The Nobel winning novel “The Magic Mountain” by Thomas Mann was written for 10 years, between 1913 and 1924. It won the Nobel in 1929. Such a long period of writing resulted in a complex work which follows up with the emotional and philosophical growth of the main character because of which this novel can be called a bildungsroman – a type of novel whose main concern are the character changes in the characters through the plot of the novel.
The main theme is pretty simple. The novel is about the 23years old Hans Castrop who, during the summer and a few weeks before his internship on a shipyard starts, goes to visit his cousin Joachim Ziemssen. Joachim Ziemmsen has been curing his long problems for a year in the Swiss Alps. Hans thought about staying in the sanatorium for three weeks which would be enough for him to take a break and get ready for his upcoming internship. He moved to the atmosphere and the sanatorium’s staff, he gets convicted (or convinces himself) that he is ill and he extends his staying there to get cured. With time Hans was so completely adapted to the easy and comfortable life in the sanatorium that he refused to leave. In the end, Hans stayed there for seven years.
This simple theme is filled with a secondary plot which builds most of the novel. The main idea of the work is in its monologs and dialogues in which the author expressed his philosophical stance about nearly every element of the everyday life. The main discussions are about time and love but they are so cleverly placed into the plot that the reader doesn’t even see the transition between the philosophical discussions and the plot. Except for that, the novel is proud of its detailed character descriptions. The author builds his characters on every lever – their childhood, growth, past, present life, certain important events, their words, thoughts and he also gives their direct descriptions. The characters are complex, in some cases morbid and nearly surreal. Their characteristics are completely common but decorated with a certain spark of insanity – just enough for us to notice how eccentric they are without declaring them crazy. Because of all of that in some moments they are humoristic, just like the novel, but from a ironic perspective. Through the characters, the author makes fun of many social conventions, human characteristic and certain types of people.
Through the lifestyle of the sanatorium’s patients, the author describes a decadent world which is almost identical to the lifestyle of the aristocrats except that the patients actually have an excuse for their lack of work. Mann emphasizes that the illnesses are imaginary. The state of the patient in this sanatorium is moved by two things – the staff which makes something out of nothing and created a healthy man as if he was ill or potentially ill and the patients who are by nature have hypochondria. The staff makes them rest all the time, eat a lot, avoid any physical effort. In the end, this kind of lifestyle becomes accepted and the characters develop a repulsion for any other form of living. This is what happened to Hans. He was well aware that his lifestyle was good for nothing but the only thing keeping him away from the guilt for eating too much, getting a lot of sleep and doing practically nothing with his life was the belief he was actually ill.
Except for these themes the author works on many others such as the love story between Hans and a married Russian woman and the relationship between Hans and his cousin Joachim.
This novel is a complex, one of a kind masterpiece which is very easy to read and understand. It sheds a light on the world we live in, the society which surrounds us and the human nature.
The author expresses his opinions and his character’s opinions which aren’t always the same because of which the novel caused discussions between critics and readers which will, later on, be revealed in Germany in WWI.
Time: beginning of the 20th century
Place: sanatorium Berghof in the Swiss Alps
Theme: young man’s stay in a sanatorium
Idea: revelation of the philosophical opinions of a young man who decides to be ill and waste his youth
A young man named Hans Castrop took the train to the mountains. He came from a wealthy family, was used to living a comfortable life and in a few weeks, he was supposed to start his internship at a shipyard. He still had a matter he had to attend in the mountains. He knew he is about to enter a low life conditions situation, but he hoped that the anxiety he felt thinking about it would disappear once he reaches his destination. The train went high up the mountain until it stopped in front of a village. Hans Castrop heard his cousin’s voice, despite thinking this still wasn’t his stop. His cousin Joachim Ziemssen has been there for nearly 6 months, and he planned on staying even more, which surprised Hans who thought his cousin would be going back with him in three weeks. Joachim told him he shouldn’t think about his return because in three weeks many things could happen. The two young man headed for the sanatorium in which Joachim recovered from his lungs problem. He showed Hans another sanatorium which was way higher than the one they were going to.
When they reached the sanatorium Joachim took Hans to get settled in his room. An American woman died in that room last night, but it was cleaned before Hans arrived. He wasn’t pleased to hear that but he was more bothered by the coldness in the room. Joachim explained it was the mountain air and that with time he will adapt to it.
The two of them went to have some dinner and drink wine. Joachim complained about missing a lot of his life being in the sanatorium and that he is supposed to stay for another six months. Hand started getting sleepy from the wine, so he headed straight to bed. On the was he met doctor Krokowski and Hans told him that, despite being a healthy man who was in no need of medical attention, he will be staying there for three weeks. The doctor was surprised because he had never met a man who was mentally and physically completely healthy.
Hans felt uncomfortable in his bed because he knew a woman had died in it but he tried not to think about it. He had many dreams through the night.
Hans Castorp was left an orphan as a child. When he was five, he lost his mother, and his father died three years later. Hans lived with his grandpa Hans Lorenzo Castrop. His grandfather loved him and told him many of his life stories. After a year and a half, his grandpa died also. He was forced to change his address and way of life.
He went to his new guardian, his late mother’s uncle, the consul Tianappel who had power over the boy’s estate. He sold most of it, took over the accounts of Hans’s family company and paid himself for taking care of Hans. He was a widower with two kids, and he was very esteemed in his community. Tianappel had a servant who took care of the house, cooking, and Hans. Hans’s health was weak, so the doctor told him he had to drink a glass of wine daily. The wine would make him sleepy and slow him down while on the other hand, he was a healthy boy. Hans loved observing the sea and nature. He lived the good life which continued when he started college. He was average, not too smart or too dumb. Hans decided to study shipbuilding out of two reasons – ships were the only thing he liked, and his family friend had a shipyard and promised him a job when he finishes his studies. Hans didn’t like to work a lot, despite appreciating work, but this job would guarantee him a good salary and a good social standard.
Before he started his internship, the doctor recommended a trip to the mountains because working on his final tests wore him out. The logical choice was to visit the sanatorium in which his ill cousin Joachim was. Joachim was lonely and miserable because he was sent into treatment a little before he was supposed to become an officer. Hans decided to visit him and take the doctors advice. He went to the sanatorium and planned on staying there for three weeks.
The first morning Hans woke up early enough to do his pre-morning routine, even though he thought he would sleep through the entire morning because he was very tired. After shaving, he went to the balcony where he heard noises for the room of a Russian couple. Since he was a perfect gentleman, he stepped back inside, but the walls were so thin that he could hear everything that was going on in the next room. It made him angry and put him in a bad mood.
While he was going to breakfast with Joachim, he told him all about his unpleasant morning experience, and he was also interested in a woman he saw wandering the forest next to the sanatorium. Joachim told him she was a Mexican woman whose two sons were in the sanatorium. One of them had to come to get cured and the other one, after visiting his brother, just decided to stay there. Hans felt some desire to meet the Mexican woman despite her inability to speak English. She only knew Spanish and didn’t communicate with anyone from the sanatorium.
The breakfast was delicious, with a lot of food and it was eaten in a big dining room. Hans was surprised by the mood and appetite the patients had, despite appearing ill and complaining about having a fever. All of the patients were there for months. Joachim introduced Hans to the counselor Behrens. Behrens complained about Joachim being a bad patient and stating that Hans will clearly be better. He noticed that Hans suffered from anemia and suggested that both of them should regularly check their body temperature.
Hans and Joachim went for a walk, and Hans smoked a cigarette. They would encounter people who would laugh at Hans and then he realized he didn’t enjoy his cigarette much. He thought it was because of the heat he has been feeling ever since he arrived at the sanatorium. Joachim calmed him down saying everyone seems to like that until they adapt to the climate changes. Hans asked whether many patients died that Joachim knows of and he says that they have but that the staff always tries to hide the real number because they don’t want to upset the other patients. The only thing Joachim witnessed was a death of a very young woman. She was happy and perky for a while until she got severely ill and when the priest came to visit her, she started yelling and shouting, which was uncommon for dying patients. That wasn’t the only case in which a patient ”refused” death.
All of the sudden a stranger stopped next to the young man. It was mister Settembrini, a well-behaved Italian who had about 30-40 years and he was educated. He wondered about how long will Hans be staying and which diagnose he had. Settembrini was surprised to hear he will only be there for three weeks because the minimum was about a month. No one ever stayed less than a month. Settembrini told him about the rumor that doctor Kafka was poisoning his patients to keep them in and earn more money, but the men perceived those rumors to be false. All three of them went back to their rooms, and the cousins noticed Settembrini’s room was facing the other way, so they thought he had no money for a better room. All in all, Settembrini made a good impression on Hans.
Joachim was ordered to rest on the balcony, so he went there with Hans. He took his Russian Grammar and studied because he thought that the knowledge of Russian would serve him well when he goes back to the army. He checked his temperature, and they started talking about the time. Hans thought it was entirely subjective while Joachim thought it was objective considering we have a whole system for measuring time. Joachim’s temperature was 37.5 which was bad, but still better than the night before. Hans went back to his room because he didn’t want to bother Joachim anymore and he rested on the balcony.
After an hour they heard a bell indicating it was snack time. The young men went to the dining room where milk, oatmeal, and fruit were being served. Hans didn’t feel well after breakfast, so he didn’t want to drink any milk. He asked for wine, and the staff brought him a beer which was similar to the type of wine he asked for. The beer made him a bit drunk, his body weak and his cheeks warm. He didn’t speak another word and held on to Joachim. After the snack, he wanted to go to bed, but it was time for another walk.
They went to the nearby place, and Hans smoked another cigarette, despite not liking it again. He was completely tired but still tried to establish a conversation with Joachim. They talked about the other patients and Hans mentioned his heart has been racing for a while, and Joachim noted he was a bit pale. After returning to the room, Hans fell asleep.
He was woken up by the bell which indicated lunch time. The lunch was rich and filled with all kinds of food. They ate, a bit too much, and Hans observed the people around him. Someone entered the room banging the door, and it upset Hans a lot because someone had already done the same thing during breakfast and snack time. He decided to see who was this rude person and to his surprise, it was a young Russian woman.
After lunch, Hans barely dragged himself to the balcony for their obligatory after-lunch rest. He fell asleep while his heart was still racing, wondering why he felt so different up here. It was tea time, followed by dinner. During dinner, Hans had another beer, and it got him a bit tipsy again. After dinner, he spent some time with Settembrini. He had another obligatory rest on the balcony with Joachim. Joachim wrapped Hans in blankets, but Hans was still cold, despite feeling like his head was on fire. He forced himself to smoke another cigarette despite not enjoying it again. In the end, got so tired that he went to sleep but when he came to his bed, he couldn’t fall asleep. When he finally managed to get some shut-eye he had some crazy, senseless dreams.
On the second day of Hans’s stay in the sanatorium the weather was beautiful and warm, but already on the third day black clouds emerged on the horizon, and it started snowing. Hans was surprised by the weather change, and Joachim explained that up in the mountain the weather changed the way it wanted to. The next day Joachim and Hans went to buy blankets for Hans. On their way back they encountered Settembrini who complained about the heating in the sanatorium – as soon as the snow stopped, they would turn off the heat. Settembrini talked about his father who always kept his study warm while doctor Krokowski punished them with coldness. Hans told them that he always considered patients to be smarter and more spiritual than the healthy people, so it was unusual for him to listen to one of the patients who was extremely shallow and stupid. Settembrini started a long monolog about how his opinion was wrong. He considered that popular opinion to only emerge out of pity for the ill who aren’t considered people but bodies since, from the moment they become ill, no one cares about their bodily functions anymore.
After parting ways with Settembrini, Hans noted that they weren’t allowed to say anything wrong around Settembrini because he would correct them like some teacher. The young men also parted ways to get ready for lunch which was about to start in an hour.
It didn’t take much time for Hans to adapt to the sanatorium’s lifestyle. He didn’t enjoy working anyway, so the obligatory resting, slow walks, and everyday leisure fit in with his routine perfectly. On the one hand he thought that the time was passing by extremely slowly in the sanatorium but on the other hand, he remembered perfectly the day he came and every day that flew by since. All in all, both Hans and Joachim were happy about his arrival there.
Hans didn’t completely adapt to the life on the mountain, and he didn’t think it would be possible in three weeks. In his everyday routine, he started noticing and experiencing certain new things. For example, he saw a dying person for the first time. Soon the cousins met nurse Berta, a woman who wanted to talk to one of them desperately and when she finally achieved her goal, she wouldn’t let go of them. She would look at them with her big eyes and stop them with another story. Hans talked to the Mexican woman, and it made him think how he always preferred the company of sad people. It might have been a consequence of his parent’s death because of which he didn’t feel anxious if someone talked to him about their problems. He also didn’t feel repulsed by coffins. He thought them to be nice pieces of furniture, even when empty.
Hans kept on noticing changes in his everyday life. For example, every other Sunday, the sanatorium would host small concerts. All of the patients would dress nice, there would be flowers, and everyone would talk. Hans drank beer and smoked which provoked languor. Settembrini came late because, according to him, he didn’t do anything by order, not even if the order was to listen to music. He mentioned young men who, like Hans, came to the mountain perfectly healthy but then started suffering from a horrible fever. Hans saw nothing bad or threatening in it. He couldn’t keep up with a long conversation because the beer and cigarettes made their influence on him.
On Monday doctor Krokowski held his usual lectures to the patients and Hans wanted to be present. On Monday morning he told Joachim he didn’t want to spend so much time resting because it was obviously bad for his health. He decided to take a long walk every day after breakfast. He will even take some food to have on the way. He went up the mountain, singing and cheerfully walking. It became hard for him to walk like that and sing but he didn’t give up until he collapsed under a tree. He wanted to go back when the surroundings amazed him. He sat on a bench, and his nose started bleeding. He laid on the bench and thought about his friend from school. Hans for some reason loved him in school and wanted to meet him. During an art class, he asked him to lend him a pen and Hans drew proudly with it. That was about it. Hans woke up from his contemplation and went back to the sanatorium but he barely had strength to get up and walk. He asked a carriage driver to help him because he wanted to come in time for the lecture.
Hans came just in time. He sat next to madam Chauchat. He wasn’t too pleased with that because he looked awful and he hoped to get some rest during the lecture, but next to madam Chauchat he felt nervous, his heart pounded, and he couldn’t stay calm. The lecture was about love which, for Hans, was a boring and inappropriate theme. After the lecture Hans told Joachim that he didn’t enjoy his walk and that he will stop with that activity.
On Tuesday Hans received a bill for his week in the sanatorium and he paid for it. In the dining room, he waited for madam Chauchet to enter and slam the door. It would upset him every time. An old professor, Mrs. Engelhart, would always talk to madam Chauchet, complimenting her looks, behavior, and elegance. Hans would tease her about it trying to get information about madam Chauchet. He found out she was married to a Russian official who never came to visit her. She has been in the sanatorium for three months, and this was her third time visiting it. Her name was Clavdia and Hans thought it suited her. He felt the same connection with her that he felt with his classmate. The feeling of strong excitement and his heart pounding every time he would even think of her.
Hans didn’t want to engage in a love affair with Clavdia. He thought he could never be with a married, slightly rude and not well-behaved woman that slammed the doors and was ill or “rotting inside” as Hans referred to it. For him, the excitement of seeing her was enough, and he would spend his time thinking about seeing her again. He never even thought about making a move because he was going to leave in two weeks.
His stay at the sanatorium seemed shorter and he didn’t look forward to his departure. Hans got used to that lifestyle despite his health getting worse. It was his second week, and after paying another bill, he calculated how much money would he need to pay for a whole month or even a year. The number was significantly smaller than his yearly income. Hans thought that the time just flew by. He couldn’t even remember the days in which his departure seemed to be far away. He remembered that every patient stayed her for at least a month and now he knew why.
Hans also had compassion for his cousin who will stay in the sanatorium. He told him that he didn’t get any rest in these three weeks. He also felt he was getting cold and because of that he called the nurse. She told him that there is no such thing as a cold – only minor and larger infections. She sold him a thermometer and told him to check his temperature regularly.
Hans checked his temperature, and it was a bit alarming. The news about it spread across the sanatorium, and he made an appointment with the doctor. The next day the doctor told him he knew from the start Hans was a patient and not a visitor. He was probably ill from the day he got there, but now his condition got worse. He heard there was something wrong with his lungs which weren’t good because his mother died because of lung problems. Krokowski ordered Hans to stay in bed for four days until he decides what to do with him.
Joachim felt ashamed in front of his family for Hans’s illness. He believed to be responsible for him, and he felt guilty for the way things turned out. Hans told him it wasn’t his fault and that it wasn’t like everyone was eager for him to get out. Both of them agreed to tell Hans’s uncle everything in a letter. Hans thought he would only extend his stay for a few days, but Joachim knew this place better, and he was sure Hans wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon. Joachim thought Hans should buy some more things because he came with a small suitcase.
Since he spent his days in bed, they all seemed the same to him. In the morning he would be visited by doctors, he would get his breakfast, he would be visited by his doctor again, then Joachim, then he would eat lunch, have his nap and soon it would be dinner time, and it was like that every single day.
Once Settembrini came to visit him. He told him about a new patient coming to the sanatorium. He also commended Hans for making himself at home in the sanatorium. He wasn’t only a guest, but a full member.
After three weeks in bed, the doctor finally lets Hans get up and join the other patients. He probably wouldn’t have done it if Hans hadn’t asked. He thought that no one paid much attention to his return to everyday life but he had proof Chauchat noticed. Professor Engelhart told him she was visited daily by a certain man from the village and that Behrens was painting her portrait. Hans’s temperature rose up when hearing the news.
Eight days after his last check up Hans and Joachim were invited to see the doctor. While they were waiting in line madam Chauchat appeared and Hans’s heart started racing. He could barely hold himself together when she asked them if they had an appointment. Joachim talked to her because, unlike Hans, he didn’t fancy her much. After the check up, the doctor ordered the cousins to relax, stay in bed, eat and drink and check their temperature.
It was October already. Hans wrote his uncle a letter stating he was doing fine in the sanatorium. He told him he was ill and that if he comes back home, he would probably end up back in the hospital. He asked for 800 pounds a month to pay for the bill and ended the letter. All of the writing caused a heat wave in his face, so he checked his temperature. His temperature was high, and he also mentioned it in the letter.
The next day Hans felt even more in love with Chauchat. The two of them would glance at each other, stumble upon each other by accident until Chauchat gave him such a sharp look it hurt him for the next few days.
The cousins felt a bit better, so they decided to take a walk. On the way they encountered Chauchaut and Hans greeted her and she did the same which caused a lot of excitement and joy in Hans. His temperature got higher that night due to all the excitement.
One day after lunch Joachim and Hans sat in the garden and Hans didn’t like it because he wanted to talk to the other patients before going to their obligatory noon relax. Hans smoked his cigarette, used to not enjoy it and then Behrens approached him. After talking about cigarettes Hans asked him whether he was interested in painting. Behrens talked all about his hobby, and Hans asked to see some of his works. Behrens took him and Joachim to show them his paintings and Hans recognized Chauchet’s portrait which was so bad that he wouldn’t even recognize it if he hadn’t known it had to be there. Hans praised his work and made him talk about his model. He found out that Behrens knew Chauchet better than him, but only physically.
Soon winter came, and Hans feared it. He was already cold during the night and now he was getting cold during the day. The heating in the sanatorium was very bad but it didn’t seem to bother anyone other than him. There was a lot of talks and plan to make for Christmas even though it was still far away, and Hans felt uncomfortable thinking about Christmas because it will be the first time he spends this holiday away from his family.
When Christmas came, the patients weren’t in the mood. They didn’t want to eat the festive food, cake or receive the gifts from their loved ones. The day after Christmas was just like any other ordinary day and nothing changed.
Five months passed since Hans came to the sanatorium and a year since Joachim came there. On Tuesday, they went to see the carnival in the village. In the evening they had a party after dinner. It was particularly amusing when the council had to draw a pig with his eyes closed. The others wanted to try but only had three pens. Hans like it so he asked to join in but he couldn’t get a decent pen and went looking for one. He was a bit tipsy, and he walked angrily to Chauchet’s room to ask for a pen. She had one and gave it to him, but by the time they got back to the tables, the party was dying out. Hans and Chauchet sat down and talked. They even flirted for a while and then Hans declared his love for her. She called him her ”prince of the carnival” and then left mentioning she will need her pen back.
It has been six weeks since Hans borrowed the pen from Chauchet and when he returned it he too got something in return. Joachim was getting more and more dissatisfied with his state because it seemed to him like he will never go home and start his work in the army.
Chauchet left the sanatorium after the carnival and, it was supposed to be a short leave, but she was already gone for six weeks. Also, Settembrini announced he would be leaving too. He had already said he will be leaving when he gets better or loses all hope of getting better. The doctor told him he might stay his whole life in the sanatorium, so he decided to live in a village near the sanatorium.
Hans started getting interested in astrology because he watched the stars every night on his balcony, wrapped up in a blanket. It was still cold, even though it was spring. Joachim was getting more and more nervous, and he talked a lot about war and politics with Settembrini and Hans. While Joachim was with the doctor, Hans would walk to the place in which he felt ill, and his nose started bleeding all those months ago. It didn’t happen to him anymore because he adjusted to the weather and his health seemed to be getting better, except for the fever he always had.
Hans and Joachim went to visit the tailor in whose house Settembrini lived. They talked to him about many philosophical matters. These conversations were necessary for Hans because they gave him something to think about during the day.
August came and a year passed since Hans came to the sanatorium. The sanatorium celebrated the holidays, but it didn’t celebrate the anniversaries of their patients. Joachim was still being nervous about not leaving. He would often threat to leave, and Hans was worried about him. He couldn’t even believe his cousin, because of who he came to the sanatorium, would leave him there alone.
On his next check up Joachim told the doctor he would be leaving the sanatorium for eight days and then join the army in three weeks. It was after the doctor told him that in 6 more months in the sanatorium he will be completely cured. The doctor was surprised with his reaction but he still gave his permission. He asked Hans whether he will be leaving with his cousin and he left that decision to the doctor. The doctor told him he was ready to travel and Hans tried to change his mind.
Joachim was proud of himself for standing up to the doctor, but Hans was shocked. As soon as he came to the room, he wrapped himself up in a blanket and checked his temperature. It was still running a fever and he told Joachim about it. He didn’t respond. Joachim “accidentally” smashed his thermometer so that the fever wouldn’t stop him from leaving. Despite his problems, he was looking forward to his departure.
It was a beautiful, fall day. Joachim couldn’t sleep that night and right before breakfast he left. Hans chaperoned him to the train station, and Joachim asked him to join him soon. Hans was alone in the mountain.
When Joachim left Hans got a new place in the dining room, and it was Settembrini’s old place. His uncle James Tienappel came to visit. Hans treated him in the same way Joachim treated him when he came. Tienappel was surprised with his nephew’s behavior, just like Hans was surprised with Joachim’s behavior at first. Tienappel intended on staying for eight days and he was sure that Hans will leave with him. Hans smiled and told his uncle he needs to relay and see how things were done there.
After breakfast, they met Behrens who, only after a glance, was sure James had anemia and that he should stay longer in the sanatorium like his cousin did. James followed up with the everyday life of the sanatorium. He ate and slept like everyone else. It did him good because he felt a certain amount of fatigue, coldness, and warmth at the same time.
On the sixth day, the doctor talked to James. After the conversation, James stayed the rest of the day in the sanatorium, paid the bills, took care of the papers and snuck out to catch a train the next day. Hans was sure he ran away despite the message he left him about a job emergency. Hans was happy about the way things worked out.
It was very snowy that winter. Hans had a desire to buy skies and learn how to ski. Any sports activity wasn’t allowed according to the hospital’s rules because the thin air in the mountain could affect the patient’s lungs. Settembrini encouraged him to try it before he lost the will to do it. Once, during his activities, he met with Behrens, but he didn’t recognize him. The peacefulness and quietness of the mountains under the snow were everything Hans needed but still, he felt happy seeing the people in the sanatorium. This activity woke up a feeling of confidence he hadn’t felt in a long time.
Once Hans went skiing in the afternoon. He lost track of time, and the dark came earlier than expected. Hans got lost in the forest when a blizzard started. He was completely lost and extremely cold. In the end, he found a small shack, and he hid there until the storm passed. Hans drank some wine he had on him and felt an instant wave of weakness. He fell asleep dreaming all sorts of things. He woke up only to realize he had been asleep for ten minutes. The blizzard stopped, and he went back to the sanatorium.
Hans constantly received letters from Joachim. He first attended a university and then he went to study to be a petty officer and then an officer. He seemed happier than ever until he started getting ill and had to miss out some of his practices. His state got so bad that his doctor told him he had to go and spend some time on the mountain. His mother booked him a room in the sanatorium, and she went with him.
Joachim and his mother came three days after letting Hans know they were coming. Joachim was unusually excited about being back, like a man who came back home after being away for a long time. He and Hans changed rules the day Hans arrived at the sanatorium. Joachim was cheerful until his mother mentioned his exams which made him lose his desire to do anything.
Behrens told Joachim he had to stay in the sanatorium for four weeks to adapt to the weather and recover. Behrens told Joachim’s mother that he should be fully recovered from fall but he didn’t mention whether he had to stay in the sanatorium for that long. Joachim’s mother stayed there for eight days and then went to Hamburg. After four weeks of rest, Joachim’s temperature was low enough to get out of bed. The cousins proceeded with their life it was before Joachim’s departure. They visited Settembrini to lead philosophical conversations and after one of them Joachim’s temperature went up. His throat hurt and he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He had to be examined every day and they prepared especially soft food for him. The patients started treating Joachim with a great deal of respect, calling him “mister office”. Joachim spoke little. He would go walking with Hans but his mood was terrible, and Hans was clearly worried about him.
Soon the doctor forbid Joachim for getting out of bed. It got hard for him to eat so they put him on liquid food. This didn’t worry Hans as much as catching Joachim talking with a girl he fancied for a long time as if nothing was wrong. He liked her even since he saw her for the first time. Hans called his mother to let her know about Joachim’s state. It seemed as if he was dying. Joachim made peace with his state and the near death. Behrens gave him a few more hours to live and in the end, he died next to Hans and his mother.
On the shortest day of the year in a certain year, Chauchet came back to the sanatorium. She came accompanied by an older man Mynheer Peeperkorn and it surprised Hans. He knew Chauchet was coming back but he had no idea she wasn’t coming alone. After arriving Chauchet didn’t pay much attention to Hans until, a few weeks after leaving, she came and asked about his cousin. Hans talked to her as if they knew each other for years and as if she wasn’t a woman, which offended her a lot. Peeperkorn interrupted them and called them to come and socialize with other people.
Peeperkorn was a man who had the spirit of a leader. He talked loud, and everyone listened and obeyed to him. He likes to eat a lot and drink red wine and coffee. Soon he got ill and stayed in the sanatorium until spring. Hans often went to have his philosophical discussions and he also talked to Chauchat while Peeperkorn was in bed. Hans declared his love for Chauchat again but still had an indifferent tone of voice with her. He asked her if she was in love with Peeperkorn and she said that she loved the fact he loved her and that she wasn’t ready to refuse that kind of love. Hans understood her, and they gave each other a “Russian” kiss.
Before this occurred, Peeperkorn asked Hans if he loved Chauchat. He explained the reasons why he asked that question and then asked if they were lovers the first time she came to the sanatorium. Hans said no and described their relationship as platonic. Two men felt very close while talking about Chauchat so, in the end, they parted ways in a very friendly way. In the end, Peeperkorn’s illness made him very weak and made him kill himself leaving Chauchat a “widow”.
Chauchat left the sanatorium, and Hans was left empty and dejected. He wasn’t even excited when the doctor told him his state was getting better. His temperature was still changing so the doctor thought it might be streptococcus. Hans started his treatment, but it didn’t influence his health. He seemed to be indifferent towards everything, not only his life and health but existence itself. Everything was meaningless for him.
The only thing that kept him going was playing cards, and he exchanged that obsession for another one – the gramophone. The sanatorium had one, and it amazed everyone. They would play records and enjoy the music. Hans was in charge of the gramophone. He was completely dedicated to his job and it filled him with passion. The music inspired some new thoughts and philosophical conclusions in him.
Elly came to the sanatorium and she had the ability to speak to the dead. Krokowski had a few seances with her and the other patients. On one of those seances, Hans saw his late cousin. He had his office clothes and his cheeks looked run-down. Hans’s eyes filled with tears and he left the séance.
After spending years in the sanatorium Hans noticed that the spirit of the sanatorium was changing. People were getting agitated and angry. They would get in confrontations and sometimes they would get so ill the doctor couldn’t save them. Settembrini was invited to a duel by one of his friends, and everyone was getting ready to see the show. Before it started Settembrini told Hans he wasn’t a murderer and that he will not become one. When the duel started Settembrini shot up to the sky and it made his friend so angry that he called him a coward and killed himself.
Hans Castrop stayed in the sanatorium for seven years. He was the only patients no one ever asked for his health, and they didn’t question how long he will be staying there. A lot of things happened. Hans’s uncle died but it didn’t affect him much. He lost all contact with the outer world. He didn’t even order cigarettes anymore because he found some new cigarettes in a nearby village.
On a summer day, while Hans was resting, a lighting struck near the sanatorium. It woke him up and made him leave the sanatorium. He packed up his bags and said goodbye to Settembrini. Hans went to war and the author never revealed whether he died there.
Characters: Hans Castrop, Joachim Ziemssen, doctor Krokowski, Behrens, madam Chauchat, Settembrini, Naphta, Peeperkorn.
Hans Castrop was a young 23-year-old engineer who planned on visiting his cousin at a sanatorium for three weeks, but he got comfortable with the life up there and decided to stay for seven years. Hans lost his parents as a child after which his grandfather and then his uncle took care of him. His family owned factories, so he was used to living the good life. He studied to be an engineer because he loved ships and he already had a job offer. Hans didn’t like to work but respected work a lot. He was ill enough to rest a lot, but no ill enough to watch out for everything. He had enough time to think about life and he considered himself to be a philosopher. Losing his parents at an early age made him a cold person. Even when he fell in love, he kept his distance from the person he loved. He kept his distance from Chauchat. It was enough for him to just look at her. He considered her to be ill and unworthy of him. In the end, he changed and so did his approach to people. He used to be a poster boy for high society young men – lived the way he wanted to and anything that deviated from his lifestyle he considered to be rude and disrespectful. With time he started breaking his own rules and subordinated himself to a decadent, non-working lifestyle. By the end of the novel, he realized what he has done and he left the sanatorium to join the army where he probably died.
Joachim Zemssen was Hans’s cousin who spent six months in the sanatorium prior to Hans’s arrival. He warned him that time was counted different in the sanatorium and that he will definitely spend more than three weeks there. Joachim was shy and he spent his childhood with Hans because his father was Hans’s guardian. His life ambition was to join the army and become an officer so it was hard for him to spend all of that time in the sanatorium. He couldn’t wait to get out but he still bowed down the doctor’s opinion who constantly kept him in the sanatorium. He thought himself to be too young to spend his years locked up and according to him, his years were of the essence to build a life. In the end, he got out despite the doctor’s opinion. He kept on with his studies, and when he finally tasted happiness, he had to go back to the sanatorium. He was supposed to be there for a few weeks, but he got stuck there again. When he started to get weaker, he died. Joachim didn’t die because of his illness but because he was deprived of everything he ever wanted in life. Joachim gave up on himself, and it killed him.
Behren was one of the doctors and the counselor. He had some issues and he used his power to manipulate the patients. Through the novel it isn’t clear whether he manipulated them on purpose, convincing them they were ill, exaggerating their illnesses and making them take all kind of medication despite some of them not being ill at all. He played God, imposed himself as an important person in the small sanatorium, and it isn’t clear if he actually thought everyone around him was ill. When he met Hans he told him he had never seen a healthy man which indicates his belief that everyone was ill. For him, it was only a matter of how many people he will be able to convince that they are ill. For him every sneeze was deadly, every a cough was tuberculosis and, as all sanatorium staff did, he asked everyone to check their temperature daily and made the patients spend weeks in bed. Time was relative for him and weeks in bed and years in the sanatorium meant nothing to him. Behrens had a God complex. Everyone who disobeyed him was scared with the thoughts of death and he even gloated when someone would die. It is questionable whether he cure anyone and his methods caused more illness than health. The proof of that was people constantly coming to the sanatorium but never leaving. Most of them left in a coffin.
Madam Clavdia Chauchet was a beautiful Russian woman who loved being the center of attention and she got Hans’s attention by slamming the doors every time she would enter or exit the dining room. Hans thought it was a sign of bad upbringing. Even though he didn’t consider her to be elegant or beautiful he was drawn to her. She was married and she still flirted with men. When she met Hans, Clavdia pretended to be insulted by his behavior but it was all a lie. She actually felt good about having his attention. Clavdia left the sanatorium and when she came back, she wasn’t alone. She claimed to love the man who came with her because he loved her. Her love with Hans was never anything more than just flirting.
Settembrini had about 30-40 years and he was Italian. Hans like him because of his philosophical opinions and strong personality. He always spoke his mind, talked a lot and added some Italians phrases to his conversation. Settembrini was the only one who advised Hans to pack up his thing and go before it becomes too late. He was the only one who saw how the sanatorium actually worked. His desire to die free made him leave the sanatorium but he still spent time with Hans. He always encouraged Hans’s ideas which were against the sanatorium’s rules. He encouraged Hans to the very end, and when Hans finally decided to leave the sanatorium, he was happy for him. Even though he came off as a intrusive man Settembrini was actually a positive character, a critic of the world he lived in and he didn’t accept the rules if they had no logical background.
Thomas Mann Biography
Thomas Mann was a significant German author who made his mark in the German literature of the 20th century. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1929.
Mann was born in Lubeck, German in 1875. After his father passed away he moved to Munich in 1891 where he went to high school. Later on, he went to a university, and he studied history, economy, art history and literature to get prepared to be a journalist.
After finishing his studies, he worked in insurance and then he started his writing career. His first work was “Gafallen” published in 1896 and his first significant work was “Little Mr. Friedemann” published in 1898 and it, later on, became the title of his book of short stories.
His novel “Buddenbrooks” was declared the German novel of the century. It was published in 1901 and then Mann started writing short stories and plays. In 1903 he published a book named “Tristan” in which he perfected him play-writing skills and then he published “Fiorenza”.
Mann got married and started his own family. He lived a calm, successful life marked by his glory in literature. His most significant work in those times was the story “Death in Venice”. From 1913 to 1924 he wrote “The Magic Mountain”. During that time, before World War II, he was banished from Germany but he still continued his writing. He published a novel cycle in four parts “Joseph and his Brothers”, a novel “Lotte in Weimar”, and “Law”. When the war ended he published “Doctor Faustus” and his final novel “Confessions of Felix Krull”.
In 1952 he lived in Switzerland with his family and he still pursued his writing career. After getting seriously ill he passed away in 1955.