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The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
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The Magic Mountain (original 1924; edition 1928)

by Thomas Mann

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6,361105614 (4.22)4 / 394
Member:P_S_Patrick
Title:The Magic Mountain
Authors:Thomas Mann
Info:Hardback, 1954, Secker and Warburg, 716 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:****1/2
Tags:German Literature

Work details

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1924)

  1. 61
    The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil (roby72)
  2. 10
    Ludwigshöhe by Hans Pleschinski (spiphany)
  3. 10
    The Plague Sower by Gesualdo Bufalino (thecoroner)
  4. 21
    Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (caflores)
  5. 32
    Ulysses by James Joyce (roby72)
  6. 00
    Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks (hilge)
    hilge: Philosophy, psychology, and sanatorium are key features in both books. Which are both really nice and long in the very best sense.
  7. 00
    Scarred Hearts by Max Blecher (mousse)
    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.
  8. 00
    The Road to Wellville by T. C. Boyle (buchstabendompteurin)
  9. 00
    Every Man a Murderer by Heimito von Doderer (gust)
    gust: Ook een bildungsroman met een middelmatige jongeman als hoofdpersonage.
  10. 00
    Roma, la pioggia... A che cosa serve la letteratura? by Robert Harrison (buchstabendompteurin)
  11. 01
    I'm Not Stiller by Max Frisch (gust)
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English (77)  Spanish (10)  Swedish (3)  French (3)  German (2)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Hungarian (1)  Italian (1)  Russian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (105)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Hans visits his cousin in a TB sanatorium. 1000 pages later he's still there when the Great War breaks out.

That's arguably all you really need to know about this book, if you haven't read it, and it was pretty much all I remembered from the first time I read it (quite some time ago). Mann himself encourages readers to read it twice. More than twice would probably be better, but there are limits to how many times you can plough through a work this long. I certainly hope it won't be my last time...

So what is it really about? As usual with Mann, you can take your pick. It's a book with a lot of discussions of serious political and philosophical topics, with characters who explicitly argue for and are obviously meant to represent abstract principles and schools of thought, but it's also a book full of apparently trivial superficial detail about the everyday life of the sanatrium. The international clientele of the sanatorium is obviously sometimes parodying the clumsy process by which Edwardian/Wilhelmite Europe lurched towards war, but at other times the symbolism is more existential than political, as the patients step back from the real world to flirt with the seductive attractions of illness and death.

Basically, it's a book where you can find just about anything discussed to just about any depth, with no apparent rule to fix how much analysis should go on - say - the best way of wrapping yourself in blankets, as opposed to the utility of revolutions, the physics of the gramophone, the history of Freemasonry, or tonight's menu. Endlessly fascinating, occasionally infuriating (no-one but Mann could take over a hundred words to tell us that a record was the last act of Verdi's Aida), always magnificent.

(This was my 1000th review on LibraryThing!) ( )
  thorold | Dec 29, 2016 |
5 stars for the original in German. 3 stars for the H. T. Lowe-Porter translation.

Review originally published in my blog in 2009:

http://manuelaantao.blogspot.pt/2009/09/blog-post.html

I finally got round to trying the English translation of Der Zauberberg" (by H.T. Lowe-Porter). By chance I came upon it in the FNAC bookstore, and I bought it.

It's also been recently published the first European Portuguese translation of this book made directly from the German ("A Montanha Mágica" by Gilda Encarnação), and I thought it would be a good idea to read the English translation prior to that. I've wanted to do that for a long time.

To do this I had first to read the original, because I wanted to have it crystal clear in my mind. I still feel that nothing comes close to it. I had read it in German some time ago. Now it was the time to renew its acquaintance in the original...

Unfortunately the English translation by H.T. Lowe-Porter came up short. The translation is very stilted and heartbreaking for me in consequence. An example from the very beginning of the book (page 4):

"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.
From Hamburg to Davos is a long journey—too long, indeed, for so brief a stay. It crosses all sorts of country; goes up hill and down dale, descends from the plateau of Southern Germany to the shore of Lake Constance, over its bounding waves and on across marshes once thought to be bottomless."

The original:

"Ein einfacher junger Mensch reiste im Hochsommer von Hamburg, seiner Vaterstadt, nach Davos-Platz im Graubündischen. Er fuhr auf Besuch für drei Wochen.
Von Hamburg bis dort hinauf, das ist aber eine weite Reise; zu weit eigentlich im Verhältnis zu einem so kurzen Aufenthalt. Es geht durch mehrerer Herren Länder, bergauf und bergab, von der süddeutschen Hochebene hinunter zum Gestade des Schwäbischen Meeres und zu Schiff über seine springenden Wellen hin, dahin über Schlünde, die früher für unergründlich galten."

Problems with the english version:

• The translation of the word "Gestade" is not properly conveyed in English. "Der Gestade" projects us back in time, whereas the word "shore" is sufficiently common and conversational in English not to to be able to transports us to another epoch;
• Omission of "zu Schiff" (by boat) in English, which spoils the general effect of the sentence;
• The first and second sentences are integrated into a single one, rendering by that process a compactness of the sentence structure in English, loosing the poetic and incantatory charm of the German version.

More problems found while plodding along:

• Rearrangement of the original's sentence structure;
• Omission of words present in the original;
• Adding up of words not present in the original;
• Omission of adjectives.

It goes without saying that I wasn't able to finish the English version...

I'm looking forward to reading the Portuguese version. I hope it brings justice to the original.

We need an European-Portuguese version that it’s not found wanting. As soon as I get round to read it, I'll post something here.

" ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
(Published originally on:
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann





I finally got round to trying the English translation of "Der Zauberberg" (by H.T. Lowe-Porter). By chance I came upon it in the FNAC bookstore, and I bought it.

It's also been recently published the first European Portuguese translation of this book made directly from the German ("A Montanha Mágica" by Gilda Encarnação), and I thought it would be a good idea to read the English translation prior to that. I've wanted to do that for a long time.

To do this I had first to read the original, because I wanted to have it crystal clear in my mind. I still feel that nothing comes close to it. I had read it in German some time ago. Now it was the time to renew its acquaintance in the original...

Unfortunately the English translation by H.T. Lowe-Porter came up short. The translation is very stilted and heart-brokening for me in consequence. An example from the very beginning of the book (page 4):

"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.
From Hamburg to Davos is a long journey—too long, indeed, for so brief a stay. It crosses all sorts of country; goes up hill and down dale, descends from the plateau of Southern Germany to the shore of Lake Constance, over its bounding waves and on across marshes once thought to be bottomless."

The original:

"Ein einfacher junger Mensch reiste im Hochsommer von Hamburg, seiner Vaterstadt, nach Davos-Platz im Graubündischen. Er fuhr auf Besuch für drei Wochen.
Von Hamburg bis dort hinauf, das ist aber eine weite Reise; zu weit eigentlich im Verhältnis zu einem so kurzen Aufenthalt. Es geht durch mehrerer Herren Länder, bergauf und bergab, von der süddeutschen Hochebene hinunter zum Gestade des Schwäbischen Meeres und zu Schiff über seine springenden Wellen hin, dahin über Schlünde, die früher für unergründlich galten."

Problems with the english version:

• The translation of the word "Gestade" is not properly conveyed in English. "Der Gestade" projects us back in time, whereas the word "shore" is sufficiently common and conversational in English not to to be able to transports us to another epoch;
• Omission of "zu Schiff" (by boat) in English, which spoils the general effect of the sentence;
• The first and second sentences are integrated into a single one, rendering by that process a compactness of the sentence structure in English, loosing the poetic and incantatory charm of the German version.

More problems found while plodding along:

• Rearrangement of the original's sentence structure;
• Omission of words present in the original;
• Adding up of words not present in the original;
• Omission of adjectives.

It goes without saying that I wasn't able to finish the English version...

I'm looking forward to reading the Portuguese version. I hope it brings justice to the original.

We need an European-Portuguese version that it’s not found wanting. As soon as I get round to read it, I'll post something here." ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
Read about a hundred pages, then put it down. I've promised myself I would return to it.
  Tracy_Tomkowiak | Sep 14, 2016 |
Read it on a long bikeride from north to south California. My memory of the book is mixed in with the isolation of pedaling 10 hours a day, reading 5 or 6 and sleeping the rest. Or rather passing out from exhaustion. MM was a good book to be exhausted with--I did not fight going slowly, long discussions, or cold TB treatments.

A great way to book out.

( )
  kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
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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
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.
Quotations
Well, about the skin. What do you want to hear about your sensory sheath? You know, don't you, that it is your outside brain - ontogenetically the same as that apparatus of the so-called higher centres up there in your cranium? The central nervous system is nothing but a modification of the outer skin-layer; among the lower animals the distinction between central and peripheral doesn't exist, they smell and taste with their skin, it is the only sensory organ they have. Must be rather nice - if you can put yourself in their place. On the other hand, in such highly differentiated forms of life as you and I are, the skin has fallen from its high estate; it has to confine itself to feeling ticklish; that is to say, to being simply a protective and registering apparatus - but devilishly on the qui vive for anything that tries to come too close about the body. It even puts our feelers - the body hairs, which are nothing but hardened skin cells - and they get wind of the approach of whatever it is, before the skin is touched. Just between ourselves, it is quite possible that this protecting and defending function of the skin extends beyond the physical. Do you know what makes you go red and pale? ( -- Hofrat Behrens in conversation with Hans Castorp p 263)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:22 -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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