Der Zauberberg - Thomas Mann

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Der Zauberberg - Thomas Mann

Post  pinhedz on Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:04 pm

= ANDY =
Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:54 pm

Or 'The magic mountain' in English.

Just ordered this book from Amazon - a brand new copy, send to me for less than € 13,00!
It's supposed to be among the most influential German novels of the 20th century, or so I'm told.
Has anybody read it, any thoughts to share?


pinhedz

It's a masterpiece.

Consumption (TB) is a metaphor for passive acceptance of the human condition (i.e., life's a bitch and then you die). Fear of death will not save the moribund, only lust for living can save them.


= ANDY =

Are health issues a common theme in Mann's work?
It's also present in Der Tod in Venedig (The death in Venice), but I understand that Der Zauberberg was initially conceived as a sort of satyrical companion piece to it.

Is it a recurring theme in other works as well?


pinhedz

I don't recall health issues as a significant factor in either "Buddenbrucks" or "Felix Krull," although the last generation of the "Buddenbrucks" family suffers from moral symptoms of the kind associated with TB in both "Venice" and "Zauberberg" (maybe Mann had not yet adopted TB as a metaphor when he wrote "Buddenbrucks").

In both "Venice" and "Zauberberg," TB seems like a sympton of giving up on life, or of losing the will to strive for something. TB attacks those who are turning passive towards life.


pinhedz

There was also "Doktor Faustus, in which Syphillus is a metaphor for artistic genius.

And I remember a short novel called "Tonio Kroger," who was heartsick, but I don't recall him having a metaphorical disease.


= ANDY =

If all that springs from pure, naked memore, than your memory is quite a treasure!
Ah well, that's hardly news around here, is it?
Thanks for making me aware of this beforehand, I'm sure it will help me get to the core of some passages a lot quicker. Or well, nearier to the core, anyway. I'm not sure if I actually ever made it to any core at all.

Disease as a metaphor in litterature ... I can't wait to see Eddie step in! cheers


pinhedz

Ironically, I'm almost certain that I have also read "Joseph the Provider," but I can't remember anything about it. Neutral


Richard W

Le Néant wrote:Are health issues a common theme in Mann's work?
It's also present in Der Tod in Venedig (The death in Venice), but I understand that Der Zauberberg was initially conceived as a sort of satyrical companion piece to it.

Is it a recurring theme in other works as well?

I'd say health issues as a metaphor are pretty nearly a constant in Mann's work - as pinhedz points out.

Once upon a time I'd have said Mann was my favourite novelist. The Magic Mountain is wonderful, but not easy going - in English at least. As you use Der Zauberberg as the title, are you going to be reading it in German?

The other major theme is the conflict between rationalism and nihilism, between the belief in human progress and religion. The novel is great partly because Mann hadn't even decided the answer when he started, and his characters come to life as they argue.

By the way: next to nothing happens! They just talk.

Is this your first Mann novel?


Richard W

pinhedz wrote:I don't recall health issues as a significant factor in either "Buddenbrucks" or "Felix Krull," although the last generation of the "Buddenbrucks" family suffers from moral symptoms of the kind associated with TB in both "Venice" and "Zauberberg."
Hanno Buddenbrooks actually seems to die from Wagnerian music and masturbation. The glorious section where Mann describes Hanno developing a tiny theme by playing with it gently until it grows into a major problem is incredible writing, where Mann manages simulataneously to describe late romantic music and wanking. (And Mann is clearly aware that at one level late romantic music is wanking)

Mann's humour is hugely under-rated.

pinhedz

Apart from TB patients dying (which was linked to their mental state), the one significant "event" I can remember from "Zauberberg" was the protagonist's decision to go skiing for recreation and--more important--his actually going through with it. To do this, he had to find some boards and fashion the skis out of them. It was also an act of defiance, because he was breaking the hospital's rules by doing such a thing.

This act, showing both initiative and defiance (signs of life, one might say), made one of the other patients conclude that our hero was not one of the moribund.


Richard W

His cousin also decides he's had enough and goes back down to the flatlands. Doesn't turn out too well.

And from memory, doesn't the skiing turn out rather badly?

I'd say there's a danger we'll give away the plot, except there is no plot.


pinhedz

Richard W wrote:And from memory, doesn't the skiing turn out rather badly?
You know the old cliche about adversity: "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger."

But there I go giving away the "plot" again.


Richard W

It is a great climax and the point of the novel. "Let death have no dominion over your thoughts".

Wonder what that phrase is in German?

Helps to have read Nietzsche's "The Birth of Tragedy". Or maybe not.

Incidentally, isn't that cliche a paraphrase of Nietzsche as well?

= ANDY =

Richard W wrote:Once upon a time I'd have said Mann was my favourite novelist. The Magic Mountain is wonderful, but not easy going - in English at least. As you use Der Zauberberg as the title, are you going to be reading it in German?

[...]

Is this your first Mann novel?
I'm reading it in German yes.
My knowledge of English, French and German allow me to read most novels in those languages - Ulysses is an exception though. Just tried reading about 25 pages a couple of days ago. I think I should first learn how to read it, what dicipline to follow before actually ever reading it.

People sometimes tell me that this sounds very arrogant, but I haven't read a book in my mother's tongue for a very, very, very long time. A friend of my lend me a copy of a book by Peter Watson about the cultural and social evolutions throughout the 20th century which was in Dutch. But other than that, I don't think I've read a single book in Dutch at least since the year 2000.

I prefer to read novels in the language they were written in, at least when they have been written in a lanuage I can read. Last year I read a few roman and greek epics in English - figuring it would make sense to read classics that were written in yesteryear's Lingua Franca in the modern day Lingua Franca.

And yes, it's my first Thomas Mann novel.
I only know The death in Venice from the wonderful movie with Dirk Bogarde.


Richard W

Huge envy! God knows, I wish I could read anything in a language other than English.

Remember that Mann is sometimes funny. The humour is black and dry and cold but it is there. I think that is the one flaw in the film of Death in Venice: the pitch-black humour gets lost. Great film and Bogarde is incredible.

Ulysses is a different proposition. I read it in about ten days when I was a student. I forced myself to read a chapter a day. Some days were fun, most were purgatory. I read it along Anthony Burgess's guide to Ulysses, and that helped a great deal. On balance, I still disliked it and I consider it the most overrated piece of literature in existence. There are two sections I liked - Molly's monologue and Bloom watching the girls on the beach. But I didn't find much in it.

A vast distance behind Mann or Proust.

pinhedz
Schrödinger's Hepcat

Posts : 11532
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : DC

http://www.balalaika.org/

Back to top Go down

Re: Der Zauberberg - Thomas Mann

Post  pinhedz on Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:55 pm

Boring? Shocked

It's a page-turner; it had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. study

pinhedz
Schrödinger's Hepcat

Posts : 11532
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : DC

http://www.balalaika.org/

Back to top Go down

Re: Der Zauberberg - Thomas Mann

Post  Constance on Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:56 am

I forget the protagonist's name. But isn't there an instance in the novel where he develops a love interest at the sanitorium and sends the girl his chest x-ray as a love token? Did I make it up?

Constance

Posts : 500
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 59
Location : New York City

Back to top Go down

Re: Der Zauberberg - Thomas Mann

Post  ISN on Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:02 am

sorry to interrupt - just thought I'd recount an anecdote about the CAT scan that discovered my benign brain tumour when I was 17

I dragged the scan everywhere with me.....

at Goldsmiths a flatmate who was doing art......borrowed it and put a knife and fork on either side of the scan for one of his submissions.....

that was clever.....

as you were.....Razz

but seriously there should be a whole thread about sanitariums/love.....

ISN
Endlessly Fascinating

Posts : 598
Join date : 2011-04-10
Location : hell

Back to top Go down

Re: Der Zauberberg - Thomas Mann

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:37 pm

Winter reads: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

This classic novel of career invalids snowbound in the Swiss Alps is much more fun than its reputation suggests

Wayne Gooderham

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 December 2011 16.30 GMT


Magic Mountain view … Davos in Switzerland, where the sanatorium that inspired Mann was located. (It's now a hotel.) Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Buddenbrooks may be the preciously brilliant debut, Death in Venice the small-but-perfectly-formed novella, but for me, Mann's real masterpiece is his sprawling snowbound epic of 1924, The Magic Mountain. Set in a tuberculosis sanatorium during the years immediately prior to the Great War, this book is many things: a modernist classic, a traditional bildungsroman, a comedy of manners, an allegory of pre-war bourgeois Europe, and – perhaps most importantly this time of year – the ideal book to keep you company on the long winter nights, when whichever flu bug is doing the rounds has gained the upper hand and forced you into a sneezing retreat to your sickbed.


The Magic Mountain
by Thomas Mann, translated by John E Woods

For The Magic Mountain is a work of sick-lit par excellence: a novel that convincingly portrays illness as a state of mind as well as of body (though Mann does not shy away from the more visceral aspects of the latter). This is a novel mystifyingly overlooked by Virginia Woolf in her 1926 essay On Being Ill, in which she bemoans literature's failure to make illness one of its "prime themes" alongside "love and battle and jealousy." Well, here illness is decidedly centre-stage, and the plot – what there is of it – almost incidental: Hans Castorp, a naive young engineer, travels to the International Sanatorium Berghof high up in the Swiss Alps to visit his ailing cousin, Joachim Ziemssen. What was intended as a stay of a few weeks stretches into months, and then years, as Hans himself is diagnosed tubercular and dutifully takes his place among the cast of coughing consumptives. There is a chilling ambiguity as to just how much of Hans's illness is genuine and how much the result of "going native". Indeed, Hans positively revels in his status as one of the "horizontal":

Hans Castorp stayed out on his balcony, looking down on the bewitched valley until late into the night… His splendid lounge chair with its three cushions and neck roll had been pulled up close to the wooden railing, topped along its full length by a little pillow of snow; on the white table at his side stood a lighted electric lamp, a pile of books, and a glass of creamy milk, the "evening milk" that was served to all the residents of the Berghof in their rooms each night and into which Hans Castorp would pour a shot of cognac to make it more palatable.

Ensconced in his lounge chair, miles away from the cut and thrust of life on the "flat lands", Hans finds himself questioning long-held notions of honour and mortality. Up here, the snow is "eternal", and time itself becomes slippery and can no longer be trusted to behave as one would expect. This is indeed another world: of never-ending soup and ritualised – almost fetishised – thermometer readings; of rest cures and lectures on love-as-a-disease; of petty rivalries and giddy flirtations (after all, these are individuals "feverish, with accelerated metabolism"); where death is the elephant in every room and only ever happens "behind the scenes". This gives the novel a lovely feeling of the sublime and the uncanny. Indeed, at times it almost slips into the realms of the supernatural. An x-ray machine, a visit to the cinema and a gramophone player are all treated with suspicious wonder; a central chapter, entitled "Snow", concerns its 50-odd pages with Hans's near-fatal expedition into the snowy wasteland surrounding the sanatorium, an expedition that culminates in a horrific hallucination which could have come straight out of the pages of HP Lovecraft. There is even a séance scene. (And I assume we're all in agreement here that any self-respecting Winter Read should have at least one séance scene?) All the while, unbeknownst to the inhabitants of the clinic, Europe inches towards a war that will destroy this rarefied way of life for ever.

If this all sounds a little grim, it is worth reiterating that The Magic Mountain is essentially a comic novel – albeit a comic novel dealing with the darkest of subjects. The entire work is suffused with a sly and gentle humour, making it an absolute delight to read. And, if you want to make the experience more delightful still, be sure to invest in the superior John E Woods translation, published – in hardback only, unfortunately – by Everyman's Library. What it loses in the beautiful cover artwork of the paperback it gains in lucid prose-style and readability. A book I return to every couple of years, The Magic Mountain is simply one of the greatest novels ever written. And an essential purchase for every sickbed this winter…



eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 60
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: Der Zauberberg - Thomas Mann

Post  Sponsored content Today at 4:14 am


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum