Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize laureate. His novel The Magic Mountain was first published in November 1924, and is widely considered to be one of the most significant works of 20th century German literature. Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years leading up to 1914 was already displaying symptoms of its destructive and irrational mindset. Hans Castorp, an ordinary young man, arrives for a short visit to the sanatorium and ends up staying for seven years.
Through his conversations with other patients, he becomes aware of the predominant political, cultural, and scientific ideas of 20th century Europe.