Mann's original intention was to write about "passion as confusion and degradation", after having been fascinated by the true story of Goethe's love for 18-year-old Baroness Ulrike von Levetzow, which had led Goethe to write his "Marienbad Elegy". The May 1911 death of composer Gustav Mahler in Vienna and Mann's interest in the boy Władzio during summer 1911 vacation in Venice (more below) were additional experiences occupying his thoughts. He used the story to illuminate certain convictions about the relationship between life and mind, with Aschenbach representing the intellect. Mann was also influenced by Sigmund Freud and his views on dreams, as well as by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who had visited Venice several times.
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