312 MODERN GERMAN LITERATURE (in Mann's own words) that turning of the mind to democracy, common service, companionship, love, which had been proclaimed in the previous year in Heinrich Mann's novel Die kleine Stadt. The problem of the artist is handled with painful incisiveness in Der Tod in Venedig (i 913): a German author, ripe in years, with his work already in the schoolbooks, goes for a holiday to Venice; here, to his own horror, he falls in love with a beautiful boy, cannot tear himself away, dies. The negative solution is positive in scope: the romantic adulation of beauty is shameless ^lud&rlicW)\ the hero, if he had not been a romantic artist, might have con- trolled himself, might have left Venice and returned to duty.1 The septentrional artist is softened and corrupted by the balmy south; but there is peril, too, in the indolent and consciousless east: the boy is a Pole, and smitten already with an incurable disease. The meaning of Der Tod in Venedig is clear enough in the hero's com- munings with himself: beauty, virtue, wisdom are, as Plato taught, divine; but of these only beauty is at once divine and visible to the senses; and since the artist works by the apperception of the senses, beauty is the artist's way to the spiritual. But how can he whose way to the spiritual goes through the senses attain wisdom and dignity? Is not this a devious way of sin that is bound to lead astray ? The poet cannot take the way to beauty but Eros joins him as guide. . . . Poets are like women, passion is their exaltation, and their yearning must be for love. Mann's grim picture of the doomed artist is relieved by his interpretation of Schiller's char- acter in the short tale Schmre Stunde (in Das Wunderkind): it is the physical incapacity caused by the overweight of mind that isolates the artist; the true artist, however, conscious of his frailty but also of the nobility of his task, develops the 'heroism of weakness' (Heroismus der Schvache): Schiller, too, is doomed by disease, and realizes how terrible his fate is when he compares himself with Goethe; but he finds consolation in the thought that it is harder to be a hero than to be a god. Here, too, there is an acknowledg- ment by Mann that the artist may be god-like and raised above criticism: Goethe, 'der GottKch-Unbewusste\ creating by inspiration 1 Dr D. M. Hall, in her dissertation The Venice Legend in German Literature since i$$o, has made it seem likely that one of the sources of the book was the unabridged edition of Platen's diary (ed. Laubmann und von ScheHter, 1896- 1900). In a speech on Pkten (in Leiden und Grosse der Meister) Thomas Mann takes the poet's homosexuality for granted. Another possible source is Eftt Vermachtnis (1911), the diary of the painter Anselm Feuerbach.