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The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

The Magic Mountain (original 1924; edition 1928)

by Thomas Mann

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5,80791732 (4.24)4 / 358
Title:The Magic Mountain
Authors:Thomas Mann
Info:Hardback, 1954, Secker and Warburg, 716 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Tags:German Literature

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The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1924)

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    mousse: La narración se basa en las experiencias del autor, aquejado de tísis osea, en el sanatorio de Berck, en la costa francesa.El ambiente en el sanatorio y las relaciones entre los pacientes son similares.
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English (66)  Spanish (9)  French (3)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Hungarian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  Russian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
Enough here that perhaps I should revisit, and there are many warnings against the older translation which I read, and kudos for the re-translation by Woods. There are some remarkable episodes, some luminous moments. On the other hand, the bourgeois liberal worldview guiding this novel of ideas, even as ironized deftly by Mann, just seems hopelessly inadequate to me these days. Here we are almost a century after that looming war to end all wars, with vicious imperial conflicts still ravaging much of an increasingly degraded world where nothing but technology has truly been radicalized. The consequences are too devastating for the mild moral hand-wringing of bourgeois liberalism to address, no matter how skillful the artistry it's couched in. Mann's muddled caricature of extremism in Naphta is another tiresomely familiar liberal dodge, right down to today. It's all a bit too much like the PBS version of reality. ( )
1 vote CSRodgers | Apr 19, 2015 |
Ott 2013
Sette mesi che sei li'.
Ti finiro', prima o poi.
Pero' la presenza della copertina telata e' rassicurante, domestica, acquietante.
E ogni pagina e' cosi' bella e profonda che è quasi sciocco procedere velocemente.

Purtuttavia bisogna, perche' non abbiamo tutto il tempo di Hans, e dobbiamo tornare in pianura, perche' le battaglie ci attendono, la vita va avanti, le giornate ci chiamano... I libri si impilano non letti, e questo tomo blocca gestalticamente altre aperture, altre introduzioni, altre storie...

Mann, Mann, maledetto furbacchione...
Gen 2014


Pero' stavolta la fatica ha superato il gusto, in molti punti.

Pagine e pagine di cui per mia ignoranza mi sfugge il senso; pile di parole e concetti di cui ho solo intuito la portata ma che non saprei spiegare a un bambino; dialoghi esclusivi, per una persona di conoscenze non profonde.

Non credo che nella prima lettura la comprensione sia stata maggiore; forse li' era la sorpresa dell'opera e dell'estensione a nascondere una frustrazione che senz'altro sarà stata presente.
Adesso mi riposo un po' e parto con Faust.
--- ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
This is a book with very little plot - the young Hans Castorp is sent to a sanatorium in Switzerland where he talks at length with various intellectuals about philosophy. However, that simple description can't do justice to this magnificently eloquent novel of ideas. ( )
  bodachliath | Nov 4, 2014 |
I first read this book as a Modern Languages undergraduate at Oxford back in the late 1980s and, amazingly, I actually managed to plough through it in German. I remember a tutorial on it where my German tutor, who was something of a maverick, described it as, "A ***** boring book!" I've since read it a couple of times in English and it beats me how I managed to make head or tail of it in German because it's hard enough reading it in translation. Anyway, I have to disagree with my late tutor (rest his soul) that this book is boring, but it is quite heavy going in places.
The basic idea is quite simple - Hans Castorp, who is a regular German guy, arrives at this sanatorium to visit his cousin Joachim who is suffering from consumption. Hans thinks he's just going to pay his cousin a short visit but he soon discovers that maybe he's not as fit as he thought he was and ends up as a patient there himself. The sanatorium is full of unusual characters who Hans gradually meets and there is a strong comic element to the narrative. Hans falls in love with a Russian woman and the only language they share is French. They have a long conversation at one point which is entirely in French and which is not translated. There are also lots of earnest philosophical debates between the humanist Settembrini and the Marxist Naphta. As for what the book is actually about, that's a tough question. Possibly the book is a metaphor for the state of Europe in the early 20th Century. The book is certainly a melting pot exploring life, love, death, music, illness, politics and philosophy. It's a book of ideas with moments of humour and pathos. ( )
1 vote MargaritaMorris | Oct 16, 2014 |
Thomas Mann warns the reader in the beginning that "Der Zauberberg" will not be a quick read. But he promises to entertain. It took me five months to read in small bites. Like many readers, I often felt it went on too long, but that is part of the point Mann is making about the nature of time. And in the end he does entertain with an array of engagingly eccentric characters that come and go in the life of the Sanatorium. Once I finished the book, I missed them, and they came back to haunt me.

Not sure how to write a review of Der Zauberberg with something of value added to what others have written. Other reviews have included the important plot elements and themes. All pretty monumental: the relativity of time, illness as metaphor, life and death, civilian life vs. military duty, forebodings of catastrophe, repressed desire, liberal humanism, revolutionary philosophy, East vs. West, Apollonian vs Dionysian world views, music as a dangerous influence, paranormal experiences, dreams and visions as a special reality, it's all in there. Einstein, Freud, and Marx all get a workout, without the names ever being mentioned. So instead of a comprehensive review, a few details perhaps:

Mann loves the new technologies becoming available in the early 20th century. His intensely detailed and poetic description of an ordinary record player is enchanting even today after it has been superseded by newer technology. And he loves the concentric grooves of the record itself. Later I saw a photograph of him watching a record play,and his whole body language shows how he is entranced. His family called him "Der Zauberer", the magician. But his magic was possible because he himself is susceptible to the magic in ordinary things.

And what he does with ordinary x-rays, never using the common German word based on the name of the inventor Roentgen. It's Lichtbild, or some other substitute identification. Hans Castorp is horrified and enchanted by the process of looking into the body and seeing the heart. Castorp treasures an x-ray of the lungs of the woman he loves. That's a bit creepy, and adds to the erotic Venusberg mood of the mountain top hospital.

I think Mann may have studied the savage news photos coming out of World War I. They were circulated widely not just in newspapers, but as millions of postcards with scenes of battlefields and destruction. I have no documentation that Mann was fascinated by them, just a little internal evidence. There is a fleetingly weird and incongruent glimpse of cannibalism in one of Castorp's otherwise idyllic visions when he is dazed out in the snow. Disturbing photos of cannibalism were circulated after the Russian Revolution, part of an attempt to solicit international aid. And the concluding scene of the novel seems based on these postcard depictions of battlefields, and possibly early documentary film footage.

Nature has its magic: the snow storm is the favorite scene for most reviewers. For me the waterfall scenes are the most beautiful, and the waterfall plays a role at several pivotal moments: when newly arrived Castorp has a nosebleed by the waterfall and decides he must be ill somehow too. When Peeperkorn delivers a rant no one can hear because of the noise of the rushing water, but it doesn't matter that no one understands, because his words never make sense anyway...but the rant precedes his suicide.

Beyond the weird magic of ordinary things and the spell cast by nature, there is the entertaining magic of different personalities. Each character seems to have an attribute like classic gods and Catholic saints. Marusja, the woman that Castorp's cousin is in love with, is always giggling into an orange-scented handkerchief. Frau Stoerr mutters one malapropism after another, to great effect. Castorp's love interest, Clawdia Chauchat has a number of attributes: poorly manicured hands, letting doors slam, touching the back of her head to smooth her hair. He is initially put off by these characteristics, and gradually they become part of her seductive charm. Mann plays with these attributes, setting little traps that spring shut later in the story. When his beloved Clawdia returns, Castorp anticipates hearing the door to the dining room slam behind her, but for once it doesn't. She's accompanied by a new lover, Peeperkorn, who holds the door for her. The non-slam ushers in the dramatic confrontation between the two men, leading to the lover's suicide, Clawdia's second departure, and Castorps recovery from an imaginary illness.

Mann plays constantly with language. Ordinary words are introduced and then recombined in extraordinary ways. Rest treatments are a Liegekur, two common words made into something odd. Joachim is obsessed with military duty, and his attribute is devotion to military service or Dienst. Out of this Mann comes up with Liegedienst...obligation to rest at designated times. Ordinary things start to seem weird, and odd things seem to be accepted reality. Some kind of alienation. He likes to take the common term for something and translate it root by root into German, so he doesn't use Psychoanalyse, instead he writes Seelenzergliederung...again alienation and a bit of magic.

Once I finished the book, reality started to look a bit unreal. Ordinary things took on abstract meaning, even getting a fever seemed like a moral question that required extensive examination. And I can hear Settembrini and Naphta commenting on the things I buy at the grocery store. These unreal characters have taken on a life of their own off the page. ( )
4 vote ElenaDanielson | Mar 17, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (67 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mann, Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A.S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caro, HerbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castelló, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fonseca, GonzaloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giachetti-Sorteni, BiceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hawinkels, PéTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaila, KaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lowe-Porter, H. T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marques, BernardoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattson, EllenAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosoman, LeonardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wallenström, UlrikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winter, G.A. vonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wood, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, John E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Курелла, В.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Станевич, В.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Die Geschichte Hans Castorps, die wir erzählen wollen, - nicht um seinetwillen (denn der Leser wird einen einfachen, wenn auch ansprechenden jungen Mann in ihm kennenlernen), sondern um der Geschichte willen, die uns in hohem Grade erzählenswert scheint (wobei zu Hans Castorps Gunsten denn doch erinnert werden sollte, dass es seine Geschichte ist, und dass nicht jedem jede Geschichte passiert): diese Geschichte ist sehr lange her, sie ist sozusagen schon ganz mit historischem Edelrost überzogenund unbedingt in der Zeitform der tiefsten Vergangenheit vorzutragen.

An unassuming young man was travelling, in midsummer, from his native city of Hamburg to Davos-Platz in the Canton of the Grisons, on a three weeks' visit.
The story of Hans Castorp, which we would here set forth, not on his own account, for in him the reader will make acquaintance with a simple-minded though pleasing young man, but for the sake of the story itself, which seems to us highly worth telling - though it must needs be borne in mind, in Hans Castorp's behalf, that it is his story, and not every story happens to everybody - this story, we say, belongs to the long ago; it is already, so to speak, covered with historical mould, and unquestionably to be presented in the tense best suited to a narrative out of the depth of the past.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679772871, Paperback)

In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps--a community devoted exclusively to sickness--as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:29 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A sanitorium in the Swiss Alps reflects the societal ills of pre-twentieth-century Europe, and a young marine engineer rises from his life of anonymity to become a pivotal character in a story about how a human's environment affects self identity. In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, a community devoted exclusively to sickness, as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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