Thomas’s Mann’s THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN – my real-time review continued from HERE.

This is Part Two of my Review.

Any commentary from my reading will eventually appear below in the comments to this post as and when I have read each chapter or section.


12 responses to “*

  1. gothiclight12

    Herr Albin
    The Ligottian sentiments stemming from Lung Inflammation as shown in the ‘eccentric’ behaviour of a man with his gun ready-cocked to reach his own Gothic form of light, a feeling that is sensed also seeping into the heart of Hans who is not yet officially ill, but still a guest of his cousin within this Aickman-like ‘strange tale’ of a sanatorium. Will such sentiments become intrinsically more fundamental, more ‘anti-natalist’, later in the book? I forget.
    “I need do nothing more, I don’t count, I can laugh at the whole thing. Would you like some chocolate? Do take some – no, you won’t be robbing me, I have heaps of it in my room, eight boxes, and five tablets of Gala-Peter and four pounds of Lindt. The ladies of the sanatorium gave it to me when I was ill with my inflammation of the lungs –”
    Note the ‘my’.

  2. Satana Makes Proposals That Touch Our Honour

    This section begins with Hans giddy and face burning anew with busy blood; Hofrat gets impatient with him and suggests he leaves the sanatorium (or becomes ill properly!?) – and ends with Hans refusing to lie all night on the balcony and then having Aickman-like dreams that feature the other patients.

    “Good lord, is it still only the first day? It seems to me I’ve been up here a long time — ages.”

    “In the first salon were some amusing optical diversions: the first a stereoscope, behind the lenses of which one inserted a photograph — for instance, there was one of a Venetian gondolier — and on looking through, you saw a figure standing out in the round, lifelike, though bloodless; another was a kaleidoscope — you put your eye to the lens and slightly turned a wheel, when all sorts of gay-coloured stars and arabesques danced and juggled before it with the swift changefulness of magic. A third was revolving drum, into which you inserted a strip of cinematographic film and then looked through the openings as it whirled, and saw a miller fighting with a chimney sweep, a schoolmaster chastising a boy, a leaping rope-dancer and a peasant pair dancing a folk-dance.”

    “Hans Castorp, who could not look at the unmannerly creature [Madame Chauchat] without disapproval, said to himself: ‘She reminds me of something, but I cannot tell what.'”

    Hans also learns that a thermometer without any markings at all is called a ‘silent sister’.

  3. iz6

    Chapter IV – Necessary Purchases
    Blankets for Hans in the unseasonal August snow! But this makes him feel he is already accepting a stay at the sanatorium beyond his visit of 3 weeks? In UK, we are currently suffering unseasonal cold for March. hence my photo today in my garden above of the Face Tree!
    Much philosophical dialogue between Settembrini and Hans – akin to Diderot’s ‘Neveu de Rameau’? – about the dignity (or not) of illness and the nature of Literature… And which patient demonstrates which optimum blend of illness and dignity…

    “…one may not reach out one’s little finger to the Devil, lest he take the whole hand,…”

  4. Excursus on the Sense of Time
    Blankets training against the unseasonal cold and reclining-chair embracing, the latter no doubt subconsciously leading to a pondering on the nature of tedium vis-a-vis the sensation of the speed of time… It FEELS to me at least as if Hans is being trapped in some alternately lengthening and shortening of the strands of some spider’s web, some satisfying blanketing by life-annulment…?

  5. He Practises His French
    Hans Castorp: “…when people are very serious, or down in the mouth, or somebody dies, it doesn’t deject or embarrass me; I feel quite in my element, a good deal more so than when everything is going on greased wheels. I was thinking just lately that it is pretty flat of the women up here to take on as they do about death and things connected with death, so that they take such pains to shield them from contact with it, and bring the Eucharist at meal-times, and that. I call it very feeble of them. Don’t you like the sight of a coffin? I really do. I find it a handsome piece of furniture, even empty; when someone is lying in it, then, in my eyes, it is positively sublime. Funerals have something very edifying; I always think one ought to go to a funeral instead of to church when one feels the need of being uplifted. People have on good black clothes, and they take off their hats and look at the coffin, and behave serious and reverent, and nobody dares to make a bad joke, the way they do in ordinary life. It’s good for people to be serious, once in a way.”
    And having once met the ‘horizontallers’, we now catch a stoical glimpse of the ‘moribundi’…

  6. Politically Suspect
    With a band playing for the patients, the unseasonal cold (unlike the unseasonal cold in the place where I’m typing this) having relented, there is a significant conversation on Music being politically suspect:

    “–Music? It is the half-articulate art, the dubious, the irresponsible, the insensible. Perhaps you will object that she can be clear when she likes. But so can nature, so can a brook—what good is that to us? That is not true clarity, it is a dreamy, inexpressive, irresponsible clarity, without consequences and therefore dangerous, because it betrays one into soft complacence.—Let music play her loftiest rôle, she will thereby but kindle the emotions, whereas what concerns us is to awaken the reason. Music is to all appearance movement itself—yet, for all that, I suspect her of quietism. Let me state my point by the method of exaggeration: my aversion from music rests on political grounds.”

    Hans Castorp could not refrain from slapping his knee as he exclaimed that never in all his life before had he heard the like.

    “Pray do not, on that account, refuse to entertain it,” Settembrini said with a smile. “Music, as a final incitement to the spirit of men, is invaluable—as a force which draws onward and upward the spirit she finds prepared for her ministrations. But literature must precede her. By music alone the world would get no further forward. Alone, she is a danger. For you, personally, Engineer, she is beyond all doubt dangerous. I saw it in your face as I came up.”

    Hans Castorp laughed.

    “Oh, you shouldn’t look at my face, Herr Settembrini. You can’t believe how the air up here sets me on fire. It is harder than I thought to get acclimatized.”

    “I fear you deceive yourself.”

    “How so? I know, at least, how deucedly hot and tired I am all the time.”

    “It seems to me we should be grateful to the management for the concert,” Joachim said reflectively. “I wouldn’t contradict you, Herr Settembrini, because you look at the question from a higher point of view, so to speak, as an author. But I find one ought to be grateful up here for a bit of music. I am far from being particularly musical, and then the pieces they play are not exactly elevating, neither classic nor modern, but just ordinary band-music. Still, it is a pleasant change. It takes up a couple of hours very decently; I mean it breaks them up and fills them in, so there is something to them, by comparison with the other days, hours, and weeks that whisk by like nothing at all. You see an unpretentious concert-number lasts perhaps seven minutes, and those seven minutes amount to something; they have a beginning and an end, they stand out, they don’t so easily slip into the regular humdrum round and get lost. Besides they are again divided up by the figures of the piece that is being played, and these again into beats, so there is always something going on, and every moment has a certain meaning, something you can take hold of, whereas usually—I don’t know whether I am making myself—”

    “Bravo!” cried Settembrini. “Bravo, Lieutenant! You are describing very well indeed an aspect of music which has indubitably a moral value: namely, that her peculiarly life-enhancing method of measuring time imparts a spiritual awareness and value to its passage. Music quickens time, she quickens us to the finest enjoyment of time; she quickens—and in so far she has moral value. Art has moral value, in so far as it quickens. But what if it does the opposite? What if it dulls us, sends us to sleep, works against action and progress? Music can do that too; she is an old hand at using opiates. But the opiate, my dear sirs, is a gift of the Devil; it makes for lethargy, inertia, slavish inaction, stagnation. There is something suspicious about music, gentlemen. I insist that she is, by her nature, equivocal. I shall not be going too far in saying at once that she is politically suspect.”

    He went on in this vein, and Hans Castorp listened without precisely following; first on account of his fatigue, and second because his attention was distracted by the proceedings of the lightheaded young folk on the steps. Did his eyes deceive him, or was the tapir-faced girl really occupied in sewing on a button for the monocled youth—and, forsooth, on the knee-band of his knickerbockers? She breathed asthmatically as she sewed, and he coughed and carried his little finger, with the salt-spoon-shaped nail, to his mouth. Of course they were ill—but, after all, these young folk up here did have peculiar social standards! The band played a polka.

    Meanwhile, in the light of Hans’s ‘busy blood’ fevers, flushes and blushes, I am wondering… A few weeks ago I had a bad cough, from which I seem to have recovered in the main. However, I’m beginning to get night sweats. Hmmm.
    In 1970, I had pleurisy, but no obvious recurrence since then. I suddenly thought that 1970 is likely to have been around the time when I first read ‘The Magic Mountain’ and first obtained my passion for classical music, eg: by Mahler. Now, wouldn’t it be ironic if by picking up this book in 2013 to reread and to real-time review, such pulmonary matters came home to roost?!

  7. Hippe
    “‘I’ve had enough of the horizontal for the present; one’s very blood goes to sleep.”
    …says Hans, who then takes a long climbing-walk, but one that he finds difficult when compared to his old self, even beginning a nosebleed … And he dreams while resting of an indefinabke obsession he once had a with a boy schoolfellow called Hippe, an obsession to which a remarkable incident with a pencil and its shavings puts a sudden end. Of whom does Hippe now remind him? In any event, after a cheating lift, Hans manages to get back to the sanatorium in time for Dr Krokowski’s lecture: “Love as a contributory force to disease.”

  8. Analysis
    “Frau Chauchat sat all relaxed, with drooping shoulders and round back; she even thrust her head forward until the vertebra at the base of the neck showed prominently above the rounded décolletage of her white blouse. Pribislav [Hippe] had held his head like that. But he had been a model pupil and full of honours (which was not the reason why Hans Castorp had borrowed his pencil), whereas it was abundantly clear that Frau Chauchat’s bad carriage, her doorslamming, and the directness of her gaze all had to do with her physical condition;…”
    At the lecture, not only comparing her to Hippe of the Pencil, Hans studies Mme Chauchat’s arm, as if it were Claire’s Knee from the later cinema film, I guess. And Krokowski sermonises, meanwhile, above my head, if not above Hans’s head, about Love causing Disease, and the symbiosis of Love and Chastity…

  9. Doubts and Considerations
    We learn more of the light and shade of the physical sanatorium itself, its basement, its officials, administration, its Hofrat who couldn’t leave after his wife died there and where he is its nominal head under invisible powers – as well as a nominal patient, too, if once he seemed to follow its audit trail of ‘entropy’ just as Hans now seems to be doing? Then, an intriguing arrival of a new female patient seen via the dark parts of the establishment.
    “…can true spiritual mastery over a power be won by him who is counted among her slaves? Can he free others who himself is not free?”

  10. Table-Talk
    Hans enjoys mealtimes cumulatively despite the regular slamming of the glass door…
    “It was an extraordinary game the two of them were playing; each perfectly aware that they lied and double-lied, each knowing that Hans Castorp teased the schoolmistress only in order to be able to talk about Frau Chauchat. He took a morbid and extravagant pleasure in thus trifling with Fräulein Engelhart, and she on her side reciprocated; first out of a natural instinct to be the go-between in a love-affair, secondly because to oblige Hans Castorp she had actually contrived to fall victim to Frau Chauchat’s charms; and finally because she felt a pathetic joy in having him tease her and make her blush. He well knew, and she well knew, all this about each other and themselves; each knew that the other knew and that the whole situation was equivocal and almost questionable. Equivocal and questionable situations were, in general, repugnant to Hans Castorp’s taste, and the present one was no exception. He felt disgusted, yet for all that he went on fishing in these troubled waters, quieting his conscience with the assurance that he was only up here on a visit and would soon be leaving.”
    I wonder if he has at least pencilled in his departure date? Good to know that the synchronicity of his feelings for the Chauchat woman chimes with that of his once involuntary heartbeats. A defibrillation of the soul?


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