Gustav von Aschenbach, whose work is famous for its intellectual brilliance, finds his creativity waning. He decides to allow a more cerebral approach to writing, musing that the perfect art is based on thought and feeling becoming one. To allow more passion into his life he decides to travel to Italy. In Venice he sees young Tadzio and is immediately taken in by the young lad's beauty. What starts as contemplation quickly changes into obsession and though he realizes the danger of staying in town with the rise of a cholera epidemic and his loss of control and dignity as his obsession visibly grows, he finds himself unable to extricate himself.
The book is very much an intellectual contemplation of Aschenbach's decay, complemented by musings on the nature of art, on the balance of thought and emotion as the artists tools. The language is highly polished, to the point where it can distract attention from the story. It creates an emotional distance to the story, which I did not appreciate.
The audiobook is brilliantly done, with multiple speakers for different aspects of musing and underscored by sound effects which emphasize rather than distract from the story.