FEATURING THE MOUNTAINS... IN BOOKS

April 23, 2020

Powderhound London is a love affair with the Alpine lifestyle and design. Whilst we’d like to think that it was exclusive… we know that many others share it with us. So in the spirit of sharing we’ve created a list of some wonderful novels 

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann Hans Castorp, scion of a Hamburg merchant family, arrives in Davos in the Swiss Alps to visit his cousin Joachim, who is a patient in a sanatorium. The cold, clear air dizzies and delights him and he ends up staying for seven years.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway Henry has survived the war and Hemingway wants to give him and Catherine an idyllic time together before he kills one of them off. So he has them escape to the Swiss Alps, where they live in connubial bliss in a traditional wooden house on a mountainside. 

Chalet School series by Elinor Brent-Dyer This children's series written between the 1920s and the 60s advertised the benefits of an Alpine setting. An English brother and sister found a school in the Austrian Alps (patriotically it migrates to Wales during the war, before eventually establishing itself in Switzerland). All sorts of tricky pupils arrive to be turned into model citizens by their jolly classmates and the magical influence of the mountains.

Tricks of the Light by Alison Fell Fell's fiftysomething protagonist, grieving for her dead lover (a climber), goes to the Alps for Christmas. Passion still simmers among the peaks. The climax is an avalanche on Christmas Day that appears to devour her new paramour. 

The Traveller by Oliver Goldsmith "E'en now, where Alpine solitudes ascend, / I sit me down a pensive hour to spend; / And, plac'd on high above the storm's career, / Look downward where a hundred realms appear." An Englishman, based on the author, has been wandering Europe and now sits on a crag in the high Alps to review what he has seen and hand out some lessons on the progress of civilisation.

The Prelude by William Wordsworth Wordsworth recalls a walking tour of France and Italy. He crosses the highest point without realising it, and is oppressed rather than exhilarated by "The stationary blasts of water-falls, / And everywhere along the hollow rent / Winds thwarting winds, bewilder'd and forlorn / The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky".

Manfred by Lord Byron "The Scene of the Drama is amongst the Higher Alps" reads the opening stage direction of Byron's "dramatic poem". In his Alpine castle, Faustian Manfred summons up spirits and despairs. He is about to hurl himself off the Jungfrau when he is grabbed by a passing chamois hunter, who takes him back to his chalet.