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Will you emerge from reading this book like Rip Van Winkle, your child grown, your spouse dead? Up here, in the sanatorium, time is measured in weeks, months, years. But then there are places where the narrative sprouts wings and soars. I - Truss Technologies, Inc. Hans is not unique. I have called to cancell but they keep charging my credit card and sending me product that I no longer want.
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Smith notes above, this was hardly the free trade that Adam Smith suggested and it seemed like a continuation of mercantilist policies. However, even during its prevalent times before the Second World War, neoliberalism had already started to show signs of increasing disparities between rich and poor. Because of the Great Depression in the s, an economist, John Maynard Keynes, suggested that regulation and government intervention was actually needed in order to provide more equity in development.
This led to the Keynesian model of development and after World War II formed the foundation for the rebuilding of the U. S-European-centered international economic system. The Marshall Plan for Europe helped reconstruct it and the European nations saw the benefits of social provisions such as health, education and so on, as did the U.
As Susan George notes , when these institutions were created at Bretton Woods in , their mandate was to help prevent future conflicts by lending for reconstruction and development and by smoothing out temporary balance of payments problems. This is very different from what they are doing today. At least in the Western countries, at that time, everyone was a Keynesian, a social democrat or a social-Christian democrat or some shade of Marxist.
The idea that the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given much less rather than more social protection — such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time. Even if someone actually agreed with these ideas, he or she would have hesitated to take such a position in public and would have had a hard time finding an audience.
However, as elites and corporations saw their profits diminish with this equalizing effect, economic liberalism was revived, hence the term neoliberalism. Except, that this new form was not just limited to national boundaries, but instead was to apply to international economics as well. Starting from the University of Chicago with the philosopher-economist Friedrich von Hayek and his students such as Milton Friedman, the ideology of neoliberalism was pushed very thoroughly around the world.
Even before this though, there were indications that the world economic order was headed this way: The want for access to cheap resources to continue creating vast wealth and power allowed the imperial empires to justify military action, imperialism and colonialism in the name of national interests , national security , humanitarian intervention and so on.
In fact, as J. The wealth of the ancient city-states of Venice and Genoa was based on their powerful navies, and treaties with other great powers to control trade. This evolved into nations designing their trade policies to intercept the wealth of others mercantilism.
Occasionally one powerful country would overwhelm another through interception of its wealth though a trade war, covert war, or hot war; but the weaker, less developed countries usually lose in these exchanges. It is the military power of the more developed countries that permits them to dictate the terms of trade and maintain unequal relationships.
As European and American economies grew, they needed to continue expansion to maintain the high standards of living that some elites were attaining in those days. This required holding on to, and expanding colonial territories in order to gain further access to the raw materials and resources, as well exploiting cheap labor.
Those who resisted were often met with brutal repression or military interventions. This is not a controversial perception. President Woodrow Wilson recognized this in the early part of the 20th century:.
Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process.
Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused. Richard Robbins, Professor of Anthropology and author of Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism is also worth quoting at length:. The Great Global Depression of that lasted essentially until was the first great manifestation of the capitalist business crisis. The depression was not the first economic crisis [as there had been many for thousands of years] but the financial collapse of revealed the degree of global economic integration, and how economic events in one part of the globe could reverberate in others.
The Depression of revealed another big problem with capitalist expansion and perpetual growth: Given this situation, if you were an American or European investor in , where would you look for economic expansion? The obvious answer was to expand European and American power overseas, particularly into areas that remained relatively untouched by capitalist expansion — Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
Colonialism had become, in fact, a recognized solution to the need to expand markets, increase opportunities for investors, and ensure the supply of raw material. In Rhodes said:. I was in the East End of London yesterday and attended a meeting of the unemployed.
I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for bread , bread, and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialist. As a result of this cry for imperialist expansion, people all over the world were converted into producers of export crops as millions of subsistence farmers were forced to become wage laborers producing for the market and required to purchase from European and American merchants and industrialists, rather than supply for themselves, their basic needs.
World War I was, in effect, a resource war as Imperial centers battled over themselves for control of the rest of the world. World War II was another such battle, perhaps the ultimate one. However, the former imperial nations realized that to fight like this is not the way, and became more cooperative instead. The Soviet attempt of an independent path to development flawed that it was, because of its centralized, paranoid and totalitarian perspectives , was a threat to these centers of capital because their own colonies might get the wrong idea and also try for an independent path to their development.
Because World War II left the empires weak, the colonized countries started to break free. In some places, where countries had the potential to bring more democratic processes into place and maybe even provide an example for their neighbors to follow it threatened multinational corporations and their imperial or former imperial states for example, by reducing access to cheap resources. As a result, their influence, power and control was also threatened.
Often then, military actions were sanctioned. To the home populations, the fear of communism was touted, even if it was not the case, in order to gain support. The net effect was that everyone fell into line, as if it were, allowing a form of globalization that suited the big businesses and elite classes mainly of the former imperial powers. Hence, there is no surprise that some of the main World War II rivals, USA, Germany and Japan as well as other European nations are so prosperous, while the former colonial countries are still so poor; the economic booms of those wealthy nations have been at the expense of most people around the world.
Thus, to ensure this unequal success, power, and advantage globalization was backed up with military might and still is. Hence, even with what seemed like the end of imperialism and colonialism at the end of World War II, and the promotion of Adam Smith free trade and free markets, mercantilist policies still continued. Adam Smith exposed the previous system as mercantilist and unjust.
He then proposed free market capitalism as the alternative. More about this in the next section on this site. And so, a belief system had to accompany the political objectives:. When the blatant injustices of mercantilist imperialism became too embarrassing, a belief system was imposed that mercantilism had been abandoned and true free trade was in place.
In reality the same wealth confiscation went on, deeply buried within complex systems of monopolies and unequal trade hiding under the cover of free trade. Many explanations were given for wars between the imperial nations when there was really one common thread: Who will control resources and trade and the wealth produced through inequalities in trade?
The Reagan and Thatcher era in particular, saw neoliberalism pushed to most parts of the globe, almost demonizing anything that was publicly owned, encouraging the privatization of anything it could, using military interventions if needed.
Structural Adjustment policies were used to open up economies of poorer countries so that big businesses from the rich countries could own or access many resources cheaply. So, from a small, unpopular sect with virtually no influence, neo-liberalism has become the major world religion with its dogmatic doctrine, its priesthood, its law-giving institutions and perhaps most important of all, its hell for heathen and sinners who dare to contest the revealed truth.
Oskar Lafontaine, the ex-German Finance Minister who the Financial Times called an unreconstructed Keynesian has just been consigned to that hell because he dared to propose higher taxes on corporations and tax cuts for ordinary and less well-off families. The Iron Lady was herself a disciple of Friedrich von Hayek, she was a social Darwinist and had no qualms about expressing her convictions. Competition is central because it separates the sheep from the goats, the men from the boys, the fit from the unfit.
It is supposed to allocate all resources, whether physical, natural, human or financial with the greatest possible efficiency. Above all, do not compete.
The only actors in the neo-liberal world who seem to have taken his advice are the largest actors of all, the Transnational Corporations. The principle of competition scarcely applies to them; they prefer to practice what we could call Alliance Capitalism. As former World Bank Chief Economist Josepth Stiglitz notes, it is a simplistic ideology which most developed nations have resisted themselves:. Because in this model there is no need for government — that is, free, unfettered, liberal markets work perfectly — the Washington Consensus policies are sometimes referred to as neo-liberal, based on market fundamentalism, a resuscitation of the laissez-faire policies that were popular in some circles in the nineteenth century.
In the aftermath of the Great Depression and the recognition of other failings of the market system, from massive inequality to unlivable cities marred by pollution and decay, these free market policies have been widely rejected in the more advanced industrial countries, though within these countries there remains an active debate about the appropriate balance between government and markets.
Economists Sanford Grossman and Joseph Stiglitz demonstrated this in , and hundreds of subsequent studies have pointed out quite how unrealistic the hypothesis is, some of the most influential of which were written by Eugene Fama himself [who first formulated the idea as a a Ph.
Markets can behave irrationally—investors can herd behind a stock, pushing its value up in ways entirely unrelated to the stock being traded. Despite ample economic evidence to suggest it was false, the idea of efficient markets ran riot through governments.
The World Wars were about rival powers fighting amongst themselves to the spoils of the rest of the world; maintaining their empires and influence over the terms of world trade, commerce and, ultimately, power. Throughout the Cold War, we contained a global threat to market democracies: John Gray, mentioned above, notes that the same processes to force the peasantry off their lands and into waged labor, and to socially engineer a transformation to free markets is also taking place today in the third world:.
The achievement of a similar transformation [as in mid-nineteenth century England] is the overriding objective today of transnational organizations such as the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The thinkers of the Enlightenment, such as Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx never doubted that the future for every nation in the world was to accept some version of western institutions and values. A diversity of cultures was not a permanent condition of human life. It was a stage on the way to a universal civilization, in which the varied traditions and culture of the past were superseded by a new, universal community founded on reason. Gray also notes how this western view of the world is not necessarily compatible with the views of other cultures and this imposition for a western view of civilization may not be accepted by everyone.
Ironically then, using terms like Enlightenment , freedom , liberty , etc, which is common in such discourse, as Gray notes, results in conformity, almost totalitarian in nature. Around mid a financial crisis, starting in the US, spread around the world into a global financial crisis , and then into a more general economic crisis, which, as of writing this, the world has still not recovered from. The crisis has been so severe, criticisms of market fundamentalism and neoliberalism are more widespread than before.
Raj Patel argues that the markets in their current shape have created a convoluted idea of value; value meals are cheap but unhealthy whereas fruit and veg are often more expensive; rainforests are hardly valued whereas felling trees adds to the economy.
Flawed assumptions about the underlying economic systems contributed to this problem and had been building up for a long time, the current financial crisis being one of its eventualities. This problem could have been averted in theory as people had been pointing to these issues for decades.
Yet, of course, during periods of boom no-one let alone the financial institutions and their supporting ideologues and politicians largely believed to be responsible for the bulk of the problems would want to hear of caution and even thoughts of the kind of regulation that many are now advocating.
To suggest anything would be anti-capitalism or socialism or some other label that could effectively shut up even the most prominent of economists raising concerns. Of course, the irony that those same institutions would now themselves agree that those anti-capitalist regulations are required is of course barely noted. Such options now being considered are not anti-capitalist. However, they could be described as more regulatory or managed rather than completely free or laissez faire capitalism, which critics of regulation have often preferred.
But a regulatory capitalist economy is very different to a state-based command economy, the style of which the Soviet Union was known for. The points is that there are various forms of capitalism, not just the black-and-white capitalism and communism. And at the same time, the most extreme forms of capitalism can also lead to the bigger bubbles and the bigger busts.
In that context, the financial crisis, as severe as it was, led to key architects of the system admitting to flaws in key aspects of the ideology.
At the end of , Alan Greenspan was summoned to the U. Congress to testify about the financial crisis. His tenure at the Federal Reserve had been long and lauded, and Congress wanted to know what had gone wrong.
Henry Waxman questioned him:. I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.
In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working. That is precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.
And Greenspan is not alone. The only guy who really called this right was Karl Marx. One after the other, the celebrants of the free market are finding themselves, to use the language of the market, corrected. We had become accustomed to the hypocrisy. The banks reject any suggestion they should face regulation, rebuff any move towards anti-trust measures — yet when trouble strikes, all of a sudden they demand state intervention: The industry as a whole has not been doing what it should be doing … and it must now face change in its regulatory structures.
Regrettably, many of the worst elements of the US financial system … were exported to the rest of the world. Some of these regulatory measures have been easy to get around for various reasons. Some reasons for weak regulation that entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth describes include that regulators. It was all done in the name of innovation, and any regulatory initiative was fought away with claims that it would suppress that innovation.
They were innovating, all right, but not in ways that made the economy stronger. Unfortunately, they were far too successful, and we are all — homeowners, workers, investors, taxpayers — paying the price. The wasted capital, labor and resources all add up. British economist John Maynard Keynes, is considered one of the most influential economists of the 20th century and one of the fathers of modern macroeconomics.
He advocated an interventionist form of government policy believing markets left to their own measure i. To mitigate against the worst effects of these cycles, he supported the idea that governments could use various fiscal and monetary measures.
His ideas helped rebuild after World War II, until the s when his ideas were abandoned for freer market systems. Now, take that question, and apply it to Europe as a whole.
What do you see? There's a question for the ages, if ever there was one. And to tie in to the other wonderful side to the coin: Either he goes along, continuing to 'play king' with his trains of thought honed inside the 'Magic Mountain', or all his questions are answered in regards to death and the end of all things. Either path is a happy ending, in my opinion. Even nothing is an answer, and would be no more than an extended rest cure, only more final and everlasting than the others.
But I will save space for further re-readings, when the fervor is once again fresh and I have more immediate recollection under my belt to spout out. You find a gem like this, and you can't go back. View all 40 comments. View all 11 comments. Jun 12, Lee rated it it was amazing. I bet you like boring shit like The Magic Mountain. Now, if I time-traveled back to Boston that night the sun was just barely up, actually -- early summer dawn comes around 4 am I'd change her mind about me and The Magic Mountain with enthusiastic description of how the book was boring at times, sure, totally intentionally boring at times, I'd say, but shit it's most certainly not.
It didn't get going for me until freaking pages in total. Formally steady pre-modernist approach: Content-wise, every page seems infused with intellectual talk -- it's explicitly hyper-thematic, a novel of ideas in which the major conflicts are theoretical, a novel that climaxes with a confounding blizzard of argument between opposing intellectuals "Operationes Spirtuales," p followed by a sublime chapter "Snow," p in which the main dude Hans sets out for some solo skiing and gets lost in an actual blizzard of wind-driven snow that gives way to abstractions and hallucinations, like how conflicting theories about Progress or Spirit or the necessity of terror or humaneness are manifested in reality -- first, escalating into real physical conflict between the two intellectual adversaries the humanist Settembrini and the protofascist Naphta and then later on real physical conflict among nations driven to war by ideas: Ideas, simply because they were rigorous, led inexorably to bestial deeds, to a settlement by physical struggle?
All in all, things seem intentionally shaped like an arduous ascent in itself. It's a novel that tries to induce a confounded sense in readers, too, erring on the side of a sort of highly managed confusion intermixed with occasional passages of extreme clarity eg, at one point there's a description of moments when the sides of mountains all around can be seen through temporary openings in the clouds. It's structured like an upwardly undulating slope that ends sort of in open air.
The language is always accessible but it's rarely propelled by a narrative engine running on high-viscosity plot. For the most part, the plot involves questions like: Will Hans get sick? Will Hans stay long? Will Hans get the girl he likes?
Will Settembrini or Naptha win the struggle for Hans' burgeoning intellectual soul? Will Hans get sicker and die and or freakin' leave this jawn, healthy or not? Thought about handing out four stars ye olde 4. Not really a book with many favorable female characters other than one sort of protoliberated object of Hans' lust known for slamming doors. In general, felt like a month-long vacation somewhere I often wanted to leave that nevertheless offered dramatic experiences and vistas and insight.
Now I'm glad to be home -- I really look forward to reading a few quicker, easier, shorter books in a row -- but also I feel like the effort was totally rewarded, especially in the last twenty pages. Anyway, a major mess-with-me-not weapon to wield against those who argue against the presence of ideas in fiction. Highly recommended to pretentious little fuckers everywhere, of any age over 30 if younger, I'd wait to read it.
A note on names -- Naptha's name seems to relate to naphtha: It is a broad term covering among the lightest and most volatile fractions of the liquid hydrocarbons in petroleum. Naphtha is a colorless to reddish-brown volatile aromatic liquid, very similar to gasoline. A Visit from the Goon Squad ; Tinkers View all 26 comments. Reviewed in December, I love when the themes of two books I happen to be reading overlap. And when those themes also reflect aspects of my own life experience, I feel a wonderful convergence, an exchange of awareness at an almost physical level as if the the space between the pages where the authors ideas are laid out and my reading of their pages has become porous and a continual flow happens between all three, an exchange not unlike the one that happens in the deepest tissues of the respir Reviewed in December, I love when the themes of two books I happen to be reading overlap.
And when those themes also reflect aspects of my own life experience, I feel a wonderful convergence, an exchange of awareness at an almost physical level as if the the space between the pages where the authors ideas are laid out and my reading of their pages has become porous and a continual flow happens between all three, an exchange not unlike the one that happens in the deepest tissues of the respiratory system when we breathe in and out.
The exchanges that take place between the two books might also be compared to those produced by the vibrating membrane of the acoustic chamber of a gramophone - since music plays such a big part in both works even as it does in my own life.
Certain pieces of music become significant in both books, and are used by their authors as a kind of recurring theme. Hans follows many avenues of study in his quest to understand himself, one of them being the lectures given every week in the sanatorium by Dr Krokowski on the subject of love as a force conducive to illness.
Among the arcane topics covered by the doctor is The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights. This work was a favourite of Proust, and love as a force conducive to illness is itself an underlying theme in À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. Dr Krokowkski also talks about plants in connection with love, in particular the morel mushroom.
Proust chooses the name Morel for one of his characters, a character himself associated with the destructive power of love. The study of plants becomes a preoccupation for Hans in his personal program for self cultivation.
He is particularly interested in the family of flowers called ranunculacae, a compound flower, as I recall, an especially charming plant, bisexual Proust and Mann place themselves in the text from time to time, acknowledging the reader reading, At the beginning of May for May arrived while we were talking about snowdrops They both have very sharp observational skills as if they had taken a quick snapshot of a glance, a way of sitting or standing, a way of walking, and they can stretch description almost to the point of caricature as in the case of Dr Behrens or Mme Verdurin.
Narrative, however, has two kinds of time: He can stretch a moment out of all proportion to real time: Claudia's napkin slips towards the floor - Hans Castorp half rises as if to pick it up it - but she retrieves it, scowls in annoyance at her own silly panic and turns away with a smile.
That brief incident takes half a page to tell but at other times, Mann can condense years into a single sentence: There is not that much time left in any case, it's rushing by slapdash as it is, or if that's too noisy a way of putting it, it's whisking past hurry-scurry.
Because the weather on the Magic Mountain is unpredictible with snow in summer and sunshine in winter, robbing the year of its seasons , Hans Castorp marks the passage of time not by calendars or watches but simply by his visits to the barber or the frequency with which he clips his nails - and since death is a major theme, as it is also in Proust, Mann reminds the reader more than once that, In the end it is only the physical that remains, the nails and the hair.
View all 60 comments. Seekers of the controversial currents of thought in the Nineteenth Century. Impressions on my first reading of "The Magic Mountain" in Before GR I finished this over-long book and I can only say I am not prepared to read it again, even if Thomas Mann himself asked me in person. A complex book, philosophy, history and politics all mixed up with symbolism and irony. The author plays with the perception of time and the reader loses touch with reality.
A swayed main character, too much of vain discourse and little sense. I won't deny the singularity of the work, but I Impressions on my first reading of "The Magic Mountain" in I won't deny the singularity of the work, but I can't say I enjoyed it. My mind must be too plain to follow this kind of argument, I'll leave it for others to enjoy, I'll turn to something quite different.
Impressions on my second reading in After GR In spite of my headstrong resolution, when GR crossed my path, I forgot all about my self-made promises and decided to embark on a second literary journey with this novel participating in the Thomas Mann Group Reading. I have tried to write a more detailed account of my thoughts on this second reading. The same Thomas Mann recommends to read his novel not once but twice in his afterword, comparing the experience of a second reading with the necessity of knowing a piece of music to fully appreciate each note, which will lead to a thorough enjoyment of the apparently separate movements that compose a symphony.
Thomas Mann considered music as the quintessential art. The reader is painfully slowly introduced to these higher reflections through the portrayal of the life in a tuberculosis sanatorium placed at the top of a mountain in Davos where the young engineer Hans Castorp, model of the refined and educated man of the nineteenth century, visits his cousin Joachim Ziemssen for seven days.
Being helplessly drawn to the eerie allurement of this otherworldly and timeless spot, Hans ends up staying seven years instead.
My main misgiving with this undeniable literary masterpiece falls upon the false impression of the story being an outstanding work of magical realism that can be drawn from its first chapters only to witness the thick veil of artifice irremediably drawn creating a blurred atmosphere almost theatrical. Main character whose main feature is his hunger for knowledge. My most favorite and complex character, full of inner contradictions and existential wonder.
Naptha is the fastidious voice in the story, a nostalgic of medieval order, defender of radical extremes, from totalitarian systems to anarchism or communism.
He possesses great skill in dialectic and rhetoric as any consummated sophist. Her Asiatic features and slanted eyes remind Hans of Pribislav Hippe, a schoolmate to whom he felt strongly attracted as a child.
The question of homosexuality or even bisexuality is most evident in the way Hans links these two characters as well as in the silent and hostile rivalry between Settembrini and Mme. He represents the ability to feel and enjoy life intensely, conversely to the intellectualism of Naphta and Settembrini. In the end, each one of the characters, no matter the ideas they represent, have to face the mystery of time, life and death.
Beauty is of little consequence. Time is the undisclosed but ever present character of the narrative. Time, an element of music, measuring its form and structure giving rhythm and pace and climax to the written score. Time inextricably linked to life, like bodies in space, moving relentlessly towards an unavoidable destiny, highlighting the insignificance of humankind.
This is a timeless classic, maybe one of the most influential pieces of written art in the twentieth century, finely formed, filled with myriad reflections of the highest order, irony and satire but, even with overflowing written musicality, the novel has failed for a second time to strike the right chord in the symphony which is eternally played in my plain but complex soul.
View all 44 comments. A tua história chegou ao fim. É a rotina milimetricamente planeada, a vida num Tempo sem relógios, em contraponto com o mundo da planície onde a vida decorre impaciente.
Ler, pelo simples prazer de apreciar uma obra que nos envolve. Deixo essa parte para quem o faça melhor do que eu. Aborreci-me e bocejei de tédio com algumas das discussões e encantei-me com outras. View all 18 comments. Feb 03, T. Whittle rated it it was amazing Shelves: I am not going to review this book in any serious or analytical way.
It's been reviewed by many clever readers already, over several generations and sprawling continents. It hardly needs my support. I am just going to offer my entirely subjective comments about what a great and thoroughly enjoyable read it is. The plot should be familiar to Western readers by now, as this classic is a century old and much discussed in literary circles. However, in case you missed out, here's the synopsis from Goo I am not going to review this book in any serious or analytical way.
However, in case you missed out, here's the synopsis from Goodreads: The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension, and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death. It took me ages to finish because I kept setting it aside to think about it and to write on colourful sticky notes, which now make my book twice as thick as it already was.
I did not want to rush through my reading, so I allowed The Magic Mountain its own space in my life, reading it only when I could give it my full attention for several hours at a stretch, to the exclusion of everything else. In honour of the "cure"and to get a feel for Hans's setting, I often spent this time on our front balcony overlooking our garden and the gentle hills that make up our town. Alas, there were no great snows or high peaks, but it has its own kind of curative peace, nonetheless.
It was necessary for me to stop reading from time to time, in order to ponder important questions, such as whether I am Team Naphta or Team Settembrini. There is only one right choice, of course, and I was always on side with the passionate Humanist, despite his dogmatism and at times overbearing manner. While I felt sad for Naphta's final solution, it was rather inevitable, and I have to admit to enormous relief that our fictional Italian ideologue survived the ordeal.
This has to be the best Modern novel I've read. I love that Mann took on the entire Western world and all of our human concerns -- personal, social, existential, political, natural, theological, and artistic -- as the basis for his book. I love that he chose one rather impressionable but not overly impressive young man to be our un-heroic hero.
Having said that, I must add that I believe that I thought more highly of Hans than Hans thought of himself, or perhaps than Mann thought of him. I did not find Hans to be such an ordinary young man at all, at least not by today's standards. Perhaps young European men were typically much cleverer and more personally restrained during that era, than our average young man today?
I doubt it, though. It's fair to say that Hans is easily swayed by stronger personalities than his own. Because of this proclivity, he remains vulnerable and vacillating in his own philosophies as one who stands for nothing and so might fall for anything. Hans is not strong enough in himself to withstand peer pressure, even when he is appalled by the undertakings of those peers. Against his own better judgment, he participates in activities that are, by his own account, distasteful and sometimes dangerous and illegal i.
And yet, I admired his sense of friendship and the way that he reflected on things, trying hard to make right choices. Mann really turns the coming-of-age tale on its head, though, as in the end, one expects Hans to be wiser, stronger, and more decisive in himself. In fact, what happens is that news of the war crashes through the protective walls of the Berghof, awakening Hans from his seven-year "enchantment" and propelling him off to battle, along with thousands of other young men.
That Hans would join the war, whatever his thoughts and feelings on it which we never know , was inevitable, too.
As Settembrini says, explaining the necessity of the duel to Hans, "Whoever is unable to offer his person, his arm, his blood, in service of the ideal, is unworthy of it; however intellectualized, it is the duty of a man to remain a man" p.
So, in one of the finest and most subtle ironic twists I've read, ever, Hans's "salvation" from suspended animation at the Berghof comes by way, not of his healing, or his education by learned minds, or his experience in love and death and illness all of which make up his life-but-not-life existence but by an external inescapable catastrophe.
Once again, Hans does not act upon life but reacts to it. It chooses him, as it chooses all his able-bodied peers. But of course, what we readers suspect is that it is most likely not life, but death which has chosen Hans, which has swept him off his mountain top and into its arms.
We never know for sure. This novel is subtle and yet also straightforward, with a plot that is simple to follow and yet also complex and multi-layered. It's hilarious and serious and sometimes goes on and on about topics that make you question your devotion as a reader i. I marvel at how any writer could write characters like these, who are each representing a particular worldview and high-flung ideals, and yet who come across as real people rather than allegorical stand-ins for human beings.
When we take our leave of each of the august personages who haunt the Berghof, we feel the loss of a relationship that mattered to us. That was my experience, anyway, as I said goodbye to Joachim, to Peeperkorn, to Claudia, and then, finally, to Settembrini and Hans himself. It's fascinating and a bit sad to realise that many of the big topics the Europeans were grappling with a hundred years ago are still relevant today, and not only the existential ones: Clearly, we haven't resolved this yet, and it seems only to be getting worse if we judge by recent events.
I will re-read The Magic Mountain because I feel there is much to learn from it and that a second reading is not only desirable but also necessary to even begin to grasp it all. Also, I will no doubt be missing my friends at the Berghof by then.
View all 6 comments. May 08, Geoff rated it it was amazing Shelves: And he gazed at laughing skulls and procrastinated and made colloquies with ghosts within the walls his cliffside castle. Hans Castorp also waits, lingers, decides not to decide, dallies with whether it is better to be or not to be, listens to his attendant spirits, weighs skulls in the palm of his hand while time pulses around him on great heights. Does the needle know, as it moves along its course, where it might be, temporally, narratively, in our opera?
Or does it lose itself by being bound within and not outside of this this strange method of capturing and reading Time? Yet we measure this boundless sea of Time as if each wave was not retreating from us and coming at us simultaneously, and so was not ungraspable- by the shore of Time sand is collected and placed into a glass funnel, it is pulled down through the hourglass by gravity and in the bottom bell of the hourglass a mountain slowly takes shape.
Fantastical things occur to people when the time is out of joint. And those living within the flux and flex of timeless time also become fantastic, phantasmal. Great stupor and great petulance infect our population at these heights. As if Time were a lung in a chest opened for us to watch, on an x-ray machine perhaps, as it expands and contracts- we are aware that each expansion and contraction is a kind of counting down for the biological organism- but for the breather, what good would counting breaths do, but become another way of ticking out individuated moments moving us closer to the final great cataclysm?
It could be nothing else, if it were to be a time novel. View all 42 comments. Apr 07, Elie F rated it it was amazing Shelves: One of my all time favorites. The magic mountain symbolizes a community detached from the flatland, the normal values, duties, history, time, indulging in its physical closeness to and spiritual longing for sickness and death. Hans Castorp, after entering into this fatigued, detached, and self-perpetuating community, became increasingly obsessed with the romanticism of sickness and death, which he considered noble.
Mann not only associated sickness death with decay, sensuality and love "all lov One of my all time favorites. Mann not only associated sickness death with decay, sensuality and love "all love is only disease transformed" , but also with knowledge and intellect, a theme also explored in Death in Venice.
The death of Hans' cousin Joachim Ziemssen who symbolizes tradition value and duty, and asserts that opinions don't matter as long as one is a decent chap in the incredibly touching chapter A Soldier, And Brave, marked a turning point for Hans' fascination with death, revealed to him the moral seriousness of death and the strength of piety and duty against death "For two things were unmistakable: And with this—I awake.
There is a sense that this mediocre fate suits Hans Castorp well, who Mann also characterizes as mediocre, "though in an entirely honorable sense. What I especially love about it is that those binary oppositions are not clear-cut, and other themes permeate them, enrich them, and eventually shatter them. Mann reveals to us that both sides are pedagogues, and the quarrels are nothing but a battle of noise. But in the end something might out of this war: View all 9 comments.
Dec 11, Alex rated it it was ok Shelves: Eight years later he finished Magic Mountain, which proves that time is relative by making the experience of reading it last fucking forever. Here is the "plot": Young Hans Castorp has found that he doesn't enjoy having a job, or anything else about life, so when he ambles up a mountain to visit his consumptive cousin Joachim who does nothing but sit around wrapped in a blanket all day Wimps in the Mist Time is not a constant, said Einstein in , and his fellow German Thomas Mann was like whoa.
Young Hans Castorp has found that he doesn't enjoy having a job, or anything else about life, so when he ambles up a mountain to visit his consumptive cousin Joachim who does nothing but sit around wrapped in a blanket all day, he decides to stay. He exists to listen to the debate Mann is really interested in: The debate may seem academic but it has dire repercussions for your life, because reading it will make you so bored.
These two bloviating asshats stand for the two sides in World War I, and the nicest thing you can say about this book is that it didn't go over super well with Nazis. They treated Mann with kid gloves for a while - he won the Nobel Prize in , after all - but he would eventually have his German citizenship revoked. He spent the rest of his life in Switzerland and America. He was an interesting dude: Castorp's love interest Clavdia Chauchat - literally "hot pussy" - is, Orlandoish, the resexed reincarnation of Castorp's youthful male love interest Pribislav.
Both of them will loan Castorp what may be the same pencil, which is as interesting as a pencil can be, which is not at all. As for God, Settembrini represents science and Naptha, the bad guy, represents religion: But Mann doesn't want you to actually take sides. They carried everything to extremes, these two His point is that any philosophy taken to extreme is false; he advocates compromise and restraint.
Anyway, the point is that Thomas Mann was interesting but his book isn't. It's so fucking boring. There are no characters and there is no plot. There are talking heads with names, but they exist only to blather at each other. Time stretches endlessly around you as you slog through page upon page of talking and talking. You look up and an hour has passed, but you're only four pages further on. What happened to all those minutes? Will you ever get them back?
Will you emerge from reading this book like Rip Van Winkle, your child grown, your spouse dead? But how long or short it is in actuality, no one knows. View all 35 comments. Aug 03, Hadrian rated it it was amazing Shelves: Finally read this, after several failed attempts with a truly awful translation Lowe-Porter's.
I've missed out on a truly extraordinary novel for too long. The dazzling descriptions and the intricate and fiery conversations of the characters are truly amazing. This book is a labyrinth of ideas and thoughts and definitely merits further study. Nov 29, Thomas rated it it was amazing Shelves: John Woods , and without a doubt it is among the five best works of literature that I have ever read.
Covering more than densely-packed pages, it is not for the light of heart, but provides ample reward for the tenacious reader. Part of why I found this novel so delightful was that I could closely relate to the ordeal of the protagonist, Hans Castorp, who as a young man finds himself unexpectedly confined to a hospital.
In his case, he makes a trip to a sanatorium high in the Swiss Alps to visit his cousin. The patients are all receiving treatment for tuberculosis, and since most have been there for quite a long time, he finds himself in a very different culture than the "flatlands" from which he came.
Just before leaving, Castorp asks for a physical exam to determine the cause of a fever which was plaguing him during his stay. But to his disappointment, the doctor finds that he has a mild case of tuberculosis himself! Our poor hero will be staying on for much longer than three weeks he had planned, and not as a guest, but as a patient.
One of the most interesting themes in the novel is the treatment of time. Far up in the mountains, completely removed from the normal iterations of daily life, time takes on a different dimension. Each day is strictly regimented to best facilitate the recovery of patients. The residents move from bedroom, to dining hall, to outdoor "rest cure," and back, in an utterly predictable manner.
Far from what one might expect, this apparent tedium does not cause time to slow down, but rather speed up, since each day is nearly indiscernible from all others.
Thus, Hans Castcorp learns, his original three week stay is hardly worth mentioning: Besides our hero, there are two other outstanding characters: Settembrini, a boisterous Italian literary humanist, and Naphta, a sharp-tonged communist Jesuit.
Castorp takes on the role of student when listening to the rhetorical fireworks of these bombastic speakers. These three men, along with a cast of other patients with tuberculosis, fill hundreds of pages of fascinating narrative and dialog.
Put it on your Christmas list now! Feb 07, Sinem A. So in we have to ask: It is time to re-open the doors to the Berghotel Sanatorium Schatzalp, pull the dust sheets off the furniture, fumigate the rooms, replace the X-ray machine with an up-to-date MRI scanner and admit some brand new patients in need of medical assistance. Who will check into our Sanatorium in ? Who is our twenty first century Hans Castorp, our Everyman of the Internet Age ready to subject himself to the pedagogic guidance of a modern day Settembrini or risk exposure to the wild ravings of a twenty first century Naphta?
I have a candidate. A still picture of Ken Bone undergoing pedagogic instruction through his observation of a debate between a dedicated humanist and a charismatic ideologue. We have found our new Hans Castorp for a re-opened Sanatorium but where can we find our Naphta? This is, after all, the twenty first century where science and rational thought have progressed further than even Thomas Mann might have imagined back in Where can we find a politically extreme, raving ideologue who believes in the ultimate triumph of Judeo-Christian belief over a corrupt, secular society weakened by attachment to bourgeoisie Enlightenment values such as democracy, humanism and free speech?
Surely, after having lead humanity into two world wars, such mad ideologues must be a little thin on the ground these days? In fact they are not that uncommon at all.
Here is Naphta on the primacy of divine decree over a secular state that is a manifestation of evil " This speech was made by Bannon in the Vatican during a discussion of right wing Christian movements. Naphta, as a confirmed Jesuit, would have felt quite at home at the same meeting: They think they know best about how to raise their families and how to educate their families.
It was many, many years and decades of peace. When it comes to torture Naphta holds nothing back: Naphta spoke out in favor of the bastinado. In contrast Bannon confines himself to editing a blog with articles in support of waterboarding and torture at least for non-Christians rather than advocating it quite so directly.
We are doing well. The rooms of our re-opened twenty first century Berghof are filling up nicely. But where can we find a larger than life character to complement that lover of rich food and high living, Mynheer Peeperkorn? Where can we find a character that mesmerizes everyone despite nothing he says making any sense and who also has a keen eye for the young ladies?
Perhaps it is not so difficult to find someone to check in to the Royal Suite at the Berghof after all. I think you know who I have in mind — the great Orange One himself. The Orange One can command the adulation of millions despite speaking utter gibberish: Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart —you know, if you're a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I'm one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it's true!
Much like Mynheer Peeperkorn: And you must keep in mind and never—not for a moment — lose sight of the fact that — but enough on that topic. What is incumbent upon me to say is not so much that, but primarily and above all this: No, ladies and gentlemen, not that I, how very mistaken it would be to think that I — but that settle it ladies and gentlemen.
I know we are all of one mind, and so then, to the point! So something like this: We have filled another room in the Sanatorium. But what of Madame Chauchat? What figure of womanhood can inspire such a mix of love and lust in our twenty first century Everyman? That at least is easy to answer: By which I mean guys like me.
I saw her butt hole. The rooms are filling up nicely, but there is still an important room that remains unfilled. Who is the Settembrini of ? Who will provide the pedagogic counterweight that our poor Ken Bone so badly needs to balance himself against the insane ravings of our new Naphta, our White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon? Well, unfortunately that room must remain vacant a little longer; at present there is no-one willing or able to fill that role.
Telegrams have been sent to a certain Mr Sanders and Ms Warren to ask whether they would like to take up residence for the season but a reply is still awaited. There we have it. I am worried about whether I can maintain my health mental and physical for the full four years I have been booked in by the Director.
Your chances are not good. The wicked dance in which you are caught up will last many a little sinful year yet, and we would not wager much that you will come out whole…. Jul 11, Kim rated it really liked it. Particularly if, like me, you do most of your reading at night, in between getting into bed and switching off the light. This is not the kind of novel which can be read, digested and disposed of quickly.
It demands concentration, patience and perseverance — qualities in which I am frequently lacking at the end of a day at work. This is a novel in which little happens in terms of conventional or even unconventional plot and character development. What in most other novels would be digressions are its point. Whether that appeals will depend in large part on what you want to get from reading fiction.
The view from the end made the difficult bits worthwhile. I read this novel with the Thomas Mann Group , lurking rather than actively discussing, but ever grateful for the insight of group members. View all 28 comments.
Those with patience and perseverance. Thomas Mann's Ambiguous Bildungsroman Ah, Thomas Mann, you have held me captive from a hot summer's day in August until I have begun to see the first hints of color tinging the leaves with a hue that will lead to their fall and ultimate decay. You have occupied my thoughts during long days and nights. I do not know whether to bless you or curse you, for I recognize how precious time is. At times the tick of the clock sounds ominous.
At its most basic level Mann tells us of the The Magic Mountain: At its most basic level Mann tells us of the cultural and social development of one human being, Hans Castorp.
Hans is not unique. For each of us is born a blank slate. Those that surround us shape us with their values and beliefs. We accept them at times. At others we reject them.
Each of us is a walking, waking, living Bildungrsoman, the great majority of us never being the subject between the covers of any book.
Through various times in my life I have experienced illness. In a relatively short period of time, I recognized that I lived in a brief period of respite from life in a relentlessly care worn world. Indeed, in my youth, chicken pox, measles, infected tonsils, and suffocating asthma attacks, provided me with a short vacation in which I whiled away the hours reading my beloved books. I have encountered my Circes, my Madame Couchats.
I have reveled in the power of Dionysus, my Herr Peeperkorns. During my odyssey I have felt the lure of the lotus eaters. But more than anything else, if I accept Mann's character of Hans Castorp to be some wandering Odysseus, I also recognize that we are frequently caught between Syclla and Charybdis and must navigate between the two. It was not until I became an adult with a responsible job, the responsibility of parenthood, that I felt the possibility of mortality.
It was the fall of Each day I would begin with my customary energy only to become wracked with a fever in the afternoon and left in a state of listlessness and fatigue. A visit to my physician was required. A battery of blood tests followed. I was to meet with my doctor to discuss the results of the tests the afternoon of the same day.
He was somewhat irritable that my lab work had not yielded a diagnosis. He stared across his desk at me, tapping his temple with a forefinger. I caught the beginning of a wry grin. Ah, Hofrat Behrens, you would have recognized the look of incipient triumph.
Another vial of blood was drawn from me by his nurse. We both waited for the analysis in his office. Although we were separated in age by considerable years, we both shared a love of music. Both of us had been concert clarinetists in younger times. We discussed our favorite pieces of music. The nurse entered after knocking, handing over the analysis. Could be sky's the limit!
Of course, I was quarantined in an isolated room at the hospital until the type of hepatitis could be determined. It was "Non A, Non B" hepatitis. Type C had not even entered the medical vocabulary at that point. The source of my illness was and has remained a mystery. Nor have any symptoms ever returned, though I am screened annually. However, that event over thirty years ago, was an important factor in the formation of my personal Gestalt of what it means to be a whole human being.
While "Hans in Luck" enjoyed a seven year respite from responsibility, the pawn of Herr Sembretti and the absolutist Naphta, each of whom struggled over the young man's soul in a pedagogical exercise, I consider his story to be an ironic and imperfect Bildungsroman. I do not consider Castorp to have ever fully come to occupy his place in society as a fully developed human being. To be sure, Mann's writing is breathtakingly beautiful innumerable times.
But in Mann's afterward to his monumental work, he urges the reader to undertake a second reading to fully understand it. This, I cannot do. Mann's dark humor causes me to reject such an effort for I cannot endure the lingering naivete of his protagonist. Perhaps, there is too much of Joachim Zeimssen in my view of life.
Perhaps I was born to be a flatlander. I am content with that. Hans, requiescat in pace. May you have found purpose in your life. View all 15 comments. Aug 09, Roy Lotz rated it it was amazing Shelves: Beware of the irony that flourishes here, my good engineer.
In my freshman year of college, I took a literature course to fulfill a core curriculum requirement: I was a negligen Ah yes, irony! I was a negligent student of literature in high school. Only rarely did I do my assigned readings, and so I had a remarkably poor vocabulary. So you can imagine what it was like for me to try and tackle the enormous erudition and sophistication of Thomas Mann.
I was underprepared and overwhelmed. It was work enough to simply understand a sentence; unweaving his sophisticated themes and symbols was beyond my ken.
Yet I still managed to enjoy the collection; more, I even savored it. The acute joys of reading fine literature, so alien before, were slowly opening themselves up to me. So it was with excitement and trepidation that I recently walked into a book store and bought a copy of his most iconic novel: Now, seven long weeks later, I have set myself the difficult task of reviewing this book.
Even perhaps more so than Ulysses , the novel is a throwing down of the gauntlet, a tremendous, impudent challenge to any would-be critic. The premise is simple: Hans Castorp, a likable, if simpleminded, young man visits his cousin, Joachim Ziemssen, in a sanatorium for a three-week stay, and ends up staying seven years. He toys around with ideas, he listens to learned discussions, he befriends interesting personalities, he acquaints himself with death, he falls in love, he indulges in food and alcohol—in a word, he dabbles.
When characterizing the style of this novel, one falls naturally into paradoxes: Mann accomplishes this feat of ambiguity by adopting a narrative voice of the most gentle and subtle irony. Simply put, Mann takes no sides; he never professes unguarded allegiance or admiration; everything, in short, is coated in an understated mocking humor.
And this ambiguity is summed up perfectly well in the person of our protagonist Hans himself, who dabbles in all things and commits to none, and who is constantly vacillating in his dilettante fashion. Perhaps as a result of this essential abstruseness, the novel seems to make reference to everything at once. Dostoyevsky often comes to mind, as Mann involves his characters in long philosophical debates, à la The Brothers Karamazov.
But then suddenly the novel will take a distinctly Proustian turn, as the narrator indulges in long, lyrical discussions of time, music, and the passing seasons. We sometimes get doses of Faust or even Don Quixote , as Hans, our would-be scholar, our wandering knight-errant, trundles about with Joachim in tow, often getting himself into farcical situations.
And then suddenly Dante will appear, with Settembrini as Virgil, Madame Chauchat as Beatrice, and the sanatorium itself as the Mountain of Purgatory—where the patients come to be purged of their sickness, rather than their sins.
What is so arresting about all of these literary parallels is that Mann manages to evoke them in the context of story wherein—it must be admitted—almost nothing at all happens; at least, nothing out of the ordinary. Rather, the story is episodic in nature here we are reminded of Cervantes again , and is quite realistic to boot.
Again, here we see Mann as a master of subtlety, evoking the whole Western cannon in the course of a conversation between a patient and his doctor. Now let me try to unravel some of the themes heard in Mann's great symphony.
One obvious theme is that of sickness and death. Hans encounters a wide variety of attitudes towards illness during his stay. First, we have the medical staff, represented by Dr. Behrens, who sees sickness and death as just matters of business and biology—a matter for science.
Contrasted with Behrens, we have Dr. Krokowski, the aspiring psychologist, who sees sickness as unrequited love, as a product of mental tensions. Amid the great themes of the novel, we also encounter innumerable smaller motifs. One is that of music. Mann also displays his talents in evoking sexual tension, as Castorp eyes the alluring Chauchat for months and months, just as Aschenbach observed Tadzio.
But perhaps the major theme of this novel is time. In the Berghof, time is experienced differently. Down below, in the flatlands, time is measured in days, hours, minutes, seconds.
Up here, in the sanatorium, time is measured in weeks, months, years. Time forms the whole basis of their stay; for their sickness is often likened to a prison sentence, a sentence which is constantly increased.
They regularly measure their temperature—holding the thermometer in their mouths for seven painful minutes—and chart their fevers through the passing weeks, hoping to see it normalize. Connected with the leitmotif of time is that of acclimatization. When Castorp arrives, he is a stranger in a strange land. Everything is unfamiliar to him. The reader, too, experiences a sort of acclimatization, as we acquaint ourselves with the Berghof and its many residents.
The world of rest-cures and the half-lung club are, to us as well, strange at first, but gradually become intimately familiar. How much the reader himself has gotten used to things is made clear when Hans gets a visit from his uncle. Because so much of this novel has to do with getting used to things, it almost demands to be read slowly—a little bit at a time, over many weeks. Indeed, I was almost dismayed at how much time it took me to get through; for not only does the novel take a long time to read, but it feels long.
This book simply revels in its own length. One can even go further and say that the experience of reading the novel—to a degree that is almost eerie—mirrors the experience of Castorp as he stays in the Berghof.
I picked up the book from the bookstore in almost the same spirit as Castorp when he arrived to visit his cousin—a casual impulsiveness. And gradually, inevitably, I got absorbed in it, entranced by it. I too committed more time than I expected to toy with ideas, to acclimatize myself to a strange place, to put normal life on hold and indulge in an aesthetic experience.
When the reader gets to the th page, and reflects that he has been with Hans Castorp for seven whole years, and has gotten to know so many characters so well, he, too, may feel that he has gotten himself a little lost.
The atmosphere of the novel, so rich in ambiguity and so full of ideas, may also awake some lingering sickness of soul, or maybe just make us a little dizzy. And now, as I take my leave of the book, I am, like my companion Hans, thrown back into the hustle and bustle of the buzzing flatlands, expelled from the rarefied air of The Magic Mountain —a little wiser, a little more experienced, and, with any luck, a little healthier.
View all 20 comments. Add information 1 11 Jun 22, Change description 3 14 Apr 11, There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information. Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intel Librarian Note: Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual.
His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer. When Hitler came to power in , Mann fled to Switzerland. Thomas Mann is one of the best-known exponents of the so-called Exilliteratur. Books by Thomas Mann.
Trivia About The Magic Mountain.