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The Magic Mountain (1924)

by Thomas Mann

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Thomas Mann - Romane und Erzählungen (Aufbau-Verlag) (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,095165787 (4.2)4 / 566
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)
  1. 81
    The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil (roby72)
  2. 31
    Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (caflores)
  3. 10
    The Plague Sower by Gesualdo Bufalino (thecoroner)
  4. 10
    Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (chwiggy)
  5. 10
    Pabellón de reposo by Camilo José Cela (caflores)
    caflores: Historias de sanatorios
  6. 10
    The Road to Wellville by T. C. Boyle (buchstabendompteurin)
  7. 10
    Ludwigshöhe by Hans Pleschinski (spiphany)
  8. 10
    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.
  9. 43
    Ulysses by James Joyce (roby72)
  10. 00
    Montauk by Max Frisch (chwiggy)
  11. 00
    The Philosopher's Pupil by Iris Murdoch (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: Long, immersive, magic, philosophical novels to fully breathe the atmosphere of.
  12. 00
    The Magician by Colm Tóibín (kjuliff, kjuliff)
    kjuliff: Thomas Mann
  13. 00
    1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies (chwiggy)
  14. 11
    I'm Not Stiller by Max Frisch (gust)
  15. 00
    Every Man a Murderer by Heimito von Doderer (gust)
    gust: Ook een bildungsroman met een middelmatige jongeman als hoofdpersonage.
  16. 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.
  17. 00
    Roma, la pioggia... A che cosa serve la letteratura? by Robert Pogue Harrison (buchstabendompteurin)
1920s (46)

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English (115)  Spanish (13)  Dutch (8)  French (6)  Catalan (5)  Italian (4)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Hungarian (1)  Russian (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (163)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
Really evoked the feeling of seven years of life wasted in much less time, so on that level it was a success. No great insights into its main subjects: people, nature, philosophy. Constant, incessant, unending repetition grates the nerves. ( )
  stroganoff | Feb 9, 2023 |
This is not an easy read, but fulfilling all the same. Realizing from that beginning that this book was just a giant metaphor, I spent most of it trying to figure out what was being symbolized. Was this showing the conflict between east and west, is it a commentary on the decline of religion and a effects a cold hearted humanism? Everyone is going to come to their own conclusions, I suppose. I know what it meant for me.
Again, this was a bit of a slog, two month of being happy if I managed to get through 10 pages. Having said that, It was well worth it. ( )
  hhornblower | Jan 22, 2023 |
Not an easy read. I don't recommend it. But, it wasn't a waste of time, either. The experience of illness is relevant to my life so I had a personal reason to stick it out.

I actually liked the main character, Hans Castorp. I think Mann captured the essence of a regular person (in his world). I was fascinated by the changes that he experienced over his time on the mountain. I also admired his quest for knowledge that he never would have been able to experience if he hadn't been Ill.

I also have a disabling chronic illness. The points about time and our experience of it was the most interesting part of the narration of life on the mountain. Time, when spent in days without variability, slows to a painful plodding that feels like it is the only thing you have ever done and ever will do. But, from the other side, time warps the opposite. Without markers of passing time or stopping time to appreciate and celebrate with people you care about, upon reflection time disappears. Entire decades can be swallowed this way. Everything feels as if it has nothing to do with you.

It is sad that from the time that Castorp spent time on the mountain up to the time I have been ill, not much has changed. We still don't include ill folks in the larger community or celebrate with them. The non-personhood Castorp "achieves" by the final phases on the mountain is completely familiar to me.

I haven't quite processed the ending. It felt tacked on and abrupt, but I do think Mann used it intentionally to show how war destroys even the farthest reaches of civilization. It was disorienting in all ways to all people. It certainly fit the times when Castorp finally came down the mountain to the war all around him. I imagine it was similar to what Mann and his contemporaries felt about experiencing WWI

There are great chunks of this book that were impenetrable to me. The prose was very dense and I couldn't find many cues to keep my attention as I read.

However, those are probably the sections that best mimic my own experience with chronic, disabling disease. Much of it is a rush of blurred thoughts, ideas, sensory impressions that I can't recall in any meaningful way.

I loved that the Castorp, was curious and developed his intellect while convalescing. He dove into topics with enthusiasm and made an effort to expand his intellectual horizons even though his physical horizons were limited. He is aware that he can't expect to apply this knowledge if he returns to the rest of the world. Regardless, he found joy in the learning process and he pursues a deep understanding of subjects.

One thing that I have a big beef over, though is a pivotal conversation that marks a key plot point but was left in the original French. Of course, Mann wrote in German, but as a European polyglot, he switched languages if he needed a particular effect.

However, in this novel, this scene is untranslated from French and it was extremely clumsy to use Kindle's Google translate interface to read. No lie, I'd have just given up on the book if I reached that scene and had no way to know what happened. Thanks to Kindle for allowing me to have a crappy translation instead of nothing. It was very clumsy, though.

Overall, I am glad that I chose to read this second book from Mann. I might even try his Joseph books... or not. These two books are a lot like practicing piano scales. I am glad I did the practice, but the process is almost not worth it. ( )
  Smsw | Oct 9, 2022 |
Guy goes up a mountain to visit his sick cousin in a sanatorium and almost never comes out again, and when he does it's just to go die in a war. In the meantime, he meets all sorts of characters there. There's lots of death. So upbeat, this one.

Yeah, no. Not my jam. Or at least not my current kind of jam. I get that there's a lot of unpacking that could be - and probably should be - done here, but I just wasn't in the mood to work for a meaning right now. Maybe if I had encountered this one at a more impressionable age? Say, when I was a college lit major? And it would have helped to have a tweed jacket wearing prof (preferably a cute one, and let's give him some sort of accent) telling me how to suss out the Hidden Truths in here. Then I would have loved it. ( )
  electrascaife | Aug 30, 2022 |
Thomas Mann ist ein konservertiver Dekadenz-Poser vor dem Herrn.
Ganz cool schildert er noch auf Seite 993, dass seine neue Zigarrenmarke "Rütlischwur" einen bläulichen Leibring habe, fügsam und mild im Charakter sei und mit gleichmäßig sich verzehrender schneeweißer, haltbarer Asche.
Der letzte Satz, eine Frage ob aus dem Weltfest des Todes (der 1. Weltkrieg) einmal die Liebe steigen wird? Es wurde daraus der 2. Weltkrieg. Ist es Zufall, dass die zersetzende Kraft im Roman, die Figur Naphta (Die Vorlage war scheinbar Georg Lukács) Jude war?
Trotzdem großes Kino. Vor allem der Lebensstil Castorps im Vergleich zur heutigen 0,5 sek. Videoschnitt-/Waren-/Werbewelt. ( )
  chepedaja3527 | Aug 23, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (58 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
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.
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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