In 1912 Thomas Mann's wife, Katja, stayed in Dr Friedrich Jessen's Waldsanatorium from March to September, suffering from a lung complaint. Mann himself visited her for four weeks in May and June. During that time, he said, he suffered a troublesome catarrh of the upper air passages, owing to the damp, cold atmosphere on the balcony. The consultant diagnosed a 'moist spot' of tubercular infection, just as Dr Behrens in the novel diagnoses Hans Castorp. Mann, however, did not stay in the magic mountain, but hastened back to
Flatland and Munich, where his own doctor advised him to pay no attention. There is an ironic twist to this story which would have amused the novelist ? Katja, it appears was misdiagnosed, whereas Mann himself, in his post-mortem, was indeed seen to bear the marks of an earlier tubercular illness.