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The Magic Mountain Paperback – Oct 1 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (Oct. 1 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679772871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679772873
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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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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4.2 out of 5 stars
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on March 12 2003
Format: Paperback
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 By A.J. on Feb. 7 2002
Format: Paperback
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey C. Zoerner on Jan. 3 2004
Format: Paperback
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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