Life, Death, Disease and Eros in Thomas Mann’s «Der Zauberberg»
Thomas Mann’s novel Der Zauberberg (1913–1924) illustrates a change in the author’s conceptions of life, death, disease and Eros following World War I. Set in a Swiss tuberculosis sanatorium, the novel’s main protagonist, Hans Castorp, comes into contact with three pedagogic figures who each represent a different attitude towards these themes. The humanist Settembrini, for example, affirms life but is repulsed by Eros, disease and death; the Jesuit ascetic Naphta glorifies erotic suffering and death while denying life; and the coffee magnate Peeperkorn celebrates life and Eros – yet to a pathological extent.
This book relies on intertextual theory to examine the relation of these conceptions of life, death, disease and Eros within the novel to the thought of Novalis, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. Exploring the dialogic clash of their conceptions together with the sociological implications of their work, this author investigates how the relationships between Der Zauberberg and the intertexts influence the reader’s interpretation of the nature of life, death, disease and Eros as well as the effect they have on the culture depicted in the novel.
German Life and Civilization
German Life and Civilization provides contributions to a critical understanding of Central European cultural history from medieval times to the present. Culture is here defined in the broadest sense, comprising expressions of high culture in such areas as literature, music, pictorial arts, and intellectual trends as well as political and sociohistorical developments and the texture of everyday life. Both the cultural mainstream and oppositional or minority viewpoints lie within the purview of the series. While it is based on specialized investigations of particular topics, the series aims to foster progressive scholarship that aspires to a synthetic view of culture by crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries.
1 Charlotte L. Brancaforte: The German Forty-Eighters in the United States. 1989. US-ISBN 0-8204-1010-1.
2 Heinz D. Osterle (ed.): Amerika: New Images in German Literature. 1989. US-ISBN 0-8204-1058-6.
3 Luke Springman: Comrades, Friends and Companions. Utopian Projections and Social Action in German Literature for Young People 1926–1934. 1989. US-ISBN 0-8204-0963-4.
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