The Magic Mountain Themes

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Dionysios vs. Apollo

In his immensely influential book The Birth of Tragedy, published in German in 1872, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche interpreted ancient Greek culture in terms of a conflict between two fundamental forces. One he named Apollonian after Apollo, the Greek god of harmony, proportion, reason, architecture, the sun, and the Dorian mode in Greek music (corresponding to major chords in modern European music). The other force he called Dionysian, after Dionysios, the god of wine, uncontrolled emotion, night, drunkenness, divine madness, ecstasy, loss of self, and the Mixolydian mode in Greek music (corresponding to minor chords in European music). The conflict between these two forces is the major theme of The Magic Mountain.

Mann represents the Apollo-Dionysios conflict in many pairings. The bright, cheerful, white-enameled Berghof rooms contrast with Krokowski's analytical "den," where Hans notes that "murky twilight, deep dusk, reigned". Dr. Behrens takes scientific X-rays of patients -...

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This section contains 1,440 words
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Buy The Magic Mountain Study Guide
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