I have never read a book so long that I hated so much. The more I read, the more I hated it, and then I hated it because it would not end.
A lot of the ideas in it ought to appeal to me - the enmeshing of disease and love, the fleshly-spiritual cross currents, the discursive style - but I was totally unmoved.
I hated every last character in the book, and that didn't help; but many of Proust's characters are unlikable, and I love Proust. I think the difference is that in the end, though Marcel can't respect people like the Verdurins, they nonetheless become heroic...they become larger than life. I felt like all the people, all the events in the Magic Mountain, shrunk into dust bunnies, filth on the floor, something meaningless and a little repulsive.
I hated the endless descriptions of the natural environment. I hated the endless philosophical debates between Settembrini and anyone. I hated Hans Castorp. I hated the endless repetition. I do not know how many hundreds of times I read about the "excellent lounge chairs" or the "hearty meals" at the Sanatorium. I was reminded countless times how and when the patients wrapped themselves in blankets. Eventually, every time I saw those details, I would be infuriated.
The only thing I liked about the whole book was Clavdia Chauchat. She was magnificent. I loved the way that Mann described her body, her movements, her hands, her eyes. I loved her dialogue, her sly and suggestive slink. I loved her name, and I love that she cruelly rejected Hans Castorp, because I would have, too.
NB: It's a few years now since I wrote this, and I have to say that there is at least one thing about The Magic Mountain that I recall with great pleasure. Hans Castorp - a worthless sniveler if ever there was one - gets his clumsy mitts on an X-Ray of Clavdia Chauchat. Of her chest I think? He finds it profoundly erotic.