The Magic Mountain (1924) by Thomas Mann is an extensive look into an isolated world atop a mountain in Davos, Switzerland roughly seven years before the beginning of World War I, also known then as the Great War. Hans Castorp, our young hero, leaves his home and career in Hamburg, Germany to see his ailing cousin Joachim Ziemssen for “a three weeks’ visit” in a sanatorium informally called House Berghof (p 4).
What follows for Hans Castorp is a seven-year stay as a patient that includes daily walks in idle chat, frequent meals and libation among memorable characters, scenic and deathly adventures along the mountains, and topical conversations covering humanism, radicalism, death, intellectual and emotional sympathy, the Scottish Rite, the Knights Templars, Rosicrucianism, the Holy Catholic Church, the Freemasonry, the Illuminati, the Society of Jesus, the Eleusinians, Time & Space, Silence & Obedience, the Sacred & the Obscene, the Art of the Government, the Art of Seduction, the Temple of Society, the three blue roses, oriental mysticism, transubstantiation, liturgical and architectural symbolism, and many more topics too numerous to name here in this modest reflective article.
What readers also might find interesting (and familiar) about The Magic Mountain’s setting in Davos, Switzerland is that Davos, a town in the Swiss Alps, is also the setting for the ski resort with a conference center that annually hosts the World Economic Forum and has done so since January 1971.
Major Characters in The Magic Mountain
Hans Lorenz Castorp ~ age 23 (at the beginning) to 30 (by book’s end), an orphan from Hamburg, Germany who is soon-to-be an apprentice Engineer at “Tunder & Wilms, Ship-builders, Smelters, and Machinists” (p 430), Hans is sometimes called “Life’s Delicate Child” or “a delicate child of life” (p 601)
International Sanatorium Berghof ~ often called “House Berghof,” set in the mountains of Davos, Switzerland, Hans stays in Room 34 while visiting his cousin Joachim
Joachim Ziemssen ~ cousin to Hans, Lieutenant in the military, patient at the sanatorium
Ludovico Settembrini ~ scholar (p 150), Italian “man of letters,” a humanist, writer, member of the International League for the Organization of Progress (p 242), working on research for the Congress for the Advancement of Civilization at Barcelona (p 455), Freemason (p 506), patient at the sanatorium
Leo Naphta ~ teaches Latin at the Fridericianum (p 408), a radical, Jewish-Jesuit who lives in the village below the sanatorium
Clavdia Chauchat ~ Hans’s older love interest who is a Russian aristocrat and has Asian-Kirghiz eyes (p 137), patient at the sanatorium (twice)
Pieter Peeperkorn ~ an elderly and wealthy Dutchman (p 548), coffee-planter, a “kingly man” (p 555), returns with Clavdia (who had left Davos to travel) to be her lover and a patient at the sanatorium
Leila Gerngross ~ “sixteen or seventeen years old” (p 299), “a charming blond creature” (p 300), regarding Leila’s “wet little hand” (see pages 301 & 677), a patient at the sanatorium
Ellen “Elly” Brand ~ 19 years old, an omniscient, clairvoyant, patient at the sanatorium
Holger ~ Elly’s inner-voice, “an etherealized spirit of a young man,” like a “guardian angel” (p 658)
Dr. Behrens ~ surgeon/director of the sanatorium, sometimes called “Rhadamanthus”
Dr. Krokowski ~ psychiatrist at the sanatorium
Emerentia ~ a dwarf who is a waitress in the sanatorium’s restaurant
Time Outline in The Magic Mountain*
Hans Castorp visits his cousin Joachim for a three-week stay at House Berghof which is based on Thomas Mann’s actual experience when he visited “for some weeks” a sanatorium where his wife was seeking recovery from a lung complaint.
In the opening Chapter there’s a section called “In the Restaurant” (Chapter I, Section III, pages 14-18) and Thomas Mann explains (in the back of the book) that in this particular section is when “Hans Castorp dines with his cousin Joachim in the sanatorium restaurant, and tastes not only the excellent Berghof cuisine but also the atmosphere of the place and the life ‘bei un shier oben’,” and Thomas Mann goes on to further explain that the reader “will have a fairly accurate picture” of his own “strange impressions” of that sanatorium also found in Davos, Switzerland (p 720). Unlike Thomas Mann, however, Hans Castorp ends up spending seven years at House Berghof.
Regarding how Time becomes distorted at House Berghof, Hans Castorp explains: “Ideas about time were different up here from those ordinarily held about the length of stay at the baths, or at an ordinary cure. The smallest unit of time, so to speak, was the month, and a single month was almost no time at all” (p 222).
Even the individual seasons become all confused for our young hero: “But up here this order and harmony are destroyed: first because there are no proper seasons, as you yourself said when I first came, but only summer days and winter days all mixed up together; and secondly, because what we spend up here isn’t time at all, and the new winter, when it comes, isn’t new, but the same old winter all the time” (p 414).
Since Time and Space become one key focus of this book (similar to what the reader finds in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time), and since Hans Castorp begins to become lost in the timelessness of House Berghof high in the Swiss mountains of Davos, it’s good for the reader to have a brief outline of the period which lasts seven years, which is estimated roughly between August 1907 to August 1914. Also note a “Year” as in “Year One” lasts from August to the following July, as in “Year One” lasts from August 1907 to July 1908. Further note, as you read the time outline and draw to its close, that World War I officially began on July 28, 1914:
Year One: August (1907): Week One ~ Chapters I-IV, pages 4-128
Arrival Day ~ Tuesday ~ Chapter I, pages 4-18, “he had come on a Tuesday” (p 108)
Backstory ~ (prior to 1907) ~ Chapter II, pages 19-36
Day 1-2 ~ Wednesday-Thursday ~ Chapter III, pages 37-90
Day 5 ~ Sunday ~ Chapter IV, Section: “Politically Suspect,” “thus the Sunday was his fifth day up here” (p 108)
Day 6 ~ Monday ~ Chapter IV, Section: “Hippe,” “But next day, the first Monday spent by the guest up here” (p 114)
Day 7 ~ Tuesday ~ Chapter IV, Section: “Doubts and Considerations,” “Tuesday was the last day of our hero’s week up here” (p 128)
Week Two ~ Chapter IV, Section: “Mounting Misgivings. Of the Two Grandfathers, and the Boat-ride in the Twilight,” “the second week was passing” (p 139)
Week Three: Friday ~ Chapter IV, Section: “The Thermometer,” page 164
Week Three: Saturday ~ Chapter IV, Section: “The Thermometer,” page 173
Week Three: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday ~ Chapter V, Section: “Soup-Everlasting,” “he had been here a round three weeks, and time pressed” (p 186)
Year One: September (1907): Week Six ~ Chapter V, Section: “Soup-Everlasting,” page 201
Week Seven ~ Chapter V, Section: “Sudden Enlightenment,” page 201-216
Year One: October (1907) ~ Chapter V, Section: “Whims of Mercurius,” “October began as months do” (p 223)
Year One: December (1907): Christmas ~ Chapter V, Section: “The Dance of Death,” “Christmas eve came on apace” (p 286)
Year One: February (1908) ~ Chapter V, Section: “The Dance of Death,” “between the beginning and middle of February” (p 318)
Year One: February (1908) ~ Chapter V, Section: “Walpurgis-Night,” “Within the next few days it would be seven months since Hans Castorp’s advent among those up here” (p 320), Shrove Tuesday = Pancake Day = Fat Tuesday = Mardi Gras (p 322), February 29th (pages 330-342; we know this period to be exactly dated as February 29th when Hans Castorp later (on pages 607-608) revisits this night with Clavdia in a conversation with Mynheer Peeperkorn: “It was the eve of Clavdia’s departure… It was an extraordinary occasion, almost outside the calendar, intercalated, so to speak, a twenty-ninth of February… with whom Clavdia spent—or experienced, or committed—that twenty-ninth of February”)
Year One: April (1908): Easter ~ Chapter VI, Section: “Changes,” “On shore it would be Easter to-day” (p 354)
Year One: June (1908) ~ Chapter VI, Section: “Of the City of God, and Deliverance by Evil,” “the astronomical summer had begun” (p 386)
Year Two: September (1908) ~ Chapter VI, Section: “Choler. And Worse,” “This was the beginning of September” (p 415)
Year Two: October (1908) ~ Chapter VI, Section: “An Attack, and a Repulse,” “But for the moment there were lovely October days” (p 424)
Year Two: July (1909) ~ Chapter VI, Section: “A Soldier, and Brave,” page 499
Year Three: August (1909) ~ Chapter VI, Section: “A Soldier, and Brave,” “The time of year was the same too—one of the very first days of August” (p 502)
Year Three: October (1909) ~ Chapter VI, Section: “A Soldier, and Brave,” “Joachim stuck stiffly by the October terminus” (p 506)
Year Three: November (1909) ~ Chapter VI, Section: “A Soldier, and Brave,” “at the beginning of November. The snow lay deep” (p 532)
Year Three: May (1910) ~ Chapter VII, Section: “Mynheer Peeperkorn (Conclusion),” “It was the blissful month of May, oft celebrated in the pleasant little ditties of the flat-land” (p 613)
Year Seven ~ (1914) ~ Chapter VII, Section: “The Thunderbolt,” “Seven years Hans Castorp remained amongst those up here” (p 706)
*A note about the above timeline: Thomas Mann (or his translators) makes Year One easy to follow and extremely accurate, even giving exact holidays (Christmas, Shrove Tuesday, Easter) or an exact date or period (February 29th, astronomical summer). After Year One, calendrical time (as Mann may have intended) becomes a bit blurred and less exact. Year Two & Year Three (as outlined above) become a bit obscured and may even be periods of time that include events sometime between the beginning of Year Two and the end of Year Six before jumping to Year Seven by the book’s conclusion. This disorganized and unexacting method, however, probably isn’t the case. The above outline (as best it can) describes the timeline as thus: Year One ~ Year Two ~ Year Three ~ Year Seven. This, from a writer’s point-of-view, makes the most sense because Hans Castorp’s original plan to stay at the sanatorium was to last only three weeks; the writer, therefore, details the first three years (instead of the planned three weeks) before concluding the book with the final year of Hans Castorp’s stay at the sanatorium and his adventures in the flatland during World War I. In addition, major events are covered within this outlined time: Year One, Hans Castorp joins Joachim and Clavdia at the sanatorium; Year Two, Joachim and Clavdia are absent from the sanatorium; Year Three, Joachim and Clavdia return to the sanatorium; Year Seven, Hans Castorp departs the sanatorium.
Connections found within The Magic Mountain
Ludovico Settembrini & Leo Naphta:
Settembrini, the humanist, often clashes in peaceful-scholarly debates with Naphta, the radical, until the ideological and philosophical arguments lead the two characters to face one another for their honor with a pistol duel in “Hysterica Passio,” which can be translated as a panic attack due to hysteria (also see “hysterica passio” in King Lear, Act 2, Scene 4).
Imitating what the world was experiencing prior to World War I, these heated discussions between Settembrini and Naphta did not reconcile differences but concreted the two parties into their respective belief systems. At one point, Hans Castorp, though still a young man, comments to Joachim: “But all this confusion must be reconciled; and if you don’t think so, why then you are dividing the world up into two hostile camps, which, I may tell you, is a grievous error, most reprehensible” (p 386).
“Mann introduces [Settembrini] as Satana, Mephistopheles, a personification of the intellect striving to gain control over life: the pied piper of rhetorical progressivism, Mediterranean clarity, reason, and grace of form, whose name, however, suggests the ominous verb septembriser, “to massacre in cold blood” (from the noun septembrisades, referring to the massacre in Paris prisons of the royalists, September 2-6, 1792)… this mellifluous encyclopedist of the political school of Mazzini plays the role in relation to Hans of Mephistopheles to Faust: able to furnish advice and aid, with an aim to winning his charge’s soul, but unable either to understand or to gain control over his will” (p 375).
“Naphta charges Settembrini with heresy of monism; Settembrini, Naphta with dualism and world-splitting. Both pretend to stand for the individual; Naphta, however, for his eternal soul, not his rights to powers here on earth. Both stand for man’s zeal for truth; however, truth according to Naphta, is inaccessible to reason, its sole authority being revelation; nor is the formulation of laws and customs properly a function of human councils, since there is but one law eternal, that of God, the ius divinum, which is to be enforced—enforced—by those anointed with authority” (p 380).
As Settembrini and Naphta take their places in the snow with pistols in hand, Hans Castorp in The Magic Mountain concludes: “With horror he understood that at the end of everything only the physical remained, only the teeth and the nails. Yes, they must fight; only thus could be assured even that small mitigation of the primitive by the rules of chivalry” (p 700).
To dig deeper into these clashes of intelligence and the ultimate outcome of the pistol duel to the death see the two mirroring sections “Operationes Spirituales” and “Hysterica Passio” (both section titles are italicized and in Latin, further showing their intended connection by the author or his translators).
The Sacred & the Obscene:
Thomas Mann reveals the Sacred and the Obscene throughout the novel, and makes the dichotomy clear when Hans tells Dr. Behrens over coffee: “The ancients are said to have used such motifs on their sarcophagi. The sacred and the obscene were more or less the same thing to them” (Chapter V, Section: “Humaniora,” meaning “Humanities,” p 260). The Sacred and the Obscene, later in the novel, become visualized in “Snow.”
In the section “Snow” (found in Chapter VI), Hans finds himself lost in the snowy mountains when a blizzard hits and he must take refuge against an abandoned hut. As he momentarily succumbs to the brutal elements, Hans has a vivid dream which reveals the opposing natures of the Sacred and the Obscene.
In the dream, the Sacred is represented with an idyllic scene on the beach where youths sunbathe and play. The Sacred takes full presence when Hans witnesses a mother breastfeeding a newborn babe:
“All this, indeed, was not without its ceremonial side. A young mother, in a brown robe loose at the shoulder, sat on a rounded mossy stone and suckled her child, saluted by all who passed with a characteristic gesture which seemed to comprehend all that lay implicit in their general bearing. The young men, as they approached, lightly and formally crossed their arms on their breasts, and smilingly bowed; the maidens shaped the suggestion of a curtsy, as the worshipper does when he passes the high altar, at the same time nodding repeatedly, blithely and heartily. This mixture of formal homage with lively friendliness, and the slow, mild mien of the mother was well, where she sat pressing her breast with her forefinger to ease the flow of milk to her babe, glancing up from it to acknowledge with a smile the reverence paid her—this sight thrilled Hans Castorp’s heart with something very close akin to ecstasy” (p 492).
One can easily notice the Sacred elements in this short passage taking place on the beach next to a bay (representing Mother Nature and human bonds which form a religious pact of its own): “the ceremonial” as the mother gives milk and life to her babe; the youths acting “as the worshipper does when he passes the high altar;” “a smile of reverence;” and Hans’s heart is filled with “ecstasy.”
Following this tranquil scene on the beach, Hans enters a temple and beholds a frightening scene of two hags “witchlike” killing a newborn babe (the opposite of the mother on the beach moments earlier). In the following passage, Hans witness the Obscene made material:
“The bronze door of the sanctuary stood open, and the poor soul’s knees all but gave way beneath him at the sight within. Two grey old women, witchlike, with hanging breasts and dugs of finger-length, were busy there, between flaming braziers, most horribly. They were dismembering a child. In dreadful silence they tore it apart with their bare hands—Hans Castorp saw the bright hair blood-smeared—and cracked then tender bones between their jaws, their dreadful lips dripped blood. An icy coldness held him… It made him sick, sick as never before” (p 494).
The Obscene takes place inside a temple (a formal structure—unlike the peaceful, outdoor scene on the beach—representing the chaos and death formal ideologies can bring, etc.): inside the “sanctuary” two old women “dismembering a child” and this scene fills Hans not with the joy and ecstasy he found on the beach but with an “icy coldness” which leaves him feeling “sick.”
Joseph Campbell in Creative Mythology (1968) explains that “mythology and the psychology of dream are recognized as related, even identical” (p 358).
“Sudden Enlightenment” & “Highly Questionable”:
In the section “Sudden Enlightenment” (Chapter V) Hans witnesses the miraculous-technological invention called the “x-ray,” and during one scene Hans views Joachim’s chest and beating heart. Throughout the novel, to remember Clavdia after she departs the sanatorium, Hans carries an x-ray negative of his lover’s torso and heart.
The x-ray (a scientific method of seeing into the unknown) is later mirrored in the section “Highly Questionable” (Chapter VII) when Hans attends a “séance,” which would be the spiritual method of seeing into the unknown. Hans, himself, makes this connection (as the author has planned) when he tells the reader: “He liked the darkness, it mitigated the queerness of the situation. And in its justification he recalled the darkness of the x-ray room, and how they had collected themselves, and ‘washed their eyes’ in it, before they ‘saw’” (p 673).
“Snow” & “Thunderbolt”:
In “Snow” (Chapter V), Hans learns to ski and begins exploring the mountain landscapes when he becomes lost in a scene he describes as “once fairylike and comic, an infantine fantasy” (p 471). Later he dreams of wonderful and horrific visions (see above the Sacred & the Obscene) where two infants are involved: one infant being consumed by Love and another infant being consumed by Death.
By the end of “Snow” and after going to the depths of his soul, Hans concludes: “Reason stands simple before him, for reason is only virtue, while death is release, immensity, abandon, desire. Desire, says my dream. Lust, not love. Death and love—no, I cannot make a poem of them, they don’t go together. Love stands opposed to death” (p 496).
In “Thunderbolt” (Chapter VII) and “in the first days of mobilization, the first declaration of war” (p 711), peaceful debates have broken down and World War I had officially started. By the end of this last section of the book, Hans (and the author) leaves the reader with a profound question: “Out of this universal feast of death, out of this extremity of fever, kindling the rain-washed evening sky to a fiery glow, may it be that Love one day shall mount” (p 716)?
Hans Castorp in The Magic Mountain follows the ancient form of storytelling and the circular narrative called the “hero’s journey” made famous in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).
In Campbell’s Creative Mythology (1968), he explains that Hans’s story in The Magic Mountain “conforms, that is to say, in both structure and sense, to a traditional rite de passage, or mythological hero adventure, the archetypal course of which—as I have shown in my earlier work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces—universally follows a pattern of three stages: separation, initiation, return, which I have called (using a term from Finnegans Wake), the nuclear unit of The Monomyth” (p 362).
You may also discover more about the “hero’s journey” in Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey (1998).
Thoughts on Themes Found in The Magic Mountain
Having the World Economic Forum at a luxurious ski resort in Davos, Switzerland—which is the exact same setting as found in The Magic Mountain, where much debate happened on worldly issues prior to World War I—cannot be mere coincidence and happenstance.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to the governance of cultures and societies (in general) and to the governance of the individual(s) (to be more specific):
- The Ego is celebrated and seen as a source of creation and order through free will; the Ego is seen and respected as a necessary part of the individual; the Ego within every individual is allowed to determine its own fate and future, and thereby allowed to determine, through Democracy, the fate and future of the Nation State. This may be included when called the “Self-Ego.”
- The Ego is demonized and seen as the source of destruction and chaos through free will; the Ego is seen and disrespected as an unnecessary part of the individual; the Ego within every individual is not allowed to determine its own fate and future, and thereby, not allowed to determine, through Communism and other non-democratic forms of governance, the fate and future of the Nation State. This may be included when called the “Collective-Ego.”
On one hand, the Ego (i.e., the individual within the individual) has authority over the Nation State; on the other hand, the Ego has allegiance to the Nation State, and the Nation State has complete control over the Ego. On one side, the Nation State serves the will and direction of the Ego—the Nation State submits to the Ego; on the other side, the Ego serves the will and direction of the Nation State—the Ego submits to the Nation State.
All of civilization—that ever was—ever has been—ever will be—ever is going to be—comes down to these two distinctly opposite schools of thought. Does the Ego have power over the Nation State? Or does the Nation State have power over the Ego?
One can go further in the definitions to clarify that “the Ego” reflects and signifies the singular “Individual of the masses, or Self-Ego,” whereas the “Nation State” reflects and signifies the “Collective-Ego of an elite few.”
By such an understanding of these two schools of thought, (A) the Individual as the Self-Ego has all the power of and to rights, while (B) the Nation State as the Collective-Ego has all the power of and to rights.
From such understandings flow the doctrines and policies which create foundations for, and establishes, Democracy and Communism. Either the Self-Ego determines the direction of the Collective-Ego, or the Collective-Ego determines the direction of the Self-Ego. Either the Self-Ego holds the power of and to rights conceding a limited authority of management to the Collective-Ego, or the Collective-Ego holds the power of and to rights conceding a limited authority of management to the Self-Ego. Either the Collective-Ego serves the Self-Ego, or the Self-Ego serves the Collective-Ego.
These two camps further impress upon those in Davos, Switzerland and the world the reasons why cultures and societies have adopted and adapted polar thoughts: the West, the Occident, adopted and adapted (and embraced) Democracy which aligns with a culture of independent thinking, of an independent nature (stemming from an ancient non-nomadic origin) to determine one’s fate and future for one’s self, of freedom for the Self-Ego to hunt and to explore and to gather knowledge for the settled that remained in Europe; the East, the Orient, adopted and adapted (and embraced) Communism which aligns with a culture of dependent thinking, of a collective nature (stemming from an ancient nomadic origin) to determine the fate and future for the whole of the all, of obedience for the survival of the migrant caravan(s) that fled Africa to and across Asia.
As for the Collective-Ego, the primary purpose of the Self-Ego is for the Self-Ego to serve the Collective-Ego, for the Individual to be “in service” of the Nation State (or in many cases: the Company or Team)—as in the days of old, when Pharaohs ruled supreme, this “service” came in the charge and price of slavery. One can even translate modern slavery as an economic hardship through debt and poverty forcing the Individual into this so-called “service” to the Nation State, to the Collective-Ego (or in many cases: the Company or Team). Hence the phrase: “Take one for the Team.”
As for the Self-Ego, the primary purpose of the Collective-Ego is for the Collective-Ego to serve the Self-Ego, for the Nation State to be “in service” of the Individual (as expressed by the founding fathers of the United States of America in the 18th century).
The Self-Ego (which can include the basic idea of “Individualism”) can, at times, be associated with life and freedom from the Collective-Ego; while the Collective-Ego (which can include the basic idea of “Collectivism”) can, at times, be associated with death and submission upon the Self-Ego, but life and survival for the Collective-Ego.
The Self-Ego seeks from the Collective-Ego a freedom from the social order in life. The Collective-Ego seeks from the Self-Ego a submission to the social order in life. The Self-Ego may view the Collective-Ego as a form of radicalism, while the Collective-Ego may also view the Self-Ego as a form of radicalism. The Self-Ego has a duty to the individual within, while the Collective-Ego has a duty to the collective without. Therefore, conservatism may also be dismantled and viewed in opposing manners, because both the Self-Ego and the Collective-Ego may view the other as being conservative.
Patriotism (and in some cases, Nationalism) follows a similar simplification when viewed through the lenses of these two schools of thought regarding the Self-Ego and the Collective-Ego:
When Camp One (the Self-Ego over the Collective-Ego) looks up to the flag, the patriotism created internally expresses itself in relief and calm because the flag represents and symbolizes the freedoms given to the Individual(s) and the power the Individual(s) has over the Nation State.
When Camp Two (the Collective-Ego over the Self-Ego) looks up to the flag, patriotism created externally expresses itself in obedience and fear because the flag represents and symbolizes the authority given to the Nation State and the power the Nation State has over the Individual(s).
For Camp One, the flag means the Individual(s) holds the power of and to rights; for Camp Two, the flag means the Nation State holds the power of and to rights.
This form of “Perception Matrix” can help explain why citizens of Camp Two travel or resettle to a Nation State holding to the principles of Camp One, and the Camp Two citizens view the Camp One flag with animosity, hate, anger, and often destroy (by fire) the flag of Camp One—because the Camp Two citizens still maintain the perception matrix of Camp Two, where the flag signifies the Nation State’s power and dominance over the Individual(s), and the Camp Two citizens have yet to adequately and appropriately form the perception matrix of Camp One and how Camp One citizens view their own flag, where the flag signifies the Individual’s power and dominance over the Nation State.
Here these two camps have created and established (and embraced) two dissimilar perception matrixes. And these perception matrixes further help to solidify cultures and societies and the governance in place for kinds of systems which include economic materialism, international class relations, a service class dependency, and a money-based luxury class.
For Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain (1924) will be the book that places the novelist among those cherished authors “whose names are associated with a single great work, because they have been able to give themselves complete expression in it” (p 719).
Mann’s The Magic Mountain will be remembered alongside great storytellers and their celebrated books such as Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1605 & 1615), Voltaire’s Candide (1759), Goethe’s Faust (1829), Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1869), Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927), Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), Buck’s The Good Earth (1931), Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind (1936), Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty–Four (1949), Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951), Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952), Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), Morrison’s Song of Solomon (1977), Coelho’s The Alchemist (1988), Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (1989), Rowling’s Harry Potter (1997-2007), and Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (2016).
To end, what does Mann have to say about Art?
“All works of art whose function it is to express the soul and the emotions… are always so ugly as to be beautiful, and so beautiful as to be ugly. That is a law. Their beauty is not fleshly beauty, which is merely insipid—but the beauty of the spirit. Moreover, physical beauty is an abstraction… only the inner beauty, the beauty of religious expression, has any actuality” (p 392).
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a member of Club Med & a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; Little Hometown, America: A Look Back; A Time to Forget in East Berlin; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
You can follow the author on Facebook @ cg.fewston – where he has 400,000+ followers