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Gesnerus. 2009;66(2):256-87.

Cholera in Thomas Mann's Death in Venice.

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Newcastle University, School of Historical Studies, Armstrong Building, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, United Kingdom.


The article sets the cholera motif in Thomas Mann's famous novella Death in Venice against the historical context from which it partially originates. It is shown that this motif, while undoubtedly appropriated to serve Mann's own poetic ends, has a solid grounding in historical and autobiographical fact, thus blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction. The article illustrates the verifiable events of the outbreak of the Venetian cholera epidemic in May 1911, which Mann partly witnessed himself, during a holiday trip to Brioni and Venice, and partly heard and read about. It is established that Thomas Mann's account of the cholera in Venice in his novella is characterised by a rare and almost preternatural insightfulness into an otherwise murky affair that was marked by rumours, speculations and denials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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