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The Magic Mountain [Paperback]

Thomas Mann
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 1996 0679772871 978-0679772873
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 that pulses with life in the midst of death.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

New translation of Mann's classic novel.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

One of the most influential and celebrated German works of the 20th century has been newly rendered in English by Woods, twice winner of the PEN Translation Prize. First published in 1929, Mann's novel tells the story of Hans Castorp, a modern everyman who spends seven years in an Alpine sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, finally leaving to become a soldier in World War I. Isolated from the concerns of the everyday world, he is exposed to the wide range of ideas that shaped a world on the verge of explosion. Considering what was to follow, the most poignant moment comes when Naphta, a Jewish-born Jesuit, defends the use of terror and the taking of life for the sake of an all-encompassing idea. Woods's work reads more naturally than the original translation, which, while faithful to the German, was stiff and forbidding. A necessary addition to any fiction collection.
Michael T. O'Pecko, Towson State Univ., Md.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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AN ORDINARY YOUNG MAN was on his way from his hometown of Hamburg to Davos-Platz in the canton of Graubunden. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
It has been said that a classic is a work that everyone wants to have read, but which no one actually wants to read. Now, having read this novel, I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. I'm glad I read it, and was certainly thoroughly enlightened by its message and its incredible range of philosophical and intellectual topics, but I must admit that reading this book was a laborious process.

The story is set in a saniorium in the Swiss Alps. The institution serves as a microcosm of pre-World War I Europe, and the patients are representative of the various ruling classes which eventually brought about the conflict. Two opposing philosophies, the "Asiatic" and the "European," are represented in the persons of Settembrini and Naphta. The book's central revolves around this, the parody of European social structure before the great war.

Of course, there is much, much more to the book that just this. Everything from music to medicine is covered, and a great many intellectual debates are contained, spanning everything from monism and dualism to progress and the status quo. There is also a very extensive reference to time. In fact, Time seems to be a character of the novel, and a great deal of the book covers the way we perceive time and how it works in relation to us.

I loved this novel, and feel like it is certainly worth having read. As I said, however, it is a very difficult read (at least it was for me), and often I felt as if I were wading through material too deep for me to comprehend. Mann was a brilliant individual, and deserved the Nobel Prize he won for literature. This monumental work deserves to be called one of the 'classics' of this century. It is difficult at times, yes, but it is also supremely rewarding.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the cusp of a new Europe Feb. 7 2002
By A.J.
To a great many Europeans, World War I must have seemed like Armageddon, a cataclysmic event that would completely and irrevocably transform the continent. Covering the time leading up to the war, "The Magic Mountain" personifies this transformation in its main character, a young man named Hans Castorp, whose life becomes immeasurably enriched after he abandons the ease and complacency of his childhood and opens his mind to new vistas of knowledge. It is not just the coming-of-age novel of a man, but of the world.
Hans is a moderately intelligent engineering student from Hamburg who grew up in an environment of comfort and leisure with not many thoughts about anything other than what concerns him directly. One summer, he goes to the Swiss Alps for three weeks to visit his cousin Joachim Ziemssen, who is convalescing at a sanatorium called Berghof for people with respiratory ailments. While there, Hans takes ill as well and is forced to stay longer to recuperate, a stay which stretches itself out to seven years.
At the Berghof, Hans makes the acquaintance of several other patients of various intellectual and social levels. Most prominent is an Italian named Settembrini, a freelance writer, cynic, and progressivist who dreams of a world republic and believes literature is the ultimate unification of politics and humanism. His current work in focus is the contribution of a literature section to an encyclopedia on human suffering, the intent of which is to catalog all its causes and try to eliminate them. Settembrini has a nemesis in another off-site patient named Leo Naphta, a Jew-turned-Jesuit who advocates a sort of Christian communism, using St. Augustine's City of God as a model.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing work of fiction March 20 2003
What is the difference between learning and naiveté, original thought and stupidity, good and evil? What does it mean to find yourself in totally strange world where the time is still and disease is an every day occurrence, where snow is around 9 months out of 12, and where death is part of life? Hans Kastorpe is diagnosed with a light form of tuberculosis and has to spend over a year on mountain top in a health resort. The experience radically changes him. From a somewhat high minded bourgeois he turns into a thoughtful young man, studying sciences he never thought of studying before, thinking about life, philosophy and politics, arguing with his two highly educated friends, and wondering whether he will ever come back to the plain.
The book is uneven -- on its highs it takes one like an ocean wave and the words are being simply breathed in. On its lows it becomes a bit tedious, a bit wordy, a bit too philosophical. But overall a great work.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Of Relative Value Jan. 3 2004
Well, I finally broke down and slugged my way through it. (Actually, this was attempt number two.) I may be way off, but to me this is a novelist's novel, a literary effort best appreciated by literary students and not by one who reads purely for pleasure and intellectual or artistic gratification. To someone who, like me, just likes to read and has always been curious about this book, I would suggest choosing something else.
The novel defies standard evaluation (i.e., assignment of three stars, four stars, etc.) owing to its scope and the unique nature of its aspirations. The text takes up about 1,200 pages in conventional format. (My copy is 700 pages of microscopic font crammed onto the page.) Is there 1,200 pages worth of plot in the book? Absolutely not. 1,200 pages of philosophy? Doubtful. Still, as the story's narrator explains, a person's entire life can be told in two pages, or a thousand pages could describe a single event. The book is in part a study of time and its measure - it does not seek to develop in the same manner or pace as other novels. To tell this particular story in the way Mann wants it told, a great deal of pages are indeed needed. This notwithstanding, the book is best left, in my opinion, to those who really like to make a study of what they read. Mann himself suggested reading it twice. (The only problem with this approach is that it would take 18 years of one's life.)
The book is excellent on many levels, difficult on others. As a work of art, it is unusually dense and all-encompassing. Almost against his will, the reader is drawn in as the main character's fate unfolds, brought about what one could call his willful passivity. The plot and character "development" are of fascinating, unparalleled strangeness.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If there were ten stars...
Someone once asked what was The Magic Mountain about. After thinking for a little while, answered I: It's about Men, it's about Time, it's about Love, it's about Europe. Read more
Published on April 17 2004 by P. Domnguez
5.0 out of 5 stars This isn't Stephen King
I am writing this feedback solely based on the comparison another reviewer of Thomas Mann to Stephen King. The comparison is not fair to either writer. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by Stuart Charles Kilpatrick
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite novel
I have read this novel three times and I love it more and more everytime. It is true: this is a difficult, long reading, but it is worth your time. Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2003 by C. Mejía
3.0 out of 5 stars A giant, but smaller than reported
Thomas Mann is one of those writers that I want to like because I know I am supposed to, but at the end of the day, despite a valiant effort, we are not really friends, only... Read more
Published on March 20 2003 by Sanson Corrasco
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading for enjoyment
The Magic Mountain has it all, it is probably my favorite book - highly literary, readable, transparent, coherent, complete. Read more
Published on March 14 2003 by J. Wombacher
5.0 out of 5 stars So Many Themes Taken Up in So Much Time
Nominally, the Magic Mountain is the story of Hans Castorp, a young German man who has just finished school and is about to start on a career in shipbuilding. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2002 by Adam Shah
4.0 out of 5 stars Farwell Hans!
What a sweeping novel. Really, I have never come across another book in which I felt I knew the main character quite so well as this one. Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2002 by A. Steinhebel
2.0 out of 5 stars Sickness and Death
And a huge waste of time - no wonder there was World War I. One reason is that literary/intellectual/philosophy types don't have common sense and they get all of us in trouble... Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind !
What begins as a slow, listless, ponderous novel soon becomes a stirring adventure of the senses. It is, in fact, the most deliciously sensous book I have ever read. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2002 by Sugunan
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but tedious book
After being blown away by the perfection of Thomas Mann's short novels A DEATH IN VENICE and TONIO KRUEGER,and after reading all the glowing reviews of this book I was fully... Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2002 by "nwdixieboy"
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