Gustav von Aschenbach, an aging and dying composer who suffers from hallucinations, is vacationing in Venice when he is mesmerized by the pure beauty and innocence of a young boy. He finds solace and comfort in it during his last days, though the boy is never aware of the composer. It is a bittersweet tale but nevertheless gracefully written.
"You cannot reach the spirit with the senses. You cannot. It's only by complete domination of the senses that you can ever achieve wisdom, truth, and human dignity."
There is also a movie adapted from the story, made in 1971 and directed by Luchino Visconti.
Contains stories of about 40 page duration, with some overlap (two stories). Themes based upon the artist (in a broad sense) run throughout the stories. Some stories are entertaining, others take a while to get into them, others are downright boring.