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Rebelsky, F.C. (1961). Coming of Age in Davos: An Analysis of the Maturation of Hans Castorp in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain. Am. Imago, 18(4):413-421.

(1961). American Imago, 18(4):413-421

Coming of Age in Davos: An Analysis of the Maturation of Hans Castorp in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain

Freda Could Rebelsky, Ph.D.

The title of this paper could have been aptly punned “Becoming a Mann.” Erika Mann says of her father, “Without work, that is without active hope, he would not have known how to live” (1, p. 12). “He clung to life because he loved his work” (1, p. 46). She stated that, although he was ill, he did not withdraw from “active life.” If he had “his spiritual surrender would almost infallibly have caused him physical damage” (1, p. 91) and the “only thing be feared — the failure of his creative powers, an unthinkable horror, as he called it” (1, p. 91).

Unlike Thomas Mann, Hans Castorp, the hero of The Magic Mountain, appears at the beginning of the book as a person withdrawn from active life, passive, depressive. In this paper I will explore his growth to a “delicate child of life”, a genius in the world of experience, a more active human being. I will show how he moves from withdrawal to activity and developing competence, from dependence to independence, and how he moves through numerous career choices, intellectual growth, and types of interests to his final choice of career. And finally, I hope to be able to show why Hans could not quite become a complete man and achieve an active masculine role in society but instead never completely outgrew being “life's delicate child.”

Why should a child want to grow up? Possible reasons are to be like his parents or others he loves or to be able to supply for himself the satisfactions for his wants.

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