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The Magic Mountain

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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  16,361 ratings  ·  887 reviews
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 t...more
Paperback, 706 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Vintage (first published 1924)
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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
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...more
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
Ian Paganus
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
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...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


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 respiratory system when we breat...more
Dolors
Nov 04, 2013 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...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...more
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
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
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
Daniel
Mar 10, 2011 Daniel marked it as to-read
"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
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
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:...more
Yelena Malcolm
Oct 01, 2007 Yelena Malcolm rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Mala
Dec 19, 2013 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 cut yo...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
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
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
Michael
Unusual and yet classic, in the same way Moby-Dick wraps an epic seafaring adventure around a digressive, encyclopedic treatise on whales. Mann's achievement might be more important, however, for attempting a complete psychological, historical, philosophical, aesthetic, religious, biological, mystical, astrological, and seasonal understanding of mankind at the brink of the catastrophe of World War I. The Magic Mountain is therefore utterly exhausting, sometimes agonizingly frustrating and repeti...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
Andrew
Oh high modernism, what the fuck? Sometimes you're an annoying piece of shit I want to curbstomp beyond memory (hey, D.H. Lawrence!) and sometimes you generate something so weird, dense, allegorical, and spiralingly brilliant that I can't help but get wrapped up. This book is German and Wagnerian as all hell, and it's great. A whole cast of strange, symbolic, Dostoyevskian characters engage in this almost musical interplay in a realm where the very laws of nature seem to be irrational and contra...more
Jan-Maat
I read The Magic Mountain somewhere around the age of seventeen. I was flummoxed by the French (my own education, now long forgotten in this realm of human knowledge, was more along the lines of being able to ask for a lemon ice cream or which platform the train would depart from and so was not up to understanding intimate conversations between characters in a novel) but not put off enough because I then went on to read Doctor Faustus a couple of years later and then Joseph and his Brothers in t...more
Lynne King
I read this book years ago and in fact have two books by different translators. The version I read was by H.T. Lowe-Porter but evidently John E. Woods' translation is better so I also have that.

I don't know when I will reread this as it has 854 pages and so it is way down my reading list. But with a different translator, I may get a completely different slant on the book.

I think that this book is meant to be read in winter, when I'm huddled up on the settee, in front of a log fire with a nice gl...more
Lobstergirl
Jul 24, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Vale
Perché leggere La montagna incantata?

Con che coraggio consigliare ad un amico la lettura di un volume di oltre 600 pagine in cui ci sono digressioni filosofiche sul giansenismo, la massoneria e il senso della vita?
Già, è un problema di coscienza.
Una mia amica mi ha detto che non riesce mai a superare le prime cinque pagine e mi ha anche informato che questo libro è tristemente famoso per l’alto numero di “abbandoni” da parte dei lettori.
Io avevo sempre desiderato leggerlo perché è considerato...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...more
More about Thomas Mann...
Death in Venice Death in Venice and Other Tales Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family Doctor Faustus Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories

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