I've been reading, reading again, after many years, Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain. This is not a reading, it's an experience--like a venture into another life. It envelopes me. I dream the dreams recounted in the book.
So strange, that this book made so little an impression on me when I first read it--almost 50 years ago. Not so with other works by Mann. Tonio Koeger, which I read in German in a class on German literature, Death in Venice... Perhaps because I was still working through having recently finished Hesse's Das Glasperlenspiel... with which it has more than a little in common, different as they are.
I couldn't begin to read this in German now, more's the pity. But the Lowe-Porter translation is quite enough.
It's not the conventions of realism that are the problem, it's the pretensions, the implied assumptions... which a great writer, like Mann, can take up and use and twist and subvert--quite eradicating any lines you might want to arbitrarily draw between the conventional and the avant-garde.