The Magic Mountain New Ed Edition
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- Publisher : VINTAGE; New Ed edition (January 1, 1996)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 736 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0749386428
- ISBN-13 : 978-0749386429
- Item Weight : 1.19 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.08 x 5.08 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,212,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I went to a bookstore and bought an excellent copy published by Vintage Press. The translation captures Mann’s wit and irony and the dialogue that is intended to be spoken in French is italicized and in English translation.
Top reviews from other countries
Thomas Mann started writing this novel in 1912, but it was not finished, or published, until 1924. Obviously, this work was interrupted, and vastly changed, by WWI and led Mann to reflect on European society. Mann, himself, suggested that you need to read this book first and you certainly do feel that it is a novel which will stay with you and that it has many, many themes to reflect upon: obviously, illness and death (this is set in a sanatorium after all), a sense of being separate and apart from the world, time, love, desire, humanism, radicalism, and duty, best represented by Joachim Ziemmsen.
It is Ziemmsen, a young soldier, who is originally resident at the Berghof, when his cousin, Hans Castorp, comes to visit him. What begins as a short visit, with his idea of staying merely weeks, laughed at by those who measure time in months, at the shortest, is gradually extended into months and then years. Hans is young, innocent, eager to experience everything and yet, indolent enough to embrace the languid, comfortable world of the Berghof. Yet, although the sanatorium appears to visitors as an isolated world of comfort and privilege, there is, undoubtedly, real illness and death behind closed doors.
Thomas Mann manages to convey complex and difficult ideas, but he never forgets that he is creating a novel, and maintains the storyline of the TB sanatorium and of the inhabitants who live, and work, there. A novel is, essentially, about its characters, and you do care about what happens to those who appear within the pages of this huge novel, as Mann weaves a world of ideas, characters and themes, which not only highlight events leading to the first world war, but suggest political ideas leading to the second. I have a feeling this is a novel I will come back to again, later in my life, and gain more from every time I do read it.
I’m not surprised at his prescription…Here are some of the things he manages to pack in to those eight hundred pages; X Rays, photography, cinematography, the gramophone, Einstein’s theory of relativity, clairvoyance, women’s rights, ice-skating, ethnicity, the origins of the universe, freemasonry, psychoanalysis, environmental recycling, justice, ‘the Remarkable Theorem’, pig-drawing, five square meals a day, stamp collecting, magic realism, chocolate eating, operatic arias, the Milky Way, the wearing of allegorical costumes, mindfulness, and the art of duelling. He also exposes the delicate intellect of the reader to the theories of Rousseau, Goethe, Petrarch, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. As a novel these days it could well be seen as an agent’s nightmare.
But Mann has his funny side. ‘Jest’ he calls it, and claims that he wrote it as light relief after Death in Venice. ‘Jest’ - his word not the translator’s for Mann always insisted on writing his ‘sleeve’ notes in English. Some folk find the novel a ‘little too German’ he suggests. The book is undoubtedly funny; I mean what man would think of carrying about his person – instead of a photo of his beloved - an X Ray of her thorax? That really would be one for the smart phone! The Hofrat of the Berghaus Sanatorium is characterised as being unctuously lascivious, and the implication is that he’s hell-bent on either seducing or bullying his patients into staying there as long as possible – in the narrator Hans Castorp’s case running to a period of seven years – seven years of shelling out extortionate fees! This doesn’t mean to say that Mann is underplaying the scourge of tuberculosis, on the contrary, there’s a persistent patient death rate throughout Hans’ stay, its’ just that Mann is seeing a funny side of The Berghaus, as if it were a kind of dating agency for the infirm.
But it’s not satire; Mann is far cleverer than that. He chooses the word ‘jest’ because it rhymes with ‘quest’(don't forget, the sleeve notes are written in English) which is what the Magic Mountain is, with its rather dim-witted but highly personable hero Hans in search of the Holy Grail, a journey full of danger, romance, and alchemy. Does he find it?
Well, to discover that you will have to read The Magic Mountain…Not once, but twice!
Entire chapters of dialogue that you either need to learn the language, or spend ages putting through Google translate which is painful and disruptive.
This is supposedly to keep the nuance of the German v French languages, but really... what's the point if you've purchased the English version? Surely this could have been achieved in another way.