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The Magic Mountain

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  30,078 ratings  ·  1,792 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 1996 by Vintage (first published 1924)
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Mark Hebwood I was asking myself this same question the entire time I was reading it. I think this novel is best enjoyed as a reading experience in itself, just as…moreI was asking myself this same question the entire time I was reading it. I think this novel is best enjoyed as a reading experience in itself, just as a piece of music is enjoyed in itself. I do not believe this novel is about anything, it is certainly not a novel of ideas, as some critics have claimed. Thomas Mann himself advised contemporaries to read it like an orchestral symphony, to follow common themes, and just let the narrative play. And I think if you try this, this actually works - so my answer would be that Mann wrote a piece of literature that can be "listened to", and that's all it needs to be.(less)
Mark Hebwood It's in French in the original German, too. This is a stylistic device - in the 19th century, French was the language of the educated classes, and it…moreIt's in French in the original German, too. This is a stylistic device - in the 19th century, French was the language of the educated classes, and it was entirely normal for other European nationals to converse in that language (compare, for example, the opening scenes in Tolstoi's War and Peace, or certain - shorter - passages in Buddenbrooks). Mme Chauchat is an educated Russian and speaks better French than German, and that is why Hans Castorp conducts his first ever conversation with her in French. But it is more than just form, it is also a stylistic device. If you examine the scene, you'll see that the HC's French contributions become longer and longer, until he delivers an impassioned monologue about his love for Chauchat, and the relationship between love, death, and the human body in general. That monologue is almost a page long, and by that time statements in German, which still shot through the French up till then, were totally crowded out. The idea here is, I think, to emphasise the "otherwordliness" of the scene, HC often makes reference to a dream, a realm in which he loses his inhibitions, and declares his love for Chauchat.(less)

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Kalliope
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing

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
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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
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

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
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
...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Some novels are like low hills… And some are like high mountains…
Love stands opposed to death – it alone, and not reason, is stronger than death. Only love, and not reason, yields kind thoughts.

The sanatorium is a powerful metaphor of civilisation – there is everything: love and hate, hope and despair, life and death, wisdom and stupidity, profanity and religion, science and ignorance, metaphysics and mysticism.
…our interest in death and illness is nothing but a way of expressing an interest 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
Michael Finocchiaro
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain: "An ordinary young man was on his way from his hometown Hamburg to Davos-Platz in the canton of Graubünden. It was the height of summer, and he planned to stay for three weeks."

Here we are introduced to Hans Castorp (one of my all-time favorite bumbling protagonists) with a load of telling adjectives. Mann insists that he is a young man (although he will act like an old man in many ways) and ordinary (and we will see that this was probably a fatal flaw in being t
...more
Lance Greenfield
Oct 07, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
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
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
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
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
Edward
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To read The Magic Mountain is to be wholly immersed in Hans Castorp’s little world, to really take part as Hans and his companions grapple with mankind’s dichotomies: life vs death, action vs intellect, reason vs emotion, naturalism vs mysticism, East vs West, god vs man, and, perhaps above all, love, that singular epitomic contradiction, that wonderful celebration of life, that raison d'être, which capriciously wields the power both to exult and to desolate.

The book’s characters - the wild and
...more
Luís C.
Reading The Magic Mountain is learning to die. Those who live are dying a little, and on this mountain one lives very slowly. It tells the story of Hans Castorp, a young man without many qualities, who the author just does not want to call mediocre. He was a little exhausted by the end of his engineering course. Before assuming a high position in the firm of relatives, he goes to a sanitarium on the mountain to rest for fifteen days, under the pretext of visiting the tubercular cousin. Doctors h ...more
Lee
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dolors
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  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
T.D. Whittle
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
I am not going to review this book in any serious or analytical way. It's been reviewed by many clever readers already, over several generations and sprawling continents. It hardly needs my support. I am just going to offer my entirely subjective comments about what a great and thoroughly enjoyable read it is.

The plot should be familiar to Western readers by now, as this classic is a century old and much discussed in literary circles. However, in case you missed out, here's the synopsis from Goo
...more
Geoff
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
~~~

“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
Elie F
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorites. The magic mountain symbolizes a community detached from the flatland, the normal values, duties, history, time, indulging in its physical closeness to and spiritual longing for sickness and death. Hans Castorp, after entering into this fatigued, detached, and self-perpetuating community, became increasingly obsessed with the romanticism of sickness and death, which he considered noble. Mann not only associated sickness death with decay, sensuality and love ("all lov ...more
Hadrian
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction, german
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.
Alex
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Wimps in the Mist

Time is not a constant, said Einstein in 1916, and his fellow German Thomas Mann was like whoa. Eight years later he finished Magic Mountain, which proves that time is relative by making the experience of reading it last fucking forever.

Here is the "plot": Young Hans Castorp has found that he doesn't enjoy having a job, or anything else about life, so when he ambles up a mountain to visit his consumptive cousin Joachim who does nothing but sit around wrapped in a blanket all day
...more
Thomas
Nov 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Maru Kun
‘The Magic Mountain' was first published in 1924 and has as its hero the Everyman figure of Hans Castorp, whom Wikipedia tells us can be interpreted as Mann’s symbol for the Weimer Republic that was formed just five years earlier.

1924 was also a year when the body-politic was beginning to show some early signs of illness, of dark forces within its interior beginning to stir. And, just like that of Hans Castorp when he entered the Berghotel Sanatorium Schatzalp which is the stage for the events o
...more
Roy 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
Lawyer
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with patience and perseverance
Recommended to Lawyer 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
Kim
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it

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
Rebecca McNutt
The Magic Mountain, set in the Swiss Alps as the insidious threat of tuberculosis looms heavy over each citizen, is a brilliant, funny and sometimes very tragic story of a hapless man trying to enjoy himself despite what's to come.
Mala
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Sophie
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Bildungsroman, or novel of initiation, as noted by Thomas Mann himself, concisely written and challenging. Mann spends the first book setting the backdrop and then focuses gradually more and more on his characters; on the way that each of them thinks and acts, thus creating fleshed out personalities.

Our main protagonist is Hans Castorp, whose psychological and intellectual growth we follow during his 7 year stay in the sanatorium. His representation of the mediocre German bourgeois is confront
...more
Everyman
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Serbian: Tomas Man

Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate in 1929, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psycholo
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“It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death.” 333 likes
“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.” 309 likes
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