Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Magic Mountain

The English title of Thomas Mann's greatest novel, Der Zauberberg (1924; trans H T Lowe-Porter as The Magic Mountain 1927 US/UK). It designates the main venue of the tale, the Alpine sanatorium which Hans Castorp visits for a short stay, but where he remains for seven years (see Time in Faerie), gaining worldly and metaphysical wisdom, seemingly safe from the world – until the onset of World War I forces him to leave, in an apocalyptic climax to his world-historical Rite of Passage. But until then the MM is a Polder, and has come to represent a secluded arena in which Secret Masters of knowledge can quarrel and teach, though a great war looms. The MM is, in other words, tied to history in the end; and is neatly bracketed, from the other side of WWI, by James Hilton's Shangri-La, which represents an ultimate escape from history. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.