Mann: Death in Venice《威尼斯之死》

湯瑪士‧曼(Thomas Mann, 1857-1955)生於德國,1938 年移民美國,晚年定居瑞士。1912 年出版《威尼斯之死》;1924 年《魔山》問世。並於 1929 年獲諾貝爾文學奬。他在美國幾乎是德國放逐者的領導人物。他寫過許多政治性文章,攻擊納粹政權。

Gustave von Aschenbach is a distinguished German writer. His work has brought him world fame.1 As a person, he lives a life of personal discipline; as a writer, he is dedicated to art.2 He believes that in his portrayal of heroes he has spoken for his race as well as the deathless spirit of man.3

One day, after a morning of work, he leaves his house in Munich to take a walk. He comes to a cemetery on the outskirts of the city.4 When he is about to go back to town, he suddenly becomes aware of a man watching him from the doorway of the mortuary chapel.5 The stranger is evidently a traveler--he has a rucksack on his back. He is an important figure, because, later on, he will reappear in various avatars in the novel.6

Although no word passes between the watcher and the watched, Aschenbach feels a sudden desire to take a trip, to leave Germany for the warmer climate of the Mediterranean lands.7 His impulse is reinforced by a problem of technique which he is unable to solve in his writing.8

At last, he is in Italy. He goes first to an island resort in the Adriatic, but before long he becomes bored.9 He decides then to go to Venice. On the ship, he sees an old man with dyed hair and rouged cheeks.10 In his disgust, Aschenbach fails to notice that the old man bears some resemblance to the traveler he has seen at the cemetery in Munich.11

At the deck in Venice, he transfers to a gondola which takes him by the water route to his hotel.12 The gondolier speaks and acts so strangely that Aschenbach becomes disturbed. Again, because of his agitation, he fails to notice that the man looks like the silent stranger at the cemetery.13 After taking Aschenbach to his destination, the gondolier hastily rows away without waiting for his money.14

Aschenbach stays at the Hotel des Bains. That night, shortly before dinner, his attention is drawn to a Polish family--a beautiful mother, three daughters, and a handsome boy of about fourteen.15 Aschenbach is attracted to the boy, so much so that he continues to watch the family all through his meal.16 The next morning he sees the boy playing on the beach with some companions. His name, as Aschenbach learns while watching their games, is Tadzio.

Deeply disturbed by the appeal that Tadzio has for him, Aschenbach decides to go home.17 Nevertheless, on his arrival at the railroad station in Venice, he discovers that his trunks have been misdirected to somewhere else. He comes back to the hotel to wait for his missing luggage to turn up.18

At the same time, he realizes that his vacillation is the result of his desire to be near Tadzio.19 He experiences a mixture of happiness and anguish: happiness in watching Tadzio, anguish in that they must remain strangers.20 The holiday time that Aschenbach sets for himself has gone, but he completely forgets that he must go home and work. One evening Tadzio smiles at him as they pass each other and Aschenbach trembles with pleasure.21

A plague has broken out in nearby cities.22 The authorities are taking precautions against an outbreak of the plague in Venice.23 However, Aschenbach stubbornly decides to stay on in spite of the dangers of infection.24

Then, a band of entertainers come to the hotel to perform for the guests. Among them is a singer who sings obscene ballads.25 When the ribald singer passes among the guests to collect money for the performance, Aschenbach detects on his clothing the smell of disinfectant.26 The odor has the sweetly corruptive taints of lust and death.27 This singer also has a strange similarity to the gondolier, the rouged old man, and the silent traveler whose disturbing presence has given Aschenbach the idea for his holiday.28

The next morning, he goes to a tourist agency where a young clerk tells him that people are dying of the plague in Venice. The clerk's warning, however, does not speed Aschenbach's departure from that city.29 That night, he dreams that he, surrounded by naked orgiasts, is taking part in some horrible rites in a fetid jungle.30

By that time, his deterioration is almost complete.31 At last, he allows a barber to dye his hair and tint his cheeks32--although he refuses to see the likeness between himself and the old man whose appearance has disgusted him on the ship. His behavior becomes reckless. One afternoon he follows the Polish family into Venice and trails them through the city streets.33

Several days later, Aschenbach goes to the beach where Tadzio is playing with three or four other boys. They begin to fight and one of the boys throws Tadzio to the ground and presses his face into the sand. The boy releases Tadzio only when Aschenbach is about to interfere.34 Tadzio walks down to the water. Humiliated and hurt, he stands there facing the sea for a time.35 When he turns and looks with secret gaze at Aschenbach, the latter starts to rise but becomes so giddy that he falls back into his chair.36 He is carried to his room. That night, the world learns that the great writer Aschenbach has died suddenly of the plague in Venice.

Death in Venice is a novella (short novel) of great psychological intensity and tragic power.37 It should not be read simply as the deterioration and sexual perversion of a middle-aged artist.38 The book is in fact concerned with such themes as life and death, art and reality, love and suffering, and especially beauty and decay.39 Above all, the author, Thomas Mann, examines the solitary position of the artist in modern society. In this connection, Aschenbach's infatuation is--to use Sigmund Freud's term--narcissicism, which can be one of the crucial qualities of art and creation.40


1 Aschenbach 是著名的德國作家,他的作品為他帶來了擧世的聲譽。

2 作為一個人,他的生活有紀律(discipline);身為一個作家,他獻身於(to be dedicated to)藝術。

3 他深信透過他對主角人物的刻繪(portrayal),他已經替他的民族(指德國)以及人類的不朽精神做了代言(speak for)。

4 他來到城市郊區(outskirts)的一座墳場。outskirts 必須用複數形。

5 他即將返回鎮上時,突然覺得有一個人從墳場的小敎堂門口看著他。mortuary:死者的。例:a mortuary monument:墓碑;a mortuary rite:葬禮。

6 陌生人顯然是個旅人,因為他背上扛著背袋(rucksack:軟式背囊)。他是個重要角色,因為他後來在小說中會以其他不同身份再出現。avatar:原指神的化身,具體表現。此處指「身份」。

7 雖然觀者與被觀者之間没有交談,但是 Aschenbach 突然興起出門旅行的念頭,想離開德國前往(leave for)氣候較温暖的地中海地區。

8 由於寫作上遭遇到一個無法解決的技巧問題,因而他(想旅遊)的衝動越發强烈。

9 他先去亞得里亞海的一處海島勝地(resort),不過没多久他就覺得厭煩了。

10 在前往威尼斯的船上,他看見一個染了髮、搽了腮紅的老人。

11 由於 Aschenbach 覺得(老人的打扮)令他噁心,所以没有注意到老人和慕尼黑(Munich)墳場上的旅人有幾分相似。

12 在威尼斯碼頭他轉搭小船(gondola),從水路到旅館。by the water route : 走水路。

13 船伕的言行怪異,令 Aschenbach 不安。又一次,由於 Aschenbach 內心激盪,而未注意到船伕看起來很像墳場上那一個默默不語的陌生人。

14 船伕送 Aschenbach 到目的地後,没等拿錢就匆匆將船划走了。

15 那天晚上,即將用餐時,他的注意力被一家波蘭人所吸引住(drawn to)。那家人是一位美麗的母親,帶著三個女兒,和一個年約十四歲的英俊男孩。

16 Aschenbach 被那個男孩深深吸引,以至於(so much so)整頓飯時間都在注視那一家人。

17 Aschenbach 因為 Tadzio 對他如此具有吸引力(appeal)而深感困擾,於是他決定回家。

18 可是,當他到達威尼斯火車站時,却發現行李箱被載往別的地方去了。於是他回到旅館等候遺失的行李。Misdirect:送錯(方向)。turn up:找到;出現。

19 同時,他發現自己的猶豫不決(vacillation)是因為他想接近 Tadzio。

20 他既快樂又痛苦。快樂的是能看見 Tadzio,痛苦的是他們倆必須維持如陌路人的關係。

21 有一天晚上他們擦身而過時,Tadzio 對他微笑,Aschenbach 高興得發抖。

22 附近城市發生(break out)瘟疫。

23 當局正採取預防措施,防止瘟疫在威尼斯蔓延。Take precaution against:預防。

24 然而,Aschenbach 頑固地決定待下來,甘冒感染疾病的危險。in spite of:儘管。

25 一羣表演者前來旅館為客人表演,其中有位演唱者唱淫穢的(obscene)歌曲。

26 當那位猥褻(ribald)歌唱者在客人間走動收取賞錢時,Aschenbach 察覺(detect)他的衣服有消毒藥水的味道。

27 那種味道帶著既甜美又腐敗的慾望與死亡的氣息。

28 這個歌者也和船伕、搽胭脂的老人及靜默的旅人--就是當初出現在 Aschenbach 面前,困擾他,使他興起度假念頭的那個人--有著怪異的相似處。

29 然而職員的警告,並没有加速(speed) Aschenbach 離開威尼斯。

30 那天晚上,他夢見自己在一座惡臭的(fetid)的森林裡,被一羣裸體狂放者圍繞,參加一些可怕的儀式。

31 到那時候,他幾乎徹底墮落了。

32 最後,他讓理髮師染了他的頭髮,雙頰也化了粧。(tint:微微染色。)

33 他的行為變得肆無忌彈。有一天下午,他跟蹤那個波蘭家庭進入威尼斯城,尾隨(trail)他們走遍城裡的街道。

34 等到 Aschenbach 要干涉時,Tadzio 才被放開。

35 男孩深覺羞辱(humiliated)和委屈,他面向著海洋站了一回兒。

36 當他轉身,以神秘的眼神看著 Aschenbach 時,後者想站起來,但覺暈頭轉向,跌坐在椅子上。

37 psychological intensity:指心理刻繪扣人心弦;tragic power:悲劇力量,悲劇感。

38 不應該把這本小說只當成是描述一位中年藝術家的墮落和性變態。

39 本書事實上探討(concerned with)人生的生與死,藝術與現實,愛與受苦等等,特別是美與腐朽等對立的主題。

40 就此而言(in this connection),文中指的是藝術家在現代社會中的孤立處境。套用佛洛依德(S. Freud)的說詞,Aschenbach 的迷戀(infatuation)是自戀(narcissicism)--為藝術與創作的重要特質之一。

by Dr. Yuan-huang Tsai