Disease was a perverse, a dissolute form of life. And life? Life itself?
Was it perhaps only an infection, a sickening of matter?
Was that which one might call the original procreation of matter only a disease, a growth produced by morbid stimulation of the immaterial?
The first step toward evil, toward desire and death, was taken precisely then, when there took place that first increase in the density of the spiritual, that pathologically luxuriant morbid growth, produced by the irritant of some unknown infiltration; this, in part pleasurable, in part a motion of self-defence, was the primeval stage of matter, the transition from the insubstantial to the substance.
This was the Fall.
The second creation, the birth of the organic out of the inorganic, was only another fatal stage in the progress of the corporeal toward consciousness, just as disease in the organism was an intoxication, a heightening and unlicensed accentuation of its physical state; and life, life was nothing but the next step on the reckless path of the spirit dishonored; nothing but the automatic blush of matter roused to sensation and become receptive for that which awaked it.
The Magic Mountain
The Magic Mountain is a novel by Thomas Mann, first published in German in November 1924.
It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of twentieth-century German literature.
Mann started writing what was to become The Magic Mountain in 1912. It began as a much shorter narrative which revisited in a comic manner aspects of Death in Venice, a novella that he was preparing for publication.
The newer work reflected his experiences and impressions during a period when his wife, who was suffering from a lung complaint, resided at Dr. Friedrich Jessen‘s Waldsanatorium in Davos, Switzerland for several months.
In May and June 1912, Mann visited her and became acquainted with the team of doctors and patients in this cosmopolitan institution.
According to Mann, in the afterword that was later included in the English translation of his novel, this stay inspired his opening chapter („Arrival“).
Mann‘s vast composition is erudite, subtle, ambitious, but, most of all, ambiguous; since its original publication it has been subject to a variety of critical assessments.
For example, the book blends a scrupulous realism with deeper symbolic undertones.
Given this complexity, each reader is obliged to interpret the significance of the pattern of events in the narrative, a task made more difficult by the author’s irony.
Mann was well aware of his book’s elusiveness, but offered few clues about approaches to the text.
He later compared it to a symphonic work orchestrated with a number of themes.
In a playful commentary on the problems of interpretation – „The Making of The Magic Mountain,“ written 25 years after the novel’s original publication – he recommended that those who wished to understand it should read it twice.