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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Finally finished with “The Magic Mountain”

What I mean by that title is I’ve fired the book after 258 pages. I jumped ahead after yet another roundabout narrative of the same things that had been given at least six times before. What I found ahead was more of the same.

The character dialogue was good — even outstanding, funny, and poignant at times — but there was far too little of this compared to the straining narrative (straining on my nerves, that is).

Perhaps this is my fault for not totally immersing myself (I’d tried) in the minutiae of the ever-microscopic moment. I had posted a dictum a few months ago that I was through with “old classics” because they just didn’t relate to modern times, or at least the writing was slow. But don’t get me wrong: I enjoy a long story; but something has to happen every once in a while, and that goes beyond having another meal or getting in line to have your temperature taken.

Historically speaking, vis-a-vis the novel’s focus on pre-WWI rest and cure sanatoriums, the people of those times where either terrible dupes, or they were astoundingly credulous of doctors’ methods. It appears few people trusted their own bodies to tell them what was wrong, right, or possibly a mild hitch in everyday health. Anyway, this was the least of the troubles I had with the story; I actually enjoy disliking characters who are dislikeable, when they appear.

The author himself finally gave me the courage to abandon his novel. In his afterward, titled “The Making of ‘The Magic Mountain’ “, Thomas Mann wrote “A work of art must not be a task or an effort; it must not be undertaken against one’s will. It is meant to give pleasure, to entertain and enliven. If it does not have this effect on a reader, he must put it down and turn to something else.”


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