Tonio Kröger forms a pair with the more famous story, Death in Venice (Der Tod in Venedig). They both describe the life of an artist and express Thomas Mann's views on art. In one story the artist travels from south to north, in the other from north to south. One journey ends in a tenuous reconciliation, and the other in death. But, as T. J. Reed has pointed out,
- "In Der Tod in Venedig, Thomas Mann returns from excursions into allegory and once more writes directly about a literary artist. But the directness is not that of Tonio Kröger. There he was expressing lyrically his immediate experience, formulating and coming to terms with what he had gone through..."
Thus the importance of the work lies, chiefly, in its autobiographical character, as well as in its contribution, through the description of an amitié particulière, to the theory of love.
The novel was made into a film in 1964, directed by Rolf Thiele.