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In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps--a community devoted exclusively to sickness--as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. "The Magic Mountain" is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.

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