You know those books you’ve been meaning to reread for decades, but don’t?Because you’re scared of them. Meet one of mine.


I read The Magic Mountain in my early twenties, when I was much too young to appreciate it. Or did I become afeared because of that translation exercise – the one of the 6-page long sentence. Which might not have been as long as that, but was definitely loooooooooong , and definitely written by Thomas Mann. Perhaps not in The Magic Mountain though. It might have been Doctor Faustus. Anyway something made The Magic Mountain insurmountable in my head, despite Buddenbrooks being one of my top 10 novels of all time.

And yet I always had a lurking suspicion that one day I would revisit. Hence the presence on my shelves of a beautiful second-hand copy of the Folio Society edition from 2000, translated by John E Woods, illustrated by Leonard Rosoman.  It’s probably been there for 12 years or so, but I have finally summoned up the courage to make a start, prompted firstly my Buddenbrooks conversation with Tony during last year’s German Literature Month, during which I began to contemplate rereading The Magic Mountain for this year’s event. Then I discovered that Dovegreyreader is currently making her own ascent. I have decided to join her.

Now I would be delighted to find myself bounding up this mountain with the panache of a mountain goat, but, somehow, I doubt it. So this is the plan. The Magic Mountain is Sunday afternoon reading for the next few weeks. At just under 700 pages, I should be approaching or, better still, standing on the summit by the end of February. Expect progress reports.  You may need to be on hand to supply me with oxygen when the atmosphere becomes rarified.

For now though I’m enjoying the train journey into the Swiss Alps ….

“The moment the small, but uncommonly sturdy engine pulls out, the real adventure begins.”