Studying Mann’s personal experiences reveal from where he derives his attitude toward death. Certainly, he is not unfamiliar to its lurid face; at an early age, both of his sisters committed suicide. When he was only seventeen, his father passed away due to blood poisoning. The raw material of Death in Venice came from his vacation in the Lido, a beach in Venice. Oddly enough, this trip was taken in May of 1911, the same month ( and possibly year) when Aschenbach’s story begins.
In Mann’s own life, the novel is greatly emblematic in that much of Aschenbach is autobiographical. Just like Aschenbach, Mann enjoyed status early in life; feeble health was a shared complication; and both exercised self-imposed order (Mann, too, conducted all his literary work during first light). The determination to sustain and survive existed in the spirit of both artists.
Yet “Death in Venice” is by no certain means a narrowly autobiographical narrative. Nevertheless, much that is the artist Aschenbach is part of the artist Mann, and thus can be interpreted as a faint symbol of Mann. Perhaps Aschenbach is an extreme example of the imperfections Mann combated during his own lifetime; if this indeed is the case, then Aschenbach is not only a token of the frailty of Mann, but an emblem of the fallacies plaguing us all.