Aubrey's Reviews > The Magic Mountain

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
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Jan 11, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star, reviewed, nobel-prize-people, translated, books-are-the-best-invention, german, ever-on, 1-read-on-hand, to-re-read, r-2011, r-goodreads, think-twice
Read from December 22 to 27, 2011

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 opinions, the sheer amount of conflicting diatribes created by the force of the human brain. If they do, rarely do they make the effort to take on this overwhelming amount of information and distill it down into a message for the future. There's no snapshot of the world at hand that is absolutely gorgeous in what it conveys to the reader, both in quantity and in quality. In light of that, I now have an answer for the which-book-would-you-take-on-a-deserted-island question, as I know for a fact that I could reread this book every day till the day I die, and I'd never not find something new to contemplate and stand in awe of.

This is the well-to-do of Europe before the Great War, living off of old money in a state of pure contentment that, were it not for sheer boredom, would accomplish next to nothing. It is this boredom, this monster titled 'Stupor' referenced in the pages, that forces our man Hans Castorp to distract himself in shifting fashions that model the ever changing obsessions of the continent, from science to political discourse to religious rantings to mystical meanderings. The institution goes through throes of obsession that closely model the 'flatland' from which its denizens came; so too does the violent undercurrent that begins to overwhelm Europe resemble the ever increasing ferocity between those who were formerly combatants solely in the intellectual realm.

The question must be posed: would Hans have ever returned to the world outside of institutional walls, had the War never occurred? Boredom may be a tiresome thing, but would it have been enough to convince him to leave the nest, where time is compartmentalized, stretched, and finally completely ignored into oblivion? Or would he have hung around till his own death, when his excuse for staying finally takes his life, and he is removed from reality in as quiet and unobtrusive a fashion as his ill comrades had been before him? Now, take that question, and apply it to Europe as a whole. What do you see? There's a question for the ages, if ever there was one.

And to tie in to the other wonderful side to the coin: of course the book can't detail absolutely everything worth passing down, but it offers much food for thought, thereby giving the tools required to take on the questions it leaves open-ended in its wake. (view spoiler)I could go on. But I will save space for further re-readings, when the fervor is once again fresh and I have more immediate recollection under my belt to spout out. One last thing: books like these are why I read as much as I do. You find a gem like this, and you can't go back.
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Quotes Aubrey Liked

Thomas Mann
“It was, however, striking—in the best sense of the word—that precisely those rules that corresponded exactly to their overseers’ economic interests enjoyed unconditional veneration, whereas rules for which said correspondence was less applicable were more likely to be winked at.”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann
“…But sometimes a person begins with opinions and judgments and valid criticisms, but then things creep in that have nothing to do with forming opinions, and then it’s all over with strict logic, and what you end up with is an absurd world republic and beautiful style.”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann
“And for its part, what was life? Was it perhaps only an infectious disease of matter—just as the so-called spontaneous generation of matter was perhaps only an illness, a cancerous stimulation of the immaterial?”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann
“What good would politics be, if it didn’t give everyone the opportunity to make moral compromises.”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann
“…What our age needs, what it demands, what it will create for itself, is—terror.”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann
“You Christians studied them,” Settembrini exclaimed, “studied the classical poets and philosophers until you broke out in a sweat, attempted to make their precious heritage your own, just as you used the stones of their ancient edifices for your meeting houses. Because you were well aware that no new art could come from your own proletarian souls and hoped to defeat antiquity with its own weapon. And so it will be again, so it will always be. And you with your crude visions of a new morning will likewise have to be taught by those whom—so at least you would like to persuade yourselves, and others—you despise. For without education you cannot prevail before humanity, and there is only one kind of education—you call it bourgeois, but in fact it is human.”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann
“He was simply not a “hero”, which is to say, he did not let his relationship with the man be determined by the woman.”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann
“But what would be our readers’ reaction if we simply refused to get to the bottom of that question?”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain


Reading Progress

12/22/2011 page 28
4.0%
01/31/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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message 1: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I love this review and will come back again. And again.


Aubrey Ian wrote: "I love this review and will come back again. And again."

Damn. Now I definitely need to get better.

*cracks knuckles*

Let's do this.


message 3: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye You don't have to work on the better, just the more.


Aubrey Yes, but both would be nice. I'd like to think that my written ramblings are culminating in some sort of improvement in the skill of writing ramblings.


message 5: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Better is the inevitable result of more.


Jane Ian, I thoroughly agree! Better IS inevitably the result of more. Please continue!


Aubrey Thanks for the encouragement. I'll be sure to make my next review of monstrous size.


Kalliope This book has been on my TBR for ages. Reading your review gets me all excited since I still have this delight ahead of me, and also makes me feel very guilty, because it does not form part of my memories...


Aubrey It's a really wonderful book, so I'm a bit jealous that you still have your first experience with it ahead of you. The first time with an amazing book is always a little magical.


Kalliope Aubrey wrote: "It's a really wonderful book, so I'm a bit jealous that you still have your first experience with it ahead of you. The first time with an amazing book is always a little magical."

It is appropriate that the first experience with the Magic Mountain should be magical.

I plan to read his Buddenbrooks early in 2013 and then his Doktor Faustus as part of the 2013-Faust theme.


Aubrey Kalliope wrote: "Aubrey wrote: "It's a really wonderful book, so I'm a bit jealous that you still have your first experience with it ahead of you. The first time with an amazing book is always a little magical."

I..."


I really do need to get around to Buddenbrooks sometime. It's been a while since I've read any new Mann, and I don't want him to feel neglected.


message 12: by Les (last edited Nov 20, 2012 11:44AM) (new) - added it

Les This is a really wonderful review. I don't think one could ask for a better recommendation than this:
"In light of that, I now have an answer for the which-book-would-you-take-on-a-deserted-island question, as I know for a fact that I could reread this book every day till the day I die, and I'd never not find something new to contemplate and stand in awe of."

Wow! Thank you. Added and bumped up high.


Aubrey Les Is More wrote: "This is a really wonderful review. I don't think one could as for a better recommendation than this:
"In light of that, I now have an answer for the which-book-would-you-take-on-a-deserted-island q..."


Yay! I'm glad that you liked the review enough to add this wonderful book. It's the highest compliment a review can receive.


message 14: by Stephen M (new) - added it

Stephen M I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn't know who this was. . . so. . .yeah. I do now!

Tip top review. And quite the plug for this book. I must keep an eye out for it.


Aubrey Stephen M wrote: "I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn't know who this was. . . so. . .yeah. I do now!

Tip top review. And quite the plug for this book. I must keep an eye out for it."


It's one of the best. And thanks. Also, now you know about it! And can join us whenever that group read happens. If it happens.
We'll see.


message 16: by Les (new) - added it

Les I will be keeping my eyes open for the group read of this one. Any time after May and I am in.


Aubrey Oh cool. May sounds good, gives me a lot of time to get through other things.


message 18: by Les (new) - added it

Les I also have a crazy smart friend who is planning on leading a read of Gravity's Rainbow sometime after that, if interested. That is one I could not would not tackle alone.


Aubrey Les wrote: "I also have a crazy smart friend who is planning on leading a read of Gravity's Rainbow sometime after that, if interested. That is one I could not would not tackle alone."

Ooh, sign me up for that one as well. Getting through IJ is giving me confidence for other monumental reads.


message 20: by Kiof (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kiof Unqualified appreciation of Thomas Mann- there needs to be more of it. Great stuff.


Aubrey Kiof wrote: "Unqualified appreciation of Thomas Mann- there needs to be more of it. Great stuff."

Thank you, Kiof. And there really needs to be, beyond the whole uneasily received realm of Death in Venice. He's so much more than that one book.


message 22: by Patricia (new)

Patricia I LOVED your review.I am a fan of Mann and I totally agree with you on the *one book i´ll take to the island*

God only knows why whenever either my life or country -now the latter- is in chaos I turn to The Magic Mountain ot The Buddenbrooks!

It might be because the are the "calm bourgeoisie i used to know. Their working ethics,their factories ,houses all gone with the wind of changes.


Aubrey Thank you very much, Patricia. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


message 24: by Jack (new) - added it

Jack I picked a copy of this up from an ignored books shelf. Your enthusiasm for the book and description has moved it to the front of my reading list.


Aubrey That's great to hear, Jack. I hope you enjoy this phenomenal book.


Jennifer Of Human Bondage is not a good comparison. I recommend Cancer Ward by Solzhenitzyn, which I actually prefer. If you want to read W. Somerset Maugham, read the Razor's Edge - wonderful!


message 27: by Patricia (new)

Patricia I loved Of Human Bondage-read it ages ago- but the Razor´s Edge is wonderful,and guess what? the film is great.


message 28: by Aubrey (last edited Oct 10, 2013 09:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aubrey @Jennifer: As my judgment consists of past favorites of mine, Of Human Bondage is the proper choice.

@Patricia: Yes, I enjoyed The Razor's Edge, but it wasn't as good as OHB in my opinion.


message 29: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Maybe one day I´ll read OHB again right now I have lots of new books to read and little time.Right now I´m Reading Thurman´s Life of Colette.


message 30: by Teresa (new)

Teresa I agree about Of Human Bondage, Aubrey, and as I've been wanting to get to TMM for some time now, it's good to know that someone who loved OHB also loved TMM.


message 31: by Aubrey (last edited Nov 04, 2013 11:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aubrey Yep, I loved them both, and hope that you like TMM as well. Speaking of OHB, I really must fit in a rereading of it next year; it's languished without a review for far too long.


message 32: by Teresa (new)

Teresa I read it a very long time ago, but it's one of those books that I still remember quite a bit of, though I wouldn't mind a reread of it at all one day.


message 33: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala One last thing: books like these are why I read as much as I do. You find a gem like this, and you can't go back.

You've said it, Aubrey!


Aubrey Ha ha, thank you, Fionnuala. I do try.


message 35: by Renato (new) - added it

Renato Magalhães Rocha It's my favorite novel, if I can put it side by side with Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Great review, Aubrey!


Aubrey Thank you, Renato. I'm glad we share favorites.


message 37: by Ron (new)

Ron Gianola Thank you for a great review of a tremendous work. However, it's sheer, not shear.


Aubrey Cheers, Ron.


message 39: by Ted (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ted Ran across your review a couple years ago, Aubrey. Now bookmarked. This is one of my favorite novels, and one of the few I've read twice. Hope I read it again.


Aubrey Ted wrote: "Ran across your review a couple years ago, Aubrey. Now bookmarked. This is one of my favorite novels, and one of the few I've read twice. Hope I read it again."

Much obliged, Ted.


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