Parzival auf dem Zauberberg? Spuren Wolframs von Eschenbach in Thomas Manns Roman

Translated title of the contribution: Parzival on the Magic Mountain?: Traces of Wolfram von Eschenbach in Thomas Mann's novel

Kathrin Friedrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medieval German literature had a deeper impact on Thomas Mann than is typically assumed. The comparison between Wolfram’s von Eschenbach Parzival and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain illustrates this influence. Nearly 700 years separate both novels, nevertheless, they show amazing parallels. Especially as their narrators are very much alike. Both appear exposed in their stories, utilise Wolfram’s Bogengleichnis, and are unreliable. In addition, they both reflect on their narrations as literary constructs. While Wolfram’s narrator defends his protagonist Parzival for his misdeeds Mann does not bother to do so for Hans Castorp. The heroes and other characters are comparable, but develop differently. Parzival gains knowledge and his identity, whereas Hans Castorp loses both. Parzival fails his first encounter with the grail. Castorp, in contrast, wins a deep insight into life in his Schneetraum; but forgets it immediately. Castorp is as foolish as Parzival when he begins his journey. He is, however, not a grail-quester although Howard Nemerov concludes this in his 1939 dissertation. Yet, the Magic Mountain seems strongly influenced by Parzival. But
while the characters in Parzival seek to help the central protagonist, egoism is predominant in the Magic Mountain, the hero stagnates and fails to successfully finish the hero’s journey.
Translated title of the contributionParzival on the Magic Mountain?: Traces of Wolfram von Eschenbach in Thomas Mann's novel
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)410-431
Number of pages22
JournalAmsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • The Magic Mountain
  • pretext
  • intertextual influence
  • Hans Castorp
  • identity
  • failure
  • hero’s journey
  • Grail-quest
  • unreliable narrator
  • Wolfram von Eschenbach
  • Thomas Mann
  • Medieval German literature
  • Parzival


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