• I found a deep kinship between Mahler's recurrent attempts to confront all sides of life and to affirm himself in the face of his own finitude, and Aschenbach's dedication to persevere in the literary evocation of beauty. Exploring this kinship led me to reflect on many of Mahler's songs and symphonies - and particularly his great masterpiece, Das Lied von der Erde. The end result was a way of reading Mann that I hadn't originally anticipated at all.