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Gilbert Adair: The Real Tadzio

Gilbert Adair: The Real Tadzio

UK 2001, 109 pp., pb,  9.69
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In the summer of 1911 the German writer Thomas Mann visited Venice in the company of his wife Katia. There, in the Grand Hôtel des Bains, as he waited for the dinner-gong to ring, Mann's roving eye was drawn to a nearby Polish family, the Moeses, consisting of a mother, three daughters and a young sailor-suited son of almost supernatural physical beauty and grace. But subsequently writing »Death in Venice«, the infatuated Mann made of that boy, Wladyslaw Moes, one of the 20th century's most potent and enduring icons. But who precisely was the boy? And what was his reaction to the publication of »Death in Venice« in 1912 and, later, the release of Visconti's film version in 1971? The author juxtaposes the life of Wladyslaw Moes with that of his mythic twin, Tadzio. But Moes's life has resonance beyond itself. His descent from belle époque aristocracy to genteel poverty under Communism, can be read as the biography of a whole class.
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