Posted in Books, Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann

The Magic Mountain

The original comment

The odd thing is I read The Magic Mountain before I was born….will write about this one day.

What did I mean when I said I read The Magic Mountain before I was born? First, let me write briefly on this, one of my favourite books. Thomas Mann won the Nobel prize for the book in 1929. Set in a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, the book consists of philosophical discussions on life and death. Outside the sanatorium, life goes on, but within, detached from the world, Hans Castorp and others have nothing to do but talk, until they are either cured or they die. I add a quote from the book, to reveal its dense and profound character.
‘Herr Settembrini listened attentively, legs and arms crossed, daintily stroking with the toothpick his flowing moustaches.
“It is remarkable,” he said. ‘A man cannot make general observations to any extent, on any subject, without betraying himself, without introducing his entire individuality, and presenting as in an allegory, the fundamental themes and problems of his own existence.”‘
I believe Settembrini was right. In our blogs or other writings, we may not write about ourselves, yet we do reveal who we are.
To get back to the comment– Actually I first read this book when I was fifteen. I immediately loved the book, and more than that, every scene in it seemed to be something I had lived through, something totally familiar. It was as if, even before I read it, I knew what was to come. I knew every aspect of those cold snowy mountains. Equally well, I knew I had not read the book before.
I had hardly lived in the mountains, but I was born on one. And I came to know that my mother read this book on that mountain, before and after my birth.
A mystery–could I read through her? And how did I remember? Mountains create such mysteries.