“Death in Rome” is a complex multifaceted work. And the title and content of his echo with the already mentioned novel by Thomas Mann “Death in Venice.” In the novel by Thomas Mann it is told about the death of writer Gustav Ashenbach, who was caught up in a spiritual and creative impasse. In “Death in Rome” we are talking about the composer Siegfried Pfaff-fret, who is reborn to life, when the fascists, the bearers of death, lose power. In this novel, not ZshY fried, but his uncle, Nazi general Gotlib Yudeyan, a war criminal sentenced in absentia by the Nuremberg International; a native court and hiding from just retribution. In attempts to escape from arrest, the general is hiding in Africa, then in Rome. The collapse of fascism, to which he served,
Keppen draws it as a nonentity, disguised as greatness. The general appears on the streets of Rome in a large black car, similar to a coffin. “What is it,” the writer asks ironically: “Is not that a prince from the Thousand and One Tzochi, or is it some kind of exile king: is not this Odysseus, who wishes to visit the gods?” The answer is: “No, this is not Odysseus, not a prince, this man is an executioner.” He came from the realm of the dead, a fragrant smell from him, and he himself was a death, a crude, vulgar, unwieldy, incompetent death. ” Here, in Rome, the general, choking from misanthropy, is building plans for new murders – he is building along with his like-minded people, Nazi thugs crouching around the Roman cafe. He manages to outrage one woman and shoot the other,
Siegfried Pfaffrat is keenly aware of the threat of death that has not yet receded, both from the outside and within itself. He is afraid of life, because everywhere, as he is accustomed to thinking, death lies in wait for him. Siegfried writes a symphony, in the sounds of which he invests (like Leverkun in “The Lamentation of Dr. Faustus”) a confession of his own impotence in the face of evil.
In the image of Siegfried, there is a theme of trial and personal responsibility, which became in the 60’s. one of the central themes of humanistic literature. The novels addressed to this topic are in many respects similar to works based on education, traditional for German literature. But the emphasis in them, as a rule, is not made on the spiritual evolution of the hero, but on the moment of awareness of responsibility. The plot is built on some one event or on a single cycle of events, turning for the hero and checking his human qualities. These events, taking place in the present, activate memories and reflections on the past. Moving away from them in time, analyzing and reassessing them, the hero becomes aware of his responsibility for what happened and happens next to him.
Such a novel often has the form of a confession or a diary, In it everything is passed through the hero’s inner world, and that’s why a lyrical stream is strong. It is a novel of deep intellectual content, social tension – it raises the question of human responsibility in front of its time and history.