Gustav von Aschenbach's Death in Venice Essay

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Gustav von Aschenbach's Death in Venice

Prior to his encounter with Tadzio, Gustav von Aschenbach in "Death in Venice" is not an artist to be creatively inspired by sensuous beauty. Rather, his motivation derives from a desire to be accepted and appreciated by his audience, his "whole soul, from the very beginning, [being] bent on fame." [1] Nor does Aschenbach create in moments of ecstasy: being called to the constant tension of his career, not actually born to it (9), he is able to write only through rigid isolation and self-discipline. But though he is able thereby to win "the adhesion of the general public and the admiration, both sympathetic and stimulating, of the connoisseur" (9), Aschenbach reaches a creative impasse, getting
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Seated on the Venetian beach in the shadow of his awning, our solitary felt in himself at this moment power to command and wield a thought that thrilled with emotion, an emotion as precise and concentrated as thought: namely, that nature herself shivers with ecstasy when the mind bows down in homage before beauty. He felt a sudden desire to write . . . . He would write, and moreover he would write in Tadzio's presence. The lad should in a sense be his model, his style should follow the lines of this figure that seemed to him divine. He would snatch up this beauty into the realms of the mind as once the eagle bore the Trojan shepherd aloft. Never bad the pride of the word been so sweet to him, never bad be known so well that Eros is in the word, as in these perilous and precious hours when be sat at his rude table within the shade of his awning, his idol full in his view and the music of his voice in his ears, and fashioned his little essay after the model Tadzio's beauty set: that page and a half of choicest prose, so chaste, so lofty, so poignant with feeling, which would shortly be the wonder and admiration of the multitude (46).

The Standard Interpretation

The standard interpretation of this passage among critics of "Death in Venice" is that Aschenbach page and a half of prose literally represents the
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