“The Magic Mountain: (German title: Der Zauberberg). A novel (1924; English translation 1927) by Thomas Mann (1875-1955). The densely symbolic story is centered on a young man, Hans Castorp, who goes to visit his cousin at Haus Berghof, a high-altitude sanatorium for people with tuberculosis at Davos in the Swiss Alps. Castorp is fascinated by the place, and ends up staying there for years, searching for self-knowledge while prevaricating between the demands of reason and action on the one hand, and mysticism and decadence on the other. The novel is ultimately a symbolic study of the uneasy situation in Europe before the outbreak of the First World War, and explores the isolation of the world of art and philosophy (the mountain) from the crisis of contemporary existence below.”
Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.