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Kohut, H. (1957). 'Death in Venice' by Thomas Mann—A Story about the Disintegration of Artistic Sublimation. Psychoanal Q., 26:206-228.

(1957). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 26:206-228

'Death in Venice' by Thomas Mann—A Story about the Disintegration of Artistic Sublimation

Heinz Kohut, M.D.


In the preceding essay the attempt is made to establish a correlation between some known biographical data, certain trends in the writings of Thomas Mann, and the plot of his short novel,

Death in Venice. The influence of unconscious guilt and, possibly, the role of early sexual overstimulation for the development of an (ironical) artistic personality are discussed. The disintegration of the creative processes in the principal character of the story is seen as a return of unsublimated libido under the influence of aging, loneliness, and guilt over success. It is assumed that the author displaced his personal conflict on the protagonist of the story and thus was able to safeguard his own artistic creativity.

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