Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain, 1924) and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922) are two landmark Modernist texts, both of which were composed during and published after the First World War. They are dominated by death, crisis and the declining role of the individual in the context of violent change in Europe. Mann’s novel spans over 1000 pages, while Eliot’s poem comprises only 433 lines, yet both these seminal texts present a myriad of typically Modernist concerns: the experience of time; the possibility of fate; the stagnancy and mechanisation of the Western metropolis; the unexplored mysticism of the East; and the heavy influence of myth. I aim to highlight these affinities in detail with particular focus on the authors’ responses to bourgeois society: a prominent issue for two authors with respectable public personas who question, and often ridicule, the customs and values of the bourgeoisie in their works.
My research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
As part of my project I spent two months in early 2014 at the Huntington Library in California, through the AHRC’s International Placement Scheme (IPS), exploring mutual American influences on Mann and Eliot.