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The Magic Mountain (1924)

by Thomas Mann

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,744176806 (4.2)4 / 585
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)
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1920s (47)
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English (124)  Spanish (13)  Dutch (8)  French (6)  German (5)  Catalan (5)  Italian (5)  Swedish (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  Russian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Hungarian (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (176)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
What can I possibly say? It's beautiful. I'd put this high up on my list of favorite classics. ( )
  CADesertReader | May 8, 2024 |
This book, written in 1924, is considered by many to be one of the most important books of the 20th century. Hans Castorp leaves his "flat-land" home in Germany and travels to a tuberculosis sanatorium in the mountains of Switzerland. What began as a visit became a seven-year stay. The "veil" is drawn and he becomes a hermetic somnambulist, on the "magic mountain", losing all connection to his former life, only to "awaken" suddenly, like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle.
Mann uses the main characters to speculate about time, life, death, illness, religion, love, sexuality, morality, history, and politics, therefore, the narrative devolves into tedious monologues that are sometimes torturous to read. For instance:
"What is time? A mystery, a figment- and all-powerful. It conditions the exterior world, it is motion married to and mingled with the existence of bodies in space, and with the motion of these. Would there then be no time if there were no motion? No motion if no time? We fondly ask. Is time a function of Space? Or space of time? Or are they identical? Echo answers. Time is functional, it can be referred to as action; we say a thing's "brought about" by time. What sort of thing? Change!
Now is not then, her not there, for between them lies motion." But the motion by which one measures time is circular, is in a closed circle; and might almost equally be described as rest. as cessation of movement- for the there repeats itself constantly in the here, the past in the present. Furthermore...."
You get the picture. There is very little action. The characters eat, rest, "take stock", stroll, and philosophize...and all are described in excruciating detail. Some interesting events. Castorp gets lost in a blizzard and has an allegorical dream (the famous chapter entitled "Snow"). Castorp attends a seance. Of course, Mann takes the opportunity to "enrich" this with the a discussion on metaphysics. Near the end of the book, there is a duel, which includes an explanation the relationship between dueling and chivalry:
"The duel, my friend, is not an 'arrangement', like another. It is the ultimate, the return to a state of nature, slightly, mitigated by regulations which are chivalrous in character but extremely superficial. The essential nature of the thing remains the primitive, the physical struggle; and however civilized a man is, it is his duty to be ready for such a contingency, which many any day arise....it is the duty of a man to remain a man."
Lastly, after 729 mostly agonizing pages, the ending was a disappointment. But I will leave it to you, dear readers to make your own opinion about that.
It is interesting to note that only a year later, Ernest Hemingway published "In Our Time", followed by his novel "The Sun Also Rises" in 1927; Fitzgerald published "The Great Gatsby" in 1925. I prefer the more succinct style of Hemingway, or the lyrical style of Fitzgerald to the didactic, philosophical, wordy style of Mann.
2.5 rounded up to 3. The seance and duel were enjoyable to read. They could have been short stories on their own, and held surprises! ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Very much enjoyed ( )
  k6gst | Mar 6, 2024 |
Lido, novamente, em novembro 23 ( )
  Correaf | Jan 16, 2024 |
Items of note from The Magic Mountain:
* Descriptions of food and meals
* Snow
* Instructions on how to properly wrap yourself in a blanket
* People with diseased lungs smoking, indoors, in a facility for the treatment of tuberculosis
* Characters with baldly "symbolic" names
* Several "old world blowhards" each "with an axe to grind" (as per https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/126041.An_Incomplete_Education if my memory holds)
* Philosophical discussion circa 1915
Good for a long train ride (or a daily train commute).
( )
  audient_void | Jan 6, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (58 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mann, Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Łukowski, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A.S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caro, HerbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castelló, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colorni, RenataTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crescenzi, LucaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Driessen, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fonseca, GonzaloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giachetti-Sorteni, BiceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hawinkels, PéTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaila, KaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kramsztyk, JózefTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lowe-Porter, H. T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marques, BernardoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattson, EllenAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noble, PeterNarratorsecondary 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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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?
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

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