Tadzio Speaks . . . (also known as Death on the Lido*) by Martin Foreman
"I began to feel I possessed him. I recognised his clothes, how recently he had shaved, the books and newspapers he read, the food he preferred."
In Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice, memorably filmed by Luchino Visconti, the ageing Gustav von Aschenbach becomes obsessed with the beauty of a boy he sees on the beach, fourteen-year-old Tadzio. Although the two never speak, a silent relationship grows between them, a relationship which binds the older man inexorably to Venice even as his health fails and the city is beset by cholera.
Death in Venice has become a modern classic, a discourse on beauty that can be interpreted on many levels - from art to philosophy, from age to eros - interpretations that inevitably change as each new generation imposes its own perspective on the attraction of youth and beauty for the old and undesired.
Whatever the broader implications of the story, two clearly defined individuals
stand at its heart - the German writer Aschenbach and the Polish schoolboy
Tadzio. Mann's story allows us to peer deep into Aschenbach's soul, while Tadzio remains opaque. Yet if we accept the fiction that Aschenbach was real, we must also allow Tadzio life - and if we allow him life, we cannot help but
wonder, what did the boy
feel, what did he think?
In Martin Foreman's masterful retelling of Death in Venice, we meet Tadzio
decades later as he remembers that fateful summer. What went through the boy's mind when
he realised what was happening? Did he welcome or resent Aschenbach's gaze? What impact
did it have on his adult life? Finally, Tadzio Speaks . . .
A moving portrayal of adolescence and its impact on the years that follow. Includes
background material on Mann, Death in Venice and the "real" Tadzio, as well as an afterword on the implications of the events on the Lido beach.
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