1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Thomas Mann

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Steerpike, Jan 22, 2014.

    @thirdwind mentioned Mann in another thread. I have copies of both The Magic Mountain and Buddenbrooks in my to-read pile. I'm curious what thoughts members have on these works.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I did? Haha. I don't remember.

    I tried reading The Magic Mountain and quit after 40-50 pages. This was 4 years ago, so maybe I should give it another go. I remember it being a tough read. Someone told me that I'd be better off starting with Death in Venice.
     
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  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Someone told me to start with Death in Venice too, after I couldn't get past 20 pages of Magic Mountain. Weird how similar mine and Thirdwind's experiances are.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    So my takeaway here is don't read The Magic Mountain? A former girlfriend of mine recommended it, but she worked on translating 19th and early 20th century German literature into English as part of her Ph.D., so she may have a biased view :)
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm sure it's a great novel, but it's tough to get into. For one thing, those Germans really love their philosophy. Here's a passage from the book so you know what I'm talking about:
    Now imagine 700 pages of that.
     
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  6. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I've read the synopsis of The Magic Mountain on wikipedia, and I like the idea, and the story I read. I just couldn't get into the actual text itself. I don't know why, I felt I needed more of an entry way. I do intend to try to read it again.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I was looking at the Goodreads page on The Magic Mountain, and this book got rated over 14,000 times. I wonder how many of those voters actually finished the book. I find that with difficult books people sometimes give up midway through but still rate/review the book anyway.

    @Lemex, I glanced at the Wiki page, and the novel really does seem interesting. I'm just not sure if I have the patience or discipline to read the whole thing. I do want to read it, though, because I know it appears on several "top 10 novels" lists.
     
  8. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    So like one of my philo books just with an odd narrator.
    That, or some messed up inner-monologue.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm sure there's more to the novel than the passage I posted, but it gives you an idea of the types of things Mann likes writing about. In fact, The Magic Mountain is considered a "novel of ideas," which was a very popular "genre" in the early 20th century in Germany and Austria. I don't think this caught on outside of German-speaking countries. I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that philosophy in Germany was thriving at the time, so novelists wanted to incorporate some of the more important philosophical ideas into their novels as a result.
     
  10. NigeTheHat
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    I read Buddenbrooks a few years ago. I enjoyed it more than I expected to enjoy 600 pages of Germans having a bad time, but it was definitely a dense book, and I've not felt compelled to go find any of his other stuff.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    On this MA course I'll be needing to give Death in Venice a second chance, I'll report back what I find of it.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You're lucky. I don't think Mann is read very often in a classroom setting. It might be because his shorter works aren't as famous/good as his novels.
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I did the same thing! I did read all of Death in Venice, though - it was pretty easy because it was short. I don't remember much about it because this was about thirty years ago. I do remember being confused by the ending. I should give it another try. Or at least try to find the movie they made of it back in the 1970s - it might be easier to take than some dull translation of Mann's prose.
     
  14. 123456789
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    That passage actually makes a good deal of sense if you start from the last sentence and work backwards [no sarcasm]
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Started reading Death in Venice a few minutes ago. So far it's actually harder than I remember, it's sort of like waves hitting a shoreline. They get higher and higher as you read more and know what is going on more.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Ok, I think I know how to read Mann now. He's very heavy going. What an interesting story! You'll need to know Nietzsche to properly understand it it seems, and maybe have some knowledge of Ancient Greek culture (well, one part, homosexual pederasty) but it's a very very moving story.

    The homosexual eroticism is made very uncomfortable with the fact that Tadzio is barely a teenaged boy, and the narrator is apparently in his 50s, but even still it's weirdly very moving. It's a story not everyone should read, frankly not everyone will understand it, but if you are the sort who will appreciate it - check it out.
     

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