Literature - Ubiquitous in the Alps
We love to read! In this section we will introduce you on a monthly basis to different novels, criminal stories, fairy tales, short stories or any other literaturary style, which take place or were written in the Alps. We will try to give you a broad overview of renown authors as well as newcomers and contemporary writers. And we will mention which of these books are suitable as a companion to your next trip to the Alps.
The Magic Mountain (Zauberberg) is probably one of the most famous novels and most important works of the great German writer Thomas Mann. The novel was first published 1924, and is regarded today as a must-read of German literature.
The work on this novel lasted seven years - as long as the duration of the storyline. The Magic Mountain is the story of Hans Castorp, a young naval engineer, who vists his cousin Joachim Ziemßen in a Swiss mountain sanatorium for lung diseases. The planned three-week stay is prolonged to a visit of seven years.
During his stay Castorp gets to know different types of persons, who confront him with the great themes of life - love, politics, philosophy, music, but also illness and death. Besides Castorp the main are: writer and philosopher Settembrini, Madame Chauchat with whom Castorp falls in love, his cousin Joachim Ziemßen, Mynheer Peeperkorn, the new husband of Madame Chauchat and Naphtha, a rational intellectual, the antithesis Settembrinis. During the novel there are many more persons, other residents and doctors such as Dr. Behrens.
The scene of the action are magnificent mountains in Davos, where the sanatorium, the so-called "Berghof" is hermetically sealed towards the outside life. Whether beautiful mountain romance in the summer, or the snow-covered slopes in winter - the reader is caught with all his or her senses.
A central motif in Magic Mountain is time, that on the one hand is perceived distorted by the patients of the sanatorium, and on the other hand by the way the story told, it unfolds in an accelarated way.
The protagonist Castorp, as member of the bourgeoisie, is shown as superficial, quite capable of big things, but very influential and easily seduced.
Shortly after publication he novel became very popular and by 1928 has already sold more than 100,000 copies. The book is translated into 27 languages, five English-language versions are available. For many persons of the novel Mann was referring to well-known people, what was hardly perceived well.
The writer Thomas Mann (actually Paul Thomas Mann) was born on the 6th of June 1875 in Lubeck, Germany, and died on the 12th of August 1955 in Zurich. The great German writer, wrote short stories and novels, reflecting about the end of the bourgeois era. In his mid-twenties, he published the family novel "The Buddenbrooks" - 1929 he was awared the Nobel Prize in Literature. He moved to the United States in February 1938, where he was a visiting professor at Princeton, and later on moved to California. He went back to Europe in 1951 and settled with his family in Zurich.
The most famous works are: Buddenbrooks - The Decline of a Family (1901), The Magic Mountain (1924), Lotte in Weimar (1939), Doctor Faustus (1947), Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man (1954).
Mann himself and his works have never been uncontroversial. Some accused him of superficiality, lack of creativity. He hesitated to clearly dissociate form the German regime until 1936. After the death of Thomas Mann he was criticised by various literary circles, to be the clerc for the bourgeoisie. Yet he had some important advocated among them the influential literary pope Marcel Reich-Ranicki who stated the best novels he knows are Elective Affinities by Goethe (Wahlverwandtschaften) and the Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. And with a quote by Marcel Reich-Ranicki, we want to finish this review: "Dutzende von Schriftstellern erklärten, niemand sei ihnen gleichgültiger als der Autor des Zauberberg. Aber sie beteuerten es mit vor Wut und wohl auch Neid bebender Stimme." (Dozens of writers declared that no one is moreindifferent to them as the author of the Magic Mountain. But they stated this in a voice full off anger and probably envy.)
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