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The Magic Mountain (1924)

by Thomas Mann

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,108137780 (4.21)4 / 511
With this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Thomas Mann rose to the front ranks of the great modern novelists, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. "The Magic Mountain takes place in an exclusive tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps-a community devoted to sickness that serves as a fictional microcosm for Europe in the days before the First World War. To this hermetic and otherworldly realm comes Hans Castorp, an "ordinary young man" who arrives for a short visit and ends up staying for seven years, during which he succumbs both to the lure of eros and to the intoxication of ideas. Acclaimed translator John E. Woods has given us the definitive English version of Mann's masterpiece. A monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, "The Magic Mountain is an enduring classic.… (more)
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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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    Every Man a Murderer by Heimito von Doderer (gust)
    gust: Ook een bildungsroman met een middelmatige jongeman als hoofdpersonage.
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  14. 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.
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English (96)  Spanish (11)  French (5)  Dutch (5)  Catalan (5)  Italian (4)  Swedish (3)  German (3)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Russian (1)  All languages (137)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
seven years in the sanitarium speaks to the lethargy of German society
  ritaer | Jun 4, 2021 |
This was a difficult read, it took me several months to get through it, but it was more than worth it. On the one hand because I have a chronic illness, and this book made me think deeply about how I relate to my own health, and to which extent I am truly fighting it with all my strength, and to which extent I am making myself a prisoner of it, just because I am scared of pushing my own boundaries too far.
This book was also important to me because, being an introvert, sometimes I can feel quite cosy in my own little world, with my books, and my movies, and my old friends, and my partner, and the warmth of the life we have, far away from the world out there. Hans starts the book as a promising young engineer, and he ends up staying up in the magic mountain and not doing much with his life. I have to be careful not to end up as Hans. Getting out of our comfort zone and going on adventures is very important. Although, as I am relocating to another country, I think I can say I will have quite an adventure in the coming year.
In the end of the book Thomas Mann says that Hans is looking for the Holy Grail. I am thinking that the dream he had while in the snow storm was his moment of illumination. Hans surrounds himself with strong personalities who have very different views of the world, but he keeps true to himself, trying to figure out what his own opinions are instead of following someone else's. I think this is what Thomas Mann means. I guess I will have to re-read the book a couple of years from now and find out. ( )
  Clarissa_ | May 11, 2021 |
(20) Whoa. This was long and difficult. Some of it simply had to be skimmed (really, the conversations of Settembrini and Naptha are readable?) This is the 'bildungsroman' of Hans Castrop who goes to visit his young cousin in the TB Sanitarium in the mountains of Switzerland in the early 20th century and ends up staying there many years. Life in the sanitarium is proscribed, luxurious, and infantilized. The residents are there for a 'rest cure' - temperatures taken everyday, an occasional Xray, physical exam, psychoanalysis and 5 sumptuous meals and daily constitutionals through the Alps. Time sometimes moves fast, and sometimes moves slow. The reader watches as Hans becomes one of them; eschewing any semblance of returning to a normal life, falling under the influence of a multitude of long-winded characters who love to wax philosophical about life, death, religion, illness, humanism, the spirit, suffering, etc.

Some parts of the novel were funny and atmospheric - I loved the visit to the basement for Xrays, his intrigues with Clavdia Chauchat and Walpurgis night, the arrival of Uncle Trappnel, the seance. But good God, some parts were painful to read - as mind-numbing as huge paragraphless sections of Dostoevsky or as pointless as the ramblings of Thoreau at his most self-indulgent; fortunately not quite as pretentious 'Ulysses.'

Overall, this is NOT a novel that you can't wait to pick up. It requires close reading and can be quite a slog at times. I am glad I read it and some parts will definitely stand out in my mind, but I think something like 'Death in Venice' will give you more for less if you want to try out Mann. I think I could have happily lived my life without reading this. Mixed feelings given the significant time investment. ( )
  jhowell | Apr 27, 2021 |
taking a break
  GRLopez | Nov 10, 2020 |
Hans Castorp, a conventional young middle-class man from Hamburg, has finished his engineering studies and is feeling run down, so he decides to make a three-week visit to his cousin Joachim who is undergoing treatment in a tuberculosis sanitarium in the Swiss mountains. The head of the sanitarium, the Hofrat, finds a moist spot on Hans' lung, and a slightly raised temperature, and advises that he stay a few months until it is cured, but the spot remains moist, the temperature remains high, and Hans stays on, never really ill, but never quite well. Perhaps the Hofrat is drumming up business; perhaps Hans prefers the ease and luxury of the sanitarium to work and responsibility; perhaps Hans genuinely has TB. Hans' stay stretches to seven years, ending with the outbreak of WWI.

The sanitarium is many things. It is a microcosm of pre-war Europe, with patients from many countries; a sanctuary, a place remote from the troubles of the real world; a hospital, where tuberculous patients seek treatment to postpone their early deaths; a resort, where the young patients seek entertainment and excitement. Hans becomes more and more attached to life in the sanitarium, and to a fellow patient, the sensuous Russian Mme Chauchat, and begins to cut the ties with his former life.

Hans arrives at the sanitarium an indolent, thoughtless young man, whose unexamined opinions are those of his upbringing. During his sojourn on the mountain he is introduced to other ideas, and learns to think for himself. Settembrini, a fellow-patient, lectures to Hans on his philosophy of humanism, and urges Hans to leave the passivity of the sanitarium and return to an active life in the real the world. Naphta, a Jewish Jesuit, preaches a philosophy of disengagement with life, where illness and death are to be desired and the flesh mortified. The long philosophical arguments between Settembrini and Naphta often went over Hans' head, and mine as well.

There are so many threads in The Magic Mountain, and so many ideas, that you could read it again and again and find more and more each time. A knowledge of music would be a help, as would an acquaintance with classical mythology. Fortunately it is a comedy so when you are bogged down in abstraction, light relief is not far away. ( )
1 vote pamelad | Oct 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (75 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mann, ThomasAuthorprimary 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
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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With this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Thomas Mann rose to the front ranks of the great modern novelists, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. "The Magic Mountain takes place in an exclusive tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps-a community devoted to sickness that serves as a fictional microcosm for Europe in the days before the First World War. To this hermetic and otherworldly realm comes Hans Castorp, an "ordinary young man" who arrives for a short visit and ends up staying for seven years, during which he succumbs both to the lure of eros and to the intoxication of ideas. Acclaimed translator John E. Woods has given us the definitive English version of Mann's masterpiece. A monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, "The Magic Mountain is an enduring classic.

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