Violence, Desire and the Body: A Kleinian Reading of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain"

by Nicolette David

August 2, 2013


This article proposes a Kleinian reading of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain"(1924). The work of psychoanalyst Melanie Klein (1882-1960) foregrounds the way in which visceral corporeal experience is transformed into phantasy. The article examines the representation of the body, violence and desire in the light of these insights. It begins with a discussion of greed and hypochondriacal symptoms manifested by the characters from a Kleinian perspective. Close analysis of the representation of desire in "The Magic Mountain" reveals the Kleinian longing to get inside the mother's body and inflict sadism upon it. The article subsequently explores the way in which this sadism surfaces through the theme of violence which recurs throughout the text. Finally, the article suggests that its reading of "The Magic Mountain" might offer a redemptive reading of the novel, one which focuses on the role of reparation in assuaging the destructive passions that have been exposed and which highlights the role of the reader. The article concludes by suggesting where reparation might be located in a Kleinian reading of "The Magic Mountain".





Violence, Desire and the Body: A Kleinian Reading of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain


The world of corporeality inhabited by Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain is so vividly portrayed that it invites a Kleinian reading. The psychoanalyst Melanie Klein (1880-1960) developed a theoretical framework out of her empirical observations of children’s behaviour, in which she highlighted the role of the body in infantile phantasy and the pivotal roles of aggression and envy in constituting object relations[1]. In focusing upon Thomas Mann’s status as a pioneer of the Bildungsroman[2] and the philosophical novel, critics have largely failed to address not only the role of the body but the violence inflicted upon it from a psychoanalytic perspective[3]. Several interesting exceptions are Elizabeth Boa, who highlights what she terms the “aesthetics of disgust” in The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks, and Der Tod in Venedig[4]. Stephen Joy’s “Open Wide! An Oral Examination of Thomas Mann’s Early Fiction”,[5] in which he identifies the recurrence of the mouth in Mann’s early fiction, and Andrew Webber’s examination of gender identity in terms of performance, in “Mann’s Man’s World: gender and sexuality”[6]. There are interesting points of intersection between their work and mine, but their primary interest does not lie in addressing the problematic violence that is inherent to the fabric of Mann’s writing from a Kleinian perspective[7]. Ritchie Robertson examines violent sacrifice and cannibalism in The Magic Mountain through the filter of religious ritual in his article, “Sacrifice and Sacrament in The Magic Mountain”.[8] In doing so, he examines the lack of critical response to the violence in Mann’s text, pointing out that Martin Swales is the only critic who addresses it from an ethical perspective[9]. Mann shows an awareness of violence but couches it in imagery of violence against the body. In this article I am interested in exploring why this may be the case. Boa argues persuasively that the “aesthetics of disgust” is a veiled way of representing “gangrenous wounds or collapsing lungs concealed within the symptomatology of tuberculosis[10]” but this does not go far enough in addressing the seductive appeal of the visceral bodies, the magnetic appeal of that corporeality, what we might tentatively call “the aesthetics of sadism”.  I propose a Kleinian reading of the desiring, diseased and appetitive body in The Magic Mountain, focusing on four principal areas: greed, hypochondriacal symptoms, desire and aggression. I aim to show that it is Klein, above all, who enables us to illuminate the reader’s phantasmatic investment in Mann’s text, to trace and inhabit the patterns of phantasy which crystallize around the representation of the body in The Magic Mountain.

The relationship between Mann and Freud was, by Mann’s own admission, a “complex” one, characterized both by mutual respect and profound ambivalence[11]. Mann’s work is clearly permeated by an imaginative understanding of Freudian psychoanalysis, but he does not reveal any interest in Klein, although her writings coincided with the latter part of his life. Why, therefore, and despite this, does a Kleinian model present itself as the most appropriate for an illumination of Mann’s writing? It is because Klein offers us unique insight into the representation of the body in Mann. For Klein, object relations are formed through the infant’s phantasied relationship to the mother’s body. She argued that the desire to attack and destroy the mother’s body predominates during the first few months of life and leads to the paranoid phantasy of retaliation. This powerful aggressivity and its consequent fear of persecution is mitigated when the “depressive position” sets in, a phase which heralds a more mature love for the whole object, a concern for the object that has been damaged in phantasy.[12] According to Klein, both child and adult will in some form oscillate between the “paranoid-schizoid” position and the “depressive position” throughout life, but this persecutory, negative soil remains the dark soil from which her theoretical fictions grow.

Klein can offer powerful insights into the way The Magic Mountain functions and is experienced by the reader, insights which may in turn illuminate Klein’s model. First, both in Klein and Mann, the body is placed centre stage: phantasy is literally experienced in terms of the body. In Mann, the characters of the “Berghof” Sanatorium experience and refract their entire existences through the experience of the body: they are rapaciously appetitive at mealtimes; they tremble and flush with desire, excitement, and fever; they produce vast quantities of bodily fluids.[13] In Klein, intense physical experience is transformed into phantasy: the phantasy of being attacked by persecutors is rooted in the infant’s sense of hunger and deprivation, while the weapons of primary sadism, such as biting and tearing, may be transfigured into other weapons of sadism. Bodily fluids and substances abound in Klein’s writings and in the infant’s phantasy they are used as powerful weapons.[14] It is this visceral, corporeal dimension, the way it is transmuted into phantasy, which a re-viewing of Thomas Mann in the light of Klein opens up for exploration.

Second, there is a strong undercurrent of aggression beneath the rarefied world of The Magic Mountain: Frau Stöhr, shows her savage teeth out of affectation at the dining-table, “ affectedly drawing back her upper lip from the rodent-like teeth” (MM, 75), Herr Albin delights in frightening the ladies with his revolver, the hags brutally devour the child in the “Snow” episode. More seriously, this violence finds expression in Naphta’s shocking suicide in the duel scene and in the final image of trench warfare in which Hans Castorp runs through a landscape of mud, fire and “fragments of humanity” (MM, 715). Whether disguised by social etiquette, laughter, or beauty, this streak of violence is never far below the surface of the radiant, witty language. Linguistic glamour is wrapped up with the dynamics of primitive infantile sadism with which it is imbricated.

Third, Klein illuminates Mann’s imagery of love in radical ways, most vividly in the imagery of desire. Violence and desire are fused in the representation of Hans Castorp’s longing for Madame Chauchat, some of the most beautiful passages in the novel. Yet that longing is figured as the desire to penetrate and touch the inside of her diseased, dying body. The image of his beloved which most preoccupies Hans Castorp is a photograph of her diseased insides.[15]  In fact, sexual longing for the exterior pivots upon longing for the interior. Madame Chauchat’s arm veiled in gauze not only simultaneously hides and reveals earthly flesh, but it also bespeaks the aggressive desire to get underneath that surface, those layers of fat so elegantly described by Dr Behrens, a longing which is darkly illuminated by Klein.[16] And Hans Castorp’s declaration of love for her body and its organs, destined for the grave, is redolent of both sadism and desire. At what point in such an account can one separate the two?

In the ambiguous sensuality of the imagery with which Mann conjures up love, the highly charged infantile world of Klein is created: we are immersed in the savage world of the Kleinian infant. In Mann, these savage desires mingle with depressive concern for the object damaged in phantasy, but as readers we could be seen to oscillate between the two. There is a pleasure in being both the penetrator and the penetrated, a pleasure traceable in the texture of Mann’s writing; this pleasure can be seen to fuse with the primitive sadism of Klein’s infants and opens up the question of the position of the reader in encountering the fusion of sadism and desire in a literary text. In allowing us to reclaim the body within the text, a Kleinian reading can not only open up a different way of reading Mann, but can add another layer to our understanding of his writings.

Underneath their layers of refinement or vulgarity the inhabitants of the Berghof could be seen to enact the struggles of the Kleinian infant. All are infantilized by the sanatorium, willingly in Hans Castorp’s case, reluctantly in Joachim’s, and their appetites, desires and symptoms of disease dominate their emotional landscape.  It is the phantasies surrounding the figuration of the appetitive, desiring and diseased body which I propose to explore now.


Let us begin with eating and greed. The Kleinian infant, feeling deprived by the mother’s breast of oral satisfaction, experiences this as attacks upon the inside of his body. The experience of hunger becomes translated into a phantasy of intense emotional deprivation which in turn means that in retaliation the infant phantasies attacks upon the insides of the mother’s body, scooping out and devouring its contents.[17] Klein’s conceptual framework thus pivots upon phantasies of oral satisfaction and oral deprivation, which in turn engender violent phantasies of biting the mother’s body and devouring its contents. For Klein, these phantasies are highly sadistic and cannibalistic.

Mann pays an enormous amount of attention to mealtimes at the Berghof Sanatorium with luscious descriptions of the food and eating habits of the residents, who are portrayed as highly appetitive with voracious appetites:

they ate like wolves; they displayed a voracity which would have been a pleasure to see, had there not been something else about it, an effect almost uncanny, not to say repulsive  (MM, 76)

The animal savagery and insatiability emphasized here arouse feelings of the Uncanny and repulsion in the onlooker, given the civilized veneer of the Sanatorium. For Klein, this greed bespeaks the desire to devour the contents of the mother’s body.[18] Indeed, the dangers and delights of orality figure repeatedly throughout The Magic Mountain, from mouth-watering descriptions of the food,[19] providing sensuous satisfaction for the reader, to the characterization of the food as mushy and liquid,[20] reminiscent of the breast milk craved by the Kleinian infant.  Much attention is paid to desiring mouths, opening to receive oral satisfaction.[21] Madame Chauchat laughs with her mouth open, and the depiction of the inhabitants’ trivial obsession with chocolate in the build-up to the Great War focuses on their appetitive mouths:

Everybody's mouth was stained brown, and the Berghof kitchen offered its most elaborate delicacies to captious and indifferent diners who had lost their appetites to Milka-nut, Chocolat à la crême d'amandes, Marquis-napolitains, and gold-besprinkled cats' tongues (MM, 628).

Here mouths and stomachs are stuffed full with chocolate, but this substitute satisfaction does not satisfy: people are reduced to the status of disembodied, desiring mouths and stomachs, in some way severed from a whole. The emphasis on oral satisfaction is reinforced in “Vingt et un”, where Mynheer Peeperkorn orchestrates and controls sensuous satisfaction with a feast in which everyone over-indulges. The delectation of eating is celebrated, but consumption brings the characters to the point of exhaustion. This preoccupation with eating finds its darkest expression in the biting mouth (which literally kills) as part of Peeperkorn’s device to poison himself, which I will explore in more detail shortly.


The recurrence of imagery centred on orality goes hand in hand with the representation of disease. The way in which disease is portrayed could be said to reveal the fear of choking or ingesting poisonous substances. In other words, the symptoms displayed by the inhabitants of the Berghof bear a strong relation to the hypochondriachal syptoms related by Klein. To give a Kleinian reading of such symptoms is not to underestimate or to trivialise the medical reality for sufferers of tuberculosis – and Mann charts their symptoms with meticulous clarity – but what is interesting is the extent to which these stark realities are intertwined with primitive infantile phantasies. These phantasies of choking are dwelt upon lingeringly, almost with an element of titillation, and they possess a powerful Kleinian resonance.

In “Love, Guilt and Reparation” (1937), Klein writes:

In the baby, hatred and aggressive feelings give rise, moreover,as Joan Riviere has shown in detail, to most painful states, such as choking, breathlessness and other sensations of the kind, which are felt to be destructive to his body’.[22]

For Klein, the infant’s sadism gives rise to the fear of persecution in the form of multiple persecutors from without. These persecutors are in phantasy experienced as internalized within the body or causing feelings of choking and breathlessness, which can lead to hypochondriacal symptoms. Thus a physical sensation will have a powerful phantasy correlative, which is very real to the infant. Similarly, Klein theorizes in ‘The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States’ (1935), that the phantasy of being poisoned derives from the anxiety ‘of absorbing dangerous substances destructive to one’s inside’,[23] and is rooted in the fear of taking dangerous persecutors into the body. She analyzes the significance of blood in the dream of a patient as representing simultaneously a bad persecutor issuing from within his own body and the depressive concern for good blood, a good object, in this case the analyst, whom the patient fears losing. Fear of choking is thus highly charged and invested with persecutory phantasies.

Choking in The Magic Mountain could be said to reveal this Kleinian undercurrent of fear of persecutors.  Popów’s fit in the Dining-Room triggers a hysterical response in the Berghof inhabitants, many of whom succumb to fits of choking in phantasied identification with what they imagine to be his choking on a fishbone. The result is a terrifying scene in which bodies appear as fragmented and distorted, and fear of suffocation predominates:

Everywhere were twitching eyelids, gaping mouths, writhing torsos. (…) There were cases of choking, some of them having been in the act of chewing and swallowing when the excitement began (MM, 299)

None of these characters, not even Popów, are actually choking: all are overcome by the fear of it, which precipitates choking attacks and the conviction that they are suffocating. Bodily experience is transmuted into Kleinian phantasy, the phantasy of choking, because internalized persecutors are felt to obstruct breathing.[24] The fear of being poisoned as retribution for the infant’s phantasied attacks on the mother’s body is heightened further by the association with Dr Krokowski’s recent lecture on love as the cause of disease.

Indeed, choking is powerfully associated with the erotic in The Magic Mountain. When we encounter “the Overfilled” in “The Dance of Death”, her state of being “overfilled” refers to her lung being “overfilled” by a clumsy young male doctor. Not only does this have connotations of being filled sexually but also of Kleinian oral gratification. Consequently, “the Overfilled” (MM, 306) is condemned to breathlessness which will kill her, all because she desired “to amuse herself” (MM, 306) in the Flatland. Laughter and breathlessness fuse,[25] as she laughingly tells the story which will end in certain death. Her triviality is represented as an excess of eroticism, but with every “ha ha ha” (MM, 307) her face turns bluer.[26] Similarly, Hermine Kleefeld simultaneously whistles and laughs coquettishly with her “half-lung”, and the Berghof inhabitants fetishize the “Blue Peter” (MM, 147), the bottle into which they spit their bodily fluids. All of this shows the extent to which Kleinian fears of persecution could be said to permeate the representation of breathing and bodily fluids in The Magic Mountain. In some senses, the characters’ diseased state could be read as punishment for their own aggression, which returns to haunt them in the form of disease.

At the beginning of “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States”, Klein describes the infant’s attacks on the mother’s body as follows:

In the very first months of the baby’s existence it has sadistic impulses directed, not only against its mother’s breast, but also against the inside of her body: scooping it out, devouring the contents, destroying it by every means which sadism can suggest.[27]

This primary sadism is in particular directed against the insides of the mother’s body and seeks to destroy and devour the phantasied contents of the body. Not only is the mother’s body placed centre stage, but the vision Klein gives us of the phantasies projected upon the body is profoundly dark and gothic. It is a female body which is subjected to a highly violent attack, but subsequently other objects come to stand in for that original body. Nonetheless, the way in which the diseased and desired body is represented in The Magic Mountain can be illuminated by that dark vision. One of the major paradoxes is the way in which such sadistic and paranoid material is transformed into imagery of great beauty, and I will address the implications of this in the final section of this article.


From the moment that Hans Castorp’s “moist spot” (MM, 181) is revealed to him, The Magic Mountain evidences a preoccupation with the insides of the diseased human body. Hans Castorp’s interest in the study of Anatomy, Herr Ferge’s account of the operation on his pneumothorax, Behrens’ speech on the layers of fat and the network of bodily organs and tissues which breathe life through the paintbrush into the portrait of Madame Chauchat, and the many disguised and direct revelations of Hans Castorp’s idealized love for the insides of Madame Chauchat’s body – on every level, the text can be seen to trace imaginatively the interior of the body. Yet something interesting is happening here in relation to the way in which this recurrent phantasy is expressed: it is as though the Kleinian desire to get inside the mother’s body can only be expressed through an image of a veiled, sometimes idealized, representation of it.[28] For Klein, the infant employs the mechanism of ‘splitting’, a mechanism whereby the idealized imago of the ‘good’ breast is split off in the infant’s imagination from the bad, ‘persecutory’ imago, in order to preserve the ‘good’ mother from the infant’s own sadism.[29] The desire to get inside the body is frequently figured as an obsession with surface - the surface of the body or of the image of the body.[30] Hans Castorp cannot refrain from touching the painting of Madame Chauchat with his hands as though, in doing so, he were able to penetrate beneath the image and touch the body it represents. On a deeper level, this could be seen to reveal a wish to touch the forbidden interior of the body, a wish that is enacted in phantasy through language. As Hans Castorp surveys the seductive portrait, the surface of the painting seems to draw his imagination to experience the painting as though it were an actual body.  For Hans Castorp:

The roughness of the canvas texture, showing through the paint, had been dexterously employed to suggest the natural unevennesses of the skin -- this especially in the neighbourhood of the delicate collar-bones. A tiny mole, at the point where the breasts began to divide, had been done with care, and on their rounding surfaces one thought to trace the delicate blue veins. It was as though a scarcely perceptible shiver of sensibility beneath the eye of the beholder were passing over this nude flesh, as though one might see the perspiration, the invisible vapour which the life beneath threw off; as though, were one to press one's lips upon this surface, one might perceive, not the smell of paint and fixative, but the odour of the human body (MM, 258).

A seductive vision in paint, Madame Chauchat’s portrait not only arouses longing for the body that inspired it but seems to become that body. The uneven texture of the canvas mimetically re-creates the very pores of the skin: painting and body fuse in phantasy. Realistic features such as the mole between her breasts and the veins beneath the skin seem to function as points of entry to Hans Castorp’s scopophilic and epistemophilic imagination.[31] They give life to the portrait and awaken a sensuous response to the phantasied nakedness, arousing the observer through an appeal to his sense of smell. Immediately, his imagination is burrowing beneath the paint.

This is echoed by Behrens’ description of how his scientific knowledge of the internal workings of the female body permeate the painting itself:

You can see not only the horny and mucous strata of the epidermis, but I've suggested the texture of the corium underneath, with the oil- and sweat-glands, the blood-vessels and tubercles -- and then under that still the layer of fat, the upholstering, you know, full of oil ducts, the underpinning of the lovely female form (MM, 259).

Surface is exposed as simultaneously concealing and revealing the desire to penetrate beneath the surface. Mann’s imaginative energy is concentrated on the network of glands and blood-vessels which lies underneath the surface betraying a desire to inhabit the internal realm within the body. The sensuality with which the fat cells and the “upholstering” are depicted invites the imagination to touch that part of the body. Similarly, the way in which Behrens describes the lymph is tinged with sensual arousal:

“But it is the lymph that is the juice of juices, the very essence, you understand, ichor, blood-milk, crême de la crême; as a matter of fact, after a fatty diet it does look like milk” (MM, 265).

This clearly has erotic connotations, and it is revealing that the lymph is described in terms of deliciousness, as the “juice of juices”, an image of the most delectable milk and the quintessence of “good” fluids from the body: it could therefore be seen to conjure up the phantasy of Kleinian gratification at the breast.

The portrait of Madame Chauchat could thus be seen to embody this ultimate phantasy of gratification, but, significantly, it appears as a phantasy which ultimately eludes Hans Castorp, which keeps all gratification for itself. For Klein, this could be read as envy for the breast. In “Envy and Gratitude” (1957), Klein produced her most radical theory, in which she theorized that the infant experiences envy for the breast, which he/she phantasies as keeping all gratification for itself:

My work has taught me that the first object to be envied is the feeding breast, for the infant feels that it possesses everything he desires and that it has an unlimited flow of milk, and love which the breast keeps for its own gratification. This feeling adds to his sense of grievance and hate.[32]

For Hans Castorp, therefore, Madame Chauchat could be seen to embody the phantasy of ultimate gratification that is withheld; this sense of deprivation could be said to sharpen or “give particular impetus to” phantasied sadistic attacks.[33]

The infant’s feelings seem to be that when the breast deprives him, it becomes bad because it keeps the milk, love, and care associated with the good breast all to itself. He hates and envies what he feels to be the mean and grudging breast.[34]

For the phantasy of the portrait can be seen to arouse the sadistic desire to penetrate beneath the seductive skin or texture of the painting, in order to discover an imagined ‘truth’ of the interior of the body: it is this longing to touch and potentially also to excavate the insides of the body which, in a Kleinian reading, is profoundly sadistic in nature, though it may be couched in imagery of great beauty.[35]

This desire to penetrate inside the body is associated with death in The Magic Mountain. As Robertson puts it, “The Magic Mountain is concerned especially with death”,[36] but that preoccupation with death takes us inside the body. The desire to look, to see inside the body, that which is normally forbidden, is accompanied by the fact that the new revelatory vision is one of death. “My God, I see!” (MM, 218) exclaims Hans Castorp as he gazes inside Joachim’s body when he is being X-rayed. Yet what this vision actually grants him is the vision of death in the form of Joachim’s skeleton, “Joachim’s graveyard shape and bony tenement” (MM, 218).[37] Similarly, when Hans Castorp gazes at his own X-ray, he sees a prophecy of his own death: “he looked into his own grave” (MM, 218). The desire to look inside the body ineluctably leads to a vision of death: it is inextricably intertwined with the sadistic desire of the Kleinian infant to penetrate inside and destroy the contents of the mother’s body. The “destruction organique” (MM, 266), the accompaniment and hallmark of life, according to Dr Behrens, reeks of putrefaction because, for Klein, it is coloured by the infant’s own sadism. The desire for the mother’s body is turned into hatred and destruction, which can be seen to transform phantasies of the body into a rotting corpse.

Nowhere is this clearer than in Hans Castorp’s obsessive and voyeuristic attachment to the X-ray photo of Madame Chauchat’s insides showing “the delicate bony structure of the upper half of her body, and the organs of the thoracic cavity, surrounded by the pale, ghostlike envelope of flesh” (MM, 348). In pressing to his lips this portrait of a skeleton, its flesh ghostly before its time, Hans Castorp is kissing an image of death. It is revealing that, in all three cases of looking inside the body, Hans Castorp looks at an image of death, in which the latter is portrayed as rather ethereal and glamorised, even eroticised.

The desire to get inside the body reaches its ultimate expression in Hans Castorp’s declaration of love to Madame Chauchat in “Walpurgis-Night”. His declaration is a phantasy in which the reader is taken on a voyage inside the imagined body of the other, in this case Madame Chauchat. Hers is a body whose magnetic quality lies in the fact that it is imagined as diseased. The imagination literally traces the interior of the body and its organs, culminating in a phantasied death. The phantasy consists of a beautifully crafted fabric of words which takes the reader on a phantasied journey along with Hans Castorp. The journey is figured as sensuously pleasurable, yet the content of the phantasy is highly ambivalent and disturbing.

Speaking the carnivalesque language of French, which allows him to transgress boundaries, Hans Castorp declares that, having already seen Madame Chauchat’s external portrait:

“J’aimerais beaucoup mieux voir ton portrait intérieur qui est enfermé dans ta chambre” (MM, 339).

A clear overture to a sexual encounter, this nonetheless takes the form of a desire to see an image of the insides of Madame Chauchat’s body. Love, he continues, is nothing other than a form of madness, “une chose insensée, défendue et une aventure dans le mal” (MM, 341). Driven by irrational emotion, love is, for Hans Castorp, something forbidden and an adventure into, inside evil itself, an adventure, therefore, not only into something, but into something that is felt to be dangerous.

As he voyages deeper into this forbidden territory linguistically, Hans Castorp seems to declare with increasing fervour that love is the love for the body and he asserts the glory of this love for the human body:

“Oh, enchantante beauté organique qui ne se compose ni de teinture  à l’huile ni de pierre, mais de matière, mais de matière vivante et corruptible, pleine du secret fébrile et de la pourriture!” (MM, 342.)

For Hans Castorp, the body is enchanting and desirable because it is destined to “la pourriture”, because its soft, fleshy interior is infinitely “corruptible” and because the potential for death and decomposition inheres in its very life. The fever of Hans Castorp’s words, the excitement he feels at the thought of entering and witnessing this internal world destined to destruction is akin to the phantasy of the Kleinian infant, who longs to penetrate the mother’s body in order to inflict damage, both desiring and fearing the destruction of the mother’s body. Klein’s vivid and dynamic descriptions of the infant’s phantasy of destruction could be seen to inhabit the same phantasy world as that of Mann’s sophisticated and seductive declaration of love, a love that is tinged with violent desire.

The imagination proceeds to explore the surfaces of Madame Chauchat’s body, a sensuous voyage which then slips inside to examine “les grandes branches des vases et des nerfs” (MM, 343). This guided tour culminates in a celebration of the deliciousness of touching that phantasied exterior, a depiction which, in its powerful appeal to the senses, is tantamount to a pornography of the interior:

“Oh, les douces régions de la jointure intérieure du coudre et du jarret avec leur abondance de délicatesses organiques sous leurs coussins de chair! Quelle fête immense de les caresser ces endroits délicieux du corps humain. Fête à mourir sans plainte après! Oui, mon dieu, laisse-moi sentir l’odeur de la peau de ta rotule, sous laquelle l’ingénieuse capsule articulaire sécrète son huile glissante! (…) Laisse moi (…) tâter ton duvet, image humaine d’eau et d’albumine, destinée pour l’anatomie du tombeau, et laisse-moi périr, mes lèvres aux tiennes!” (MM, 343).

It is the soft, fleshy, infinitely vulnerable interior which is celebrated here with its resonances of Klein’s theories of infantile sadism, and it is these internal parts that would, for Klein, be the targets of the infant’s phantasied sadism. It is not the outside of Madame Chauchat’s body which Hans Castorp dreams of touching and caressing; rather, the outside is only of interest insofar as it functions as a kind of gateway to the delicious internal contents of the body. For this reason, points of entry to the body could be said to function as significant and highly charged tropes in Mann’s writings. For example, Madame Chauchat’s half-open mouth and bitten fingernails, Tadzio’s mouth and soft, decaying teeth, and Aschenbach’s mouth in Death in Venice foreground the emotional importance of points of entry to the soft, fleshy interior of the body.[38]

Indeed, nothing more intimate can be imagined than this phantasied journey into the interior. Yet the act of touching and kissing these internal places is tinged and imbricated with sadism. For Hans Castorp precisely desires to touch or feel the silky secretions of the internal body, the “huile glissante” of the “capsule articulaire” or “l’exhalation de tes pores” because Madame Chauchat is diseased, contaminated, and destined for the grave. This is a highly sadistic declaration of love, in which Hans Castorp longs to “tâter ton duvet, image humaine d’eau et d’albumine”, because in doing so he can touch death within the body, because it is “destinée pour l’anatomie du tombeau”. The desire to touch, to taste, to feel the inside of her body, could be seen as a veiled expression of the wish to get inside the mother’s body with the intent to destroy. The veil is very beautiful, but the wish is not. In his imagination, he has turned her into a corpse and he has enacted the sadistic phantasy of damaging Madame Chauchat from inside. The apotheosis of Hans Castorp’s wish, to die himself, expressed in the words, ‘“laisse-moi périr, mes lèvres aux tiennes”’ could be read as a form of Liebestod, potentially ambiguous and sadistic in itself, because it requires killing the loved one alongside oneself.


Violence can be seen to erupt at all levels in The Magic Mountain. Oral sadism is manifested through the many references to biting,[39] such as Madame Chauchat’s fingernails, eroticized because they are bitten, or the detailed description of the devices with which Peeperkorn commits suicide:

“These are the teeth. (…) When the teeth bite, they sink in a little, and the pressure on the reservoir shoots the contents into the canals, so that the poison gets into circulation the moment the fangs sink in the flesh” (MM, 623).

In the description of the way the teeth operate, far longer than my quotation, the Kleinian phantasies of biting and of being poisoned fuse. It is as though Mann revels in imagining the action of biting and being bitten, and it is revealing that this most luminous of Mann’s characters should choose to end his life in this way. Aggression permeates the fabric of the text, down to the smallest details of the way the characters are represented.  Aggression is a significant, constitutive strand in characterisation. Thus Fräulein von Mylendonk moves her head like “a caged beast of prey” (MM, 166) and Behrens betrays obvious pleasure in extolling the delights of surgery, as long as one is wielding the knife: “great thing, you know, of the ribs” (MM, 173). It is clear from his animated description that Behrens not only relishes the power of wielding the knife but also the carving up of the interior of the body.

More explicitly, violence explodes in “Hysterica Passio”, in which the social fabric of the Berghof Sanatorium disintegrates into conflicts culminating in the shocking suicide of Naphta. This aggression seems to possess two facets. The first is that of vicious attacks upon others, such as that of the schoolboy on the “dwarf waitress”, the waitress Emerentia, or the fight between the Anti-Semite Wiedemann and the Jew Sonnenschein. These conflicts clearly have their political dimension, but the suggestion is that the aggression has been there all along, bubbling away underneath the charming surface, looking for an outlet. The second facet is that of aggression in the form of suicide: the lady from the good Russian table, whose squabble with the owner of a lingerie store results in a fatal hæmorrhage, Herr Albin’s threats to do away with himself with the revolver, and, of course Naphta. Here, aggression is felt to be too intolerable and explosive, and is turned inwards upon the subject him - or herself. These acts of destruction and self-destruction prefigure the carnage of the Great War but they are the explicit manifestation of the aggression which informs Mann’s text at a deeper level. The hags who dismember the child in the “Snow” chapter are also making this latent aggression manifest:

They were dismembering a child. In dreadful silence they tore it apart with their bare hands -- Hans Castorp saw the bright hair blood- smeared -- and cracked the tender bones between their jaws, their dreadful lips dripped blood (MM, 494).

This scene reads like a prototypical Kleinian scenario, complete with tearing with the hands and cannibalism, destruction “by every means which sadism can suggest”[40] to an infant.[41] The implication is that the Sun People are aware of this brutality and tolerate it, “in silent recognition of that horror” (MM, 495). For Robertson, “Martin Swales is the only critic I know who has asked the obvious question: if they know what is happening, why don’t they try to stop it?”[42]  A Kleinian dynamics of reading frames an answer to this question, by recognizing the primitive roots of such violence. It must also grow out of an awareness of this savagery and seek to accommodate itself with it.

This explicit strand of violence finds its apotheosis in the final vision of “scattered fragments of humanity” (MM, 715) of the First World War. Civilization has imploded under the threat of its own internal violence. Yet, that violence can be seen to constitute a powerful implicit undercurrent in the representation of love as the desire to get inside the body, with sadistic intent. It is in this cluster of phantasies surrounding the body, above all, that Mann’s imaginative energies are concentrated, and his text can be seen to pivot upon them. The vision of love as the longing for the diseased and decaying body is in itself inherently powerfully sadistic. Klein shows us how infantile corporeal experience gives rise to phantasy. In doing so, she enables us to re-claim and re-inhabit the phantasies of the body in the text and she gives us a language with which to trace the representation of aggression. At the same time, precisely because a Kleinian dynamics of reading attends to the momentary oscillations between the paranoid-schizoid position and a more reparative strand, they open up a space which interrogates the position of the reader, his/her identification with this aggression at a given textual moment.

Any Kleinian reading of a literary text must necessarily hinge upon an account of infantile sadism. Central to a Kleinian understanding is the sense that the body is something permeable, vulnerable to attack, always already damaged in phantasy. The choking, suffering bodies in The Magic Mountain all have this sense about them, all are vehicles for the circuitous expression of infantile sadism.

Yet at the same time it is not just a question of the direct or indirect representation of violence, but the way in which that violence is part of the act of representation itself. The critic Leo Bersani has argued that the very act of writing/symbolization is itself is permeated with phantasied aggression when viewed through the Kleinian optic.  For Bersani, symbolisation, the formation of symbols, springs from the need to flee the object that has been damaged in phantasy: it is therefore the anxiety that the object is damaged in phantasy which leads to the formation of new symbols.[43] Violence is thus inscribed in the very act of writing itself.


What, then, is the pay-off for the reader of The Magic Mountain? In order to remain true to a Kleinian dynamics of reading, we must consider The Magic Mountain in the light of two Kleinian concepts: the containing function and reparation. For, if a Kleinian reading hinges upon an account of the workings of infantile sadism, it must also address the energies which counter the fragmenting, aggressive thrust of infantile phantasy.

For critics who have been influenced by Klein, such as Julia Kristeva, Anton Ehrenzweig and Adrian Stokes, art possesses a “containing function”,[44] whereby the destructive phantasies of the subject are “contained” within the artistic object and then re-introjected as something good.[45] The containing function grows out of Klein’s description of projective identification, in which one person contains a part of another. This in turn led to a theory developed by Kleinian analysts whereby an infant projects anxiety which he/she experiences as intolerable into the mother. The mother then “contains” the anxiety, giving it back to the child in a form which has become tolerable to the child. To a certain extent, The Magic Mountain could be seen to perform a containing function, assuaging the subjects’ destructive passions within a whole. It could, however, equally well be argued that the constant pattern of learning and forgetting, the constant calling into question of what has been learnt and understood about human existence could be said to work against this trajectory. The Magic Mountain offers us a mountain of uncertainties that contradict one another and constantly perplex the reader.

Yet if the fabric of The Magic Mountain is shot through with sadism, then, above all, the threads which bind it together are those of reparation. The Magic Mountain could be seen as a profoundly reparative text. For Klein, all creativity stems from the desire to repair the object that has been damaged in phantasy. With the onset of depressive concern for the object which has been torn apart in phantasy, the infant begins to put the pieces back together again, to repair the object. This is the beginning of love and concern for the whole object, for the mother as a whole, separate human being, rather than a part-object which satisfies or deprives the infant. In “Infantile Anxiety-Situations Reflected in a Work of Art and in the Creative Impulse” (1929), Klein gives a vivid account of reparation. She narrates the story of an opera by Ravel, which we can easily identify as L’enfant et les sortilèges (1925).  Klein describes how the protagonist, a little boy, is told, “You shall have dry bread and no sugar in your tea!”[46] Deprived of oral gratification, he flies into a rage and starts to destroy all the objects in the room. “The things he has maltreated come to life”[47] and begin to attack him in retaliation. “The world”, Klein writes, “transformed into the mother’s body, is in hostile array against the child and persecutes him.” Even the animals in the garden turn on the boy who is saved only by showing instinctive pity for a squirrel wounded in the mêlée, whereupon the animals withdraw and resume their benign nature:

when the boy feels pity for the wounded squirrel and comes to its aid, the hostile world changes into a friendly one. The child has learnt to love and believes in love. (…) As he cares for the wounded squirrel, he whispers: ‘Mama’.[48]

The boy is redeemed by his own pity and concern. Klein describes how, when the infant reaches the genital level, it is capable of object-love and therefore able to conquer its sadism by means of pity and sympathy. The paranoid-schizoid position is never completely overcome; rather, the subject will oscillate between sadism and depressive concern or love for the object throughout adult life. Laplanche and Pontalis theorise reparation as follows:

The idea of reparation is part of the Kleinian conception of early infantile sadism, which finds expression in phantasies of destruction (Zerstörung), fragmentation (Ausschneiden;

Zerschneiden), devouring (Fressen), etc. Reparation is linked essentially with the depressive position (…) which coincides with the establishment of a relation to the whole object. It is in response to the anxiety and guilt intrinsic to this position that the child attempts to maintain or restore the wholeness of the mother’s body. Various phantasies represent this endeavour to repair ‘the disaster created through the ego’s sadism’; preserving the mother’s body from the attacks of ‘bad’ objects, putting the dispersed bits of it back together again, bringing what has been killed back to life, etc. [49]

A powerful thread of human concern, of compassion for fellow human beings runs through The Magic Mountain. It informs the text at an explicit, thematic level, for example, in Hans Castorp’s insight in “Snow” that: “For the sake of goodness and love, man shall let death have no sovereignty over his thoughts” (MM, 496-97). This idea is echoed, albeit with greater uncertainty, in the final words of the novel: “Out of this universal feast of death, out of this extremity of fever, kindling the rain-washed evening sky to a fiery glow, may it be that Love one day shall mount?” (MM, 716) Love, then, is imagined as rising, precariously, phoenix-like, from the ashes of destruction to triumph over death and aggression. Love, therefore, prevails, albeit in the form of a question. Love and compassion are powerfully conveyed in the moving account of Joachim’s death; the details of his gradual deterioration are recorded with delicacy and characterized by a gentle concern far removed from the irony of some moments in “The Dance of Death”. Similarly, Hans Castorp’s grief and remorse are revealed in “Highly Questionable”, when he whispers, “Forgive me!” (MM, 681) to himself and to the apparition of Joachim; his instinctive desire is to repair the damage they have inflicted in calling up the apparition, an impression reinforced by the pathos of its appearance. Joachim’s appearance as a patched-together, seemingly fragmented First World War soldier, bearing the “the stamp of suffering” (MM, 680), conjures him up as an object that is in pieces, needing to be put together again. The fact that Hans Castorp whispers “Forgive me!” suggests the wish to repair, which, for Klein, is part of the relationship with the self, as well as with external objects. Indeed, the conflict between the idea of humanity as fragmented by its internal aggression, as the “scattered fragments of humanity”, and the desire to repair and make it whole again can be read as one of the central conflicts in The Magic Mountain, its outcome uncertain. Yet, throughout the text, there is this sense of compassion and of bearing witness to the sufferings of others, shown by such details as the cousins’ visits to the dying patients in “The Dance of Death”, which, although somewhat morbid or even triumphant in nature, nonetheless emphasize human bonds of compassion between characters. Settembrini’s repeated attempts to bring Hans Castorp to the path of reason, or Hans Castorp’s solidarity with Peeperkorn can be seen to issue forth from the same redemptive strand, what Martin Swales calls “a charitable element, one which is alive with compassion and concern for a fellow creature”. [50]This “charitable element” may sometimes be tinged with irony, possibly even cruelty, but it constitutes one of the principal trajectories of energy that binds The Magic Mountain together and gives it depth and resonance.

In “Research”, Hans Castorp plunges into his books on Anatomy and Physiology; his quest is to understand the nature of life itself:

What then was life? It was warmth, the warmth generated by a form-preserving instability, a fever of matter. (…) It was not matter and it was not spirit, but something between the two, a phenomenon conveyed by matter, like the rainbow on the waterfall, and like the flame. (…) it was a stolen and voluptuous impurity of sucking and secreting; (…) As he lay there above the glittering valley, lapped in the bodily warmth preserved to him by fur and wool, in the frosty night illumined by the brilliance from a lifeless star, the image of life displayed itself to young Hans Castorp. It hovered before him, somewhere in space, remote from his grasp, yet near his sense; this body, this opaquely whitish form, giving out exhalations, moist, clammy; the skin with all its blemishes and native impurities, with its spots, pimples, discolorations, irregularities; its horny, scale-like regions, covered over by soft streams and whorls of rudimentary lanugo (MM, 275-76)

Here, on the mountain, Hans Castorp’s desire to become an adventurer in philosophy once again confronts him with a body that oozes corporeality. The spiritual, the intellectual and the palpably physical, fuse together in the image of the truth of Life which appears in response to his longing. Hans Castorp is shown as wanting to plunge into the truth of Life, and the shape that this takes is, once again, that of a body to be explored. Once more we are returned to the epistemophilic and scopophilic impulse, which, refracted through Klein, represents the wish to explore the insides of the mother body. The desire to explore the world which motivates the explorer can be traced back to “phantasies of exploring the mother’s body which arise out of the child’s aggressive sexual desires: greed, curiosity and love”.[51] The key point, what I would like to emphasize here above all is the fact that the Kleinian yearning to know the insides of the mother’s body, imbued with sadism, is intertwined with imagery of transcendent beauty, which offers the reader what I would describe as a sense of healing. Sadism and reparation are bound up with one another and inseparable, in language which gives great pleasure. Here, and precisely at those moments in the text where Mann gives voice to forbidden and highly charged longings, the language creates patterns of imagery which are full of wonder and complexity, that thrill the mind and awaken the senses, patterns of imagery which achieve a powerful fusion of philosophy and emotion. In an article entitled, “The Fate of Pleasure: an Update”, Malcolm Bowie argues that “we need to find ways of letting the pleasures of art back into our writing about art”.[52] Criticism, for Bowie, must “rearm itself by reference to such interpenetrating signifying systems, seize upon the pleasures of complexity”.[53] The Magic Mountain offers a great deal of pleasure to the reader, and that pleasure is precisely derived from complexity – the beautiful imagery, the “dazzlingly rich interplay of motifs”,[54] the humour, the thematic range of the philosophical discussions imbricated with profound human passions.

Sadism and reparation are therefore inextricably woven together in The Magic Mountain. But there is another mode of reparation which, I would argue, is allowed to form. Kristeva’s formulation of forgiveness with regard to Dostoevsky may be revealing here:

Ce pardon dostoïvskien semble dire: Par mon amour, je vous exclus un temps de l’histoire, je vous prends pour un enfant, ce qui signifie que je reconnais les ressorts inconscients de votre crime et vous permets de vous transformer. Pour que l’inconscient s’inscrive dans une nouvelle histoire qui ne soit pas l’éternel retour de la pulsion de la mort dans le cycle crime/châtiment, il lui faut transiter par l’amour du pardon, de transférer à l’amour du pardon.[55]

Clearly, forgiveness and reparation are distinct from one another, but they share a common direction of movement, a wish to make good again, to repair what has been damaged. Reparation, like Kristeva’s notion of forgiveness, could be seen to break out of the endless repetitive cycle of sadism and anxiety, and allow a new form of narrative to be inaugurated, opening up spaces for new kinds of stories. Reparation and narrative thus become linked: it becomes possible to imagine reparation as heralding a new form of narrative.

The Magic Mountain is composed of several narrative strands which overlap, interrelate and comment upon one another. In Mann: The Magic Mountain, Swales describes this in terms of a philosophical novel, in other words a kind of Bildungsroman, a historical novel, and a realistic novel which examines the effects of being institutionalised, all of which overlap.[56]  To this we might add the psychoanalytic novel, one which places centre stage the experience of the body and the way this is transmuted into phantasy. It is in the overlap between these powerful narrative strands that a self-reflexive space emerges: they continually call one another into question, and, in doing so, they invite the reader to identify imaginatively with a particular narrative moment. This endless concatenation of imaginative identifications opens up a space in which the reader is invited to examine his/her own desire. It returns the reader to him/herself as a desiring subject, implicated in both the processes of infantile sadism and reparation. Swales describes the dynamic sense of multiple possibilities in The Magic Mountain in a way that accords with a Kleinian reading:

It is characteristic of the dazzlingly rich interplay of motifs in this novel that one moment prefigures, relativizes, cancels out, reinstates another. The upshot of this interrelatedness is not, in my view, a kind of nihilism, whereby (as it were) nothing means anything any more. Rather, it is that we are asked to hear multiple possibilities as coexistent at any one time.[57]

A Kleinian dynamics of reading which foregrounds the oscillations between phantasied aggression and reparation, can be seen to map on to and intersect with the notion of the text as a fabric of “multiple possibilities”, characterized by interplay and Bowie’s “pleasures of complexity”. For it is precisely within this sense of “multiple possibilities”, constantly shifting and overlapping, that an alternative mode of reparation might be seen to form, one which pays attention to the oscillations and momentary identifications that belong to a Kleinian dynamics of reading.






[1] I shall make use of the Kleinian spelling of phantasy, which begins with a ‘ph’ instead of an ‘f’.  For Klein, phantasy is all-pervasive. Alison Sinclair suggests that this unusual spelling denotes: “the transferential and unreliable nature of this experience of the world”.  All references to Klein’s writings will be to The Writings of Melanie Klein, 4 vols, London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psychoanalysis, abbreviated WMK, I-IV. For a Kleinian account of aggression, see Klein, “Infantile Anxiety Situations Reflected in a Work of Art and in the Creative Impulse”, WMK II.  See also, ‘A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States’, WMK. For an account of Klein’s theorization of the object, see Hinshelwood (362-67).

[2] Mann himself was a proponent of the view that The Magic Mountain was a Bildungsroman. See Kontje.

[3] For instance, see Reed and Swales. Neither critic is concerned with psychoanalysis.

[4] Boa, “The Aesthetics of Disgust”.

[5] Boa, “The Aesthetics of Disgust”.

[6] Webber.

[7] Lewis A. Lawson does engage in a Kleinian interpretation of The Magic Mountain,  but this remains largely on a superficial level. For further psychoanalytic approaches to Mann, see Smadja and Finck. On narcissism in Death in Venice, see Widmaier-Haag.

[8] Robertson (55-65).

[9] Robertson (57).

[10] Boa, “The Aesthetics of Disgust” (145). For two fascinating cultural analyses of disgust, see Miller, S. B. and Miller, W. I.

[11] The subtle intricacies of the relationship between Mann and Freud are charted by Leslie Y. Rabkin in “A “Relationship as Complicated as it Deserves”: Thomas Mann and Psychoanalysis” and by Joyce Crick in “Thomas Mann and Psycho-Analysis: The Turning-Point”.

[12] See Klein, “Infantile Anxiety Situations”.

[13] Kristeva, Powers of Horror.

[14] See Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States”.

[15] In “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States”, Klein writes in relation to the notion of a beautiful, idealised image of the mother: “In some patients who have turned away from their mother in dislike or hate (…), I have found that there existed in their minds nevertheless a beautiful picture of the mother, but one which was felt to be a picture of her only, not her real self” (270). Swales points out that, in The Magic Mountain, “sexuality is mediated” (31). For an account of the role of photography in The Magic Mountain, see Eric Downing.

[16] For a discussion of this, see David.

[17] See Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States” (262).

[18] For an account of greed and cannibalism, see Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States” (236-8).  See also Klein, “Envy and Gratitude”, 1957, in WMK, IV (181).

[19] For an exploration of food and eating in Buddenbrooks, see Boa, “Buddenbrooks: Bourgeois Patriarchy and fin-de-siècle Eros”.

[20] For further discussion, see Boa, “The Aesthetics of Disgust” (133).

[21] Joy identifies the half-opened mouth as an “icon of sexual readiness and, in a social regime which prohibits nudity but permits such an oral spectacle, the mouth becomes the fixated object of an archetypal displacement – it is, in other words, what one looks at because one cannot look at the genitals” (474).

[22] Klein, “Love, Guilt and Reparation” (307).

[23] Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States” (272).

[24] Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States” (262).

[25] On laughter and disgust, see Boa, “The Aesthetics of Disgust” (137).

[26] For an account of disease as an excess of desire, see Sontag.

[27] Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States” (262)

[28] See note 13.

[29] For an account of splitting, see Segal, H.

[30] For a discussion of desire of the surface, see Segal, N.

[31] Klein took up Freud’s elaboration of the scopophilic and the epistemophilic desires and linked the epistemophilic, the desire to know, much more strongly with sadism. See Klein, “The Importance of Symbol Formation in the Development of the Ego” (220-1). See also David (100).

[32] Klein, “Envy and Gratitude” (183).

[33] Klein, “Envy and Gratitude” (183).

[34] Klein, “Envy and Gratitude” (183).

[35] See note 14. See also Elizabeth Boa, “The Trial of Curiosity in Der Zauberberg”.

[36] Robertson (55).

[37] Webber correctly identifies that Mann is primarily interested in “the pursuit and exposure by men of the male body and mind” (78). Indeed, my intention is not to show that Mann is interested in Madame Chauchat’s body because it is female, but, rather, because it functions as a vehicle for the expression of infantile phantasies of attacking the mother’s body. It could equally well be argued that the representation of the idealised surface of Tadzio’s body, a male body, albeit a feminized one, in Der Tod in Venedig (1912) operates in the same way. In a Kleinian analysis, Mann’s imaginative energies are primarily concentrated in the depiction of the insides of the body, regardless of gender.

[38] On the oral-sadistic pleasures of biting, see Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States” (263). Joy interprets the aggressive male figures with prominent teeth in Der Tod in Venedig as embodying the fear of the “vagina dentata”, thus castration (478).

[39] See Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States” (272).

[40] Klein, “The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States” (262).

[41] For an account of this, see Robertson.

[42] Robertson (55).

[43] For an alternative theorisation of symbolization and reparation see Bersani.

[44] For an account of “containing”, see Hinshelwood (246-52); see also Ehrenzweig, and Stokes.

[45] For Klein, introjection is the phantasy of taking something into the self, while projection involves projecting it into the other in phantasy. Projective identification involves projecting a part of the self into the other, followed by identification.

[46] Klein, “Infantile Anxiety-Situations” (210).

[47] Klein, “Infantile Anxiety-Situations” (210).

[48] Klein, “Infantile Anxiety-Situations” (214).

[49] Klein, “Infantile Anxiety-Situations” (214).

[50] Laplanche and Pontalis.

[51] Swales (40).

[52] Klein, “Love, Guilt and Reparation” (333).

[53] Bowie (253).

[54] Bowie (254).

[55] Swales (39).

[56] Julia Kristeva, Soleil noir: dépression et mélancolie  (206).

[57] Swales (13).



Works Cited

Bersani, Leo. “Death and Literary Authority: Marcel Proust and Melanie Klein.” The Culture of Redemption. Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 1990. 7-28.

Boa, Elizabeth. “The Aesthetics of Disgust in The Magic Mountain.”Publications of the English Goethe Society, Vol.LXXVIII No.3, 2009. 131-46.

------“Buddenbrooks: Bourgeois Patriarchy and fin-de-siècle Eros.” Thomas Mann. Ed. Michael Minden. London and New York: Longman, 1995. 134-35.

------“The Trial of Curiosity in The Magic Mountain.” Oxford German Studies, Vol. 38, No.2, 2009. 175-87.

Bowie, Malcolm. “The Fate of Pleasure: an Update.” German Life and Letters, 62: 3 July 2009. 253.

Crick, Joyce. “Thomas Mann and Psycho-Analysis: The Turning-Point”. Literature and Psychology, Vol. X, No.2, Spring 1960. 45-55.

David, Nicolette. Love, Hate, and Literature: Kleinian Readings of Dante, Ponge, Rilke, and Sarraute. New York and Washington: Peter Lang, 2003.

Downing, Eric. After Images: Photography, Archaeology, and Psychoanalysis and the Tradition of Bildung. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2006.

Ehrenzweig, Anton. The Hidden Order of Art: A Study in the Psychology of Artistic Imagination, London: Weidenfeld, 1993.

Finck, Jean. Thomas Mann et la psychanalyse. Paris: Société d’Edition Les Belles Lettres, 1982.

Hinshelwood, R.D. A Dictionary of Kleinian Thought. London: Free Association Press, 1991.

Joy, Stephen. “Open Wide! An Oral Examination of Thomas Mann’s Early Fiction.” German Life and Letters, No.60 (4 October 2007). 467-78.

Klein, Melanie. The Writings of Melanie Klein, 4 vols. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psychoanalysis, abbreviated to WMK, I-IV.

-------“A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States.” 1935. WMK, I. 262-89.

-------“Envy and Gratitude.” 1957. WMK, IV. 183.

------- The Importance of Symbol Formation in the Development of the Ego.” 1930. WMK, I. 220-21.

------  “Love, Guilt and Reparation.” 1937. WMK, I. 307.

------ “Infantile Anxiety Situations Reflected in a Work of Art and in the Creative Impulse.” 1929. WMKII. 210-19. 

Kontje, Todd. The Cambridge Introduction to Thomas Mann. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.

------ - Soleil noir: dépression et mélancolie. Paris: Gallimard, 1987.

Laplanche, Jean and Pontalis, Jean-Baptiste. The Language of Psycho-Analysis. Tr. Donald Nicholson-Smith. London: The Hogarth Press, 1973. 389. [Originally pubished as Vocabulaire de la Psychanalyse. Paris: 1967.]

Lawson, Lewis A. A Gorgon’s Mask: The Mother in Thomas Mann’s Fiction. Amsterdam and New York: Editions Rodopi, 2005.

Mann, Thomas. The Magic Mountain. Tr. H.T. Lowe-Porter. Alfred A. Knopf. New York, 1953. Page numbering from Questia: [Der Zauberberg. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 1991; orig. published Berlin: 1924.]

Miller, Susan B. Disgust: the Gatekeeper Emotion. Hillsdale, NJ, and London: The Analytic Press, 2004.

Miller, William Ian. The Anatomy of Disgust. Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Rabkin, Leslie Y. “A “Relationship as Complicated as it Deserves”: Thomas Mann and Psychoanalysis.” Imagination, Cognition and Personality, Vol 15 (1), 1995-96. 3-16.

Reed, T.J. Thomas Mann : the Uses of Tradition, 2nd edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

Robertson, Ritchie. “Sacrifice and Sacrament in The Magic Mountain.” Oxford German Studies, 35/1, 2006. 55-65.

Segal, Hanna. Klein. London: Karnac and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1979.  

Segal, Naomi. Consensuality: Didier Anzieu and the sense of touch. Amsterdam and New York: Editions Rodopi, 2009. 

Sinclair, Alison. The Deceived Husband: a Kleinian Approach to the Literature of Infidelity.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.  

Smadja, Robert. Corps et roman: Balzac, Thomas Mann, Dylan Thomas, Marguerite Yourcenar. Paris: Honoré Champion Editeur, 1998.

Sontag, Susan. Illness as a Metaphor. London and New York: Penguin Books, 1983. First published in USA by Farrar Strauss & Giroux, 1978.

Stokes, Adrian. “Form in Art.” New Directions in Psychoanalysis. Eds. Melanie Klein, Paula Heimann and R. E. Money-Kyrle. London: Tavistock and Maresfield, 1977 (1955), 406-20.

Swales, Martin. Mann : The Magic Mountain. London: Grant and Cutler, 2000. 39-40.

Webber, Andrew. “Mann’s Man’s World: gender and sexuality.” Ed. Ritchie Robertson. The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 64-83.

Widmaier-Haag, Susanne. Es war das Lächeln des Narziß: die Theorien der Psychoanalyse im Spiegel der literaturpsychologischen Interpretationen des Tod in Venedig. Würzburg: Verlag Königshausen & Neumann GmbH, 1999.


To cite this article, use this bibliographical entry: Nicolette David "Violence, Desire and the Body: A Kleinian Reading of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain"". PSYART: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts. December 15, 2009. Available August 2, 2013 [or whatever date you accessed the article].
Received: January 25, 2013, Published: August 2, 2013. Copyright © 2013 Nicolette David