Death in Venice: Book vs. Film: Background information when reading The Magician

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The Magician

A Novel

by Colm Toibin

The Magician by Colm Toibin X
The Magician by Colm Toibin
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  • Published:
    Sep 2021, 512 pages

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Rod McLary
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About this Book

Death in Venice: Book vs. Film

This article relates to The Magician

Death in Venice movie posterWhich is better — the book or the film? That question is often debated when a much-loved book is turned into a movie. Death in Venice — the novella written by Thomas Mann and published in 1912 — is perhaps the author's best-known work, not least because it was made into a film by the great Italian director Luchino Visconti in 1971. But which is better?

The novella had its origins in a visit Mann made with his wife and children to Venice in 1911. For some time prior to this, according to a letter he wrote at the time, he had wished to write a story about "passion as confusion and degradation" based on the true story of German writer Johann Goethe's love for an 18-year-old baroness. While in Venice, Mann became fascinated by a young Polish boy he observed in the hotel where he and his family were staying, and also with the recent death of composer Gustav Mahler.

These three matters coalesced in Death in Venice. In the novella, Mann transformed Mahler into his ...

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