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The Magic Mountain

Narrated by: David Rintoul
Length: 37 hrs and 27 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about The Magic Mountain

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Still relevant, still powerful.

An excellent reading . A thwarted coming of age of physically pampered intellectually indulgent parts of Europe. a coming of age that was a coming to war. The disgrace of it resonates.

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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!

3 people found this helpful

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  • nndv,jsd,s\d
  • 25-05-2020

We have waited patiently and....

...our patience has been amply rewarded. One of the pillars of C20th European fiction on audiobook. If they now do a "Doktpr Faustus", I can die happy!

12 people found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 11-08-2020

Paint dries before the war.

This was my first Thomas Mann novel and it will possibly be my last. There's hardly any point in attempting to counter the avalanche of admiration for the book (widely regarded as a masterpiece and one of the most influential works in German literature) but I have to say I found it to be over-rated. Mann's glacial pacing and massively ambitious design (a panorama of bourgeois European culture leading to the first world war encapsulated by the goings-on in a socially hermetic Alpine clinic) makes for ponderous read. It's like being lectured at by some worthy, literary show-off. Clearly a gifted realist of subtlety, nonetheless he seems to be as subject to the pretentions he satirises in his characters as they. I came to dread the appearance of two in particular: self-regarding, sparring 'intellectuals' employed to introduce key cultural concepts of the period. Again and again, their pedantry is painfully depicted to a degree suggesting that the author is quietly promoting literary pedantry as a style. As narrator, he tells you they are pretentious and comic and then demonstrates it in meticulously observed dialogue. Like unfunny variations on the same in-joke. This farty approach may be intended as a self-effacing send-up of a certain German literary form prevalent at the time and a sort of distancing effect, I don't know, but the upshot is that the reader has to tolerate long stretches of boring discourse which weighs down an already over-long sequence of episodes excused by the pretence of depicting a dislocated temporal situation (resort life in 'magical' suspension). Hard to admire meticulous description dissecting every little facet of character experience when it's the main thing driving the writing. No matter how skillfully done it becomes tedious. By the final audiobook section download, I struggled waiting for the end. When it came it felt like a predictable slotting-in of a final design component. Very Germanic. So self-consciously profound. So lardy. The inmates are constantly sitting down to heavy, massively over-rich meals. This novel is like one of those. If looking for 'a good read' be reminded that masterpieces don't automatically fit the bill. Approach this one with caution because 37 hours is a very long drag. Even with a reader as skilled as David Rintoul. On the plus side, the production is good.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas Lee
  • 09-08-2020

The Magic Mountain, a masterpiece, magically read

David Rintoul proves to be the perfect reader for this impressive novel. A tour de force, tragic, comic, philosophical and profound. Investment of time fully rewarded. Thank you.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Erika
  • 23-09-2020

Relaxing and enjoyable listen

This book lends itself well to audio presentation. The story is slow paced and quite relaxing. The book deals gently with many different themes from philosophical to scientific and political, but never in a heavy way and always mild and engaging. The book is not fast paced but is a gentle stroll through pleasant scenery. I really recommend this book if you like a long listen. David Rintoul reads at a perfect pace, not too fast or slow, and has a pleasant English accent easy on the ear. I am glad to have discovered Thomas Mann and to my shame had not heard of this author. I will certainly select more from this author and from this narator.