The Magic Mountain

Mann, Thomas

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela
  • Date of entry: May-20-1994
  • Last revised: Aug-31-2006


Hans Castorp makes a visit to the International Sanitarium Berghof in the Swiss Alps to rest and visit his cousin, Joachim Ziemssen. There he meets other patients from around Europe, all with different opinions about life and its meaning. Before his three week visit is up, Hans develops tuberculosis and ends up staying seven years. He leaves only when the Sanitarium gets news of the assassination of the Archduke that will begin World War One.


Each of the characters Hans meets is a symbol for a strain of thought prevalent in pre-war Germany. Castorp himself is fascinated with ideas of death. Claudia Chauchat is a hedonist. Settembrini is an Italian humanist, secure in his belief that man can be improved through reason. Mann makes all these characters seem effete and sick--their tuberculosis is a sign of social illness. The start of the war is symbol that such aesthetic wanderings must come to an end. The novel provides a look at treatment for tuberculosis at the turn of the century. It is a fairly intimate, if fictional, look at one of the famed mountain spots for recovery. The disease is nearly a character itself, coming and going from the lives of the other characters.


First published: 1924


Random House

Place Published

New York