Literary Quotations
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THOMAS MANN QUOTES


The Magic Mountain (1924)

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.

--Chapter 1

I, for one, have never in my life come across a perfectly healthy human being.

--Chapter 1

A man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries.

--Chapter 2

There's no point in trying to sabotage fate.

--Chapter 3

Hans Castorp loved music from his heart; it worked upon him much the same way as did his breakfast porter, with deeply soothing, narcotic effect, tempting him to doze.

--Chapter 3

I never can understand how anyone can not smoke — it deprives a man of the best part of life ... with a good cigar in his mouth a man is perfectly safe, nothing can touch him — literally.

--Chapter 3

In effect it seemed to him that, though honor might possess certain advantages, yet shame had others, and not inferior: advantages, even, that were well-nigh boundless in their scope.

--Chapter 3

One always has the idea of a stupid man as perfectly healthy and ordinary, and of illness as making one refined and clever and unusual.

--Chapter 4

There is something suspicious about music, gentlemen. I insist that she is, by her nature, equivocal. I shall not be going too far in saying at once that she is politically suspect.

--Chapter 4

I love and reverence the Word, the bearer of the spirit, the tool and gleaming ploughshare of progress.

--Chapter 4

This conflict between the powers of love and chastity ... it ended apparently in the triumph of chastity. Love was suppressed, held in darkness and chains, by fear, conventionality, aversion, or a tremulous yearning to be pure.... But this triumph of chastity was only an apparent, a pyrrhic victory. It would break through the ban of chastity, it would emerge — if in a form so altered as to be unrecognizable.

--Chapter 4

The beautiful word begets the beautiful deed.

--Chapter 4

Writing well was almost the same as thinking well, and thinking well was the next thing to acting well. All moral discipline, all moral perfection derived from the soul of literature, from the soul of human dignity, which was the moving spirit of both humanity and politics. Yes, they were all one, one and the same force, one and the same idea, and all of them could be comprehended in one single word... The word was — civilization!

--Chapter 4

Disease makes men more physical, it leaves them nothing but body.

--Chapter 4

The ancients adorned their sarcophagi with the emblems of life and procreation, and even with obscene symbols; in the religions of antiquity the sacred and the obscene often lay very close together. These men knew how to pay homage to death. For death is worthy of homage as the cradle of life, as the womb of palingenesis.

--Chapter 5

Irony, forsooth! Guard yourself, Engineer, from the sort of irony that thrives up here; guard yourself altogether from taking on their mental attitude! Where irony is not a direct and classic device of oratory, not for a moment equivocal to a healthy mind, it makes for depravity, it becomes a drawback to civilization, an unclean traffic with the forces of reaction, vice and materialism.

--Chapter 5

Paradox is the poisonous flower of quietism, the iridescent surface of the rotting mind, the greatest depravity of all.

--Chapter 5

Analysis as an instrument of enlightenment and civilization is good, in so far as it shatters absurd convictions, acts as a solvent upon natural prejudices, and undermines authority; good, in other words, in that it sets free, refines, humanizes, makes slaves ripe for freedom. But it is bad, very bad, in so far as it stands in the way of action, cannot shape the vital forces, maims life at its roots. Analysis can be a very unappetizing affair, as much so as death.

--Chapter 5

Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.

--Chapter 5

Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject — the actual enemy is the unknown.

--Chapter 5

What was life? It was warmth, the warmth generated by a form-preserving instability, a fever of matter, which accompanied the process of ceaseless decay and repair of protein molecules that were too impossibly ingenious in structure.

--Chapter 5

Disease was a perverse, a dissolute form of life.

--Chapter 5

They are carnal both of them, love and death, and thus their terror and their great magic!

--Chapter 5

Human reason needs only to will more strongly than fate, and she is fate.

--Chapter 6

What good would politics be, if it didn't give everyone the opportunity to make moral compromises.

--Chapter 6

One believes war is inevitable, if one does not loathe it sufficiently.

--Chapter 6

War, my dear sir, has on occasion been forced to serve progress.

--Chapter 6

Everything is politics.

--Chapter 6

Speech is civilization itself. The word, even the most contradictory word, preserves contact — it is silence which isolates.

--Chapter 6

A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.

--Chapter 6

Time cools, time clarifies, no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.

--Chapter 7

The purifying, healing influence of literature, the dissipating of passions by knowledge and the written word, literature as the path to understanding, forgiveness and love, the redeeming might of the word, the literary spirit as the noblest manifestation of the spirit of man, the writer as perfected type, as saint.

--Chapter 7

We, when we sow the seeds of doubt deeper than the most up-to-date and modish free-thought has ever dreamed of doing, we well know what we are about. Only out of radical skepsis, out of moral chaos, can the Absolute spring, the anointed Terror of which the time has need.

--Chapter 7

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