Thomas Mann's the Magic Mountain: A Casebook

Thomas Mann's the Magic Mountain: A Casebook

Thomas Mann's the Magic Mountain: A Casebook

Thomas Mann's the Magic Mountain: A Casebook

Synopsis

This collection seeks to illustrate the ways in which Thomas Mann's 1924 novel, The Magic Mountain, has been newly construed by some of today's most astute readers in the field of Mann studies. The essays, many of which were written expressly for this volume, comment on some of the familiar and inescapable topics of Magic Mountain scholarship, including the questions of genre and ideology, the philosophy of time, and the ominous subjects of disease and medical practice. Moreover, this volume offers fresh approaches to the novel's underlying notions of masculinity, to its embodiment of the cultural code of anti-Semitism, and to its precarious relationship to the rival media of photography, cinema, and recorded sound.

Excerpt

The literary fortunes of Thomas Mann’s 1924 novel The Magic Mountain in the English-speaking world, unlike those in his native country, have been rather mixed. Looking back over the eighty years since its publication, we can readily distinguish three phases in the critical reception of the book: first, a period of widespread acclaim, in which The Magic Mountain was generally held in the highest regard; second, a period of benign neglect in which the novel receded into the background of the literary landscape; and third, during the last two decades a period of significant new interest in Mann’s work. The present anthology is designed to suggest what forms that new interest has taken and to inspire further critical forays into some of the unmapped territories of this great mountain of a book.

For some two decades after the appearance in 1927 of Helen T. Lowe-Porter’s translation of Der Zauberberg, American critics routinely ranked the author of The Magic Mountain among the foremost men of letters of his age. This view found strong support in Hermann Weigand’s book-length analysis of the novel, the first such undertaking in any language, which appeared in 1933. It soon became customary to refer to Mann in the same breath as Proust and Joyce as one of the outstanding practitioners of the modern novel. Astonishing as it may seem to today’s professors of literature, it was by no means . . .

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