Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

Allusions in the Magic Mountain

Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

Allusions in the Magic Mountain

Article excerpt

The Magic Mountain is one of the most difficult and densely allusive modern novels (1924; trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter, London: Secker & Warburg, 1957). Thomas Mann challenges the serious reader to identify the thematic allusions: the Bible, Shakespeare, anonymous poetry, Donne, Blake, Scott, Keats, Tennyson, Whitman, Longfellow and Conrad; to German literature, especially Goethe's Faust and Schiller's Don Carlos; to the Classics, Italian, French and Russian literature; to history, philosophy, religion, music and art. An understanding of Mann's 71 allusions, an essential part of his style, adds to the novel a new dimension of meaning, interest and intellectual pleasure.

48 & 627--"flat, stale, and unprofitable": Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1.2.133 (1601)

59--"O salute, O Satana, O ribellione, O forza vindice della ragione!" (O salvation, O Satan, O rebellion, O avenging force of reason): Giosue Carducci, "Inno a Satana" (Hymn to Satan), 1863

61--"A fowler bold in me you see, forever laughing merrily!": Mozart, The Magic Flute (1791)

98--"Placet experiri" (It is pleasing to experiment): Francesco Petrarch (1304-74)

129--"O God, how beautiful life was!": Friedrich Schiller, Don Carlos (1787)

130--"Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy-laden": Matthew 11:28

140--"One word from thy sweet lips / Can strangely thrill me": Popular song by Hermann Kletkes (1813-86)

141--"Ah, time is a riddling thing, and hard it is to expound its essence": Hugo von Hofsmannsthal, libretto to Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier (1911)

149--"May I beg admission into this charmed circle?": Richard Wagner, Tannhauser (1845)

160--"What a creature is man, how idly his conscience betrays him": Hamlet, 2.2.312

193--"I need the light": Goethe's last words, "More light" (1832)

249--"he was ashamed to have a body": Porphyrius, pupil and biographer of Plotinus (c.205-270 AD), Roman philosopher and founder of neo-Platonism

252--"Behold, behold, Timotheus!": Schiller, "The Cranes of Ibycus"

253--"Begone, dull care": anonymous English song (1687)

254--"Anch'io sono pittore" (I'm also a painter): Antonio Correggio (1489-1534), on seeing a work by Raphael

286--"The Dance of Death": Late medieval allegory on the vanity of earthly life and inevitability of death. Inspired a series of woodcuts by Hans Holbein (early 1520s)

290--"Ich trage meine Minne / Mit mir herum" (I carry the song of love in my heart): Karl Henckel, set by Richard Strauss, Opus 32, no. 1 (1896)

294--"Cover, my lords": Schiller, Don Carlos

294--"In my own France how different!": Schiller, Don Carlos

295--"Sire, grant freedom of thought" (Geben Sie Gedankenfreiheit)": Schiller, Don Carlos

295--"Leise, leise, fromme Weise" (Softly, softly pious melody): Carl Maria von Weber, Der Freischutz (1821)

298--"Schiller's translation of Benedetto Cenelli": Frau Stohr means Goethe's translation of Benvenuto Cellini

308--"Let the dead bury their dead": Mathew 8:22

322--"Walpurgis-Night": In Goethe's Faust, Part 1 (1808), the witches' sabbath and diabolical revelry that bring Faust to his lowest state of sensuality

322--"the gayest gallants of the night, in brilliant rows advancing": Faust, 3934-35

324--"See the gorgeous tongues of fire---/ Club as gay as heart's desire": Faust, 4057-58

324--"But mind, the mountain's magic-mad to-night, / And if you choose a will-o'-the-wisp to light / Your path, take care, 'twill lead you all astray": Faust, 3868-70

326--"The Harz. Near Schierke and Elend!": towns in the Harz mountains, near the old border of East Germany, scene of Walpurgis-Night

326--"See beldam Baubo riding now" on a sow: Faust, 3962

327--"The fair one, see! 'Tis Lilith! ... Adam's first wife is she": Faust, 4118-19

327--"belle dame sans merci" (beautiful woman without mercy): title of a poem by John Keats (1820)

330--"Here Urian sits up above" / Throughout and about, with clamor and shout: Faust, 3959

343--"leur abondance de delicatesses organiques sous leurs coussins de chair! …

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