And my final word on ‘The Magic Mountain’ after my real-time review – I have just read Mann’s own afterword to the novel for the first time and its following passage seems very relevant to this having been my SECOND reading of the novel (having first read it in 1970) and ALSO relevant to my real-time reviewing for the last five years being described as garnering a gestalt from leitmotifs!
“But if you have read The Magic Mountain once, I recommend that you read it twice. The way in which the book is composed results in the reader’s getting a deeper enjoyment from the second reading. Just as in music one needs to know a piece to enjoy it properly, I intentionally used the word “composed” in referring to the writing of a book. I mean it in the sense we more commonly apply to the writing of music. For music has always had a strong formative influence upon the style of my writing. Writers are very often “really” something else; they are transplanted painters or sculptors or architects or what not. To me the novel was always like a symphony, a work in counterpoint, a thematic fabric; the idea of the musical motif plays a great role in it.
People have pointed out the influence of Wagner’s music on my work. Certainly I do not disclaim this influence. In particular, I followed Wagner in the use of the leitmotiv, which I carried over into the work of language. Not as Tolstoy and Zola use it, or as I used it myself in ‘Buddenbrooks’, naturalistically and as a means of characterization—so to speak, mechanically. I sought to employ it in its musical sense. My first attempts were in ‘Tonio Kröger’. But the technique I there employed is in ‘The Magic Mountain’ greatly expanded; it is used in a very much more complicated and all-pervasive way. That is why I make my presumptuous plea to my readers to read the book twice.”