Death in Venice
by Thomas Mann
"Nothing is more curious and awkward than the relationship of two people who only know each other with their eyes — who meet and observe each other daily, even hourly and who keep up the impression of disinterest either because of morals or because of a mental abnormality. Between them there is listlessness and pent-up curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally suppressed need for communion and also a kind of tense respect. Because man loves and honors man as long as he is not able to judge him, and desire is a product of lacking knowledge."
This may be the best short novel ever written and is certainly the best I have read. The ability of Thomas Mann to weave together character and theme and setting to achieve this perfection is uncanny and I do not believe he achieved as much in his longer fictions, great as they are. This is also one of the few novels that received a superlative treatment on film though, in the end, Visconti's film does not surpass the original.
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