I’m happy to find a copy of The Magic Mountain in the discard bin today since I’ve had no luck with either a new or used copy at the stores. Set in Davos in Switzerland, the novel centers around a tuberculosis sanatorium during the years immediately prior to the Great War. It’s a modern classic as well as a comedy of manners that, for some mysterious reason, all my college literature courses have bypassed. But judging from the daunting size of the book, it would be all for better if I read it at my own leisure.
The story is set in the early 20th century, and revolves around Hans Castorp. Hans Castorp heads up to Davos to visit his cousin, Joachim Ziemssen, who has been undertaking treatment in the sanatorium. What initially is planned as a three-week visit ends up to be seven years, as Hans Castorp visits his cousin, develops a sickness of his own worth curing, and interacting with the various characters that are present in his surroundings. People come and go, and characters enter and exit, either temporarily (by heading down to the flat lands) or permanently (by dying).
For weeks before leaving for tropical Thailand (upcoming January 2014), I would be assembling my reading list. There were all kinds of books on it: from mystery novels to scholarly works on Turkish history; from anthologies of contemporary American short stories to gay fiction. At the top of the list were the thick classic novels that I couldn’t focus on in the city, what with people’s incessant phone conversations and the daily temptations of urban life. In my friend’s top-floor vacation condo, I would enter a kind of hypersensitive trance that allowed me to average four hundred pages a day. The book would become a vast, intricate space in my head where I stayed even when eating, swimming, or sleeping. Look forward to perusing this classic.