Pericles Lewis

Nov 1, 2022

On Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain"

A Discussion with Pericles Lewis

New Books Network 2022

When Thomas Mann published The Magic Mountain in 1924, tuberculosis had a deadly hold on Europe and the United States, killing one in seven adults in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If that wasn’t enough, Mann’s writing was interrupted by the First World War, so it took him twelve years to finish the book. Mann was a modern, experimental writer who wrote about the major issues of his time—not only the war and the pandemic, but also industrialization, class resentment, and rising nationalism. The characters of The Magic Mountain live in a sanitorium, recovering from tuberculosis. The experiences they have and the people they meet there symbolize many of the big ideas circulating Europe at the time. Professor Pericles Lewis of Yale University discusses Thomas Mann’s literary legacy and the encyclopedic nature of The Magic Mountain. Pericles Lewis is the Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of English at Yale University. His works include Modernism, Nationalism, and the Novel and Religious Experience and the Modernist Novel. See more information on our website,

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