what is all that there is?

I wondered this for a while and then did some searching. So Google helped me find this site http://www2.hawaii.edu/~lady/snapshots/peggy-lee.html with this explanation:

I’ve recently discovered that the song “Is That All There Is?” (written by Stoller & Leiber) is actually taken from a story called “Disillusionment” by Thomas Mann (written when he was twenty). The following summary, taken from Colin Wilson’s book The Craft of the Novel, makes this absolutely unmistakable.

The narrator is sitting in St Mark’s Square in Venice when he falls into a conversation with a fellow countryman. The man asks, “Do you know what disillusionment is? Not a miscarriage in small unimportant matters, but the great and general disappointment which everything, all of life, has in store?” He tells how, as a small boy, the house caught fire; yet as they watched it burn down he was thinking, “So this is a house on fire? Is that all?” And ever since then, life has been a series of disappointments; all the great experiences have left him with the feeling: “Is that all?” Only when he saw the sea for the first time, he says, did he feel a sudden tremendous craving for freedom, for a sea without a horizon… And one day, death will come, and he expects it to be the last great disappointment. “Is this all?”

The song sung by Peggy Lee leaves out the part about the sea, but ends, just as Thomas Mann’s story does, with the idea that death will be just one more disappointment.

The verse to this song is actually spoken rather than sung. The refrain, the only part which is sung, goes

Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is, my friend,
Then let’s keep dancing,
If that’s  all



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