Two Smokers in Search of Identity: Comparing the Representations of Tobacco Use in Alastalon salissa and Der Zauberberg

Mika Hallila


The essay compares the representations of tobacco use in two modernist novels. By analyzing the smoker characters from Volter Kilpi’s Alastalon salissa and Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg the essay considers particular literary representations of tobacco use and, in terms of that, also particular cultural meanings of tobacco. The comparison is between pipe smoking and cigar smoking and the analysis focuses on how they differ in terms of constructing the identities of the fictitious characters. As a result, it is stated that the pipe represents the stability of identity whereas the cigar represents the instability of identity.


tobacco; novel; comparative analysis; identity; semiotics

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