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The Magic Mountain

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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  19,455 ratings  ·  1,042 reviews
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 he ...more
Hardcover, 854 pages
Published June 21st 2005 by Everyman's Library (first published 1924)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kalliope

THE POLKA MACABRE of the SEVEN STEPS




It is dusk, and we are on a slim boat, similar to a black gondola and approach an isolated island. As I can make out better the shapes, I realize I have seen this before. The image in front of my eyes is like a black and white version of Arnold Bocklin’s painting and now I am transported to his Isle of the Dead. There is deep silence. I can only hear the very faint stirring of the water as the boat slides over it. Well no, there is also a faint melody which be
...more
Jason
I am in a good mood today!

Which should be readily apparent, because if I were not, this book would probably have received only two stars from me—not as a reflection of its literary quality per se, but rather as a reflection of my own reaction to it.

Here is what happened yesterday: I finished this book and tossed it forcefully onto the coffee table next to me in what may be seen as a transparent attempt to attract attention to myself (which is something I tend to do often) and sure enough someone
...more
Megha

Imagine hiking up a steep mountain. You are not quite winning the game of hide & seek with the Sun and it has got its fiery eyes firmly on you. Your legs are chewing your ears off with incessant grumbling. With each step you take, a wish to flop down right there grows stronger. One of these steps carries you to a spot where a spectacular vista suddenly opens up before you. For the briefest moment, the scene in front of you consumes not only your vision, but your consciousness. It is only in
...more
Samadrita
Imagine being stuck in a place where all sense of time is lost in the web of inactivity, a place which enables people to lead a life devoid of any greater purpose and only focused on recuperation from a queer illness, a place almost hermetically sealed and self-controlled, successfully keeping the repercussions of wars and diplomatic feuds between nations at bay. Imagine being rid of all your earthly woes of finding means of survival and all the elements that stand as pillars supporting the norm ...more
Warwick

You’re faced with a daunting task when you try to talk about The Magic Mountain – there are so many threads that to pull on one seems unfair to the others. For some it’s a meditation on time, for others it’s the foundational ‘sick-lit’ masterpiece; it’s an allegory of pre-First World War Europe, say one group of supporters; not at all, argue others, it’s a parody of the Bildungsroman tradition.

And yet despite the profusion of themes and ideas, this is a supremely contained book. ‘Insular’ you mi
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Lance Greenfield
At the risk of being labelled a Philistine, I declare that this book is one of the most insufferably boring tomes that has ever made it onto my bedside table. I admit that I only struggled my way through the first 170 pages, but that was enough to convince me that I should not waste any more minutes of my precious life wading through any more of this drivel.

I know, I have also been chastised for criticising modern art in the same way. Tracey Emin's "Unmade Bed" and Thomas Mann's "The Magic Moun
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Aubrey
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a contestant for the spot of my absolute favorite novel. The judgment is only being withheld due to the fact that I currently don't have a review for Of Human Bondage, so no accurate comparison can be made as of yet. However. It must be said that if the previous book gave me hope for the human condition, this one explosively revitalized my admiration for the human ideal.

Few people write like this nowadays. Most don't appreciate their world and its myriad ideas and o
...more
matt
If you give this book a chance, and some long quiet hours with your full attention, you will be in the midst of incredible richness.

Wise, erudite, deeply engaged but titanically remote, grand, magisterial, ironic, cosmopolitan, comic in a sly gently mocking way.

They don't write 'em like this anymore. the title is onomatpoeic. The book itself is mountainous....some of the deepest philosophical prophecy on what the 20th Century was, and would become. The characters are allegorical, true, but the c
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Ian Klappenskoff
Socratic Dialogues

"The Magic Mountain" is a sequel to “Death in Venice”.

Just as Plato’s Socratic Dialogues were the foundation of the novella, they guide the narrative of "TMM", a "Bildungsroman" that is concerned with the education of the protagonist, Hans Castorp, during the seven year period from ages 23 to 30.

Castorp doesn’t so much learn or grow by his physical actions. The character development is intellectual, a development which is equally apparent in both the author and the reader.

Becau
...more
Lee
In 1997, in Jamaica Plain, Boston, ~4 am, mid-June, after a college friend's band that was blowing up at the time played the Middle East and everyone afterwards came back to our place, I remember a coolish girl on our porch saying to me something like "Oh, you like to read? I bet you like boring shit like The Magic Mountain." I don't remember my response but since then whenever I've thought of this book I've flashed to that scene and her assumption that only pretentious little fuckers read books ...more
Fionnuala
Reviewed in December, 2013


I love when the themes of two books I happen to be reading overlap. And when those themes also reflect aspects of my own life experience, I feel a wonderful convergence, an exchange of awareness at an almost physical level as if the the space between the pages where the authors ideas are laid out and my reading of their pages has become porous and a continual flow happens between all three, an exchange not unlike the one that happens in the deepest tissues of the respir
...more
Dolors
Oct 02, 2014 Dolors rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Seekers of the controversial currents of thought in the Nineteenth Century
Recommended to Dolors by: Thomas Mann
Impressions on my first reading of "The Magic Mountain" in 2009. Before GR

I finished this over-long book and I can only say I am not prepared to read it again, even if Thomas Mann himself asked me in person.
A complex book, philosophy, history and politics all mixed up with symbolism and irony. The author plays with the perception of time and the reader loses touch with reality. A swayed main character, too much of vain discourse and little sense.
I won't deny the singularity of the work, but I
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Geoff
~~~

“The Hamlet of Europe now looks upon millions of ghosts” Paul Valery wrote. Elsinore is everywhere. “The time is out of joint” spoke Hamlet. And he gazed at laughing skulls and procrastinated and made colloquies with ghosts within the walls his cliffside castle. Hans Castorp also waits, lingers, decides not to decide, dallies with whether it is better to be or not to be, listens to his attendant spirits, weighs skulls in the palm of his hand while time pulses around him on great heights. But
...more
Kim

There were times when I wondered if I’d ever finish this book. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, but reading a novel driven by ideas rather by plot or character has its challenges. Particularly if, like me, you do most of your reading at night, in between getting into bed and switching off the light. This is not the kind of novel which can be read, digested and disposed of quickly. It demands concentration, patience and perseverance – qualities in which I am frequently lacking at the end of a day
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Thomas
I just finished Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain, tr. John Woods), and without a doubt it is among the five best works of literature that I have ever read. Covering more than 700 densely-packed pages, it is not for the light of heart, but provides ample reward for the tenacious reader. Published in 1924 and winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929, The Magic Mountain should reside on your shelf next to The Brothers Karamazov, The Persian Letters, The Sorrows of Young Werthe ...more
Mike
Oct 07, 2013 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those with patience and perseverance
Recommended to Mike by: The Thomas Mann Group
The Magic Mountain: Thomas Mann's Ambiguous Bildungsroman

Ah, Thomas Mann, you have held me captive from a hot summer's day in August until I have begun to see the first hints of color tinging the leaves with a hue that will lead to their fall and ultimate decay. You have occupied my thoughts during long days and nights. I do not know whether to bless you or curse you, for I recognize how precious time is. At times the tick of the clock sounds ominous.

At its most basic level Mann tells us of the
...more
Lotz
Ah yes, irony! Beware of the irony that flourishes here, my good engineer.

In my freshman year of college, I took a literature course to fulfill a core curriculum requirement: Sexuality in Literature. It was a great class; we read Plato’s Symposium, Sappho’s poetry, the Song of Solomon, Sade, and Sacher-Masoch. But of all the great books we made our way through that semester, the one that most stuck with me was Mann’s collection of short fiction, which included Death in Venice.

I was a negligen
...more
Szplug
In my opinion, Thomas Mann was a genius and one of the most brilliant writers of the twentieth century. I originally read most of his works through the H. T. Lowe-Porter translations, which, though elegant and literary in their own right, took several liberties with Mann's ideas, subtleties, and humor. I have been grabbing up the newer translations by John E. Woods which, in my opinion, are superior to Lowe-Porter's in virtually every aspect. If you are planning to tackle this, probably the best ...more
Mala
Apr 17, 2015 Mala rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophers, Debaters, Readers with lots of time on their hands.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
Francis Bacon Of Studies

TMM clearly belongs in the final category.

Do not believe the naysayers– The Magic Mountain is an easy read i.e., if you know your Hegel, Schopenhauer, & Nietzsche well, also Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Freud's literature on Psychoanalysis, & Classical, Medieval, & Modern Western religio-politico-cultural thoughts. I'm, of course, assuming that (like Mann) you
...more
Emilian Kasemi
Indisputable masterpiece !!! The top of the mountain of world literature, from which you can look at "things" in a different light. An initiatory book, very inspiring.
Never have I come across a man (only Proust in another way) so obsessed with the perception of time. I will reread it (especially the chapter "Snow" which greatly impressed me), because this book should be read twice - as his author recommends - to fully enjoy, as we do with music. Because this novel was written like a symphony!

Ps:
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Hadrian
Finally read this, after several failed attempts with a truly awful translation (Lowe-Porter's). I've missed out on a truly extraordinary novel for too long. The dazzling descriptions and the intricate and fiery conversations of the characters are truly amazing. This book is a labyrinth of ideas and thoughts and definitely merits further study.
Sue
Well I have finished! and Hans Castorp, well he has spent his seven years on the mountain thinking about time, freedom, love, illness, but not thinking too aggressively about anything. He is not an aggressive fellow. He receives...from everyone. Mann uses him as an Everyman in a wilderness of ideas of various stripes, ideas important to the early 20th century and all the havoc and madness to come.

There are parts of this novel that I loved, where the prose simply glowed and was such a pleasure to
...more
Daniel
Mar 10, 2011 Daniel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"I don't understand," Hans Castorp said. "I don't understand how someone can not be a smoker - why it's like robbing yourself of the best part of life, so to speak, or at least of an absolutely first rate pleasure. I eat, I look forward to it again, in fact I can honestly say that I actually only eat so that I can smoke, although that's an exaggeration of course. But a day without tobacco - that would be absolutely insipid, a dull, totally wasted day. And if some morning I had to tell myself: th ...more
Yelena Malcolm
Oct 01, 2007 Yelena Malcolm rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Masochists
I could only pick one year for when I read this book, but the truth is that I started it in 1991 and read 100 pages every year until I finished the damn thing in 1998.

This book was horrific. There was no point, no enjoyment, no anything save for a harrowing description, 900 pages in length, of some sad sack in a tuberculosis sanitarium. The only reason I even finished the book was that I refused to let it defeat me.

It wasn't until a friend I respect above all others urged me, pleaded with me, b
...more
Chris
This book had been sitting, unread, on my bookshelf for some time. It has the reputation like Ulysses. It doesn’t help that I know people who gave up half way into both. But I read Joyce, and with this book, there was a group reading it. So I read it.

And liked it far more than I liked Ulysses.

The two books are somewhat similar – massive, dense, reputations. I always had the impression with Ulysses that Joyce was showing off how smart and clever he was, and that feeling interfered with the enj
...more
Janet
Time time time... I have the flu, which is the perfect condition in which to read 700 page book about a tuberculosis sanitarium. It changes your sense of time to read a book like this, to yield yourself up to the experience described. What does it mean to have time, to fill time, to experience time as short or long. I am rereading this book, and enjoying all my college-day marginalia--find it hugely preferable to reading books annotated by random anonymous people... Everything fascinating is al ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 07, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books and 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Shelves: 1001-core, 501
The year was 1912 in Davos, Switzerland. A 24-year old, newly graduate of Engineering, Hans Castorp went up to a sanatorium atop the Swiss mountains to visit his tubercular cousin Joachim Ziemssen. Hans was just planning to stay for 3 weeks but he ended up staying for 7 years. He even witnessed the death of Joachim. The reason: he contacted the disease - tuberculosis.

During his extended stay, the young, idealistic yet fatalistic and clueless young man transformed almost miraculously. The people
...more
Lucrezia
Avete presente quando il vostro medico vi prescrive una vacanza terapeutica?
Una lunghissima settimana, due, tre o anche un mese (piuttosto raro, ma mettiamo in conto) in un posto che per parafrasare il titolo di un noto film "Non ci resta che piangere", magari una località di mare sperduta, o una di montagna o addirittura le terme. Ecco, avete presente?
Arrivate, il tempo di abituarsi un minimo alla novità e già vi annoiate.
Ora, la noia e un sentimento strano nevero? Ne converrete con me, ha tant
...more
Everyman
I have never had as much trouble reviewing a book as I have had with The Magic Mountain.

There is no question that it is generally recognized to be a monumental work of literature. And it certainly has a wealth of philosophical views, social commentary, medical analysis, and numerous other aspects which make it richly complex. But.

Many -- perhaps most -- critics analyze it as an analysis of the state of pre-WWI Europe. Frankly, although I looked for this, I didn't see it. Mann does, indeed, bring
...more
Lobstergirl
Jul 24, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mature readers
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: It was sitting on my bookshelf.
Shelves: fiction
This book was a very long slog (partly because I was reading other books at the same time), but absolutely worth it. Mann is a brilliant and often hilarious writer. The novel can be read allegorically with the hermetic and diseased world of the tuberculosis sanatorium representing Europe on the eve of World War I, as the forces of liberalism and humanitarianism battle with those of anti-bourgeois religious romanticism, as embodied by characters in the novel as well as outside in the real world. ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intel
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