Quotes from The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann ·  706 pages

Rating: (27.5K votes)


“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“Laughter is a sunbeam of the soul.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“There are so many different kinds of stupidity, and cleverness is one of the worst.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“It is remarkable how a man cannot summarize his thoughts in even the most general sort of way without betraying himself completely, without putting his whole self into it, quite unawares, presenting as if in allegory the basic themes and problems of his life.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“I know I am talking nonsense, but I’d rather go rambling on, and partly expressing something I find it difficult to express, than to keep on transmitting faultless platitudes.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain



“He probably was mediocre after all, though in a very honorable sense of that word.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“A harmful truth is better than a useful lie.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“A man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries. He may regard the general, impersonal foundations of his existence as definitely settled and taken for granted, and be as far from assuming a critical attitude towards them as our good Hans Castorp really was; yet it is quite conceivable that he may none the less be vaguely conscious of the deficiencies of his epoch and find them prejudicial to his own moral well-being. All sorts of personal aims, hopes, ends, prospects, hover before the eyes of the individual, and out of these he derives the impulse to ambition and achievement. Now, if the life about him, if his own time seems, however outwardly stimulating, to be at bottom empty of such food for his aspirations; if he privately recognises it to be hopeless, viewless, helpless, opposing only a hollow silence to all the questions man puts, consciously or unconsciously, yet somehow puts, as to the final, absolute, and abstract meaning in all his efforts and activities; then, in such a case, a certain laming of the personality is bound to occur, the more inevitably the more upright the character in question; a sort of palsy, as it were, which may extend from his spiritual and moral over into his physical and organic part. In an age that affords no satisfying answer to the eternal question of 'Why?' 'To what end?' a man who is capable of achievement over and above the expected modicum must be equipped either with a moral remoteness and single-mindedness which is rare indeed and of heroic mould, or else with an exceptionally robust vitality. Hans Castorp had neither one nor the other of these; and thus he must be considered mediocre, though in an entirely honourable sense.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“He thought what a fine thing it was that people made music all over the world, even in the strangest settings – probably even on polar expeditions.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“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-defense, was the primeval stage of matter, the transition from the insubstantial to the substance. This was the Fall.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain



“Only love, and not reason, yields kind thoughts.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“We do not fear being called meticulous, inclining as we do to the view that only the exhaustive can be truly interesting.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“Isn't it grand, isn't it good, that language has only one word for everything we associate with love - from utter sanctity to the most fleshly lust? The result is perfect clarity in ambiguity, for love cannot be disembodied even in its most sanctified forms, nor is it without sanctity even at its most fleshly. Love is always simply itself, both as a subtle affirmation of life and as the highest passion; love is our sympathy with organic life.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“What good would politics be, if it didn’t give everyone the opportunity to make moral compromises.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“The days began to fly now, and yet each one of them was stretched by renewed expectations and swollen with silent, private experiences. Yes, time is a puzzling thing, there is something about it that is hard to explain.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain



“Space, like time, engenders forgetfulness; but it does so by setting us bodily free from our surroundings and giving us back our primitive, unattached state ... Time, we say, is Lethe; but change of air is a similar draught, and, if it works less thoroughly, does so more quickly.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“…What our age needs, what it demands, what it will create for itself, is—terror.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“I hope that you have nothing against malice, my good engineer. In my eyes it is the brightest sword that reason has against the powers of darkness and ugliness. Malice, sir, is the spirit of criticism, and criticism marks the origin of progress and enlightenment.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“Passionate—that means to live for the sake of living. But one knows that you all live for sake of experience. Passion, that is self-forgetfulness. But what you all want is self-enrichment.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“(T)here was a story they used to tell at home about a girl whose punishment was that every time she opened her mouth, snakes and toads came out, snakes and toads with every word. The book didn't say what she did about it, but I've always assumed she probably ended up keeping her mouth shut.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain



“Consciousness of self was an inherent function of matter once it was organized as life, and if that function was enhanced it turned against the organism that bore it, strove to fathom and explain the very phenomenon that produced it, a hope-filled and hopeless striving of life to comprehend itself, as if nature were rummaging to find itself in itself - ultimately to no avail, since nature cannot be reduced to comprehension, nor in the end can life listen to itself.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“No, not of course at all—it is really all hocus-pocus. The days lengthen in the winter-time, and when the longest comes, the twenty-first of June, the beginning of summer, they begin to go downhill again, toward winter. You call that ‘of course’; but if one once loses hold of the fact that it is of course, it is quite frightening, you feel like hanging on to something. It seems like a practical joke—that spring begins at the beginning of winter, and autumn at the beginning of summer. You feel you’re being fooled, led about in a circle, with your eye fixed on something that turns out to be a moving point. A moving point in a circle. For the circle consists of nothing but such transitional points without any extent whatever; the curvature is incommensurable, there is no duration of motion, and eternity turns out to be not ‘straight ahead’ but ‘merry-go-round’!”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“The diaries of opium-eaters record how, during the brief period of ecstasy, the drugged person's dreams have a temporal scope of ten, thirty, sometimes sixty years or even surpass all limits of man's ability to experience time--dreams, that is, whose imaginary time span vastly exceeds their actual duration and which are characterized by an incredible diminishment of the experience of time, with images thronging past so swiftly that, as one hashish-smoke puts it, the intoxicated user's brain seems "to have something removed, like the mainspring from a broken watch.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“Travelers prove their lack of education if they make fun of the customs and values of their hosts, and the qualities that do a person honour are many and varied.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“rather babble away and at least partially express something difficult than reproduce impeccable clichés”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain



“Is not the pastness of the past the more profound, the more legendary, the more immediately it falls before the present ?”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“But was it not true that there were people, certain individuals, whom one found it impossible to picture dead, precisely because they were so vulgar? That was to say: they seemed so fit for life, so good at it, that they would never die, as if they were unworthy of the consecration of death.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


“A stimulus is a stimulus. The body doesn't give a damn about the meaning of the stimulus. Whether minnows or communion, the sebaceous glands stand up erect.”
― Thomas Mann, quote from The Magic Mountain


About the author

Thomas Mann
Born place: in Lübeck, Germany
Born date June 6, 1875
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Popular quotes

“American movies, English books - remember how they all end?" Gamini asked that night. "The American or the Englishman gets on a plane and leaves. That's it. The camera leaves with him. He looks out of the window at Mombasa or Vietnam or Jakarta, someplace now he can look at through the clouds. The tired hero. A couple of words to the girl beside him. He's going home. So the war, to all purposes, is over. That's enough reality for the West. It's probably the history of the last two hundred years of Western political writing. Go home. Write a book. Hit the circuit.”
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He smiled slyly at me."Wimpy tongue,huh? I'll have to show you what it can do later."
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