thing, allowed him to make another effort. He asked: Aschenbach said mechanically: It is true, you are rowing me well. Even if you are trying to get my money and would kill me with a quick blow of the oar, you would have rowed me well. But nothing of the sort happened. Even some company appeared, a boat with musical mendicants, men and women, singing to the accompaniment of guitars and mandolins, coming obtrusively close to the gondola, filling the quietude above the waters with their mercenary tunes.
Aschenbach threw a few coins into the hat that was presented. They fell silent and rowed away. And the murmuring of the gondolier was perceptible once more. And so one arrived, rocked by the backwash of a steamer headed for the city. Two municipal officers, hands clasped behind their backs, their heads facing the lagoon, were walking back and forth at the shore. Aschenbach got off the gondola at the pier, with help from the old man with his grappling hook who seems to be present on all Venetian landings; and because he did not have enough coins he entered the hotel which was situated across from the landing, to exchange some money and reward the gondolier as he pleased.
He is served in the lobby, he returns, find his luggage on a cart at the quay, and the gondola and gondolier have disappeared. He is the only gondolier without a license. The others have telephoned here. He saw that he was being expected. So he took off. Aschenbach threw in some coins. He gave orders to take his luggage to the Hotel des Bains and followed the cart through the alleyway, that white-blossoming alley, which, bordered by taverns, bazaars, and bed and breakfasts, runs across the island to the beach.
He entered the sprawling hotel from the rear, from the garden terrace and went through the lobby to the office. Because he had been announced, he was greeted with servile complicity. A manager, a diminutive, soft-spoken, ingratiatingly courteous man with a black moustache and a frock coat in the French style, accompanied him in the elevator to the third floor and showed him his room, 17 a pleasant room with cherry furniture, decorated with heavily fragrant flowers and which had tall windows affording a view of the sea.
He stepped close to one of them, after the manager had taken his leave, and while behind him his luggage was carried in, he surveyed the beach which lay deserted in the afternoon and the sunless sea at high tide sending its crouched and elongated waves in a steady rhythm against the shore. The observations and encounters of the solitary and mute one are at the same time more blurry and more distinctive than those of the more sociable person, his thoughts more substantial, stranger, and never without a trace of sadness.
Images and perceptions that would be easy to dismiss with a laugh, a short exchange of words, occupy him excessively and grow deeper and more important in silence, become experience, adventure, emotion. Solitude favors the original, the daringly and otherworldly beautiful, the poem.
But it also favors the wrongful, the extreme, the absurd, and the forbidden. Without obstructing reason or giving any real food for thought, they were still extremely bizarre and possibly so bewildering because of that contradiction. In between he greeted the sea with his eyes and delighted in the knowledge that Venice could be so quickly and easily reached. Finally he turned, washed his face, gave some orders to the chambermaid to improve his comfort and had the green-liveried Swiss elevator attendant take him to the ground floor.
He took his tea on the seaside terrace, then descended and walked a good distance along the shore in the direction of the Hotel Excelsior. Upon his return it appeared to be time to dress for dinner. He did that slowly and with diligence, yet found himself still too early in the dining hall, where a group of hotel guests, un- known to each other and in feigned disinterest, had congregated in the expectation of a meal. He picked up a paper, seated himself in a club chair and contemplated the company which differed in a most agreeable way from that during his earlier stay on the island.
A wide and all-encompassing horizon opened itself out. Muffled sounds from many different languages were mixing. The omnipresent dinner jacket, the uniform of the civilized world, gathered all facets of human variety into one orderly whole.
One saw the dry and elongated face of the American, the large Russian family, English ladies, German children with French nannies. The Slavic component appeared to predominate. Polish was spoken right next to him. It was a group of adolescents and bare adults, under the supervision of a governess around a small table: With astonishment Aschenbach noticed that the boy was perfectly beautiful.
His countenance — pale and gracefully reserved, surrounded by honey-colored locks, with its evenly sloped nose, the lovely mouth, the expression of alluring and divine earnestness, was reminiscent of Greek statues from the most noble period, and with all its perfection of form it had such a personal appeal that the onlooker thought he had never encountered anything similar either in nature or in art.
What else was striking was an apparently deliberate contrast between the educational guidelines after which the children were dressed and kept in general. The exterior of the girls, the oldest of which could be taken for an adult, was tart and chaste to the point of disfigurement.
A uniform monastic garb, shale-toned, of average length, sober and consciously unbecoming, with white collars as the only bright spot, suppressed and made impossible any pleasingness of figure. The smooth hair that appeared to be glued to the head gave their faces a featurelessness and nunlike lack of expression. It seemed certain this was the work of a mother, and naturally it did not occur to her to apply that same paedagogic severity that pertained to the girls to the boy also.
Mellowness and affection visibly ruled his existence. One had abstained from cutting his arresting hair; like the statue of the Boy with Thorn it curled onto the forehead, over the ears, and even more so in the nape.
An English sailor suit, the voluminous sleeves of which were tapered towards the ends and which surrounded the delicate joints of his still childlike and narrow hands, contributed, with its strings, bows, and embroideries, an air of wealth and fastidiousness. He was sitting, in semiprofile from Aschenbach's point of view, one foot in front of the other, with an elbow leaning on the armrest of his basket chair, his cheek comforted by his closed hand, in an attitude of relaxed decorum and completely without the submissive stiffness that his sisters seemed to be used to.
Was he sick? Because the white of his skin contrasted like ivory with the golden somberness of the adjacent curls. Or was he simply a coddled favorite child, carried by partial and capricious devotion? Aschenbach was inclined to believe that. Almost every artistic individual has a luxurious and treacherous propensity to recognize beauty- creating inequity and to render homage to aristocratic entitlement.
A waiter went around and announced the readiness of the meal in English. Slowly the society disappeared through the glass door into the dining room. Latecomers passed by, arriving from the vestibule or the elevator.
Inside the serving had begun, but the young Poles remained seated around the little tables and Aschenbach, sitting snugly in his chair, not to mention having a favorable view of something beautiful, lingered along with them.
With lifted eyebrows she shoved back her chair and bowed, when a tall lady, dressed in white and gray and richly attired with pearls, entered the room. She comported herself with coolness and restraint, the arrangement of her lightly powdered hair and the style of her dress were of that simplicity which always rules good taste where devoutness is considered an element of noblesse.
She could have been the wife of a high-ranking German official. Something extravagant only entered her appearance through her jewelry, which seemed extremely expensive and consisted of earrings and a triple, very long necklace of cherry-sized, mildly shimmering pearls.
The children had arisen promptly. They kissed their mother's hand, who looked above their heads with an aloof smile of her well-groomed but slightly tired and sharp-nosed face and addressed a few words in French to the governess. Then she proceeded towards the glass door.
The children followed her: For some unknown reason he turned around before crossing the threshold and since nobody else was present, his curiously dark-gray eyes met those of Aschenbach, who, with the newspaper on his lap and deep in his thoughts, had traced the group.
What he had seen was certainly not remarkable in its details. One had not gone to table before the mother, one had waited for her, greeted her and observed the usual customs on entering the dining room.
But somehow all that was presented with such a deliberate accentuation of manners, commitment, and self-respect that Aschenbach felt strangely moved by it.
He hesitated for a few moments and then also went into the dining room and had himself seated, unfortunately quite far from the Polish family as he observed with regret. Exhausted and yet in mental commotion, he entertained himself with abstract, even transcendental subjects during dinner, mulled the mysterious link between the orderly and the individual for human beauty to appear, departed from there to think about the general problems of form and art and eventually found his thoughts and findings to resemble certain apparently fortuitous ideas in a dream, that on closer inspection reveal themselves to be completely stale and unworkable.
After the meal he went into the park that was filled with evening smells and smoked, sometimes sitting, sometimes walking, then he went to bed even though it was still early and spent the night in sleep that was consistently deep, but enlivened by dreams of the most varied kinds. The weather had not improved on the next day. A land breeze was stirring. Under a pale and overcast sky the sea lay in dull quietness, shrunken so to say, with a soberingly clear horizon and so far removed from the beach than it exposed 20 several large sandbanks.
When Aschenbach opened his window, he believed to sense the putrid smell of the lagoon. Discontent befell him.
Already he considered departing. Once, a few years ago, this kind of weather had, after two sunny spring weeks, struck him and had impacted his mood in such a way that he had had to flee from Venice. Did not again that febrile listlessness, that pressure in the temples, that heaviness of the eyelids make themselves known? Moving to a new lodging for another time would be tiresome; but if the wind did not change direction, he would not stay. Just in case he did not fully unpack his luggage.
At nine o'clock he ate breakfast in the special room that was reserved for that use, between the lobby and the dining room. In the buffet room that ceremonial silence reigned that is part of the ambition of every great hotel.
The waiters tiptoed around while serving. A clattering of the tea service, a half-whispered word was all that could be heard. In a corner, diagonally across from the door and two tables apart from him, Aschenbach noticed the Polish girls with their governess. Very upright, the ash blond hair newly flattened and with red eyes, in stiff dresses made of blue linen with little white collars and cuffs they sat there and handed each other the jam.
They had almost finished their breakfast. The boy was absent. Aschenbach smiled to himself. So it happened that he still witnessed the entrance of the long sleeper who was already expected at the other table.
He came in through the glass door and ambled through the silence diagonally across the room to his sisters' table. His walk was very graceful, both in his stance and in the movement of the knees, the way his feet touched the ground, very light, at the same time tender and proud and made more appealing through the childlike self-consciousness with which he looked up and down two times while crossing the room.
Smiling, with a soft word in his fuzzy-sounding language he took his place, and now that he presented the onlooker with his full profile, Aschenbach was taken by surprise again, even frightened by the godlike beauty of that human child.
That day the lad was wearing a light suit of blue and white fabric with a bow of red silk on his breast and a simple white collar. Above that collar, which did not even fit the rest of the suit very elegantly, the flower of his crown rested with unequaled 21 charm — the head of Eros, with the yellowish tint of Parisian marble, with exquisite and somber brows, temples and ear covered by the dark and soft curls of his hair.
Well, well, thought Aschenbach with that cool approval of the specialist, with which artists at times cloak their transports of delight in the face of a masterwork.
And further he thought: Truly, are not the sea and the beach waiting for me, I will remain here as long as you! So he went across the hall, greeted by the waiters, along the great terrace and straight over the boardwalk to the private beach reserved for hotel guests. He let the barefoot old man, who was, in his linen pants, sailor's blouse, and straw hat, working as a bath attendant there, show him his little beach hut, had a chair and table taken from inside and put in front of it on the wooden platform and made himself comfortable in the deck chair, which he had put up a bit closer to the sea in the wax-yellow sand.
The scene at the beach, that picture of carefree and sensual enjoyment next to the sea, entertained and delighted him as always. The gray and even ocean was enlivened by wading children, swimmers, garish figures, others, who were laying on sandbanks with their arms folded under their heads.
Some were rowing small boats in red and blue without a keel, capsizing with roaring laughter. In front of the row of beach huts, whose platforms were like little verandas, there was playful motion and lazy rest, visits and chattering, careful early morning elegance but also nudity, which pertly took pleasure in the freedom of the place. Closer to the sea, lone figures were strolling on the moist and firm sand in white dressing gowns or in voluminous, colorful garb.
An intricate sand castle to Aschenbach's right, built by children, was sporting all around tiny flags of many different countries. Vendors of mussels, pies, and fruit were on their knees spreading out their goods.
On the left, in front of a hut that stood at a right angle to the other ones and was the endpoint of the beach on that side, a Russian family was camping: In grateful appreciation they were living there, always calling out the names of the unruly youngsters, jesting for a long time with the old man thanks to a few words of Italian, buying sweets, kissing each other on the cheeks, and generally not caring about any onlookers.
So I will stay, Aschenbach thought. Where could it be better? And with his hands folded in his lap he allowed his eyes to wander in the vastness of the sea, his gaze slipping, becoming blurred, and breaking in the monotonous mist of nothingness. He loved the ocean for important reasons: To find peace in the presence of the faultless is the desire of the one who seeks excellence; and is not nothingness a form of perfection?
While he was dreaming into the deepness of space, he suddenly became aware of a human figure close to the shoreline and when he collected his glance from the unlimited, it turned out to be the beautiful boy, who, coming from the left, was crossing the sand before him.
He was barefoot, ready for wading, his slender legs bared till above the knees, advancing slowly, but so nimbly and proudly as if he was used to walking without footwear and he surveyed the huts.
No sooner had he noticed the peaceful Russian family than his face was clouded by a tempest of scorn and disdain. His brow darkened, his mouth was lifted, between the lips and the cheeks an embittered tearing took place, and his eyebrows were so heavily wrinkled that they made the eyes appear sunken in and let them speak the evil and somber language of hatred.
He averted his glance, beheld them another time, made a fiercely dismissive gesture with his shoulder and turned his back unto the enemy. A sort of tenderness or terror, something like shame or respect caused Asch- enbach to turn away as if he had seen nothing; because the serious observer of a casual passion refuses to admit his impressions even to himself.
But he was delighted and shocked at the same time: This childish fanaticism which was directed at the most benign slab of life — it made the divinely vacant a part of the human order; it made nature's precious work of art, that had only been fit to be an eyeful, seem worthy of a deeper sympathy; and it gave the already striking personage of the youth a historico-political backdrop that allowed him to be taken seriously in spite of his age. Still turned away, Aschenbach listened to the boy's speech, his high-pitched and somewhat feeble voice, with which he tried to announce himself to his comrades playing at the sand castle.
The replies consisted in calling him by his real name or a pet name and Aschenbach paid interested attention, without being able to hear them perfectly, to two melodic syllables like "Adgio" or more frequently "Adgiu" with a vocatively-stretched "oo" sound at the end. He delighted in the tone of it, he found its pleasantness befitting the thing it described, repeated it below his breath and contently moved on to his letters and other paperwork.
His little writing case on his lap, he began to pen assorted correspondence. But after about a quarter of an hour had passed, it occurred to him how unfortunate it was to let this situation, the most delightful he had known, pass by like that.
He moved aside his writing utensils, returned to the sea, and after a short while, 23 seated on his deck chair and distracted by the voices of the children who were working on the sand castle, he turned his head to the right to further investigate the comings and goings of the marvelous Adgio. His glance immediately discovered him; the red bow on his breast was difficult to miss. Occupied with the others in furnishing an old plank as a drawbridge for the sand castle, he gave loud orders for that endeavor, emphasizing his commands with movements of his head.
With him there were about ten comrades in all, boys and girls, some of his age and some younger, speaking in Polish, French, and languages of the Balkans. But it was his name that was heard most often. Obviously he was popular, courted, admired. One of them, a stocky lad who was called "Jaschu," with black, slicked-back hair and in a linen suit, appeared to be his closest servant and confidant.
When the daily work on the sand edifice had finished, they ambled along the beach in each other's arms, and the one called "Jaschu" placed a kiss on the beautiful Adgio's cheek. Aschenbach was tempted to make a threatening gesture with the finger to Jaschu.
Because it will take as much time for you to recover. It had gotten very hot, although the Sun had been unable to penetrate the layer of haze in the sky. Lassitude immobilized the mind, while the senses were taking pleasure in the immense and deadening spectacle of the silent sea.
To divine, to explore which name it might be that sounded a bit like "Adgio" was considered by the earnest man a fitting and absolutely filling task and occupation. With the help of some Polish remembrances he decided that it had to be "Tadzio," short for "Tadeusz" and "Tadziu" in the vocative. Tadzio was bathing. Aschenbach, who had lost him from his sight, found his head, his arm, with which he made rowing motions, far away out on the sea; because it was quite shallow for a great distance.
But immediately there was concern about him, female voices were calling out for him from the huts, exclaiming again that word which was like a password at the beach and that, with its soft sound and its drawn out "oo" sound at the end, had something both sweet and wild about it: That sight induced mythical connotations, he was like a poem about ancient times, the birth of form and the genesis of the gods. Aschenbach intently listened to that song that came from inside; and again he thought that it was good to be here and that he wanted to stay.
It almost seemed to him as if he was guarding the resting boy — occupied with his own things and yet with unwavering vigilance for that supreme specimen to his right, not far from him.
And a fatherly awe, the complete devotion of the one who tries to create beauty to the one who is endowed with it filled and moved his heart. At noon he departed from the beach, returned to the hotel, and took the elevator to his room. Inside he spent some time in front of the mirror and studied his gray hair, his weary and sharply-cut face.
In that moment he thought of his fame, and how many people looked up to him for his ability to always find the right words and graceful phrases — he called to witness all the successes his gifts had given him that he could think of and even considered his knighthood. Then he went down to the dining room and took a meal at his little table. When he entered the elevator afterwards, young people jostled into that tiny hovering cubbyhole, who were also coming from breakfast, and Tadzio joined them.
He stood very close to Aschenbach, for the first time close enough that Aschenbach was afforded a more intimate look with all details. Someone addressed the lad, and while he replied with an unimaginably lovely smile, he already stepped out at the second floor, walking backwards, with downcast eyes.
Beauty makes one shy, thought Aschenbach and mulled why this would be the case. He had in fact noticed that Tadzio's teeth were not quite as pleasant; slightly jagged and pale, without the sheen of health and of a strangely translucent quality as in someone with anemia. He is a bit frail, he is sickly, thought Aschenbach. He will probably not live very long. And he declined to account for the feeling of satisfaction and calmness that accompanied that notion. He spent two hours in his room and took the vaporetto across the foul-smelling lagoon to Venice in the afternoon.
He got out at St Mark's Square, took his tea there and then commenced a walk through the city, according to his local schedule. But it was this walk which caused a total reversal in his mood and his decisions. A revolting sultriness could be felt in the alleys, the air was so heavy that the odors that emanated from the apartments, stores, and cookshops, like those of hot oil, clouds of perfume and many more, remained fixed like clouds without dispersing.
Cigarette smoke hung in one place and only gradually escaped. The jostle in the narrow streets was a burden, not an enjoyment to the stroller. The longer he walked, the more that disgusting condition took hold over him which is 25 effected by the sea breeze and the scirocco and which is excitement and fatigue at the same time.
He began to sweat unpleasantly. The eyes ceased to function, his chest felt tight, he was febrile, his pulse was pounding in his head. He fled from the business district to the quarters of the poor: In a quiet spot, one of those forgotten fairy tale places that can be found in the heart of Venice, resting next to a well, he dabbed dry his forehead and came to realize that he had to go somewhere else. For the second time and permanently the city had proven to be very harmful to him in that kind of weather.
Stubborn holding out seemed unreasonable, the probability of the wind changing direction was unknown. A quick decision had to be made. To return home already was not an option. Neither his summer nor winter quarters were ready for his arrival. But not only in Venice there were the sea and the beach, and in other places they could be found without the evil ingredients of the lagoon and its febrile effusion.
He recalled a small seaside resort not far from Trieste, which had been praised. Why not go there? And that immediately, so that this change of location would still be worthwhile. He affirmed his decision and arose. At the next gondola landing he took a vehicle to convey him, through the dull labyrinth of the canals, below delicate marble balconies surrounded by lion sculptures, around slippery corners, along sorrowful palace facades with large company signs, which were mirrored in the garbage-topped water, to St Mark's.
He had trouble getting there because the gondolier, who received payment from lace and glass manufacturers, tried to get him to do sightseeing and shopping and when the bizarre trip through Venice began to cast its spell, the mercenary spirit of the sunken queen contributed to an unpleasant sobering of the senses.
Back in the hotel he let the clerks in the office know that unforeseen circum- stances required him to leave the very next morning. This was found regrettable, his bill was prepared. He had dinner and spent the balmy evening reading journals on the rear terrace. Before going to sleep he completely prepared his trunk for the next day. He did not sleep very well as he was concerned about the impending departure. When he opened the window on the next morning the sky was still overcast but the air seemed refreshed, and — now his remorse began.
Was this cancellation not hasty and in error, the conduct of an ill and unimportant state? Had he waited just a little more, had he made one more try to adapt to the Venetian atmosphere or considered the possibility that the weather might improve, then he could experience now, instead of haste and waste, a morning at the beach just like 26 the day before.
Now he had to continue wanting what he had wanted before. He got dressed and went down for breakfast at eight o'clock. The buffet room was still deserted when he entered. Solitary figures appeared while he was waiting for what he had ordered. With the tea cup at his lips, he saw the Polish girls with their governess come into the room; austere and full of morning freshness, but with red eyes they paraded to their table in the corner. In the very next moment the porter approached and reminded him it was time to go.
The car was waiting to transport him and other travelers to the Hotel "Excelsior" from where the motor launch would carry everyone through a private canal to the station. Time was pressing. More than an hour remained until his train left. He did not like the habit of hotels to kick out their guests before their time and told the porter to let him finish his breakfast in peace. The man retreated hesitantly, only to reappear five minutes later.
The car could wait no longer. Then he should drive away and take his luggage with him, Aschenbach responded angrily. He himself would, in due time, use the public steamer and would take care of his departure himself.
The employee bowed. Aschenbach, relieved to have diverted the unwelcome exhortations, finished his meal unhurriedly, and even had the waiter bring him the daily newspaper. Time had grown quite short when he arose. It just so happened that Tadzio crossed the threshold that very moment.
Walking towards the table of his family, he crossed paths with Aschenbach, cast down his glance before the gray-haired man, only to look at him softly in his lovely way and passed.
He reaches it, he takes a seat — and what followed was an odyssey through all shades of regret. It was the familiar trip across the lagoon, passing St Mark's, up the Grand Canal. Aschenbach was seated on the circular bench at the bow, leaning with his arm upon the handrail, shading his eyes from the Sun. The municipal gardens retreated, the piazzetta opened out once more in princely charm and was left behind, next came the great row of palaces, and behind the bend of the waterway the magnificent arch of the Rialto Bridge appeared.
The departing looked on, and his heart was torn. The atmosphere of the city, that slightly putrid smell which he had so sought to escape from — he breathed it now in deep, tenderly painful breaths.
Was it possible that he did not know or had not taken into account how 27 much he was attached to all of this? And even if the published novel has turned out fairly well, there is always that sense of having missed the mark. Writers and translators are engaged in the same effort, at different stages along the line.
For a handful of the greatest writers, Thomas Mann among them, the process of translation continues even further. Occasionally a book like Death in Venice speaks so enduringly to readers that it is translated not once but again, and sometimes again and again.
This is as it should be. A great book is probably, by definition, too complex and layered, too intricately alive, to be translated once and for all. What we have here is the same book, and a new book. Good translators and here they differ from the writers of the original text agonize over a fundamental question. To what extent should they render, to the best of their ability, the words as written, and to what extent should they reinterpret them to suit the particulars of the language and culture into which they are being conveyed?
Every language has its own cadences; a sentence that snaps and sparkles in one language is likely to go flat if conveyed slavishly, word by word, into another. How much license, then, should a translator take in rewriting the sentences so that their music, the pure sound of them, comes through? And how, if at all, should the translator accommodate the fact that certain images and phrases, and even some basic vocabulary, resonate differently from culture to culture?
It goes without saying that the basic events are the same. He travels to Venice, where he becomes first enamored of and then obsessed by a fourteen-year-old Polish boy named Tadzio, who is, in fleshly form, the very ideal of youthful human beauty, with all youth and beauty can imply to the no-longer-young about yearning, mortality, and the extravagant carelessness of a god who gives us life and then, by slow degrees, takes it back again. Aschenbach is increasingly consumed by his passion, until he dies on the beach at the Lido, done up in a grotesque parody of youth, rouged and lipsticked, watching Tadzio from afar.
I remembered Aschenbach as a figure of pure pathos. In that regard, Aschenbach has long been a perversely mythic figure to me. This Aschenbach felt larger, and at least a little bit more profound. This Mann seemed to say, via Aschenbach, that if the alternative is to age gracefully, to x i n t r o d u c t i o n gray and wither quietly, untroubled by absurd or perverse passions—if the other option is to shuffle offstage without attracting undue notice—it might in fact be better to do ourselves up like dandies, to discard our precious dignity, to worship what we know we cannot have right up until the moment of our demise.
In the Genet book, Divine, a drag queen of a certain age, is carrying on at a bar when his faux-pearl coronet breaks. All our coronets will break, sooner or later. Grove Press, , This version seems to suggest that Aschenbach may be doing the best he can— the best anyone can—with the whole business of decay; the fact that, since mortality always wins, we might as well go down in our full colors, wracked by longing, with our false teeth on our heads.
There is this, too, about the mutability of literature—the books we read at twenty are not the books we read at fifty, because we are not the same people.
Figures like Huck Finn, Anna Karenina, and Emma Bovary are likely to seem very different to us at different points in our lives, though who they are and what they do changes not at all. I wondered if Aschenbach struck me as grander and braver simply because I am now more or less his age, and more subject than I once was to my own questions about whether or not a little strategically applied dye or rouge might help me feel more vital.
Lowe-Porter in Lowe-Porter gave us a clownish, foolish Aschenbach—a figure who would not seem out of place in a Fellini movie. Heim also gives us a man in the throes of passion, and treats him with the respect that passion deserves. A comparison like this summons up the mother of all questions regarding different translations of the same book: I assume Heim has corrected them.
Still, a handful of blunders does not seem likely to alter the fundamental tone of a book, or seriously subvert its meaning. A translation, any translation, is filtered through a particular sensibility, and so the discrepancies, as they accrue, must be, at least to some xiii i n t r o d u c t i o n extent, an expression of whatever the translator brought to the job. However multilingual we may be as readers, we find ourselves faced with a fundamental, inescapable responsibility.
We must understand that any book, and especially a great one, is a complex and highly personal exchange between its writer and its readers. None of us reads precisely the same book, even if the words are identical. We agree about his basic qualities and intentions, but spin them according to our own natures.
There is, in a sense, no definitive Death in Venice. We must, all of us, decide for ourselves what Mann meant to give us, and what we are willing to receive.
That said, a comparison of the two versions suggests that Mann in the original tends toward a Wagnerian stateliness that is generally magisterial and elevating but also, occasionally, rather rigid and chill. There is the sporadic feeling that in writing this particular tale of doomed love, Mann comes off a bit like a giant trying to manage a porcelain tea set.
He laid a heavy hand upon the world. He never intended to dart around like a dragonfly. He was, in all his xiv i n t r o d u c t i o n work, Herr Professor, every bit as august and severe as Aschenbach himself, and his language reflects his nature. He was, in a certain sense, among the last of his kind. Although he was a contemporary of writers like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, he was distinctly a member of the previous generation.
Woolf, Joyce, and others would change not only the form of the novel but the relationship between novelist and reader. The novelists of the later twentieth century would, by and large, do away with the whole notion of lofty authority, and offer in its place a kind of egalitarianism. The novelist would be less the distinguished lecturer and more the fellow student; he or she would be more determined to write about everyday life and to say, in essence, to readers, Here it all is, here are its mythic resonances, here are its smells and tastes, you tell me what it means.
Language itself, in fiction, would become a more fluid and vital part of the whole. We would, for the most part, dispense with the notion of the author as architect, carving sentences out of granite and setting them one atop another in support of a great theme. We revere the novels of Eliot, Dickens, Hardy, and others, but we do not remember and cherish individual lines, not the way we do lines from Joyce or Woolf. After Mann, language would receive a promotion.
Sentences would be musical and meaningful in and of themselves. They would not be asked to serve primarily as columns or pedestals. They would be encouraged to draw a certain degree of attention to themselves. We can probably tell a good deal about an era by its most prominent literary characters. They are, on one hand, a rather motley crew. Here is Mrs. Dalloway buying flowers. And here is Aschenbach, our Icarus, flying too high, melting, and crashing down on a beach.
For all their differences, though, these characters have a certain commonality. They are, all of them, small figures in an immense landscape. They are all undernourished, though the world has given them everything they need to survive, at least in terms of food and shelter.
They are all on quests, and if the objects of their desire seem rather modest—one wants to give a perfect party, another wants his childhood sweetheart back—it is the very modesty of those wishes, conjoined with their unattainability, that breaks our hearts.
Most of the heroes of twentiethcentury European and American literature are striving xvi i n t r o d u c t i o n not against marital constraints or humble origins or political systems, but against loss itself. Some of them end up better than others, but none of them wins. Aschenbach is, to me at least, the most devastating of the lot. Like any enduring literary figure, he is both of his time and beyond it.
It rescues Aschenbach from the realm of the cautionary and places him where he belongs, in the pantheon of fictive men and women whose impossible yearnings make them as deeply human as characters can be. Here we have an Aschenbach who is harder to dismiss, whose fate is larger and nobler, if not exactly more comforting.
That may or may not be exactly what Mann had in mind. But it is, for my purposes at least, the grander and more humane book that Mann meant to give us all along. Overwrought from the difficult and dangerous labors of the late morning hours, labors demanding the utmost caution, prudence, tenacity, and precision of will, the writer had even after the midday meal been unable to halt the momentum of the inner mechanism—the motus animi continuus in which, according to Cicero, eloquence resides—and find the refreshing t h o m a s m a n n sleep that the growing wear and tear upon his forces had made a daily necessity.
And so, shortly after tea he had sought the outdoors in the hope that open air and exercise might revive him and help him to enjoy a fruitful evening. It was early May, and after a few cold, wet weeks a mock summer had set in. The Englischer Garten, though as yet in tender bud, was as muggy as in August and full of vehicles and pedestrians on the city side. As it happened, there was no one at the tram stop or thereabouts.
Without giving the matter much thought, Aschenbach inclined towards the first hypothesis. The man—of medium height, thin, beardless, and strikingly snub-nosed—was 3 t h o m a s m a n n the red-haired type and had its milky, freckled pigmentation. He was clearly not of Bavarian stock and, if nothing else, the broad, straight-brimmed bast hat covering his head lent him a distinctly foreign, exotic air.
He did, however, have the customary knapsack strapped to his shoulders, wore a yellowish belted suit of what appeared to be loden, and carried a gray waterproof over his left forearm, which he pressed to his side, and an iron-tipped walking stick in his right hand, and having thrust the stick diagonally into the ground, he had crossed his feet and braced one hip on its crook.
Thus—and perhaps his elevated and elevating position contributed to the impression— there was something of the overseer, something lordly, bold, even wild in his demeanor, for be it that he was grimacing, blinded by the setting sun, or that he had a permanent facial deformity, his lips seemed too short: A minute later he had forgotten the man.
It was wanderlust, pure and simple, yet it had come 5 t h o m a s m a n n upon him like a seizure and grown into a passion—no, more, an hallucination. He saw a landscape, a tropical quagmire beneath a steamy sky— sultry, luxuriant, and monstrous—a kind of primordial wilderness of islands, marshes, and alluvial channels; saw hairy palm shafts thrusting upward, near and far, from rank clusters of bracken, from beds of thick, swollen, and bizarrely burgeoning flora; saw fantastically malformed trees plunge their roots through the air into the soil, into stagnant, shadow-green, looking-glass waters, where, amidst milk-white flowers bobbing like bowls, outlandish stoop-shouldered birds with misshapen beaks stood stock-still in the shallows, peering off to one side; saw the eyes of a crouching tiger gleam out of the knotty canes of a bamboo thicket—and felt his heart pound with terror and an enigmatic craving.
Especially now that his life was on the decline and his fear of failing to achieve his artistic goals—the concern that his time might run out before he had accomplished what he needed to accomplish and given fully of himself— could no longer be dismissed as a caprice, he had confined his external existence almost exclusively to the beautiful city that had become his home and the rustic cottage he had built for himself in the mountains and where he spent the rainy summers.
Thus it was that the sudden and belated impulse which had come over him was soon restrained and redressed by reason and the self-discipline he had 7 t h o m a s m a n n practiced from an early age. He had intended to reach a certain point in his work, which was his life, before moving to the country, and the thought of leaving his desk for months to go gallivanting around the world seemed too frivolous and disruptive to be taken seriously.
Yet he knew only too well the source of the sudden temptation. It was an urge to flee—he fully admitted it, this yearning for freedom, release, oblivion— an urge to flee his work, the humdrum routine of a rigid, cold, passionate duty. Granted, he loved that duty and even almost loved the enervating daily struggle between his proud, tenacious, much-tested will and the growing fatigue, which no one must suspect or the finished product betray by the slightest sign of foundering or neglect.
But it made sense not to go too far in the other direction, not to be so obstinate as to curb a need erupting with such virulence. He thought of his work, of the point at which, yesterday and again today, he had had to abandon it since it had refused to yield to either patient attention or a swift bit of legerdemain.
He had examined the passage anew, trying to shatter or diffuse his block, only to renounce the effort with a shudder of 8 d e a t h i n v e n i c e revulsion. There was no unwonted difficulty involved; no, he was paralyzed by the scruples arising from his distaste for the project, which made themselves felt in demands impossible to satisfy. Impossible demands had of course impressed the young man as the very essence and innermost nature of talent, and it was for them that he had bridled and cooled his feelings, knowing they are prone to make do with blithe approximations and halfperfections.
Could it be that his indentured sensibility was now taking its revenge, abandoning him and refusing henceforth to bear his art on its wings, depriving him of all pleasure, all delight in form and expression? Not that he produced poor work: Yet, much as the nation might honor it, it gave him no pleasure: He dreaded the summer in the country, all alone in the cottage with the maid who cooked his meals and the man who served them; he dreaded the sight of the familiar mountain 9 t h o m a s m a n n peaks and slopes that would once more encompass his torpid discontent.
He needed a change of scene, a bit of spontaneity, an idle existence, a foreign atmosphere, and an influx of new blood to make the summer bearable and productive. He would travel, then; good, he was satisfied. Not too far, not all the way to the tigers.
A night in a sleeping car and a siesta of three or four weeks at one of the internationally recognized holiday resorts in the friendly south. Such were his reflections as the clang of the electric tram reached him along the Ungererstrasse, and mounting the platform he decided to spend the evening studying maps and timetables.
His forebears had been officers, judges, and civil servants, men who led disciplined, decently austere lives serving king and state. She was the source of the foreign racial features in his appearance. Since his entire being was bent on fame, he proved himself if not quite precocious then at least, thanks to the resolute and precise persona he cultivated, mature and ready for life in the world before his time.
Barely out of school he had acquired a name for himself. In the space of ten years he had learned to perform his professional 12 d e a t h i n v e n i c e duties and manage his fame from his writing desk and to make every sentence of his correspondence gracious and pregnant with meaning letters had to be brief, because the demands made on the staunch and successful are many. The forty-year-old, worn down by the strains and vicissitudes of his work, had to cope with a daily mail bearing stamps from all over the world.
Equidistant from the banal and the eccentric, his talent seemed tailored to gain both the confidence of the general public and the demanding admiration of the connoisseur.
Since boyhood he had been pressed from all sides to achieve—and to achieve the extraordinary— and thus had never known leisure, the carefree idleness of youth. That rang true, and what made Aschenbach all the more heroic and noble was that he was not robust by nature, that he was merely called to constant industry, not born to it. He had grown up solitary and friendless and must have realized early that he belonged to a species for which talent was less a rarity than physical strength—the strength needed to make something of the talent—a species that tended to make the most of its powers early, seldom developing them into old age.
Then, too, he ardently desired to live to old age, for he had always believed that the only artistic gift that can be called truly great, all-encompassing, and, yes, truly praiseworthy is one that has been vouchsafed productivity at all stages of human existence. At forty, at fifty, and even when younger, at an age when others dissipate their talents, wax rhapsodic, 14 d e a t h i n v e n i c e or blissfully defer their grand projects, he would start his day early by dashing cold water over his chest and back; then, having set a pair of tall wax candles in silver holders at the head of his manuscript, he would spend two or three fervent, conscientious hours offering up to art the strength he had garnered in sleep.
For a major product of the intellect to make an immediate broad and deep impact it must rest upon a secret affinity, indeed, a congruence between the 15 t h o m a s m a n n personal destiny of its author and the collective destiny of his generation. The people do not know why they bestow fame upon a given work of art. Though far from connoisseurs, they believe they have discovered a hundred virtues to justify such enthusiasm, yet the true basis for their acclaim is an imponderable, mere affinity.
But it was more than an observation; it was his experience, the very formula of his life and fame, the key to his work. Was it any wonder, therefore, that it likewise informed the moral makeup and external demeanor of his most representative protagonists?
Because composure in the face of destiny and equanimity in the face of torture are not mere matters of endurance; they are an active achievement, a positive triumph, and the Sebastian figure is the most beautiful symbol if not of art as a whole then certainly of the art here in question. What one saw when one looked into the world as narrated by Aschenbach was elegant self-possession concealing inner dissolution and biological decay from the eyes of the world until the eleventh hour; a sallow, sensually destitute ugliness capable of fanning its smoldering lust into a pure flame, indeed, of rising to sovereignty in the realm of beauty; pallid impotence probing the incandescent depths of the mind for the strength to cast an entire supercilious people at the foot of the Cross, at their feet; an obliging manner in the empty, punctilious service of form; the life, false and dangerous, and the swiftly enervating desires and art of the born deceiver.
Observing all this and much more of a like nature, one might well wonder whether the only possible heroism was the heroism of the weak. Yet what heroism was more at one with the times? They are legion; they are the heroes of the age. And they all recognized themselves in his work, found themselves validated, celebrated, glorified therein; they rendered him thanks and proclaimed his name. Young and green with the times and ill advised by them, he had stumbled in public, made false moves, made a fool of himself, violating tact and good sense in word and deed.
Yet he eventually gained the dignity to which, as he maintained, every great talent feels instinctively drawn. One might even say that his entire development consisted in jettisoning the constraints of doubt and irony and making the conscious, defiant ascent to dignity. Lively, intellectually undemanding formulations are the delight of the bourgeois masses, while passionately 18 d e a t h i n v e n i c e unbending youth is excited only by the problematic, and Aschenbach was as problematic and unbending as any youth.
He had overindulged the intellect, overcultivated erudition and ground up the seed corn, revealed secrets, defamed talent, betrayed art; yes, even as his works entertained, elevated, and animated the gullible reader, he, the youthful artist, held the twenty-year-olds in thrall to his cynical remarks about the questionable nature of art and artistic genius.
Strange associations! But does not moral fortitude beyond knowledge— beyond disintegrative and inhibitory erudition—entail a simplification, a moral reduction of the world and the soul and hence a concomitant intensification of the will to evil, the forbidden, the morally reprehensible? Is it not moral and immoral at once—moral as the outcome and expression of discipline, yet immoral, even antimoral, insofar as it is by its very nature indifferent to morality, indeed, strives to bend morality beneath its proud and absolute scepter?
Be that as it may, development is destiny, and should it not take one course if lacking in the glamour and obligations of fame and another if attended by the interest and trust of a broad audience? Only incorrigible bohemians find it boring or laughable when a man of talent outgrows the libertine chrysalis stage and begins to perceive and express the dignity of the intellect, adopting the courtly ways of a solitude replete with bitter suffering and inner battles though eventually gaining a position of power and honor among men.
It was then that school officials began including selected passages from his works in the textbooks they prescribed. He found it only fitting that a German prince who had just ascended the throne should confer nobility upon the author of Frederick on his fiftieth birthday, and he did not decline the honor.
After several restless years of testing this place and that, he eventually chose Munich as his permanent residence and led a solid bourgeois existence there, enjoying the respect that is in certain cases vouchsafed the intellect. It left him with a daughter, who was now married.
He had had no son. Gustav von Aschenbach was of somewhat less than medium height, dark, and clean-shaven. The head seemed a bit too large for the almost dainty physique. The hair, brushed back, was thin at the crown but very thick and gray at the temples and framed a high, rugged, scarredlooking forehead. The gold frame of the rimless spectacles cut into the root of a strong, nobly aquiline nose.
Important destinies must have passed through that head, which was often tilted dolefully, yet it was art—not, as is commonly the case, a hard and turbulent life—that had formed the physiognomy. The dazzling give and take of the interchange between Voltaire and the king on the subject of war had been conceived behind that brow; those eyes, wearily peering out through their lenses, had seen the gory inferno of the sick bays in the Seven Years War.
On a personal level, too, art is life intensified: What he sought was something exotic and distinctive yet of easy access, and so he stopped at an island in the Adriatic, not far from the coast of Istria, one that had acquired a following in recent years and featured colorful raggle-taggle rustics speaking an outlandish t h o m a s m a n n tongue and beautifully jagged cliffs facing the open sea. But rain, a heavy atmosphere, the provincial closed society of the Austrian hotel guests, and the lack of a peaceful, intimate rapport with the sea that only a soft, sandy beach can provide had soured him and kept him from feeling he had found his final destination.
Where did one go when one wished to travel overnight to a unique, fairy-tale-like location? Why, that was obvious. What was he doing here? He had come to the wrong place. That is where he should have gone. He lost no time in announcing his departure. A week and a half after his arrival on the island a swift motorboat bore him and his luggage across the misty morning water back to the naval base and he disembarked only to mount a gangplank leading to the damp deck of a steamer about to weigh anchor for Venice.
It was an ancient vessel of Italian registry, outdated, sooty, and drab. Certainly, sir! A magnificent city! A city irresistible to the man of culture for both its history and its current charms! Aschenbach went back on deck. With one arm propped on the railing he watched first the idlers loitering on the quay to watch the ship set sail, then the passengers on board. The second-class passengers, men and women both, were squatting on the forward deck, using their crates and bundles as rests.
A group of young men on the upper deck, Pola shop assistants by the look of them, excited by the prospect of a jaunt to Italy, were making a great to-do about themselves and their venture, jabbering, laughing, indulging smugly in their gesticulations, and leaning over the railing to shout glib jeers at their friends, who were moving along the embankment, clutching their briefcases and shaking their canes menacingly at the holidaymakers.
One of them, wearing an extravagantly cut pale-yellow summer suit, a red necktie, and a rakishly uptilted Panama hat, outdid the others in his raucous 28 d e a t h i n v e n i c e show of mirth. Once Aschenbach had had a closer look at him, however, he realized with something akin to horror that the man was no youth.
He was old, there was no doubting it: A shudder ran through Aschenbach as he watched him and his interplay with his friends. Did they not know, could they not see that he was old, that he had no right to be wearing their foppish, gaudy clothes, no right to be carrying on as if he were one of them?
They seemed to be used to him and take him for granted, tolerating his presence and treating him as an equal, returning his pokes in the ribs without malice. How could they? Aschenbach laid his hand on his forehead and shut his eyes: He had the impression that something was not quite normal, that a dreamlike disaffection, a warping of the world 29 t h o m a s m a n n into something alien was about to take hold and that by covering his face for a spell and then taking a fresh look at things he might stave it off.
Just then, however, he felt a floating sensation and, looking up panic-stricken, realized that the heavy, dingy bulk of the ship was slowly casting off from the stone jetty. Aschenbach crossed to the starboard side, where the hunchback had set up a deck chair for him and a steward in a stained frock coat inquired whether he could do anything for him.
The sky was gray, the wind humid. Harbor and islands left behind, all land soon disappeared from sight in the haze. Flakes of coal dust, bloated with moisture, settled on the swabbed deck, which refused to dry. Before an hour was up, a sailcloth awning was spread out: Wrapped in his coat, a book in his lap, the traveler took his ease, the hours slipping by unnoticed.
The rain had ceased; the awning been taken down. The hori30 d e a t h i n v e n i c e zon was now visible in its entirety. The vast disk of the barren sea stretched out beneath the turbid dome of the sky. But in empty, unarticulated space our senses lose the capacity to articulate time as well, and we sink into the immeasurable. Strange, shadowy figures—the superannuated dandy, the goateed purser from deep in the hold—passed through his quiescent mind with vague gestures and jumbled dreamlike utterances, and he fell asleep.
The meal was wretched, and he finished it off quickly: Surely it would clear over Venice. Not that he thought it would not, for the city had always received him in all its glory. Yet both sky and sea remained turbid and leaden, a misty rain falling from time to time, and he resigned himself to finding a 31 t h o m a s m a n n different Venice by sea from the one he was accustomed to find when taking an overland route.
He stood at the foremast, gazing into the distance, watching for land. He thought of the pensive yet ardent poet for whom the cupolas and bell towers of his dreams had once risen from these waves, repeated to himself the words he had fashioned out of reverence, joy, and mourning into measured song, and, readily stirred by a sentiment already shaped, probed his earnest, weary heart to see whether a new ardor and upheaval, a belated adventure of the emotions might yet await the idle traveler.
Then, to the right, the flat coastline hove in sight, the sea came alive with fishing boats, and the island with its swimming baths appeared. The steamer put the island on its port side and glided at reduced speed through the narrow channel that bore its name, coming to a halt in the lagoon opposite some colorfully dilapidated dwellings, there to await the launch of the health authorities.
It took the launch an hour to appear. The ship had arrived, yet it had not. There was no hurry, yet the pas32 d e a t h i n v e n i c e sengers were impatient. The young men from Pola, their patriotism stimulated by the military bugle calls crossing the water from the vicinity of the Public Gardens, had come on deck and, full of Asti-induced ebullience, were cheering on the bersaglieri drilling there.
But it was repugnant to behold the state to which the spruced-up fossil had been reduced by his spurious coalition with the young. His brain was too old to withstand the wine as his youthfully resilient companions had done: Eyes glazed over, a cigarette between his trembling fingers, he swayed back and forth in his inebriation, laboriously keeping his balance. Since he would have fallen at the first step, he did not dare move, yet he displayed a pitiful exuberance, buttonholing everyone who came up to him, jabbering, winking, sniggering, lifting a wrinkled, ringed finger as a part of some fatuous teasing, and licking the corners of his mouth with the tip of his tongue in a revoltingly suggestive manner.
Aschenbach watched him with a frown, and once more a feeling of numbness came over him, as if the world were moving ever so slightly yet intractably towards a strange and grotesque warping, a feeling which circum33 t h o m a s m a n n stances kept him from indulging in, however, because at that moment the pounding of the engine started up again and the ship, interrupted so near its destination, resumed its course through the San Marco Canal. And so he saw it once again, that most astounding of landing sites, that stunning composition of fantastic architecture offered up by the Republic to the reverent gaze of approaching seafarers, the ethereal splendor of the Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, the waterside columns with lion and saint, the majestically projecting flank of the fairy-tale basilica, and the view beyond of the gateway and giant clock, and taking it all in he mused that arriving in Venice by land, at the railway station, was tantamount to entering a palace by the back door and that one should approach this most improbable of cities only as he had now done by ship, over the seas.
The engine stopped, gondolas pressed alongside, the gangplank was lowered, and customs officials came aboard and discharged their duties perfunctorily: Aschenbach let it be known that he wished to have a gondola convey him and his luggage to the pier of those vaporetti that ply between 34 d e a t h i n v e n i c e the city and the Lido, for he intended to take up residence by the sea.
His plan was approved, his request shouted to the water below, where the gondoliers were squabbling in dialect. He was held back from leaving, held back by his trunk, which had to be laboriously dragged to and tugged down the ladderlike steps.
Au revoir, excusez, and bonjour, Your Excellency! Aschenbach managed to escape. That strange conveyance, coming down to us unaltered from the days of the ballads and so distinctively black, black as only coffins can be—it conjures up hush-hush criminal adventures in the rippling night and, even more, death itself: And has anyone observed that the seat in such a boat, that armchair lacquered coffin-black with its dull black upholstery, is the softest, most soothing, most voluptuous seat in the world?
The rowers were still squabbling, raucous and unintelligible, gesturing menacingly, but the strange silence of this city of water seemed to absorb their voices gently, disembody them, and scatter them over the sea. It was warm here in the harbor. Lulled by the tepid breath of the sirocco, lolling on the cushions over the pliant element, the traveler closed his eyes and yielded to a lassitude as unwonted as it was sweet.
How calm and yet calmer his surroundings became! There was nothing to be heard but the plash of the oar and the hollow thump of the waves against the prow, which rose up over the water, steep and black and reinforced at the tip like a halberd, and yet a third sound, a mutter, a murmur, the whisper of the gondolier talking to himself through clenched teeth, in fits and starts, the sounds extracted by the effort of his arms.
Aschenbach glanced up and noted not without consternation that the lagoon was widening about him and the gondola making for the open sea. Clearly he could not relax all that much; he would have to see to the execution of his wishes. The murmuring ceased, but no reply was forthcoming. He had a disobliging, even brutal physiognomy and was dressed in navy blue, with a yellow sash wound round his waist and a shapeless straw hat that was beginning to unravel perched jauntily on his head.
The cast of the face and the curly blond mustache under the small snub nose made him look anything but Italian. Though rather frailly built—one would not have thought him particularly suited to his trade—he handled the oar with great energy, putting his whole body into every stroke. From time to time, his lips drawn back by the strain, he bared a set of white teeth. I wish to transfer to the vaporetto.
He said nothing, but the gruff, preemptory manner, so unlike the 38 d e a t h i n v e n i c e treatment foreigners usually receive from the natives, he found disagreeable. You will turn back. The oar plashed; the water thudded against the prow.
Presently the muttering and murmuring commenced again: What was he to do? Alone on the water with this oddly obstreperous, uncannily determined man, the traveler saw no way of imposing his will. Besides, what a nice rest he could have if he did not lose his temper! Had he not wished the trip to last longer, last forever? It was wisest to let things take their course; what is more, it was highly pleasant.
A spellbinding indolence seemed to emanate from his seat, that low armchair upholstered in black, so gently rocked by the oar strokes of the selfwilled gondolier behind him. More upsetting was the possibility that it could all be put down to simple money 39 t h o m a s m a n n grubbing. Fair enough. You are rowing me well. Even if you are after my purse and send me to the House of Hades with a bash of the oar from behind, you will have rowed me well.
But nothing of the sort occurred. They even had company: Aschenbach tossed some money into the 40 d e a t h i n v e n i c e hat they held out. They immediately fell silent and departed, whereupon he could hear the gondolier whispering again, carrying on his intermittent conversation with himself. And so they arrived, bobbing in the wake of a vaporetto bound for the city. Two municipal officials, their hands behind their backs, were pacing up and down the embankment, looking out over the lagoon.
Aschenbach left the gondola at the landing stage, assisted by the old man with a grappling iron to be found at every landing stage in Venice, and, having run out of coins, crossed to the hotel opposite the pier to break a banknote and give the oarsman his just deserts.
After being attended to in the lobby, he returned to find his belongings on a cart on the pier and the gondola and gondolier gone, nowhere to be seen.
He had no license, sir. The only gondolier without one. The others phoned over to us. He saw the officials waiting for him, so he took off. Aschenbach tossed some coins into it. He entered the spacious hotel from the back, the garden terrace, and made his way through the spacious lobby and vestibule to the office. Since he was expected, he was received with assiduous deference. The manager, a short, quiet, obsequiously courteous man sporting a black mustache and a frock coat of French cut, rode up to the second floor with him and showed him to his room, a pleasant place furnished with cherry-wood furniture and decorated with strongly scented flowers, its high windows offering a view of the open sea.
He walked up to one of them after the manager had withdrawn, and while his luggage was being brought in and set down behind him he gazed out at the beach, which was all but devoid of people, it being afternoon, and the sunless sea, which at high tide was sending long, low waves against the shore in a calm, regular cadence.
Images and perceptions that might easily be dismissed with a glance, a laugh, an exchange of opinions occupy him unduly; they are heightened in the silence, gain in significance, turn into experience, adventure, emotion. Solitude begets originality, bold and disconcerting beauty, poetry.
But solitude can also beget perversity, disparity, the absurd and the forbidden. Though neither difficult to explain rationally nor even thoughtprovoking, they were utterly outlandish—or so he found them—and unsettling precisely because of this paradox.
For the moment, however, he greeted the sea with his eyes, delighted that Venice was so near and easy of access, and at length he turned, washed his face, gave the chambermaid instructions for seeing to his 43 t h o m a s m a n n comfort, and had himself conveyed by the green-clad Swiss lift attendant to the ground floor. He took his tea on the seaside terrace, then went down and walked a good distance along the promenade in the direction of the Hotel Excelsior.
Upon his return he thought it time to change for dinner. He did so in his usual slow and deliberate manner, for he was accustomed to work while attending to his toilet, yet he reached the lobby a bit too early, finding a goodly number of the guests, strangers to one another, feigning mutual indifference as they waited together for the meal.
He picked up a newspaper from the table, settled into a leather armchair, and cast an eye over the company, which differed favorably from that of his previous hotel. A broad, tolerant, all-encompassing horizon opened before him. Sounds of the major languages mingled in muted tones. Internationally recognized evening dress, that uniform of civilization, made of the diversity a semblance of homogeneous decency.
He saw the dry, long face of an American, a large Russian clan, English ladies, and German children with French nurses. Polish was being spoken in his immediate vicinity. It came from a group of young people of various ages seated around a wicker table under the supervision of a governess or female companion: Aschenbach noted with astonishment that the boy was of a consummate beauty: Also striking were the clear and fundamental differences in the approach to child rearing that appeared to govern the dress and general behavior of the siblings.
The attire of the three girls, the eldest of whom could be considered grown up, was austere and chaste to the point of defacement: Surely a mother was at work here, and one who had no intention of applying to the boy the strict pedagogical principles she deemed appropriate to the girls. In his life, softness and tenderness clearly held sway. His fair hair had been spared the shears: He sat half facing his observer with one black patent leather shoe in front of the other, an elbow propped on the arm of his wicker chair, and a cheek resting against the closed hand in an attitude of nonchalant propriety and completely devoid of the all but servile rigidity to which his female siblings seemed accustomed.
Was he ailing? His complexion stood out 46 d e a t h i n v e n i c e white as ivory against the darker gold of the surrounding curls. Or was he merely the coddled favorite, the object of a biased and volatile love? Aschenbach inclined towards the latter. Innate in nearly every artistic nature is a wanton, treacherous penchant for accepting injustice when it creates beauty and showing sympathy for and paying homage to aristocratic privilege.
A waiter made the rounds, announcing in English that dinner was served, and the guests gradually disappeared through the glass door. Latecomers straggled past from the vestibule and lifts. Service had begun in the dining room, but the young Poles lingered at their wicker table, and Aschenbach, comfortably ensconced in his deep armchair and admiring the beauty before his eyes besides, waited with them.
The governess—a short, corpulent, red-faced woman of not quite gentle birth—signaled them at last to rise. Arching her brows, she pushed her chair back and bowed when a tall woman dressed in grayish white and richly adorned with pearls entered the lobby. She could have been the wife of a high-ranking German official. The only aspect of her appearance evincing a certain fanciful sense of luxury was the jewelry, which was in fact nearly worthless and consisted of earrings plus a very long triple strand of gently shimmering pearls the size of cherries.
The siblings had risen quickly. They bent to kiss the hand of their mother, who, a reserved smile on her wellpreserved yet somewhat weary and pointy-nosed face, looked past their heads and addressed a few words in French to the governess. Then she went over to the glass door. The children followed, the girls in order of age, the governess, and finally the boy.
For some reason he looked back before crossing the threshold, and since there was no one else left in the lobby, his eyes, of an unusual twilight gray, met those of Aschenbach, who, his paper in his lap, was absorbed in watching the group make its exit. There was certainly nothing the least bit remarkable about what he had seen. The children had not gone in 48 d e a t h i n v e n i c e before their mother; they had waited for her, greeted her deferentially, and observed the customary formalities when entering the dining room.
Yet it had all been done so deliberately, with such concern for discipline, duty, and self-esteem that Aschenbach felt strangely moved. He hesitated a few moments more, then he too made his way to the dining room and was shown to his table, which, he noted with a brief stir of regret, was at some remove from that of the Polish family. Tired yet mentally alert, he whiled away the lengthy meal pondering abstract, even transcendental matters such as the mysterious connection that must be established between the generic and the particular to produce human beauty and moving on to general problems of form and art only to conclude that his thoughts and discoveries resembled certain seemingly felicitous revelations that come to us in dreams and after sober consideration prove perfectly inane and worthless.
He lingered after dinner—sitting and smoking, strolling through the hotel grounds enjoying the evening fragrance—then retired early and spent the night in a deep sleep, unbroken, yet animated by a number of dreams.
The wind came from the land. The sea was dull and calm, shrunken almost, under a pale, overcast sky, the horizon blandly close; the sea had retreated so far from the beach that it left several rows of long sandbanks exposed. Opening his window, Aschenbach thought he could smell the foul stench of the lagoon.
A sudden despondency came over him. He considered leaving then and there. Once, years before, after weeks of a beautiful spring, he had been visited by this sort of weather and it so affected his health he had been obliged to flee. Was not the same listless fever setting in? The pressure in the temples, the heavy eyelids?
Changing hotels again would be a nuisance, but if the wind failed to shift he could not possibly remain here. To be on the safe side, he did not unpack everything.
At nine he went to breakfast in the specially designated buffet between the lobby and the dining room. The ceremonious silence on which grand hotels pride themselves prevailed. The waiters moved about the room noiselessly, on tiptoe. The clatter of tea things and a half-whispered word were the only sounds audi50 d e a t h i n v e n i c e ble.
In a corner diagonally opposite the door and two tables removed from his own, Aschenbach saw the Polish girls with their governess. Their ash-blond hair freshly plastered down, their eyes red, they sat perfectly erect in their stiff blue-linen dress with the small white turndown collars and cuffs, passing a jar of preserves round the table.
The boy was absent. Aschenbach smiled. Well, well, little Phaeacian! You seem to be the only one privileged to sleep his fill.
And brightening suddenly, he recited the following line to himself: And so it transpired that he was present for the entrance of the slugabed awaited in the corner. His gait was extraordinarily graceful both in the way he held his upper torso and in the way he moved his knees and 51 t h o m a s m a n n white-shod feet; it was a very light gait, at once delicate and proud, and embellished by the childlike modesty with which, twice on his way across the room, he turned his head and raised, then lowered his eyes.
Smiling and murmuring a word in his soft, fuzzy language, he took his seat, and now, especially as he had turned his full profile to the observer, the latter was once more amazed, indeed, startled by the truly godlike beauty of this mortal being. Today the boy was wearing a lightweight, washable outfit with a blue-and-white-striped middy blouse that had a red silk bow at the chest and a plain white stand-up collar.
Good, good, thought Aschenbach with that cool, professional approval in which artists encountering a masterpiece sometimes shroud their delight, their excitement. Truth to tell, he went on thinking, were sea and 52 d e a t h i n v e n i c e shore not awaiting me, I should stay here as long as you! But he did leave, greeted by the staff as he passed through the lobby, then descending the large terrace and proceeding straight along the boardwalk to the beach partitioned off for the hotel guests.
The view of the beach, the spectacle of civilization indulging in carefree sensuality on the brink of the watery element, entertained and pleased him as rarely before. The flat gray sea was already alive with wading children, swimmers, and colorful figures lying on sandbars, their arms crossed under their heads.
Others were rowing small keelless boats painted red and blue, laughing as they capsized. The long row of cabanas, which had platforms like miniature verandahs for people to sit on, was a scene of animated activity and idly protracted repose, visits and chatter, meticulous matitudinal elegance 53 t h o m a s m a n n alongside a nakedness unabashedly enjoying the freedoms of the place.
Further out on the moist, firm sand there were individuals strolling in white bathing robes or loose, brightly colored frocks. On the right, an intricate sand castle built by children was bedecked with small flags in the colors of all nations; vendors hawked mussels, pastries, and fruit, kneeling before their wares.
On the left, in front of one of the cabanas set at right angles to the others and to the sea and thus closing off that side of the beach, a Russian family had set up camp—men with beards and big teeth; listless, submissive women; a Baltic spinster seated at an easel and emitting cries of despair as she painted the sea; two ugly, good-natured children; and an old nanny in a kerchief, with the gentle, servile manner of a slave.
They were cheerful and having great fun, tirelessly shouting the names of the romping, unruly children, using the few Italian words at their disposal to joke with the amusing old man from whom they bought sweets, kissing one another on the cheeks, and caring never a whit whether their very human esprit de corps was being observed. He loved the sea and for deep-seated reasons: To repose in perfection is the desire of all those who strive for excellence, and is not nothingness a form of perfection?
But as he dreamt his way deep into the void, the horizontal shoreline was suddenly intersected by a human form and, summoning his gaze back from the infinite and bringing it into focus, he saw none other than the beautiful boy coming from the left, walking past him in the sand.
He was barefoot in preparation for wading, his slender legs exposed to above the knee, and while his gait was slow it was as light and proud as if he were quite 55 t h o m a s m a n n accustomed to going about shoeless. He looked over at the cabanas in the perpendicular row, but no sooner did he spy the Russian family going about its business in cheerful harmony than a storm cloud of angry disdain came over his face: He looked down, looked back again ominously, then thrust one shoulder forward in a show of repulsion and rebuff, and left his enemies behind.
A kind of delicacy or apprehension, something akin to deference or modesty, caused Aschenbach to turn away, as if he had seen nothing. Any serious individual who chances to observe a moment of passion is loath to make personal use of what he has witnessed. Yet he was cheered and shaken at the same time, in other words, elated. They responded, calling out his name or pet name several times, and Aschenbach listened to it with a certain curiosity, but could make out nothing more than two melodic syllables: He liked the sound of it: With his portable writing case on his knees, he began attending to this or that item of correspondence with his fountain pen.
But after no more than a quarter of an hour he decided it was a pity to divert his mind from the situation at hand, the most enjoyable he knew, to let it slip past for the sake of an indifferent pursuit. He tossed 57 t h o m a s m a n n his writing utensils aside and gazed back at the sea, but before long, distracted by the voices of the youngsters building the sand castle, he placidly turned his head to the right along the back of the chair the better to follow once more the doings of the exquisite Adgio.
He located him at once: