Death in Venice Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Death in Venice

Gustav von Aschenbach is a writer who falls in love with a handsome teenager in Venice. Gustav von Aschenbach, a solitary author, is about 50 years old. He is a widow and has a grown-up daughter whom he almost never sees, and cares more about artistic inspiration than he does about the fame he gets from his books. Increasingly anxious about his advancing age, and growing restless with his life in Germany, he decides to travel abroad for the summer. First, he travels by ship to the seaside resort of Pula, which is today part of Croatia, but he finds the bourgeois Germans who are spending the summer there boring and objectionable. Then he takes another ship and goes to Venice. At the port in Venice, he sees an old man with make-up and dyed hair, hanging out with some much younger men; Aschenbach is disgusted with the man's grotesque appearance and foolish behavior. Then Aschenbach travels by gondola to his beachside hotel in Venice; he gets in an argument with the gondolier, although neither one is very fluent in the other's language. One day, while eating lunch in the hotel dining room, he sees a Polish family consisting of a mother, three very conservatively dressed daughters in their late teens, and a fourteen-year-old boy in a sailor suit. Aschenbach thinks the boy is a perfect example of classical beauty, and upon seeing the boy, Aschenbach's long-lost artistic inspiration, and he begins to write more than he has in a long time. Aschenbach considers leaving Venice but finds an excuse to stay, in hopes of seeing the boy again. When Aschenbach is sitting on the beach, watching from a distance as the boy swims in the sea, he finds out that the boy's name is Tadzio after hearing his sisters call his name. Aschenbach begins to follow Tadzio from a distance, but Tadzio does not seem to notice him. An epidemic of cholera spreads through the city, and Aschenbach fears that Tadzio and his family will leave. He considers telling them about the epidemic, because it would give him a reason to speak to Tadzio, but he decides not too, because he is too shy and because he fears that Tadzio would definitely leave Venice if he knew about the epidemic. Then Aschenbach has a dream full of sexual imagery and realizes that his attraction to Tadzio is more than purely artistic. Aschenbach goes to a barber and asks him to make him more handsome so that someone will notice him, but he does not tell the barber who it is. The barber dyes Aschenbach's hair and puts make-up on him, making him look like the foolish old man at the port; Aschenbach has mixed feelings about his appearance. That evening, Aschenbach sees Tadzio leaning on a pillar while watching a performance, and he thinks Tadzio notices him. He also notices, from the way Tadzio breathes, that his healtth is not very good. The day before Tadzio is supposed to leave Venice, Aschenbach watches tadzio swimming in the see. He finally gets the courage to talk to him, but as Aschenbach stands up to walk toward him, Aschenbach dies of a heart attack.
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Best part of story, including ending: I really liked the descriptions of people's behavior in 1911 Europe.

Best scene in story: May favorite scene was where Aschenbach watches Tadzio leaning on the pillar, because the reader feels a connection between Aschenbach and Tadzio, even though they have never spoken to each other.

Opinion about the main character: Aschenbach is unlikable because he seems to harbor negative feelings toward almost everyone in his life and in the story.

The review of this Book prepared by Jennifer Tobkin a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Death in Venice

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   very sensitive (sigh) Time/era of story    -   1900-1920's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of sex:    -   molestation    -   two guys doing it Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Taboo sex story?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   writer Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   German Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   10 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Italy    -   Germany Misc setting    -   resort/hotel

Writing Style

Weird Victorian/Shakespearean English?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   little dialog

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