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The Magic Mountain [Paperback]

Thomas Mann
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

29 July 1996
Hans Castorp is 'a perfectly ordinary, if engaging young man' when he goes to visit his cousin in an exclusive sanatorium in the Swiss Alps.What should have been a three week trip turns into a seven year stay. Hans falls in love and becomes intoxicated with the ideas he hears at the clinic - ideas which will strain and crack apart in a world on the verge of the First World War.

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The Magic Mountain + Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family + Death In Venice And Other Stories (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (29 July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749386428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749386429
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Magnificent... a beautiful, feverish account of obsessive love" (Jonathan Coe Guardian)

"Featuring lengthy debates between humanist freemasons and Jews-turned-Catholics, a long love-scene written entirely in French and a brilliant hallucinatory journey down the snowy slopes, it merits multiple readings. A novel for a lifetime not just a rainy afternoon" (Guardian)

"A monumental writer" (Sunday Telegraph)

"The greatest German novelist of the 20th century" (Spectator)

"Mann is Germany's outstanding modern classic, a decadent representative of the tradition of Goethe and Schiller. With his famous irony, he was up there with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Freud, holding together the modern world with a love of art and imagination to compensate for the emptiness left by social and religious collapse." (Independent)

Book Description

This European masterpiece from the Nobel prizewinner explores the lure and degeneracy of ideas in an introverted community on the eve of World War I

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big. Very big. 17 May 2005
By A Customer
Aptly titled book this; it is indeed mountainous - and not just in that it's huge. It is the Everest of books: it's a Herculean task to get try to conquer it but if you do the view is, to follow the metaphor, pretty spectacular. It's also entirely unlike anything I've read in just about any terms - the pace, the style, the narrative and the plot (or lack of it) are all as far as I know unique. Reading it isn't either laborious or fast-paced, I'd call it - in absence of a better word - luxurious; I found myself almost drifting through it, and at times it's no exaggeration to say I just found myself marvelling at the fluid, idea-strewn prose. Whilst it's probably not for the impatient, I still highly, highly reccommend it.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars somewhat clunking translation 17 Mar 2006
By a23
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book quite unlike any other, and is likely to be a read you remember for the rest of your life, it's that impressive.
One of the most sriking features is the pace, which is very deliberate....and will no doubt frustrate many readers by seeming slow and focussing on what might appear as trivialities. However, it builds into a superb picture not just of the characters but of what they represent. All of pre-WW1 european society is represented along with the preoccupations of that time. As a doctor, i also enjoyed the medical aspects of the book, including the sick role and the power of a paternalistic medical profession.
My reasons for ascribing 3 stars are entirely related to the translation by lowe-porter...she herself apologises for the quality of the work in the preface. With a shiny new translation by john woods now available, please consider obtaining that version. I "jumped ship" after reading the first 200 pages of lowe-porter's version and found the woods version so much more enjoyable, the characters have lost their muffled voices.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent and absorbing 29 April 2002
By A Customer
Not only a gripping story with characters constructed in the finest detail, but also an intense meditation on the passing of time. My eagerness to read the next chapter was constantly in conflict with my desire to pause and think over what I had read so far. Persevere with it - the pace is slow to begin with - because if you like books filled with ideas, you really will be missing out if you don't give it a chance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rarefied atmosphere. 22 Jun 2013
I cannot pretend that this is an easy book and I was glad to be as old as 23 when I first read it. It was the first novel of real stature that I had read and I was exhilarated. It tells the story of the unremarkable Hans Castorp, accompanying his T.B. infected cousin Joachim to an Alpine sanatorium. As the train leaves the plain of Hamburg and ascends the land to the Alps, time and space work their relativistic magic as we come to the mountain. Part of this mountain's magic is that here time is slowed, priorities change and the spirit of something not unlike carnival quietly permeates this most unworldly institution. By increments, Castorp is absorbed by the hermetically isolated environment, growing up under various influences, from the sensual Claudia Chauchat (and she is one!), the liberal intellectual Settembrini, his antagonist the Priestly Communist Naptha, (reputedly 'based' on the lit crit Georg Lukacs) and last the lyrical-almost-beyond-words dionysian poet and seer Mynheer Peeperkorn ('based' on Stephan Georg; the influence of Nietzsche on 20th German culture is hard to overestimate). At the party he properly encounters the mysterious Claudia, is captivated and enchanted - that word - and finding himself outside has a mystical experience in the snow when lost and it seems as if he must die, All this is the young, naïve Hans maturing, against the background of what we see are vital debates between his more demagogic companions and odd phenomena like the X-Ray and the girls with their whistling pneumothoraxes, a thing both funny and slightly sinister, as much here is. In fact, the nationalist Mann of preWar years is dramatizing the catastrophe of 1914 Europe - this is in part a coming to terms with it - although the novel works on a simpler plane as well as this more refined one. Read more ›
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book fascinates me. I've read it twice and I'm sure I still haven't picked up on all the ideas that are included. The hospital setting puts the characters in an interesting position: they have all their needs met, but they literally have nothing to do. Some seek an outlet in flirtation and affairs, other become fascinated with trivial hobbies, others spend the time in serious discussion and attempt to make sense of the world and all its peculiarities. All these courses of action seem entirely believable. But although some of the characters are not genuinely seriously ill, every now and again the question of mortality arises and shows up the shallowness of all these ways of life. I was interested to read that the late Robertson Davies ranked this among his favourite books. There is certainly a lot to ponder here. It may not change your life but it may well give you something interesting to discuss in one of those late-night, bottle-of-red-wine, putting-the-world-to-rights occasions!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finishing it is an achievement! 8 July 2013
By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER
I tried to read this in my youth but gave up; however after recently discovering Mann's superlative 'Buddenbrooks', thought I would give it another go.
From the point of view of narrative, Mann sustained my interest throughout. The account of young Hans Castorp, on the brink of a career, who goes to pay a brief visit to a consumptive cousin in a Swiss sanatorium but ends up staying so much longer; the description of life in an institution - albeit a luxurious one; the treatment of the disease in the early years of the 20th century were of great interest. And as events take their toll, and we reach the seance scene - and indeed the ending of the story - Mann's lovely writing brings tears to one's eyes.

However the narrative is interspersed with great sections of philosophical musings, as Hans becomes acquainted with two opposing mentors, Settembrini and Naphta, ('it was again impossible to distinguish which side was in the right, where God stood and where the Devil, where death and where life') whose lengthy and obscure harangues made this reader's heart sink, and felt like wading through porridge. I absolutely confess to only getting the drift of a small percentage of this, coming to identify with the character Ferge, "to whom all elevated thoughts were foreign."
Rating the novel is thus difficult, as I fully realise that loftier minds than mine have been able to appreciate Mann's work. And that the author himself, in his postscript, requests 'that it be read not once but twice' to get 'a deeper enjoyment.'

I shan't be re-reading it; I have to say that when I finally reached page 716 I shouted 'hurrah! I've done it!' It's lovely in parts but mighty heavy going.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Needs to be read alongside the works of more pessimistic philosophers, perhaps Schopenhauer. I love the idea of illness as a choice.
Published 4 months ago by The Big Kahuna
5.0 out of 5 stars It's taken me
some time to get through this tome, nigh on 6 months on and off, but I'm proud to say I'm nearly there. Read more
Published 14 months ago by edb
3.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the Loew-Porter translation
Great novel, but the Lowe-Porter translation is just plain terrible. It's not just that it's clunky - it's frequently downright wrong. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars For want of an editor, a great book is spoiled
Agreeable as it is to be finally able to set down such a great tome, having wrung out every gramme of life and - yes, I have often thought it and so I should let it be said -... Read more
Published on 22 May 2012 by Holtman
1.0 out of 5 stars Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
At the risk of being labelled a Philistine, I declare that this book is one of the most insufferably boring tomes that has ever made it onto my bedside table. Read more
Published on 22 July 2008 by Lance Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful work of art
I've just finished reading The Magic Mountain this morning and I closed it with a smile on my face, having had one of the most rewarding literary experiences of my life. Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2008 by Richard J. Cotter
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books of all time
Ideal for the reader who wishes to escape from this hectic world into the rarefied atmosphere of a T.B. Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2001 by Appia
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