ONLINE CLASS: The Bildungsroman II: Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain (2048)

Thursdays: April 2, April 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7, 14, 21 from 2 to 4 p.m.


Due to the spread of covid-19, this class will now meet using video technology. Your virtual meeting will take place at the scheduled time and will cover the planned content. Additional dates may be scheduled to make up for missed meetings. You'll receive access information and instructions prior to your first online meeting. 

“Passionate—that means to live for the sake of living. But one knows that you all live for sake of experience. Passion, that is self-forgetfulness. But what you all want is self-enrichment.”
― Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Inspired by a three-week visit to a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland where his wife was a patient in 1912, Thomas Mann conceived the seedling for a short story. His plan was to record his observations about the curious patients and doctors he encountered and their luxurious convalescence away from the cares of the city and the rote cycles of everyday life. Twelve years later, The Magic Mountain was published as a tome of 1200 pages, in two volumes, spanning the genres of Bildungsroman, poetry and epic; it outgrew the author’s plan, breaking all limits of the novel genre to join the creations of Virgil and Dante in the pantheon of Western Literature.

When finally unveiled to a reading public, The Magic Mountain was a symphony of word and image; Thomas Mann had succeeded in orchestrating two thousand years of myth, art, music, philosophy, religion, psychology and science, starting with Homer and ending with Einstein.

The Magic Mountain is the story of Hans Castorp, a young engineer from Hamburg who travels to see his ailing cousin in a Swiss Spa town. Intending to stop for three weeks; instead, Hans stays for seven years.   From the flatlands, Hans ascends to a twentieth-century version of the underworld at the alpine top of the world: here suffering, death and wisdom form the basis of a spiritual education. At the sanatorium, the characters of Settembrini and Naphtha introduce Hans to the universe of ideas; he experiences what Mann called “adventures in sensual, moral, and intellectual spheres,” embodied by the concept of Steigerung, the “heightening”of his capacities. Dwelling in a place where Nature touches the infinite, Hans travels along “the shoreless realms of thought.”       

As a novel constructed around systems of symbol and counterpoint, Mann recommended that The Magic Mountain be read twice—first for story and second for the layers of meaning, intricate leitmotifs, allusions, and themes.

Note to readers: Although not a requirement, the instructor recommends reading as much as possible of The Magic Mountain before the start of the first class. This approach will allow for a guided close second reading during the course of the series. Thursdays: April 2, April 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7, 14, 21 from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Magic Mountain (Vintage International) (Paperback) By Thomas Mann

Nicole Miller's prize-winning essays have appeared recently in New Letters and Arts & Letters magazines. Her fiction has been published twice in The Mays, edited by Jill Paton Walsh and Sebastian Faulks. She received an M.Phil. in Victorian Literature from Lincoln College, Oxford; a PhD in English at University College, London; and an MFA at Emerson College, Boston, where she held the Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. At The Oxford English Dictionary, she has served as a scholarly reader for British Dialects since 2002. She edits faculty manuscripts in Harvard’s English Department and teaches nineteenth and twentieth century British literature at Politics and Prose in Washington D.C.

REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.

The Magic Mountain (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679772873
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - October 1st, 1996