Hans Castorp is 'a perfectly ordinary, if engaging young man' when he goes to visit his cousin in an exclusive sanatorium in the Swiss Alps.What should have been a three week trip turns into a seven year stay. Hans falls in love and becomes intoxicated with the ideas he hears at the clinic - ideas which will strain and crack apart in a world on the verge of the First World War.
Magnificent... a beautiful, feverish account of obsessive love
Featuring lengthy debates between humanist freemasons and Jews-turned-Catholics, a long love-scene written entirely in French and a brilliant hallucinatory journey down the snowy slopes, it merits multiple readings. A novel for a lifetime not just a rainy afternoon
A monumental writer
The greatest German novelist of the 20th century
Mann is Germany's outstanding modern classic, a decadent representative of the tradition of Goethe and Schiller. With his famous irony, he was up there with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Freud, holding together the modern world with a love of art and imagination to compensate for the emptiness left by social and religious collapse.
If you're disappointed not to be going away this summer, console yourself with these disastrous trips from fiction. They'll make a fortnight on the sofa all the more enticing.