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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