Tonio Kroger is a novel written by Thomas Mann and published in 1903. This work was the first one that Mann published. Tonio Kroger creates a pair with Death in Venice, a more famous story, because both tell of an artist’s life and his travels. Though the plots are different and the novels end quite differently, both describe Mann’s views on art.
The protagonist is named Tonio Kroger, and the novel covers his life from when he was a young schoolboy to his adulthood. His father was a north German merchant and his mother was an artist, and he learned much from both of them. He often found himself feeling superior to the common people around him, and as an artist, he didn’t see on their level. Tonio becomes a famous writer, and he believes that all artists must die to the common life. All of this partially changes when he returns to his hometown in the north and the people mistake him for a criminal. Tonio Kroger explores the themes of art in everyday life and exile from reality.