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The Magic Mountain Paperback – Oct 1 1996
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on April 17 2004 by P. Domnguez
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 morePublished on Aug. 11 2003 by Stuart Charles Kilpatrick
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 morePublished on Aug. 1 2003 by C. Mejía
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 morePublished on March 20 2003 by Sanson Corrasco
The Magic Mountain has it all, it is probably my favorite book - highly literary, readable, transparent, coherent, complete. Read morePublished on March 14 2003 by J. Wombacher
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 morePublished on Oct. 28 2002 by Adam Shah
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 morePublished on Oct. 22 2002 by A. Steinhebel
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 morePublished on Sept. 16 2002