Full text of "Thomas Mann The Magic Mountain" Mann THE H H * H t MAGIC MOUNTAIN t With a postscript by the author on The Making of the novel. wm-greece.info MANN'S MAGIC MOUNTAIN Notes including • Life and The book was Thomas Mann's first success and was hailed as a masterpiece. Thomas Mann's The magic mountain (Modern Critical Interpretations). Read more · Feehan, Christine - Magic Sisters 03 - Rocky Mountain Miracle · Read more.
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Paul Thomas Mann was born in Lubeck, Germany, (6 June – 12 August . Hence the work of Mann The Magic Mountain has been picked for this study. 5 Kontje, Thomas Mann's World, 5 return to his literary ventures, to go back to The Magic Mountain, albeit with decisively new intentions. It just so happened. based on the novel by Thomas Mann. THE MAGIC. MOUNTAIN. CHYRA. BAŁKA. SIKORSKA-MISZCZUK. Page 2. LIBRETTO music: Paweł Mykietyn libretto.
What makes The Magic Mountain so difficult to read is Mann's insistence that the reader become part of it. This is already implied in the Foreword, where the question is posed "whether a narrative can ever seem too long or too short by reason of the actual time or space it takes up.
By participating in the hero's real and imagined experiences, the reader becomes the true center of the novel. In him the world of the magic mountain, already filtered through Hans Castorp's vision, blends with his own recollections and dreams to yield a new experience.
Albin A young man who, convinced of his hopeless condition, threatens to commit suicide publicly. Hofrat Behrens The head doctor of the sanatorium. Ellen Brand The young Danish girl, whose talents as a medium are ruthlessly exploited by Dr. Krokowski in his seances. Hans Castorp The hero in search of self-education. Clavdia Chauchat The typically "eastern" temptress of Hans Castorp.
Ferge A self-debasing Russian, who participates in several discussions between Settembrini and Naphta; a prototype of the "eastern" man. Pribislav Hippe Castorp's schoolmate of long ago to whom he felt strongly attracted. Asiatic features, similar to those of Clavdia, distinguish him.
They are the reason that the two become drawn together through the major leitmotif a short musical phrase representing and recurring with a given character, situation, or emotion of the borrowed pencil.
Hippe is German for a type of sickle. According to Revelation XIV, , an angel of perdition tends to harvest among men with a sickle; therefore, the scythe has been used as the symbol of death. Like Clavdia Chauchat, Hippe exerts a fatally erotic influence on Castorp. Barbara Hujus A little Catholic girl whose fear of death is heightened by the arrival of the priest administering extreme unction to her.
Karen Karstedt A little, hopelessly ill girl whom Castorp, obsessed with consoling the "poor sick," accidentally leads to her grave.
Hermine Kleefeld A particularly gossipy patient who gathers like-minded characters around her. Krokowski Behrens' assistant doctor, who, like his superior, represents evil. Marusja The attractive but simple girl whom Joachim admires; she serves to illustrate his overly bourgeois behavior.
Adriatica Mylendonk Homely and aggressive, she is Behrens' directress. Mynheer Peeperkorn A wealthy plantation owner who becomes Clavdia's lover. Ludovico Settembrini An intellectual, rationalist Italian man of letters, representing "Western" tradition. With numerous other patients, she represents the atmosphere of make-believe prevalent at the Berghof. James Tienappel Castorp's uncle, a respected consul. He comes to the sanatorium to take home his nephew but flees when he finds out he enjoys its permissive atmosphere.
Tous-les-Deux A grief-stricken Mexican lady, who is about to lose her second son at the sanatorium; hence her nickname. The unspeakable sadness she radiates appeals to Castorp. Wehsal An extremely submissive character who falls in love with Clavdia and seeks Castorp's company for this reason. His name means "sorrow" in German.
Joachim Ziemssen Castorp's diseased cousin with whom he once lived at Tienappel's. Mann merely mentions Castorp's simplicity to emphasize his faculty of meeting the countless influences to which he is exposed and to resist the many temptations to commit himself permanently to any view or cause.
This is, of course, the major theme of the novel: The opening sentences also contain the novel's other major theme: Throughout this book are countless, recurring variations on the theme of time. As a newcomer, Hans Castorp is exposed, first of all, to the thin air of the Berghof and the bizarre silhouettes of dense forests and snowcapped peaks surrounding it. Mann uses nature here to evoke new, unfamiliar feelings in Hans, feelings of vagueness and timelessness--feelings which will he intensified later on as he ventures higher into the regions of eternal snow and ice.
Besides using nature to introduce the newcomer to the sanatorium, Mann also uses Joachim Ziemssen, Castorp's cousin. Unknowingly Joachim has taken on some of the characteristics of the mode of life at the Berghof. And, one thing in particular which confuses Hans about Joachim is the latter's concept of time. It strikes Hans that Joachim's sense of time is very haphazard. In fact, their conversation soon dwells on the nature of time, so treasured in the "world below" and so meaningless "up here" where there is little to demand its observance except the routine of taking one's temperature.
These reflections on time now focus on the static quality of duration; soon, however, Mann will be concerned with the linear and circular aspects of time in the course of Castorp's growing self-awareness. Hans Castorp is both appalled and intrigued by Joachim's use of the collective "we" and his reference to life at the sanatorium as "life up here.
On a philosophical level, it underlines the deep gap between the artistic-intellectual realm and the "normal" realm of average people. Here we have the author's early romantic concept of the dichotomy between art on the one hand and life on the other.
On a political level, the sharp differentiation of "above" and "below" points to the fact that the Berghof is a sanctuary of disease and death. It stands as the symbol of the sick, chauvinistic European society before World War I; its isolation from the "normal" world is symptomatic of the advanced stage of its disease. In terms of technique, the continued use of "up here" as opposed to "down there" is interesting as an example of Mann's basic irony, which the reader should bear in mind regardless of how involved the political and philosophical battles will become as the story moves on.
Irony is, of course, based on the insight that something is not necessarily and exclusively so, and that sometimes, or at the same time, it is very different.
In other words, "up here" where the idle, sick, and decadent predominate, Hans Castorp, though sick himself, will be physically cured and morally uplifted in the end. Joachim, Hans' cousin, speaks in terms of "up here" and "down below," and, in matters of disease and death, he has acquired a nonchalance which is typical of the whole atmosphere. Here Mann lashes out at the decadence of society which, while taking death for granted, nevertheless does everything in its power to conceal it as shocking or thought-provoking.
Krokowski is the first major figure of the mountain world whom Hans meets. He is characterized as the perfect personification of the Berghof, where the sympathy of those in charge is not with life but with disease and death.
He has so morally deteriorated that he does not even believe that a person can be completely healthy. He laughs at Hans, who insists he came to pay a three-week visit and not for treatment. Krokowski stands as the apostle of doom in a world where physical, mental, and moral decay go hand in hand.
As are many other scenes, the dialogue between Castorp and Dr. Krokowski is autobiographical in origin. During his three-week visit to a sanatorium, Thomas Mann actually contracted a serious cough and was advised by the assistant of the institution to join his wife in her rest cure. Certainly sensitive and possibly even susceptible to the lures of life at a tuberculosis sanatorium, he declined. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy is regarded as the chief bulwark against democracy by Settembrini, perhaps Castorp's most influential mentor.
The aristocrat's deep-seated cough, indicative of the advanced stage of his disease, irritates Hans considerably. The war at the end will irritate him even more because he will be forced to take up arms.
Ironically, he will be killed in it--in a war which was caused, to a substantial degree, by the reactionary forces of the once glorious and now quickly deteriorating Hapsburg empire, of which the aristocrat is a symbol. Throughout this chapter, Mann already employs the technique of the leitmotif a short musical phrase representing and recurring with a given character, situation, or emotion.
He uses it to point to similarities and changes in the conduct of the characters or to tie together elements of dreams and visions with others experienced in real life.
Joachim, for instance, keeps shrugging his shoulders in a manner he never used to in the "world below," and Castorp unpacks the same brand of cigars that he used to enjoy at his great uncle's and that he will still smoke when the sanatorium will have taken to playing "seventeen-and-four" in Chapter 7. The face cream Hans applies on his sunburned cheeks reappears in his first dream at the Berghof.
The image of Joachim also appears in Hans' dream; Joachim's face is as translucently pale as that of Dr. In Castorp's dream, Joachim and the Austrian aristocrat ride down the mountain side together on a bobsled. In this fashion, the other sanatorium carries its dead down the mountain. Thus, by means of the leitmotif, we get a forewarning of Joachim's death in the future. It is easy to spin the theme of their joint ride down the mountain a little further, charging it with political implication.
They head toward death together: Joachim, the German soldier, willing to live and die for a cause, and the Austrian aristocrat, symbol of the crumbling monarchy. Yet we should always bear in mind that Joachim is not decadent and that Mann never condemns him. He is merely less complex than Castorp, and when the latter or Clavdia Chauchat teases him about his bourgeois values, they do so with a considerable amount of envy. Joachim, in fact, is the only character in the entire novel who does not tempt our hero.
And he is the only one who is not tempted by the various educators. Here, as throughout the story, dreams and visions yield strangely fused images by drawing on Castorp's past experiences and presenting them in new contexts.
More than all other chapters of the novel, this one brings to mind Mann's observation that it is difficult and not at all desirable to talk about The Magic Mountain without being aware of its indebtedness to Buddenbrooks.
The present chapter may not be as intellectually brilliant as subsequent ones, but when it comes to humor, wisdom, and perceptive observations on the species of the bourgeois, it certainly measures up to Mann's first success. The autobiographical elements of this chapter are as numerous as they are obvious.
Hans decides to take up shipbuilding as a career, but from the outset he does not really care for his work. He merely respects it. Here is a parallel to Mann's early experience as an employee in an insurance agency. Just as Mann quit the insurance business to lead the "useless" life of an artist, so Hans never gets beyond taking his textbook Ocean Steamships up to the Berghof, where he forgets about it. Hans abandons his studies because he thinks his "love of idle hours" will not permit him to work hard.
Mann, wondering what a working mood really is, answered his own question in the form of a little essay in which he asserts that "the mood to work--that's having slept well, good books, fresh air, few people, and peace. It is quite conceivable that he may be vaguely conscious of the deficiencies of his epoch and find them prejudicial to his own moral well-being.
Thus this chapter becomes the true starting point of the educational journey of Hans. The close relationship between him and his grandfather, meticulously dealt with and culminating in the treatment of the family christening basin, reflects the tradition of conservative values in which Hans and Thomas Mann was reared.
The detailed description of Hans' life with Joachim at the home of Consul Tienappel also reflects the conservative tradition; the atmosphere radiates gentility. Since Hans has embarked upon a journey of self-education and, eventually, meaningfulness, these descriptions serve to point to his indebtedness to the "normal world below," which he never really abandons.
Hans, not at all "simple," can empathize with Joachim, his clear-cut opposite in so many ways. And Mann, despite his often-revised views and later engagement for the liberal cause, never ceased to think of himself as rooted in his conservative upbringing. Castorp's reminiscences extend to his early and repeated experiences with death. Having lost his father, mother, and now his grandfather, he has had ample opportunity to find out that there is more to death than the mournfulness and solemnity of funerals There is also a physical aspect to it, almost ordinary and common in its raw materiality Dead bodies, he reasons, cannot be truly a sad affair because sadness only prevails where life is concerned.
These reflections are on Castorp's mind as he stands by his dead grandfather, who appears to be a life size wax doll to him, nothing but lifeless material. Here Mann's favorite theme of the polarity of life and death comes in. Throughout the book, the discussion of these ennobling and dehumanizing aspects of disease and death will be continued. Castorp himself is aware of these dual aspects which predestine him for his intense sensual, intellectual, and moral adventures.
Of the many motifs Mann employs, that of the recurring number seven stands out. Before Hans' time, seven generations were initiated into Christian life by being sprinkled with water from the family basin, and seven years have elapsed since his own christening. Seven continues to play an important role until the end of the novel: A literal translation of the German Siebenschlafer refers to a rodent known for its long hibernation period of seven months.
Plunged into the war, Hans will have to march for seven hours to reach the battle scene. Finally, the novel is divided into seven chapters. Second, the chapter opens the discussion on the nature of time, the novel's other major theme. The peculiar impressions Hans Castorp collects characterize the atmosphere of physical and moral decay prevailing at the sanatorium. When Joachim introduces his cousin to several patients at their first breakfast together, the array of characters they meet affords them a glimpse of all the misery and falseness that they will live with throughout their stay.
Quaint little habits, distinct accents, gross flaws, and most unusual looks identify each of those assembled as the representative of his specific profession or corner of the continent. All of them are sick members of society. The fact that they are all extremely wealthy is by no means a coincidence and adds to the vital social and political implications of the book.
It is important to note that, sterile, sick, and half-dead though the patients here may be, socializing and the sham accompanying it does interest them as if they needed it to simulate ordinary life "below. Her overly cultured ways, which cannot hide her countless gaucheries, are symptomatic of her society's essential barbarism. Here Mann proves himself a perfect caricaturist, employing recurring leitmotifs and picking picturesque, appropriate names. Also, her name means "sturgeon" in German and, spelled slightly differently, "stubborn," which provides ample leeway for the Germanspeaking reader's punning imagination.
Thus, she is a perfect example of a patient whose insensitivity and total lack of potential keep her disease from working in her favor. In sensitive people like Castorp, a rise in the fever curve signifies growing awareness, a sharpening of intelligence. The same will be true of Clavdia Chauchat, although her deficiency is not one of intelligence. She will remain sensual and passive throughout the book. There are other, more shocking instances of the sham facade of the sanatorium world, such as the threats of Herr Albin, a hopeless case, to commit suicide.
Playing with his gun, the young man meets nothing but angry protests from his fellow patients, who are extremely eager to avoid any thought of death. When they insist he will be cured if he only stopped toying with his weapon, it is their cowardice they show and not their sympathy for him.
The more they pretend to console him, the more he feels challenged to uncover their unwillingness to face reality. More than that, Albin says that he is content with his fate because now certain of his impending death, he can resign himself to idleness such as he did in school when the teacher would not call upon him any more because his failure was a fact. Herr Albin's mention of his high school days triggers a faint, first picture of Castorp's own school days; he is startled by a "wild wave of sweetness which swept over him.
This is one of the book's major motifs. Joachim casually tells his cousin that many patients die without anybody knowing anything about it because such "unpleasant" events are handled with utmost discreetness.
Physical illness, in other words, is treated exactly like the moral sickness of exaggerated class-consciousness; it is ignored. The doctors of the sanatorium the ruling politicians of the "world below" are anxious to conceal death moral bankruptcy from the public. As a result, the climate of pretense at the Berghof in prewar Europe stands in eerie contrast to death, which rules supreme. Hans Castorp insists that a dying human being should be treated with respect because he is always more venerable than "a chap going about, laughing and earning his living, and eating three meals a day.
In connection with his heart palpitations, Castorp's preoccupation with this subject comes out again. Later, Mann will transfer its discussion to the level of purely philosophical discourses between Settembrini and Naphta, but for the time being Hans worries about his palpitations and remarks to Joachim, "it is disturbing and unpleasant to have the body act as though it had no connection with the soul.
Joachim introduces his cousin to Settembrini, an Italian gentleman of fine features and great learning. The apostle of reason, progress, and humanism, he is one of Hans' chief mentors throughout the novel. Revealing himself as a man of letters, he goes about reciting Italian poetry and telling the cousins of his translations of liberal thinkers.
One of these men he translated had composed a hymn to Satan himself-Satan in the form of unbridled revolution. The Italian baffles Castorp by comparing his visit to the Berghof with Odysseus' venture into the realm of shadows. To Hans' objection that he has come up several thousand feet, Settembrini cynically replies that Hans has been a victim of an illusion.
Settembrini's admiration for Renaissance poetry and figures of Greek mythology shows how much he lives in the liberal Greco-Roman tradition. It also reflects Mann's sympathy with this view, which he considered the most powerful reservoir of democratic thought.
Yet the lines of the Italian song, a fervent glorification of revolution, point to the one shortcoming in Settembrini which renders his views deficient and unacceptable as such to our hero. He is rather willing to wage war against Austria, Russia, and the church. But his fanaticism also has a pedantic side to it; insisting to Castorp that smoking has been despised by the most brilliant thinkers in history because it befogs the mind, he declares it a vice.
Hans Castorp, the avid consumer of Maria Mancini cigars, does not appreciate this at all, and we may rest assured that Thomas Mann, a connoisseur of cigars himself, intended this to be a bit of criticism of Settembrini. This will be extremely important later on because it will supply Naphta, Settembrini's reactionary adversary, with arguments he could barely have found himself.
Mann himself never advocated liberalism to the point of condoning revolution, and, in his attempts to help democratize Germany, he never ceased to be extremely critical of those who would transplant Western-style democracy on German society without modifying it to suit a different mentality.
It would be Germany's role to mediate between East and West, according to Mann, but never to copy a political system. This mediating role, by the way, is one aspect of Castorp's dream of the rising moon in the east and the setting sun in the west Chapter 4.
No sooner has Settembrini, whose exterior is described as forcing Castorp to "mental alertness and clarity," entered into our hero's life than he begins to use his keen powers of observation in Hans' favor. He inquires about the "term" Hans has been sentenced to by "Minos and Rhadamanthus"; he lashes out most cynically at Behrens' greediness underlined by his standard expression sine pecunia and his invention of a separate summer season for the Berghof ; and he condemns the director's conniving generosity toward a debauched prince who showed his gratitude by conferring the title of "Hofrat" on him.
The Hofrat's sensuality will become obvious later on, especially in connection with his hobby, oil painting. Spotting Dr. Krokowski, Settembrini mentions the appropriateness of his black attire to Hans and is shocked that the latter has not yet sized him up. Exhorting him to use his eyes and reasoning power to arrive at lucid conclusions, the Italian lapses into another praise of humanism and the related art of pedagogy.
Settembrini represents that force which never hesitates to express direct honesty. He answers Castorp's charge that he is too sarcastic in his efforts to eradicate wrong by telling him that malice is the "animating spirit of criticism; and criticism is the beginning of progress and enlightenment. Settembrini was the name of a historical figure in Italy's fight for unification, though the author never said he used it in his novel for this reason.
Whether Mann chose Settembrini's name deliberately or not, the long battle between the Austrian empire and the individual Italian states over unification and independence of which World War I was merely the final, most violent outbreak is a major theme on the novel's political level. Settembrini's aggressive exposure of the relationship of Behrens whose spurious title Hofrat means "Imperial Counselor" and was once a meaningful award for distinguished services rendered, but is used here as a symbol of the declining monarchy's title-consciousness with a debauched member of nobility certainly fits this pattern of his passionate anti-monarchistic feelings.
When Castorp finds the patient who keeps irritating him by slamming doors in the dining hall, he is surprised at her attractiveness and, above all, by her slanted eyes, protruding cheek bones, and the delicate, girlish hand that pats her hair: Little does Hans know that from now on his life is going to be increasingly influenced by her presence. The strange fascination Clavdia Chauchat exerts on Castorp leads to the latter's mounting confusion.
Her effect on him is such that at one point he cannot even muster up enough strength to look at the blood he coughed up--a clear symbol of the decay she spreads. Clavdia is like a scintillating and pungent carnivorous plant, enticing her prey by dulling its senses rather than by striking out herself. She is not even aware of her devastating influence on Castorp, this fact underlines her passivity.
The implications of her sensual and irrational character are eminently political, as are the Russian couple who keeps offending Castorp by promiscuously giggling and panting in the room next to his. Feeling and irrationality in the form of passivity and tyranny are "Eastern" characteristics; submissiveness and hierarchial order their political expression.
Mann simplifies, of course, but he nevertheless has a point, as the political history of eastern and central Europe has shown for hundreds of years. Whether ruled by tsarist or communistic tyranny, whether ruled by Prussian power politics or Nazi imperialism, eastern and central European Slavic peoples have never had a democratic tradition to speak of, at least not before the end of the twentieth century.
Hungarians have, but they are not Slavs. It is not by accident that the obscene sounds of the Russian couple are accompanied by the hackneyed tunes of operetta music--symbols of imperial Austria. This theme of "Eastern" and "Western" traits will crop up again in connection with the far touchier discussion of whether "intellectual literature" may be pitted against "emotional music.
Asked about his age by Settembrini, Castorp has to think twice before answering him correctly. Then, when he talks gibberish his temperature is consistently rising , the Italian advises him to return to the "world below.
His second one comes that night in Hans' dream when Hofrat Behrens advises him to while away his time in pursuit of pleasure. Settembrini, in this dream, admonishes Hans to resist the diabolic forces of Behrens, but Hans refuses to pay any attention to his clear-headed advice. Yet the Italian realizes Hans' condition and keeps up his warnings.
In this same dream, Castorp finds himself back in the school court of his high school, where he borrows a pencil from Clavdia Chauchat. Toward dawn, he dreams of her again, this time of the open, delicate hand, which she offers him to kiss. This hand was the very first thing he noticed about her, and now it triggers the same "wild wave of sweetness" in him he experienced when he put himself in Herr Albin's position earlier that day.
The connection is evident: Herr Albin was bound to die and played with the idea of committing suicide; Castorp is moving toward his own death through Clavdia. The emergence of Clavdia Chauchat in the school court is the most thoroughly developed leitmotif in the novel, pulling together episodes both real and imagined over long spans of time. The leitmotif strongly suggests Mann's familiarity with Sigmund Freud's theory of dreams.
In fact, Mann studied them while writing The Magic Mountain. He was also familiar with Freud's psychoanalytical experiments. Therefore it may not be too farfetched to see in Settembrini, the great admonisher toward self-control and responsibility, an embodiment of the hero's superego; Clavdia Chauchat, the temptress toward sensuality, may then be seen as Hans' id.
We have made the point that Mann conceived of virtually all of the novel's characters in terms of opposites; in fact, most of them are defined in terms of their opposites. Settembrini and Clavdia Chauchat form such a set of opposites, Settembrini and Naphta later on; and Castorp with Joachim also. If the relationship between the cousins was well characterized in Chapter 1, there are new insights here with regard to Behrens.
He prefers the more pliable and susceptible character of Hans to that of Joachim, which makes him think Hans would be a better patient than his cousin. Joachim's overly reserved treatment of his girlfriend Marusja, on the other hand, is an interesting parallel to Hans' budding love for Clavdia Chauchat. Chapter 3 introduces the subject explicitly in the form of a conversation between the cousins.
It develops out of Castorp's annoyance over the tedious procedure of having to take his temperature four times a day. Yet his annoyance is only seemingly insignificant, for it soon turns out that boredom plays a very real role in any discussion about time. Time, after all, is the correlative of experience.
As is to be expected from Joachim's uncomplicated nature, he is quite willing to let the various timemeasuring devices determine what time is. Castorp, however, is more sophisticated and argues that time is as long or as short as one experiences it.
When Joachim, getting tired of "mental gymnastics," contends that "a minute lasts as long as it takes the second hand of my watch to complete a circuit," Hans is still not satisfied.
Considering Joachim's words, he concludes that we measure time by space. It does not mean much to say it takes twenty hours from Hamburg to Davos, for on foot it takes infinitely longer, and in the mind not even a second. This notion of time as a function of space will be developed further when Hans tries to find some relationship between time and the circles he makes wandering around in the snowstorm.
Time is not merely a major theme of the novel; it is also its medium. All of Chapter 3 deals only with events during Castorp's first day at the Berghof. It begins exactly where Chapter 1 ended--with Hans getting up in the morning.
The point is clear: Once a newcomer has lived through one day at the sanatorium, the best he can hope for as far as novelty is concerned are new ways of fighting boredom and confusion. A day is like a month is like a year at the Berghof, and all of it is like a spell of uncertain duration. The static quality of time stands out.
As Castorp puts it on his first afternoon up there: It seems to me I've been up here a long time--ages. No wonder, for as Hans reflects at one point, "A path is always longer the first time we traverse it. But Castorp claims that whenever disease or death is present in any form, he develops his faculties to the utmost.
Even coffins and funerals have a peculiar appeal to him. Settembrini respects the body only as long as it presents no obstacle against the attainment of freedom; as a consequence, he regards the sick body with contempt. Important to note is the surprise Settembrini expresses upon hearing that Hans Castorp has bought a blanket.
The blanket is the symbol of the rest-cure at the sanatorium, and the rest-cure the symbol of temptation toward the dangerous spells of timelessness. The Italian chooses the words placet experiri Latin for he likes to experiment to express his surprise over Castorp's decision to resign himself to life at the Berghof.
The point is obvious: Settembrini's keen mind sees the temptations of illness, whereas our hero, pursuing a system of trial and error, is still largely unaware of them. He is the seeker, the hero of the bildungsroman, forever venturing on new paths and vacillating back and forth between what he is and what he is led to believe he should be.
With the rest-cures comes plenty of leisure time, and with the leisure time come all those countless dreams, visions, and states of semi-consciousness which lend a mystical quality to this basically highly intellectual story. No wonder that Castorp lapses into another reflection on the nature of time.
Joachim stresses its relationship to time, and the Italian adds a new dimension to the conversation by tying music up with politics.
Confessing his preference for intellectual pursuits, especially literature, over music, Settembrini even declares music to be politically suspect because it invites the mind to remain passive and to lose itself in reverie. Joachim's reply affords us a rare glimpse into his uncomplicated mind. He defends what he calls the "moral value" of music by arguing that it has a way of dividing time into measures and other units.
This alone makes it possible for him to enjoy time, which would otherwise remain one dull continuum. Settembrini agrees with him insofar as music may defeat boredom.
Joachim is of course simpler than Settembrini, and this is why he longs for the conveniently arranged daily routine of the "world below. His view reflects Mann's lifelong notion of the self-destructive element in the esthetic soul. This soul has a tendency to affirm life only to the degree it can provide the individual with purely subjective, esthetic experience.
Opposed to any moral view of life Settembrini is, of course, a moralist , the esthetic soul conceives of the total immersion of the individual in contemplation as life's sole justification. It denies an individual's responsibility to society and therefore tends to be politically reactionary. That it can under certain circumstances be dangerous for segments of a whole nation to be transported into musical-emotional passion was proven, for instance, in Nazi Germany.
The Nazis enthusiastically extolled the operas of Richard Wagner with their ancient Germanic sagas and highly emotional music. The enormous appeal of this combination, unfortunately, distorted Wagner's intention. We have seen Settembrini's enthusiasm for literature, preferably that of classical and Renaissance poets, and Hans Castorp's reluctance to share this enthusiasm. But, toward the end of his stay in the mountains, Hans will sing and listen to music, highly romantic music.
This corresponds to Mann's belief that the preference of music over literature is a German characteristic and a Slavic one , while "Western" civilization is essentially founded on literary intellectual values. Even if he is grossly oversimplifying Italians, after all, have created opera, though one can argue opera is not a purely musical genre , Mann has a point: The musical tradition in central and eastern Europe is a long one, and there simply is nobody of the stature of a Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart outside the German world.
By the same token, it is easy to show that German literature never produced a Dante or Shakespeare and cannot compare, either in terms of tradition or quality, with that of the French--barring, perhaps, Goethe. We are introduced to the central protagonist of the story, Hans Castorp, the only child of a Hamburg merchant family who, following the early death of his parents, has been brought up by his grandfather and subsequently by an uncle named James Tienappel.
We encounter him when he is in his early 20s, about to take up a shipbuilding career in Hamburg, his home town. Just before beginning this professional career Castorp undertakes a journey to visit his tubercular cousin, Joachim Ziemssen, who is seeking a cure in a sanatorium in Davos , high up in the Swiss Alps. In the opening chapter, Hans is symbolically transported away from the familiar life and mundane obligations he has known, in what he later learns to call "the flatlands", to the rarefied mountain air and introspective little world of the sanatorium.
Castorp's departure from the sanatorium is repeatedly delayed by his failing health. What at first appears to be a minor bronchial infection with slight fever is diagnosed by the sanatorium's chief doctor and director, Hofrat [nb 1] Behrens, as symptoms of tuberculosis. Hans is persuaded by Behrens to stay until his health improves. During his extended stay, Castorp meets and learns from a variety of characters, who together represent a microcosm of pre-war Europe.
In the end, Castorp remains in the morbid atmosphere of the sanatorium for seven years. At the conclusion of the novel, the war begins, Castorp volunteers for the military, and his possible, or probable, demise upon the battlefield is portended. The Magic Mountain can be read both as a classic example of the European Bildungsroman — a "novel of education" or "novel of formation" — and as a sly parody of this genre.
Many formal elements of this type of fiction are present: Also embedded within this vast novel are extended reflections on the experience of time, music, nationalism, sociological issues and changes in the natural world. These themes relate to the development of Castorp's character over the time span covered by the novel, a point that the author himself underlined. In his discussion of the work, written in English, published in the Atlantic in Mann states that "what [Hans] came to understand is that one must go through the deep experience of sickness and death to arrive at a higher sanity and health.
At the core of this complex work is an encyclopaedic survey of the ideas and debates associated with modernity. Mann acknowledged his debt to the skeptical insights of Friedrich Nietzsche concerning modern humanity and embodied this in the novel in the arguments between the characters. Throughout the book the author employs the discussion with and between Settembrini, Naphta and the medical staff to introduce the impressionable Castorp to a wide spectrum of competing ideologies about responses to the Age of Enlightenment.
However, whereas the classical Bildungsroman would conclude by having "formed" Castorp into a mature member of society, with his own world view and greater self-knowledge, The Magic Mountain ends as it has to for "life's problem child" as a simultaneously anonymous and communal conscript, one of millions, under fire on some battlefield of World War I. According to the author, he originally planned The Magic Mountain as a novella ; a humorous, ironic, satirical and satyric follow-up to Death in Venice , which he had completed in The atmosphere was to derive from the "mixture of death and amusement" that Mann had encountered whilst visiting his wife in a Swiss sanatorium.
This fascination with death, the triumph of ecstatic disorder over a life devoted to order, which he had explored in Death in Venice was supposed to be transferred to a comedic plane. Thus, The Magic Mountain contains many contrasts and parallels with the earlier novel. The established author Gustav von Aschenbach is matched to a young, callow engineer at the start of a humdrum career.
The erotic allure of the beautiful Polish boy Tadzio corresponds to the Asiatic-flabby "asiatisch-schlaff" Russian Madame Chauchat. The setting itself has shifted both geographically and symbolically; switching from the flooded and diseased Italian coastlands to an alpine resort famed for its health-giving properties, with the threat of a fatal cholera infection in Venice becoming the sanatorium's promise of a respite from, or a cure for, tuberculosis.
The Berghof patients suffer from some form of tuberculosis, which rules the daily routines, thoughts, and conversations of the "Half-a-lung club".
The disease ends fatally for many of the patients, such as the Catholic girl Barbara Hujus whose fear of death is heightened in a harrowing Viaticum scene, and cousin Ziemssen who leaves this world like an ancient hero.
The dialogues between Settembrini and Naphta discuss the theme of life and death from a metaphysical perspective.
Besides the deaths from fatal illness, two characters commit suicide, and finally Castorp goes off to fight in World War I , and it is implied that he will be killed on the battlefield. Closely connected to the themes of life and death is the subjective nature of time , a leitmotif that recurs throughout the book—here the influence of Henri Bergson is evident. Thus Chapter VII, entitled "By the Ocean of Time", opens with the narrator asking rhetorically, "Can one tell — that is to say, narrate — time, time itself, as such, for its own sake?
The Magic Mountain , in essence, embodies the author's meditations on the tempo of experience. Throughout the book, they discuss the philosophy of time , and debate whether "interest and novelty dispel or shorten the content of time, while monotony and emptiness hinder its passage". The characters also reflect on the problems of narration and time, about the correspondence between the length of a narrative and the duration of the events it describes. Mann also meditates upon the interrelationship between the experience of time and space; of time seeming to pass more slowly when one doesn't move in space.
This aspect of the novel mirrors contemporary philosophical and scientific debates which are embodied in Heidegger's writings and Einstein 's theory of relativity , in which space and time are inseparable.
In essence, Castorp's subtly transformed perspective on the "flat-lands" corresponds to a movement in time. The titular reference to mountain reappears in many layers. The Berghof sanatorium lies on a mountain not only geographically, but also figuratively, a reclusive, separate world. The mountain also represents the opposite of Castorp's home, the sober, business-like and for Joachim Ziemssen mortal "flatland.
The first part of the novel culminates and ends in the sanatorium's Carnival feast. There, in a grotesque scene named after Walpurgis Night , the setting is transformed into the Blocksberg , where according to German tradition witches and wizards meet in obscene revelry; also described in Goethe 's Faust I. At this event, Castorp finally woos Madame Chauchat; their subtle conversation is carried on almost wholly in French.
This mountain is a "hellish paradise," a place of lust and abandon, where Time flows differently: Also Castorp, who originally planned to stay for three weeks, leaves the Berghof only after seven years.
In general, the inhabitants of the Berghof spend their days in a mythical, distant atmosphere, full of references to fairy tales and sagas: The x-ray laboratory in the cellar represents the Hades of Greek mythology, where Medical Director Behrens acts as the judge and punisher Rhadamanthys and where Castorp is but a fleeting visitor, like Odysseus.
Behrens compares the cousins to Castor and Pollux , Settembrini compares himself to Prometheus. The culmination point of the second part of the novel is perhaps the — still "episodic" — chapter on Hans Castorp's blizzard dream in the novel simply called "Snow" , where the protagonist gets into a sudden blizzard , beginning a death-bound sleep, dreaming at first of beautiful meadows with blossoms and of lovable young people at a southern seaside; then of a scene reminiscent mainly of a grotesque event in Goethe's Faust I "the witches' kitchen", again in Goethe's "Blocksberg chapter" ; and finally ending with a dream of extreme cruelty — the slaughtering of a child by two witches, priests of a classic temple.
According to Thomas Mann's interpretation in the text, this represents the original, but deathly-destructive force of nature itself. Of course, finally Hans Castorp awakens in due time, escapes from the blizzard, and returns to the "Berghof". But rethinking his dreams he concludes for the moment that " because of charity and love, man should never allow death to rule one's thoughts. But for Thomas Mann himself the sentence which throughout the whole novel is the only one in italics remains important, and so he states it, for personal consequences and for his readers.
Fischer Verlag in Berlin. Mann's vast composition is erudite, subtle, ambitious, but, most of all, ambiguous; since its original publication it has been subject to a variety of critical assessments.
For example, the book blends a scrupulous realism with deeper symbolic undertones. Given this complexity, each reader is obliged to interpret the significance of the pattern of events in the narrative, a task made more difficult by the author's irony.
Mann was well aware of his book's elusiveness, but offered few clues about approaches to the text. He later compared it to a symphonic work orchestrated with a number of themes. In a playful commentary on the problems of interpretation, he recommended that those who wished to understand it should read it through twice.
The narrative opens in the decade before World War I. It introduces the protagonist, Hans Castorp, the only child of a Hamburg merchant family. Following the early death of his parents, Castorp has been brought up by his grandfather and later, by a maternal uncle named James Tienappel. Castorp is in his early 20s, about to take up a shipbuilding career in Hamburg, his home town. Before beginning work, he undertakes a journey to visit his tubercular cousin, Joachim Ziemssen, who is seeking a cure in a sanatorium in Davos , high up in the Swiss Alps.
In the opening chapter, Castorp leaves his familiar life and obligations, in what he later learns to call "the flatlands", to visit the rarefied mountain air and introspective small world of the sanatorium. Castorp's departure from the sanatorium is repeatedly delayed by his failing health.
What at first appears to be a minor bronchial infection with slight fever is diagnosed by the sanatorium's chief doctor and director, Hofrat [nb 1] Behrens, as symptoms of tuberculosis. Castorp is persuaded by Behrens to stay until his health improves.
During his extended stay, Castorp meets a variety of characters, who represent a microcosm of pre-war Europe. Castorp eventually resides at the sanatorium for seven years. At the conclusion of the novel, the war begins, and Castorp volunteers for the military. His possible, or probable, demise upon the battlefield is portended.
The Magic Mountain can be read both as a classic example of the European Bildungsroman — a "novel of education" or "novel of formation" — and as a sly parody of this genre. Many formal elements of this type of fiction are present: Also embedded within this vast novel are extended reflections on the experience of time, music, nationalism, sociological issues and changes in the natural world. Mann describes the subjective experience of serious illness and the gradual process of medical institutionalization.
He also alludes to the irrational forces within the human psyche, at a time when Freudian psychoanalysis was becoming a prominent type of treatment. These themes relate to the development of Castorp's character over the time span covered by the novel. In his discussion of the work, written in English and published in the Atlantic in , Mann states that "what [Hans] came to understand is that one must go through the deep experience of sickness and death to arrive at a higher sanity and health.
Mann acknowledged his debt to the skeptical insights of Friedrich Nietzsche concerning modern humanity, and he drew from these in creating discussion between the characters. Throughout the book the author employs the discussion with and between Settembrini, Naphta and the medical staff to introduce the young Castorp to a wide spectrum of competing ideologies about responses to the Age of Enlightenment. However, whereas the classical Bildungsroman would conclude by Castorp having formed into a mature member of society, with his own world view and greater self-knowledge, The Magic Mountain ends with Castorp becoming an anonymous conscript, one of millions, under fire on some battlefield of World War I.
According to the author, he originally planned The Magic Mountain as a novella , a humorous, ironic, satirical and satyric follow-up to Death in Venice , which he had completed in The atmosphere was to derive from the "mixture of death and amusement" that Mann had encountered whilst visiting his wife in a Swiss sanatorium.
He intended to transfer to a comedic plane the fascination with death and triumph of ecstatic disorder over a life devoted to order, which he had explored in Death in Venice. The Magic Mountain contains many contrasts and parallels with the earlier novel. Gustav von Aschenbach, an established author, is matched to a young, callow engineer at the start of a regular career. The erotic allure of the beautiful Polish boy Tadzio corresponds to the Asiatic-flabby "asiatisch-schlaff" Russian Madame Chauchat.
The setting was shifted both geographically and symbolically. The lowlands of the Italian coastlands are contrasted to an alpine resort famed for its health-giving properties. The Berghof patients suffer from some form of tuberculosis, which rules the daily routines, thoughts, and conversations of the "Half lung club".
The disease ends fatally for many of the patients, such as the Catholic girl Barbara Hujus whose fear of death is heightened in a harrowing Viaticum scene, and cousin Ziemssen who leaves this world like an ancient hero. The dialogues between Settembrini and Naphta discuss the theme of life and death from a metaphysical perspective.
Besides the deaths from fatal illness, two characters commit suicide, and finally Castorp goes off to fight in World War I, and it is implied that he will be killed on the battlefield. What Castorp learns to fathom is that all higher health must have passed through illness and death. As Hans Castorp once says to Madame Chauchat, there are two ways to life: One is the common, direct, and brave. The other is bad, leading through death, and that is the genius way.
This concept of illness and death, as a necessary passage to knowledge, health, and life, makes The Magic Mountain into a novel of initiation. Closely connected to the themes of life and death is the subjective nature of time, a leitmotif that recurs throughout the book—here the influence of Henri Bergson is evident. Thus Chapter VII, entitled "By the Ocean of Time", opens with the narrator asking rhetorically, "Can one tell — that is to say, narrate — time, time itself, as such, for its own sake?
The Magic Mountain , in essence, embodies the author's meditations on the tempo of experience. Throughout the book, they discuss the philosophy of time , and debate whether "interest and novelty dispel or shorten the content of time, while monotony and emptiness hinder its passage". The characters also reflect on the problems of narration and time, about the correspondence between the length of a narrative and the duration of the events it describes.
Mann also meditates upon the interrelationship between the experience of time and space; of time seeming to pass more slowly when one doesn't move in space. This aspect of the novel mirrors contemporary philosophical and scientific debates which are embodied in Heidegger's writings and Einstein 's theory of relativity , in which space and time are inseparable.
In essence, Castorp's subtly transformed perspective on the "flat-lands" corresponds to a movement in time. The titular reference to mountain reappears in many layers.
The Berghof sanatorium is located on a mountain, both geographically and figuratively, a separate world. The mountain also represents the opposite of Castorp's home, the sober, business-like "flatland. The first part of the novel culminates and ends in the sanatorium's Carnival feast.