I’m going to need a bit of help. Good that I recognise this early on; before I’ve even set off. It would be worse to make a start and only then realise that I should have been better prepared; called upon the resources at my disposal. I speak from experience; it’s what’s happened before. This time I am not going to make the same mistakes again.
I’ve got a mountain to climb. A magic mountain. The Magic Mountain. By Thomas Mann. I’ve tried reading it… twice? Three times, I think and, each time I have not got beyond page 100.
It’s silly, because each time I have started reading the book I have enjoyed it––is ‘enjoyed’ the right word? The subject matter lends itself more towards ‘endured’, but ‘endured’ seems altogether too grim. Some word in between the two. Enjoyed. Endured. Encountered.––and yet I have always become distracted; cast it aside in order to read something else. So, it is not the subject matter, but the length––716 pages in my Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics paperback version––which is my stumbling block.
And yet I find myself once again returning to The Magic Mountain. “Because it’s there”? I’m not sure. This time, I have done a bit of training; limbered up before tackling The Magic Mountain by first reading Buddenbrooks. In terms of difficulty, it is a bit like scaling Catbells before moving on to Scafell Pike, or Pokalde before attempting to summit Annapurna.
This time, I am going to write a reading-diary to chart my progress; hope that by recording my steps for posterity that it will inspire me to finally complete The Magic Mountain.
And so, I begin. Page one. “An unassuming young man…”
© Fergus Longfellow
Fergus Longfellow enjoys a challenge.