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The Magic Mountain

Lu par : David Rintoul
Durée : 37 h et 27 min
4,5 out of 5 stars (2 notations)

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Description

It was The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg) that confirmed Thomas Mann as a Nobel prizewinner for literature and rightly so, for it is undoubtedly one of the great novels of the 20th century. 

Its unusual story - it opens with a young man visiting a friend in a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps - was originally started by Mann in 1912 but was not completed until 1924. Then, it was instantly recognised as a masterpiece and led to Mann’s Nobel Prize in 1929. 

Hans Castorp is, on the face of it, an ordinary man in his early 20s, on course to start a career in ship engineering in his home town of Hamburg, when he decides to travel to the Berghof Santatorium in Davos. The year is 1912, and an oblivious world is on the brink of war. Castorp’s friend Joachim Ziemssen is taking the cure, and a three-week visit seems a perfect break before work begins. But when Castorp arrives he is surprised to find an established community of patients, some of whom have been there for years, and little by little, he gets drawn into the closeted life and the individual personalities of the residents. 

Among them are Hofrat Behrens, the principal doctor, the curiously attractive Clavdia Chauchat and two intellectuals: Ludovico Settembrini and Leo Naphta with their strongly contrasted personalities and differing political, ethical, artistic and spiritual ideals. Hans Castorp’s stay is extended, once, twice and still further, as he appears to develop symptoms which suggest that his health, once so robust, would benefit from the treatments and the mountain air. 

As time passes, it becomes clear that the young man, with a particular interest in shipbuilding and not much else, finds his outlook and knowledge broadened by his mountain companions, his intellect stretched and his emotional experience deepened and enriched. Hans Castorp is changing, day by day, month by month, year by year, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes with a sudden advance, as he encounters the varied range of sparkling characters, their comedies and tragedies, their aspirations and their defeats. 

The Magic Mountain is a classic bildungsroman, an educational journey of growth - a genre that began with an earlier novel in the German tradition: Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship. It is presented here in the acclaimed modern translation by John E. Woods and is told by David Rintoul with his particular understanding for Thomas Mann as displayed in his widely praised Ukemi recording of Buddenbrooks.

©1996 Knopf Translation (P)2020 Ukemi Productions Ltd

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Notations
Global
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Interprétation
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  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Weighty!

This dauntingly long novel is set at the beginning of the 20th century, entirely in a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland. Off in the mountains, the institution is physically very remote from “Flatland”, but perhaps even more so psychologically. Newspapers are available but current events and life down below in general do not seem to concern residents very much. The telephone is never mentioned and of course radio, television and the Internet did not yet exist. Thus, the novel essentially tells of a lock-up and how it affects a largely constant set of characters. The work’s premise is a three-week visit by Hans, a 24-year old from Hamburg who has completed his studies and is on the verge on entering professional life, to his cousin Joachim who suffers from TB and has already been there a few months. Hans is an orphan and no romantic interest or even significant friends of his in ‘Flatland” are ever mentioned. He is described as mediocre and certainly comes out as ambitionless and even lazy. Initially reserved, he becomes very talkative as the novel develops, his cousin Joachim ever less so. The plot unfolds very slowly, as days in the sanatorium are rigidly structured around five meals, interspersed with periods of imposed “rest cure”. Thus, ridiculously small events, even a banging door, take on major importance. The novel is punctuated with at times ethereal discussions on topics such as: • the perception of time as it passes; • the nature of life and health; • the relationship between art and science; • the relative worth of liberalism and conservatism. There are some unexpected events, much out of the ordinary, such as a ski outing in a snowstorm, communication with the Beyond, and a drunken all-night party. Strangely, these have no significant consequences for the characters, although they do raise questions as to how closely the sanatorium is managed beyond its strict schedule! From a 21st century perspective, many health considerations seem strangely overlooked: nothing is said of the impact of altitude on ease of breathing, doctors and most patients regularly smoke tobacco, X-ray sessions last many minutes! (It would probably be unfair to read any significance into this, however, as medical knowledge has just progressed in the past 100 years). The narrator is omniscient as to what concerns Hans and even includes very convincing detailed descriptions of some of his dreams. No doubt to keep the novel in focus, this does not apply to any other character. Quite a few times, the narrator directly addresses the reader, for instance to describe his literary approach of neither idealizing nor depreciating Hans, the “hero”. The exceptionally smooth translation from German to English is truly excellent. In the audio version, the speaker does a truly outstanding, energetic job, keeping a straight face through the non-events and a lively tone through the most demanding philosophical passages. His pronunciation of French, Italian and German passages is more than honourable. So is his singing towards the end of the book. This demanding, ambiguous novel has a haunting quality that makes it worthwhile despite the significant effort it calls for in terms of time and concentration.

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • L. Kerr
  • 01/06/2020

worth the wait

I'm a classic literature buff. I waited a long time for this audiobook. It was worth the wait. David Rintoul does a fabulous job performing what could have been a long, tedious, and difficult novel. He captures the subtle wit and irony that Mann had intended---not an easy feat. Each character is so distinctive you never have to wonder who is speaking. Can't say enough good things.

37 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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  • Edward A. Dickey
  • 04/06/2020

At Last

I have waited for years for this classic of world literature to be available as an audio book. And this version was well worth waiting for. The narrator is fully engaged with the material and brings the different characters to life. Most of all, he brings out the humor in Thomas Mann's masterpiece. I have read the book twice before, but only now appreciate how funny parts of it can be.

23 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonathan Imsande
  • 18/06/2020

Great Narration and Translation

I have been waiting for this book to come out as an audio book for so long. I have read this book several times. I remember when a new translation came out for Magic Mountain and Doctor Faustus, It was like a breath of fresh air when I re read them. Now it is like the book is coming to life for me again. This is a new translation for me and the narration is great. The narrator catches the different personalities and tempo of each character. Thank you.

13 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Logan1983
  • 28/06/2020

Magical story... and magical narration

The Magic Mountain is a captivating, mysterious and often extremely funny story about a young man, Hans Castorp. It follows his intellectual and emotional development as he spends 7 years in a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, touching on numerous, profound topics: illness, dreams, time, memory, Western civilization and the advent of World War I, David Rintoul brings to life with enormous richness the complex texture and many layers of the story. A truly masterful performance. I enjoyed every second of it!

9 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul
  • 20/08/2020

A Magical Journey

Long ago, like Hans Castorp, I too had my own Magic Mountain. Mine was high in the mountains of Afghanistan. I lived in a mud room without running water or electricity. There was nothing to do at nights but sit in tea houses speaking Farsi. During a short vacation I rode the Afghan Post bus through the Khyber Pass to the border city of Peshawar in Pakistan. They had an English book store one can only dream about. On its shelves I found Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. It had been required reading in one of my classes at school, but I never read it because of its length. Grabbing a copy, I brought it back to Afghanistan, and there, each night, by the gleam of a gas lantern, I burned my way through the novel. I talked with my cousin Joachim; I disputed with Settembrini and Naphta, and fell desperately in love with Madame Chauchat. That reading experience was magical for me, and I hope that that you too will take the same journey yourself; the novel is beautifully narrated by David Rintoul.

8 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Murasaki
  • 22/06/2020

Masterpiece

This is a Great Book at the level of Tolstoy or Joyce. The brilliant reader is more than up to the challenge. Having listened once I am about to begin again. One never reads a great book twice

8 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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  • JK
  • 05/07/2020

Amazing

Do not miss this book. Without the expert narrator it would have been difficult to stick to parts of this long narrative. Thank you, JK

6 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bookoholics Anon
  • 16/07/2020

excellent narration of a mammoth book

this is one of my favorite novels but it is a bear to get through. The arguments between Settembrini and Naphta are a hard slog for the reader but make a bit more sense when read out loud, and you can picture the two adversaries standing out in the Davosplatz arguing to impress their young audience. The narrator does a really excellent job. For people who have trouble getting through this enormous work, the audiobook listen to in segments can make it far more accessible. This the newer John Woods translation which is excellent and updates some of the dated Britishism's of the earlier Lowe- Porter version, good as it was .

5 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joel A. Griska
  • 01/07/2020

Best book ever

This has been one of the best books I ever read- in every way! I will come back to it again and again!

5 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John David
  • 07/08/2020

Magical Indeed!

One of the great novels I have ever encountered. One of the best readings I have ever encountered. A truly remarkable work. I look forward to reading critical essays for more insight, but The Magic Mountain has profound descriptive, narrative & symbolic power on both intimate human & big societal subjects, e.g., time, sickness, power, philosophy. Completed after World War I, it is brilliant and haunting in its retrospective portrait of pre-war Europe. The pre-war setting among the isolated sick is also especially apt for these portentous and pandemic times. To call it thought-provoking is insufficient, for it provoked much more than mere thought in me, but it is undeniably a book of rare beauty, impact, and humanity. Magical indeed!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Reader
  • 05/07/2020

The translation and the narrator are excellent

I know because i speak both languages, German as mother tongue. The best work of Mann I think.