My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a reading odyssey that began in the lazy, warm days of August and ended on a mid-December’s weekend as winter rain ran in rivers on city streets and flooded country creeks.
I’m fairly well exhausted after spending weeks and months trapped in a sanitarium high in the Swiss Alps with a circus of late nineteenth century hypochondriacs. The Magic Mountain is set, in fact, in the years leading up to WWI, but the aristocracy who wrap themselves in fur blankets to languish on terrace chaises longues and eat five multi-course meals a day are firmly entrenched in Victorian luxury.
Given this novel’s long-established reputation as a monster of literary classics, it’s pointless for me to offer a critique. I cannot begin to explain its allegorical qualities, the symbolism of its setting, or what aspects of the human condition present at the time of writing the characters represent. That’s what Cliff Notes are for.
What I can say is that contained within this densely packed tome of tiny font and breathless paragraphs are some of the most beautiful sentences I’ve ever encountered. The sum of the parts was boring to distraction. But some of the parts were astonishing beyond compare.