The Aesthetics of Medical Obsession: Thomas Mann’s "The Magic Mountain" Reconsidered

By Thomas Buckley.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 26, 2016 $US5.00

Thomas Mann’s "The Magic Mountain" (1924) is a milestone in the history of fiction on tuberculosis. From a medical standpoint, Mann’s novel is located at the nexus between two rather disparate historical developments: the perception concerning the natural and medical sciences in the early twentieth century, on the one hand, and the historical proclivity toward a mythicization of illness, on the other. This article explicates the manifestation of both developments in Mann’s "The Magic Mountain." The novel has been consistently categorized as a work that strongly sympathizes with illness and death. This interpretation requires reconsideration. Outwardly concerned with illness and death, the novel in actuality celebrates health and life.

Keywords: Literature and Science, Thomas Mann, Illness as Metaphor

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 14, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.29-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 26, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 545.598KB)).

Dr. Thomas Buckley

Assistant Professor, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA