The Magic Mountain : On our way to the camp 2

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The Magic Mountain : On our way to the camp 2

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Editado: Out 27, 2011, 4:40pm


Le Salon where Thomas Mann and Katia had their afternoon tea

Out 28, 2011, 5:23am

Dear Friends

Due to heavy weather, please expect first reading notes not earlier than 1 november in the evening.

Keep Warm

Out 28, 2011, 9:15am

oh gosh hunker down everyone. Storm coming.

Out 28, 2011, 10:11am

Looking forward to your notes Mac

In the meantime I have started the climb up to camp 2.

I first read The magic Mountain over 30 years ago and my overall impression then was of an intense melancholia/melancholy surrounding the whole book. I am beginning to feel that again.

Hans takes to his three weeks in bed like a duck to water. If ever there was a person born to be institutionalised it is Hans Castorp. To a large extent all the patients at the sanitarium have become institutionalised and Hans wants to fit right in.

Settembrini's visit to Hans while he is confined to bed is I think really important for Hans. The whole tenor of Settembrini's teaching is to guard against being institutionalised. Settembrini can see the dangers of becoming too melancholic.

Hans says to Joachim; I've sometimes almost wished I had become a clergyman, what with my interest in sad, edifying things - you know, like a black funeral pall with a silver cross and R.I.P. on it.

Settembrini has remarked previously that Dr Behrens "tends toward melancholy". He warns Hans not to become "lost to Life" and then tells him about a young man who was sent home from the sanatorium, but although welcomed home by his wife and family spent the whole time laying around with a thermometer stuck in his mouth. There was only one place for him to be and that was back at the sanatorium. Settembrini goes on to warn Hans about the attractions of death he ends by saying:

For as an independent spiritual power, death is a very depraved force, whose wicked attractions are very strong and without doubt can cast the most abominable confusion of the human mind.

Melancholy - habitual or constitutional tendency to sadness and depression, can be a pensive sadness. Albrecht Durer famous engraving of melancholia showed a figure in an attitude of dejection and frustration: the head resting on hands gave rise to an image of a soul afflicted with sad thoughts.

In medieval times the idea of melancholia also meant an intellect, a seeker of knowledge, a gifted person weighed down by introspection. The medieval melancholia should not be confused with the modern interpretation which means a mental illness.

Music was thought to be an antidote for melancholy.

Out 28, 2011, 10:14am

Brillant Bas. Your post sets me off on different thinking paths, I surely have to investigate.

Out 28, 2011, 10:19am

I know nothing about melancholia in medieval times, but this description brings to mind the discussion about Hans Castorp thinking sick people are smart and healthy people are dumb (the epitome of oversimplification, I know) and Settimbrini's criticism of that thought process.

Out 28, 2011, 1:01pm

#2 - Mac, what's a few days at the end of month? It will all just pass anyway. I'll lie down an wait (ha...not likely with my kids. I'm noticing not many parents of young children at the sanitarium. It's a natural law that they aren't permitted to recuperate.)

#4 interesting thoughts Bas.

Out 28, 2011, 1:19pm

death is a very depraved force, whose wicked attractions are very strong and without doubt can cast the most abominable confusion of the human mind.

Death as an attractive force is present (and glorified) in many religious traditions and right-wing ideologies. Nuns and monks "die" to the world; death frees us from earthly bondage; heroic death confers eternal glory etc. In fascist ideologies this culminates in a cult of death (Spanish Phalangists: Viva la muerte!). It usually picks up various occultist overtones too, making for a heady mixture of ritual, kooky thinking and sheer murderousness. No wonder Settembrini's worried about poor Hans.


How much do I love the parquet in that pic? Now that's hardwood and no doubt about it!

Out 28, 2011, 8:21pm

not to mention the fact that for someone who has just been diagnosed with an incurable, mortal disease, suicide exercises a very strong attraction.

Out 29, 2011, 2:09pm

death is a very depraved force, whose wicked attractions are very strong and without doubt can cast the most abominable confusion of the human mind.

Seems paradoxical that these words came out of the mouth of Settembrini (Satana?) since Satan is the personification of eternal death in Christian terms.

Out 29, 2011, 4:09pm

Mann's use of the term for Settembrini is ironic, not Christian-earnest.

Out 30, 2011, 12:31pm

Just finished Humaniora and Research of part 5.

Thinly veiled eroticism throughout which ends in Hans having a wet dream.

I'm a bit concerned about mac when he comes to write his notes. I am not sure he will be able to contain himself. Whats the word?...... wooohoooo

Editado: Out 30, 2011, 1:30pm

Very quiet in the rarified air. Here's a little tidbit if nothing else for the nonce:

Dear Herr Hesse
Many thanks for your wonderful and charmingly profound dream poem. I see it as part of a large work that will some day sparkle and shine in prose and verse, a fantastic spiritual edifice. I spite of me, my wishes for your mysterious work have become tinged with old-fashioned piety, and I am tempted to say: God give you the strength and high mood to complete your work.

In an attempt to repay you, I am sending a short piece dealing with my personal attitude towards psychoanalysis. I don't know whether the publisher has sent it to you and perhaps it will interest you in connection with your own psychoanalysis. I can't make up my mind to go further and send you Joseph III. I don't feel sure enough that you have the time and inclination for such jests to burden you with the book. Frankly, I should have liked best to keep it to myself. It was my way of enduring the last three years, or if you prefer, of playing a trick on them - all in all, a private affair, in which I dare hope for only spare interest.

Physical misfortunes have been hailing down on me. In southern France, where we went to see my brother, we all came down with sore throats, which left me with a painful neuralgia in the left shoulder. No sooner was I safely back home than I broke out with erysipelas,
followed by an attack of eczema requiring weeks of treatment, and then, to top it all, I had a whitlow
on the middle finger of my left hand that had to be opened and is still bothering me. It has been rather too much to bear all at once, a run of bad luck, and it has left me with a nervous depression that I am unable to shake off.

All the more reason to wish you good health. Will you be going to Baden this autumn?My doctor has advised me to go there, or somewhere of the sort. In general, he tells me that things have come to the point where I would do well to spend my vacations at health resorts. I can say with Herr von Stechlin: 'Yes, Engelke, this is the beginning.' *

All the bestto you and Frau Ninon.
Yours ever, TM

*In chapter 36 of Theodor Fontane's last novel, DER STICHLIN (1898) - a favorite with TM - old Major von Stechlin begins to ail. Drops are prescribed; he takes them 'like a connoisseur tasting an unfamiliar wine,' nods to his faithful factotum (sidekick), and says: 'Yes, Engelke, this is the beginning.' Theodore Fontane (1819 - 1898), of French descent, was a journalist, poet, historian, and in his old age author of psychological novels dealing with modern society.

Nov 1, 2011, 1:26pm

Mac is back ! Expect reading sumaries as from tomorrow. Wohoooooooooooooo

Editado: Nov 1, 2011, 3:17pm

Dear Herman Hesse
I can't let the day on which I have received the Works and your letter end without thanking you kindly for the splendid gift and especially for the brotherly dedication by which I truly feel honored. What you have given and accomplished is great and enduring and arouses in me all the admiration I have always felt at the sight of such a life work. I can never quite bring myself to put my own in this class. It always strikes me as too personal, too much of an ad hoc arrangement with art to allow of being mentioned in one breath with the 'real thing.' I have simply tried to get by. But in the end even that is honorable enough.

You can really afford to be a little 'drowsy, lazy, and stupid' now - or to seem so to yourself. 'I know all about it,' as old Briest would say. Yes I go on writing because I still feel that I have to 'prove' myself. Quite superfluously; for I already seem to be proved in the eyes of some people, such as the man from Swabia, and there is no way of getting round the others. I have completed a good 2/3's of a story entitled DIE BETRGENE, about a woman who loves nature with all her heart and is deceived by nature. She is past 50 and to her sorrow it has long ceased to be after the manner of women with her. After falling in love with her son's young tutor, she becomes a flowing fountain again; she believes this has been brought about by the power of love and the grace of her beloved nature, and is overjoyed. But then it turns out that her bleeding is a symptom of advanced cancer of the womb and she dies without resentment against the nature that has deceived her, though the author is rather bitter on the subject. The story, an anecdote someone told me, is rather cleverly worked out and told in the style of a classical novella. Erika thinks it will be a success, at least in America.

You see how I go on - We moved in here exactly on Christmas Eve, and it is still quite bare and temporary looking. The shipment from California with our furniture, pictures, and books isn't even here yet. When the books are put away (I shall have to hire a few students for the job), I shall find a place of honor for the six volumes.

All three of us send our very best wishes to you and Frau Ninon.

Yours ever, Thomas Mann

It seems that Fontane's novels were always on Manns' mind. (Effi Breist, 1895). Die Betrogene translates THE BLACK SWAN, 1953. Mann's new house soon proved too small.,16641,19340611,00.html


Nov 1, 2011, 5:24pm

Porius, Enjoyed Mann's letter to Hesse.

Mann's house probably became too small when all his books arrived.

Nov 1, 2011, 5:28pm

Up at camp 2. looking around can't see anyone yet.

Walpurgis night is a great chapter. What a way to finish part 5.

Han's world is severely shaken.

Nov 2, 2011, 12:34am

MM5 Eternal Soup and Sudden clarity

Our poor Hans has been confined to bed ( doctor’s orders ) as from the Saturday of his third week. His mood switches between triumph and exhilaration to fear and alarm. There is a double feeling here. To remain on the mountain is not necessarily a drama for Hans. Joachim reminds Hans to warn his family that he is not coming back immediately. Hans needs more stuff too is he has to stay longer. Joachim is embarrassed by the whole affaire and feels a bit responsible for it. Hans refers to possible poor health inherited from his parents. Hans stays in bed until he reminds Behrens that he has staid there for three weeks without improvement. Behrens sets him free and says that they will next make an X-ray portrait of his chest.

1. Bildung

Krokowski has another lecture on “love”. Some substance in our body is decomposing and intoxicates centers around the spinal cord ( ? )

Hans is ill and counts now, he is part of the club. Krokowski visits him, materializes “ as an apparition” and leaves a terrifying impression. With his two-pronged beard, his yellow teeth and completely clad in black, the fellow looks indeed like the devil.
“You seem surprised to see me… overnight our guest has become a comrade…”
Krokowski says that the “moist spot” is a secondary phenomenon. “Organic factors are always secondary”. The “moist spot” like an “ejaculae praecox” is caused by something else. Inhibited love ?

The sixth week Settembri visits Hans. His entrance in the dark room has an effect of “ sudden clarity”, the room overflowing with the light of reason.

“Ecco” = there you are as if Hans condemnation to a longer stay could have been expected.
“Poveretto” = Poor fellow, it is a bad thing having to stay longer at the Sanatorium
Settembrini obviously cares about Hans.

Settembrini hints in his remarks that Hans has been “tricked” to stay longer for “commercial reasons”
Settembrini tells the story of the “medical error” of the Baltic woman. You can get worser as well as better on the Mountain.
Settembrini doubts the X – Ray pictures always give a correct image or are correctly interpreted.

Interestingly Hans returns the question to Settembrini “ Does your plate show spots…?” “And you are really ill…?”Hans reduces Settembrini to silence ! S rhetoric is silenced with two simple questions.

S asks : How about your family ( what do they think about all this ? ), what about your job ( what about your career , future ? ) Hans shrugs away both questions. Settembrini reminds H that families do care and will try to get him back: “ …he is certain to come up and check your situation”. H doubts this.

H fights back with a description of a “hard”, cold, materialistic and unfriendly world down there. “The air down there is cruel, ruthless” ( Not a place one yearns to go back to )

Here comes Settembrini 3rd lesson

( 1. sickness and stupidity 2. Music is political suspect )

“ Do you know what it means to be lost to life ?”

To charge the “outside” world of cruelty is a proof of a certain alienation that is taking root into Hans mind. “ Because a man who gets used to making that charge can vey easily be lost to life, to the form of life for which he was born”
Do you know what it means “ To be lost to life”? “Slip into idleness and not do one’s duty”

Hans fails to get the message

The comes S fourth lesson:

“The only healthy and noble and only religious way in which to regard death is to perceive it and feel it as a constituent part of life…”

To set it apart of life , to separate it , to oppose it, is wrong. “Once separated from life, it becomes grotesque, a wraith – or even worse”

“ For as an independent spiritual power, death is a very depraved force, whose wicked attractions are very strong and without doubt can cause the most abominable confusion of the human mind”

Hans has really been lectured: 1) Go down and do your duty whatever that is but do not stay here wasting your time in idleness. 2) Beware of your morbid fascination with death, for it can cause “the most abominable confusion of the human mind”

Settembrini offers H guidance, a role as a caring teacher. He will do this sine pecunia, he will not be outclassed by Behrens.

2. Time

TM reminds us that the narration of the “next” three weeks will only take a fraction of the time, needed to recount the first three weeks. The reader experiences the flow of time exactly as Hans, for whom, because of the monotony of the days ( eternal soup) he spent in bed as a patient, time flows very fast indeed.

3. Death

“I’ ve sometimes almost wished I had become a clergyman…”.Hans is aware of his attraction in sad and edifying things and links it to the experiences of his youth. It is good that Settembrini does not overhear this connection between sad and edifying.

4. Eros

When H recognize, he blushes… ( see next chapter to see why ), but Hans thinks about Clawdia the moment he sees Settembrini. Both seem to be linked.

“ … not that I want to cast my aspersions on your masculinity…” ( what kind of sexual innuendo is that ? )… you remind me of a young nun… ( Hans looks more female than male to S? )… young brides of Christ… ( bride, like in husband and wife ? )….hair newly shorn… ( their feminine look taken away )… ( What kind of talk is that, coming from a pedagogue ? )

6. Note

Reminder of the opinion of Settembrini about Music being political suspect.
Joachim’s temperature has risen because of Hans’ problem
Hans third week passes and he informs his Uncle with a letter that he will stay longer
The tailor’s son dining from the magic table ( Grimm ? )
Orbis Pictus = Children’s encyclopedia, an educational picture book
Radames = military commander in Aida by Verdi
Wag = mischievous joker

Nov 2, 2011, 1:04am

I'm hand in hand with you Mac, just keeping up. For me, at least, this is a good pace. *catches breath*

I think Hans talks much more freely with S in this chapter than any time previously, probably because barriers are broken down (both ill now, therefore sympathy from S instead of previous envy) and has had so much time to think.

Nov 2, 2011, 1:22am

Yes, it is true, but Hans does not seem to heed or understand any of S advises. His mind is preoccupied by another person.

Nov 2, 2011, 1:39am

MM Part 5 : My God I see it!

Hans is going back to normal life within the boundaries of the Sanatorium.
Hans and Joachim have an appointment for an X Ray session. Hans who thinks he is now “part of the family of the Moribundi” and deserves respect, is now confronted with a hierarchy of illness. The sicker you are, the more respect you deserve. “… people who were slightly ill, did not count for much…”.
People at his table have not missed him with two exceptions: Settembrini and maybe Clawdia

1. Eros

Hans “infatuation” for Clawdia has grown in the three weeks he was alone in bed. He has day-dreamed about her a lot and Settembrini has interrupted one of these “dreams” which made H blush. H has completely fallen for her.

“… we sympathize with the qualms of conscience that accompanied the terrifying bliss of these visions and images…” Masturbatory imagery and sexual fantasies?

Hans is ready for more “…overt actions and blind adventures…” but Joachim’s coolness towards Marusja sets an example of discipline and restraint. Without that Hans would already have “borrowed a (phallic) pencil”

Hans gets more info about Clawdia from “cupido” Frau Engelhart. There is competition: A gentleman caller, a sick man from Mannheim and even… Hofrat Behrens. Jealousy sets in. Behrens paints her portrait! – over-energetic garrulous widower and a narrow-eyed pussy footing young lady – how funny!
Behrens is the most dangerous competitor for Hans knows that the doctor is his superior in age, character and position.

Clawdia is also sitting in the waiting room for the X-Rays, close to Hans. Clawdia speaks to Joachim, not to Hans. There are opportunities for small talk which Hans does not use. Hans fantasizes that she speaks to Joachim and not to him because between her and J there is no “savage, profound, terrible secret” . How cute !

Hans keeps on fantasizing over her: the slender outline of the whole leg, her very agreeable size, relatively long legs ( gasp ), not at all broad in the hips, small breasts of a young girl pressed together from both sides… ( gasp again )

2. Death

In the X- Ray room:
Hans asks permission from Joachim to look at what he is not supposed to look at.
Hans chokes up when he sees J honour-loving beating hearth
“Yes Yes I see it”, Hans is remembering an old aunt who had sights of people as skeletons as a premonition of their death.

Hans is deeply moved

When Hans sees an X ray of his own hand he “sees his own grave” and for the first time of his life understands that he too will die. Hans takes conscience of his own mortality

3. Note

Cicerone = guide
Dioscury boys, Castor and Pollux , twins

Nov 2, 2011, 4:43am

Great notes mac

In "My God I see it" you point out the hierarchy of illness and this is also the first time that Hans realises that Joachim is seriously ill. It does not seem to change his attitude to him much and of course the cousins can't talk about it

There is also an imagery of stage management appearing here :

And so now life at the Berghof - this blessed and well regulated life on a narrow stage - resumed its steady pace.

Editado: Nov 2, 2011, 8:54am

Right Bas, I overlooked the stage management here. Clawdia with her announced introduction of three knocks ( the banging door ) was also one. I know there are more to come. Have I missed others up till now ?

Has anyone experienced Settembrini's demand to be Hans pedagogue as "a declaration of love" ? Or am I imagining things ?
It could be a logic follow up of the image Settembrini has of Hans as a young Nun.

I think there is a hint here at the Lattini - Dante type of relationship. Pedagogue and Lover ( ? )

Nov 2, 2011, 8:16am

I was wondering about Settembrini's possible love for Hans. I have been looking out for clues. Is Settembrini jealous of Clawdia?

Editado: Nov 2, 2011, 8:40am

He is.
Settembrini is not only competing for Hans mind. He will react like a deceived lover when he notices that Hans is in love with Clawdia. Symbolically Settembrini fears the lure of the East. See my remark about Dante - latini

Editado: Nov 2, 2011, 8:55am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Nov 2, 2011, 11:30am

22: "of course the cousins can't talk about this"

The reserve of Nordic/Germanic/Anglo cultures, especially masculine ones, always strikes me as very sad when it is described in literature. There are so many subjects the cousins avoid. Sometimes their companionship is downright painful because there is so much NOT to talk about. Yet they obviously are very attached. If only they could communicate! This enforced reserve of their culture is almost like not knowing a language in a foreign country in that it really keeps people from being able to even recognize some of the things we as outsiders can see so clearly - because they can't talk about it.

Settembrini is able to raise "verboten" topics because he is Latin.

Nov 2, 2011, 11:30am

This is a great pace. I started ahead so I would not get behind and now I better get moving again to keep pace with you guys. Is that a rest stop I see ahead?

Nov 2, 2011, 12:11pm

next stop at the end of part 5. prepare yourself for another shock !

Nov 2, 2011, 12:13pm

> 27 yes you are right, they do not communicate although they are very close ( twins says Behrens )

Nov 2, 2011, 1:00pm

How many of us are left after the last avalanche.
Rise your hands please...yes you too lurkers !

Nov 2, 2011, 1:04pm

Lurker's twisted morlock flipper raised!

Nov 2, 2011, 1:13pm

Present! as we used to say in Catholic School. In body at least.

Nov 2, 2011, 1:13pm

I'll be quiet the next few days, but otherwise, here with rapt attention.

Nov 2, 2011, 1:17pm


Nov 2, 2011, 2:39pm

Approaching the end of Ch. 6

Nov 2, 2011, 3:02pm

Oh, I'm absolutely here and well on the way to camp 2.

Nov 2, 2011, 3:04pm

Present, but I have urges to say things that belong to later, I think - they don't stay in their proper chapters in my memory. It is probably later that S starts his work writing a history of novels or literature from the point of view of human suffering. seems rather not in the real world - though it is a task given him by the political movement to which he belongs.

Editado: Nov 2, 2011, 3:06pm

Wow some pic Por !

Nov 2, 2011, 3:45pm

I had gotten to the end of part 5 before the group started reading, and then I stopped, so I could read with you, so I will now have to start reading again. I've been learning a lot from all the posts here -- thanks!

Nov 2, 2011, 3:51pm


Great post, Anna, I'm especially sad about Joachim, who stifles so much in himself. (Hans is like a ditzy Valley girl in comparison.)

Nov 2, 2011, 4:01pm

27, 42 I feel for Joachim and I sense that this feeling is going to lead me to a sad place.

Editado: Nov 2, 2011, 4:33pm

I just finished meeting "The Newcomer" aka Naphta. Pretty soon you will be hiking right past me, if you haven't already. I notice a theme that DFW was also quite taken with; annular motion (if that's the right word.) Was Hal (in I.J.) also an H.C.? Isn't rehab kind of MM like? Of course EVERYTHING is MM-like! In that way, its like The Plague, a book Mac hates...

Nov 2, 2011, 4:32pm

44 Slick you nearly finished !

Nov 2, 2011, 4:35pm

Is that a threat?

Nov 2, 2011, 9:23pm

I'm here, keeping pace in my crampons. more coming later. Fontane is worth checking out. I read Effie Briest earlier this year, and it was excellent. I wish more of his books were available in English.

Nov 2, 2011, 10:33pm

I'm getting the feeling that HC's/the narrator's/the book's attitude towards humanism is changing. There is some doubt creeping in, both on the personal level with S himself (he is becoming a bit ridiculous - at least more and more divorced from reality) and on the ideological level.

HC challenges S: as mac points out, the two questions he asks S stump him and he has no answer. The challenge to the teacher, and the ultimate betrayal of the teacher are an essential ingredient in the evolving pedagogical relationship, in that it is only in this way that the student can free himself of the teacher, which is after all the goal of the teaching: independence for the student. the theme of the link between humanism and pedagogy again becomes important.

If the basis of humanism is transcendence in a very general sense, the teacher/mentor role in this process becomes essential: the guide. Nietzsche wrote: He who is a teacher from the very heart takes all things seriously with reference to his students - even himself. Regarding the erotic element of this relationship, I don't detect any sexual love from S towards HC, just a very generalised eroticism which is part of the teacher/student relationship. Now, be careful, don't get me wrong: what I mean by 'erotic' has nothing to do with sex (or at last only very generally as love of the other person). what I mean can best be understood by comparing 'eros' with 'agape', the other kind of love posited by classical humanism.

Eros = the love of the specific person, shown in friendship, mentor-mentee, family relationships, sexual partners (in its most basic -degraded? - form)
Agape = the love of the general; notions such as charity, mercy, altruism, love of humanity, of that which is human in everyone

As a humanist, S is motivated by Agape; as a teacher and friend and mentor, he is motivated by Eros.

Things are getting complicated in two ways:

first, the disturbing presence of Clavdia, who represents a competing influence on HC both on the personal level of sexual love, passion, and on the symbolic level as the EAST, an ideological threat to the WESTern humanism.

Second, S himself is swinging more to the Agape pole. his encyclopedeia, frankly, is a joke. Cataloging all the forms of suffering will not eliminate them. S is embodying a critique of humanism: it's possible to love humanity but hate people (perhaps 'hate' is too strong a word, but I think you get the point. We saw this also in BK, remember? It's a common trope of Russian lit, appearing also in Fathers and Sons by Turgenev.) The problem with humanism is that it can become too abstract, in the love of a perfectable humanity, the specific human is cast aside as not perfect enough. This is a problem inherent in all thought systems, though, not just humanism, and I certainly don't mean that humanism leads to the holocaust. I think Mann is introducing a critique of this depersonalising aspect of humanism.

It's interesting that the light f humanism begins to dim in the novel as HC comes under the growing influence of two forces: sexual love, and an awareness of death, in his visits to the moribund.

ok, enough. sorry to ramble. it's the lack of oxygen.

Nov 2, 2011, 11:05pm

DUKE. My haste may not admit it;
Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do
With any scruple: your scope is as mine own,
So to enforce or qualify the laws
As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand;
I'll privily away. I love the people,
But do not like to stage me to their eyes;
Though it do well, I do not relish well
Their loud applause and Aves vehement;
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion
That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.

Nov 2, 2011, 11:10pm

As you Like it?

Nov 2, 2011, 11:12pm


Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 1:09am

MM Part 5 : Freedom

Week 7 and October is close at hand. Hans sends a long postponed letter home to prepare himself for a longer winter. He needs more money, clothes and other stuff. He in fact cuts himself free from the world down below.

1. Building

Two young patients are complaining:

Hermine Kleefeld: “We’ve been cheated out of it ( summer ) just as we’re cheated out of everything else in life”
Ganser: “ Not even a dog, would want to go on living like this much longer…”

Settembrini warns Hans not to believe them, they lead a free and easy life…, and ads a new lesson:

Lesson nr. 5: Beware of irony as an intellectual stance… it becomes a source of depravity, a barrier to civilization…etc etc

“Illness and despair are often only forms of depravity”

“Paradox is the poison flower of quietism…the greatest depravity of all.”

Hans tentatively objects and compares Settembrini’s opinions with those of Krokowski

But analysis too can be good or bad, depending on it’s use to free men ( from preconceptions for instance ) or not.

Hans changes subject and speaks about his view of the skeleton of his hand.

I am not sure how to understand these things about paradox – irony – analysis etc, three pedagogic tools ( ? ) which can be used both in a positive or negative way ? Help anybody ? Is Hans as bewildered as I am with all these statements. Has Mann done this on purpose? Are we "losing" Settembrini?

2. Time

How has Hans experienced these 7 weeks, like 7 days or 7 years ?

3. Eros

“Russians, male and female…”Hans has the impression that Settembrini is aware of his infatuation with Clawdia. Is he jealous ?

4. Geography

Parthians and Scythians = the Russian = the threat of the east

5. Note

Quietism = mystical surge for God in lifetime
X ray : analytical pit : a way to keep hans at the Sanatorium…

Nov 3, 2011, 12:17am

Ramble on TCM. Very interesting.

Nov 3, 2011, 12:19am

TC , POR thanks for input, keep it coming

Nov 3, 2011, 12:23am

Mac - didn't see your post. Can't help with the tools, i had trouble getting through this section.

Nov 3, 2011, 1:02am

MM Part 5 : Mercury’s moods


1. Time

Months slip into the next without one noticing. Nature with the evergreens gives no clear sign either of changing seasons

2. Eros

Hans is often silent, thinking about Clawdia ? An intoxication he does not want to be rid off ? Drunken with Love ?

Hans compares the things Settembrini said and how he feels about Clawdia. All the annoying things ( door slamming, nail biting…etc ) which offended him earlier on, do not disturb him anymore. Instead it are the comments of Settembrini who annoy him now.

Hans is crossing borders, both in his opinions and attitudes. He slumps in his chair, let doors bang etc…

Mann confirms what we know already: Hans has fallen head over heels in love with Clawdia

He gives two examples of how Hans gets immense joys out of trivial events.

Everybody is aware of Hans love for Clawdia, Joachim included.

HC hurries up the mountain to overtake Clawdia walking in front of him.
Joachim tries to follow him but because of his illness strains himself, but for HC too, it is a bit too much. Because of the effort or the renewed contact with la Clawdia, his temperature is rising again.

Twice, the ill Clawdia is compared and preferred to a healthy little goose from down below. Against Settembrini’s advice HC still sees something superior in being ill.

3. Note

The narrator intervenes directly in the text “ We have as much right as anyone to private thoughts about the story unfolding here…” and says : “ HC would not have stayed with the people up here…if some satisfying answer about the meaning and purpose of life had been supplied…”

Nov 3, 2011, 1:48am

Unhealthiness everywhere - physical illness; Behren's manic bright manner; H's infatuation for C; even Settembrini's increasingly twisted obsession with the eradication of suffering. It's a suffocating book. I was reading it in the bowels of a hospital today, in between helping students with their practical exams. It was very claustrophobic, I don't feel like myself at the moment.

Mixed up with Time is Measurement. The constant checking of temperatures; the counting and leaping of days, months, hours; the x-rays; and those Sunday lectures analysing love. And by this point in the book I think some of these things are slipping away and getting confused - things are becoming more unmeasurable and out of control. This also has something to do with H's doing away with privacy in the matter of his infatuation with Clavdia.

I know Murr is looking at music, and he probably has seen it too, but I noticed in Mercury's Moods that line about "tension and release, tension and release".

I too feel for Joachim, poor stoic sufferer, made worse by his embarrassing cousin.

Nov 3, 2011, 1:52am

Also, I keep looking for some overriding message about the nature of illness in the book. Maybe I'm being too simplistic. But that tendency (mainly through Settembrini) to hint that not only is illness itself degrading, but that once ill a person becomes scarcely human, worries me a lot. I think my reaction is mostly to do with the fact that I have a bit to do with "medical humanities" at work, with the idea of using the arts etc to help medical students/doctors look at patients as people, and not just disease hosts. Mann seems to me to be taking the opposite view, and I don't like it.

Nov 3, 2011, 2:36am

holaho Muse ! Not Mann but Settembrini sees illness as something degrading !

Nov 3, 2011, 2:36am

58 - 59 interesting comments

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 9:25am

Mac, have you got anything on Mountain-as-Allegory? We have Hans the Quester, a mystical mountain, the worm in the rose (TB), awakening to higher truths, temptations and dead ends, helpers and foes (but which is which?) etc. Somebody must have systematised this.

Nov 3, 2011, 11:13am

Mercury's moods.

There is another little intervention by the author when he says:

"We are describing everyday events; but even everyday events look peculiar if they grow in peculiar soil......... (because to what extent Madame Chauchat was affected remains to be seen)"

note that here Mann refers to Madame Chauchat instead of Frau Chauchat. I wonder why he does that.

Nov 3, 2011, 12:00pm

62 Interesting you mention that Lola, but I have not encountered yet an interpretation of MM as a Mountain - allegory thing.
Underworld interpretations à la Dante, Virgil etc on the contrary abound.
Hans is certainly not a quester, he will not awake, he is the seven-sleeper, a dormouse, he just experiences passively what happens around him.
MM is certainly not a quest, it is a Bildungs roman or at least a satire of a Bildungsroman...

IMHO ofcourse

Nov 3, 2011, 12:04pm

Bas, because Mann has manners. He speaks Français to ze ladies. Hans en Clawdia are communicating in French. See " Merci", "Pas de quoi" etc

Nov 3, 2011, 12:15pm

Surely Hans is questing after a Self?

Here's one reference that connects medieval allegorical romance and the structure of Der Zauberberg (among others): „Bella menzogna. Mittelalterliche allegorische Dichtung und die Struktur der Fiktion (Dante, Convivio – Thomas Mann, Der Zauberberg – Aristoteles, Poetik), in: Literarische und religiöse Kommunikation in Mittelalter und früher Neuzeit, hg. v. P. Strohschneider, Berlin/New York 2009, S. 222-271.

"bella menzogna"=beautiful lie.

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 12:20pm

How could I have missed this ? Verdamt noch mal !

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 12:35pm

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 1:42pm

No worries! Here's another--and I think we must have mentioned this in skool--what about allegory of the times? Sanatorium--Europe; illness--old order falling apart; various people--various nations, various classes; Settembrini & Naphta--philosophical streams, progressive & conservative...

ADDENDUM: yep, it's old hat, any number of citations.

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 1:40pm

The MM is not an odyssee but an illiad

Ooo, I like that. And Settembrini told Hans he's no Ulysses, hahaha!

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 6:59pm

#66 - can someone translate? Please?

ETA...and Mac submission linked in post #68

Nov 3, 2011, 8:07pm

>31 Macumbeira: Here I am. Still here, but swamped with work and barely able to keep up with the messages. You'll pass me by on the mountain soon enough, which is why I took the early start.

Regarding the changes of Settembrini, it seems to me he had to become a little more ridiculous to be a suitable contrary to the funhouse mirror of distorted medievalism that is Naphtha. I might go so far as to say that had he kept Settembrini sane, he would have had to give sanity to Naphtha, and I don't think Mann wanted that at all. With the introduction of Naphtha I sense things will start to unravel. I wish we would have met Naphtha earlier, and that he would have been less of a caricature.

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 8:26pm


Alas, the sound of various Salonistas, passing me by...

Ironic, considering I've just finished "Research", yet started a full month before the gun went off and the Tibetan prayer flags were unfurled.

Last Saturday's Nor'Easter' forced me to re-visit my blanket-folding techniques. But tonight, all is well, and I'm back, enjoying the contributions of my hero Mac, et multi al...

Nov 3, 2011, 9:03pm

Well we're not officially at Research yet, so all is not lost. Glad you're still with us, Sandy!

This book is supposed to be a microcosm of Europe pre-WW1, isn't it? Is it significant that Settembrini is the only Italian that I can think of? In the war, I think Italy sold her alliance to the highest bidder, but that doesn't fit S.

Also, is there any significance do you think in that S is not only 'Satana', but also has 'Set' in his name, the Egyptian god of deserts, storms, foreigners, chaos and darkness?

Nov 3, 2011, 9:36pm


Sorry, dchaikin, didn't mean to mystify, I gave the gist above, it's: Bella menzogna (beautiful lie): medieval allegorical literature and the structure of fiction (Dante, Convivium--Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain--Aristotle, Poetics) in: Literary and religious intercourse in the Middle Ages and early moderne.

I had just taken a quick google-looksee for allegorical schemata of the Mountain, don't mean that that particular article is particularly relevant, or that it isn't. Lots of stuff out there; busy bees those academics.


I think Settembrini may be a play on "sette" (seven); "settembre" is September in Italian, explaining Hans's lapsus linguae when they first met. Seven pointing to the number of years Hans spends on the mountain, although I never understood why Mann would bother with this symbology. Egyptian god Seth has an "h" in German (in English too), I think it's unlikely Mann's associations strayed there. Settembrini is an avatar of classicism, and as such representative of moderation and order, not stormy chaos.

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 9:48pm

Settembrini is an avatar of classicism, and as such representative of moderation and order, not stormy chaos.
What about his commitment to progressive revolution and overthrowing established order?

Nov 3, 2011, 10:21pm

>75 LolaWalser: Lola, thanks, your version makes much more sense.

I will just point out though, that in English the 'h' is sometimes added but not normally:

Nov 3, 2011, 10:28pm

#75 Lola - thanks.

Nov 4, 2011, 12:09am

>76 slickdpdx: Slick, that was his grandfather.

Editado: Nov 4, 2011, 12:28am

In Settembrini you should see "sept" 7 and september ( he is singing the september song )

Settembrini is also ( I can say it now ) a "September man". It was a nickname for the older homosexuals who came down to the coast in Venice to have the boys at a "cheaper price" now that the summer season was over. Mann picked up this slang when he was in Venice preparing his previous book DIV. It underscores the ambiguity of Settembrini's sexual preference.

Nov 4, 2011, 12:40am

very cool. A settimbrini.

Nov 4, 2011, 8:44am

There's a type of revolutionary, contrary to hostile propaganda, that sees in political rebellion a way of establishing a just order of things, not sowing "chaos". I don't think Settembrini is against activism by any means--he is proud of his revolutionary lineage, and he is active pushing his own programme. For his opinion on chaos-sowing, check the part were he talks of "Mongols".


Oh, that's great, that makes the pun worth it.

Murr, that was very nice, the remarks on pedagogical love, super-apt.

Nov 4, 2011, 10:09am

expect a new chapter summary Manana.

Nov 5, 2011, 1:28am

MM Part 5 : Encyclopedia

A long chapter this one and an important one too. Settimbrini does not miss any opportunity to be a pedagogue, but this time Hans resists and argues back.

1. Time

Waiting can be diverting, because it devours quantities of time without our ever experiencing or using them for their own sake.

2. Death

Settembrini looking at HC funereal photograph.

3. Eros

“…( in love ) is an urge, a compulsion to reveal oneself…”
There is a lot of flirting and love affairs at the Sanatorium…
Joachim by his cool example dampens HC enthusiasm to expose himself more.
HC’s love for Clawdia is now known at all tables. HC makes a fool of himself.

Clawdia’s grey – blue eyes have turn grey – green… the light ?

Settembrini “bothers” and interrupts HC’s dreaming about Clawdia.
We are in for a long pedagogic chapter:

4. Bildung

a) Lesson 6 (Asia is devouring us ) is said surreptitiously, whispered with a sense of urgency, as if there was a danger of threatening Barbarians overhearing them.

“Asia is devouring us. Tartar faces in every direction you look…” Settembrini warns HC for Clawdia and for the “Asian degenerative forces” – see theories of Oswald Spengler, which had a huge success in Europe and which Mann was reading at the time.


Within the development of his ideas, elements for debunking Settembrini abound. See his racist stance: “one of your Ivanovitches”, the words barbarity, savage etc.
Check that Settembrini never laughs “One could not even imagine his ever laughing heartily”

Settembrini looking at HC funereal photograph: Settembrini seems to tactfully turn away to hide his face. Why ? Hide tears at seeing a “new lost young person”. S doubts that HC is really ill “ The decision that (HC ) is ill lies in the eye of the beholder”

“ And so you propose to spend the winter with us….” S is not happy because he finds that HC belongs in the world “down there”, doing his job, doing his duty.

“ it is truly hideous the way you throw the months away..” Settembrini urges HC to remain civilized and not to be infected by the “idleness and barbarity” of the Mongolian Muscovites.

“Your higher nature…” “son of the West, the divine west”. S pits the Civilized West against the Barbaric east. Hans attraction to Clawdia with all her un- correctness is a metaphor of this civilization clash.

“This barbaric extravagance in the use of Time…” is Asian says Settembrini. Today it bothers us especially in southern, Latin people : )

Hans should “Use (his) time in the service of Human progress”

And finally “The East treats suffering with pity and infinite patience. We dare not , we cannot do the same…”

b)“It is about an encyclopedia…” S is working on a “encyclopaedia of suffering”. It is an initiative of the ILOP, “the International league for the organisation of Progress” ( sounds important, doesn’t it ? ). It has two principles: (1) Humankind’s innermost natural purpose is its own self perfection and (2) it is the duty of every person who desires to satisfy that natural purpose to cooperate in the cause of human progress.

Its programs and objectives are so vast and vague, that one wonders if they can reach anything except give their members a superior attitude.

“four important languages”… German and Italian for sure, French probably, English or Spanish maybe…

The ILOP is preparing an “encyclopaedia of suffering” which will order and classify all illness and suffering. A list ! They are preparing a list ! Eco said we make lists because we don’t want to die… it is a huge, immense and futile enterprise.

Settembrini’s task is to list the books which contain “suffering”, so that it can serve as a TBR of solace and advice for the people suffering. There are a lot of books about all kinds of suffering including this one.

S explains this to HC to show that he is not losing his time on the mountain. That he is busy with an important and huge task to help the advance of humanity (nothing less)

S turns back to HC and says that as an engineer, HC can only do his duty down below.
“You can only be a European in the flatlands…”

Then comes a nice comparison of Hans to Odysseus and the Sanatorium to the isle of Circe.
Clawdia is of course Circe and Settembrini warns Hans “ …you are not Odysseus enough to dwell there unharmed…”, “ you will walk on all fours…” “and soon begin to grunt…” Beware !

HC accepts the lesson “What should I do?”. Settembrini does not answer and insists that HC comes himself to the conclusion: “you mean leave?” “You mean that I should go back home…”

HC says he could have done it earlier, but that he is ill now and going down would damage his health. HC fed up with Settembrini’s irony and challenges him: “would you take the responsibility and send me back…” ( the battle between teacher and pupil has been engaged )

S answers affirmatively but does not expect the counterattack.

H understandably concludes “…you are more cautious about yourself than you are about other people…”

S loses his balance a bit: he will not use the argument that he is more ill than HC but says that he can do his duty from where he is but that HC has to be an engineer in the flatlands.

Now we switch to a body – spirit argument: S to Hans : is it not the body and its evil proclivities that you all too willingly obey…? S means that HC is led by his dick ?

“What do you have against the body ?” ( The clash becomes harsher – there is blood… - at least HC has bloodshot eyes ). S as a Humanist has nothing against the body but favours the spirit. Ultimately humanistic pride will see the tie between body and mind as a “debasement” and a “curse” because the restrictions the body imposes on the mind.

The earthquake of Lisbon 1755: S wants to give an example of Voltaire rebelling against a natural phenomenon. Voltaire actually uses the human tragedy of that natural catastrophe to question if we can still speak of a just and compassionate God when we see that he punish sins through such terrible means.

Goethe was only six when the Lisbon earthquake happened and HC funnily alludes to another “earthquake story”. Goethe living in Germany at the time wakes up and tells his servant he has just experience an earthquake which later turns out to really have happened thousands of kilometres away in Calabria. ( The epitome of Reason has an eerie extra sensory perception ?)

This other anecdote annoys S.

S “ Behold the minds enmity to nature, the right to criticize Nature and her evil and irrational power. Nature is a power and it is servile to accept her to reconcile with her

Luckily Joachim enters the room and we are given a break…

Editado: Nov 5, 2011, 4:04pm

MM Part 5 : Humaniora

Still October

1. Bildung

Behrens interrupts on the cousins who are brooding in silence on a bench in a garden of the Sanatorium. HC is silently rebelling against the attitude of Joachim who drags him away of the company of others.

Behrens opens the conversation with a peculiar opening phrase: “ Behold Timothy” which alludes to a paedagogue – pupil relationship. Behrens too is a pedagogue.

Some knowledge of cigars is exchanged with a lot of allusions to woman, love and sex.
Then HC asks Behrens about “painting”. The knowledge of a painting of Clawdia has gnawed at him the last weeks.
“Anch’io sono pittore”, Italian not Spanish (but Behrens probably knows that) meaning, “I am a painter too”, famous words of the ambitious but still unknown young Corregio when he sees the painting of Saint Cicilia by the great Raphael.

A pleased and nervous Behrens agrees to show some paintings and invites the cousins to his house.

Paintings of a diaphanous wife in an angelic pose.
Fraternity cap with duelling swords
Portrait of Clawdia “Why I know that face don’t I”. – “Do you recognize her ?”One cannot but smile at the cunning little bandit.
Behrens had her in his room for 20 sessions !

Behrens about Clawdia’s eyes “the epicanthic foil turns out to be an atavistic abnormality”
Hans touches the crude nakedness of her décolleté - on the painting that is –

The analytical rambling over Clawdia’s skin excites poor Hans. There is something perverse in the two men discussing the details of Clawdia’s body.

“ You are wondering ,…, why I am speaking about all this…” The impromptu babblings of our amateur philosopher make indeed no sense.

Hans trailing the painting with him is hilarious!

Woman are made of fat, not ambrosia !

They relax in an oriental corner in the living room of Behrens apartment. Coffee, cigar, what’s next ? Belly dancers ? Nearly, here is Behrens speaking about “The fat is thickest around the female breast and abdomen, the upper thighs…everywhere you find a little something of interest for your hand and heart. And of course “… the soles of her feet…”

Some pornographic ornaments liven up the cylindrical (phallic shaped ?) coffee mill which was offered by an obscene ( ah the orient !) Egyptian Princess.

Hans is not bothered? Remember how he reacted to the Russian couple only three months earlier ?

Unusually large cigarettes for tip top occasions. Are they smoking pot now?

Hans rambles on : engineer – docter – clergyman

Behrens continues with an explanation of how an erection exactly functions continuing over the orgasm and the post coital “petite mort” ( all in secret language of course) : “…why the cock’s comb actually swells… “ … you are all swollen with blood till you can hardly see a thing…” until “…make you look like a corpse…with the heart thumping right along…”

Encouraged by Hans, Behrens paints a broad picture of the body in life and death in all chemical and biological details. Behrens too is a pedagogue lets not forget it. He opens the door for a scientific understanding of what life and love, death and decomposition is all about…

Then suddenly, an attack of mysterious melancholia halts Behrens in his enthusiastic exposé.
Hans and Joachim thank the doctor and hurry back to their rooms

Has the Doctor had an attack of some kind of depression ?

2. Geography

The coffee corner in Behrens room is an oriental feast; Turkish , Indian , Persian etc etc

3. Notes

See symbolism of the cigar : a woman ( brunette – she likes you to leave her ash long – she has her little moods – she has good breeding ) a penis ( tiny pores here and there – the veins that seemed almost to throb - irregularities of skin ) – a living being (she died , she grew sickly and died , nothing left but leathery corpses ) – sex ( pop my cork – have a girl for the first time – melt together in euphoria )

Phideas: Great Classical sculptor, the other one Polykleitos ? Jewish – sounding name ?

Nov 5, 2011, 4:59am

3 longer chapters left until camp 2. Come on guys and gals no lagging behind !

Nov 5, 2011, 6:14am

Excellent stuff mac. I am about to start the climb to camp 3.

Going back to the Humaniora chapter which I found hilarious in places and at times embarrassment for Hans. Goodness knows how poor Joachim puts up with him, but at the end of the chapter Hans suffers a rebuke from Joachim

You will find it a little namby-pamby of me to insist on it, I suppose - now that you have taken to kicking over the traces. But then you don't need your rest cure as badly as I need mine.

Tremendous pathos here as we recognise that Joachim is ill and that Hans is merely playing at being ill. A fool in love is a fool indeed.

Nov 5, 2011, 6:36am

Bas, the next climb is to the top ( the chapter snow ). from then on it is the safe descent. Snow is the central part of the book, the apex of Hans experiences. Don't hold back now

Nov 5, 2011, 9:12am

I'm finding Hans insufferable now, which wasn't true in the beginning, when he was just amusing to me. And Settembrini and Behrens? Gah. I need to take the rest cure with Joachim. Trudging to the next base camp, yet still enjoying this story, despite the terrible company.

Nov 5, 2011, 9:44am

Hans trailing the painting with him is hilarious!

Yes! I love Mann's comedy.


Oh no, but why? They are all so alive--EXCEPT Joachim the tin soldier!

Nov 5, 2011, 9:49am

I agree with LOLA, the characters of Mann ar so alive

Nov 5, 2011, 10:02am

90, 91 Of course they are! I totally agree. I often want to slug King Lear. Doesn't mean I don't think the play's brilliant or that I won't read it again and again. :)

Nov 5, 2011, 2:57pm

Encyclopedia was another tough chapter for me, and i also thanked Joachim for ending the conversation. Humanoira got me back into the book, a very entertaining chapter.

Snow is the center-piece? Very interesting...

Nov 5, 2011, 3:01pm

Humanoira is also our first intimate look at Behrens. He's very standoff-ish, superior, and formal. But here we see his home and the artwork he finds important...and it was interesting to me how normal Behrens comes across.

Nov 5, 2011, 4:20pm

So glad to read Mac take on Humaniora. I've been looking forward to that one. A very funny/embarassing chapter (so much of comedy is making one cringe and laugh at the same time...). I started to dislike S during the E chapter because of all the disturbing racial theories but when he talked zbout his assignment to write a complete wotk on human suffering I warmed to him again. His battles of choice are hopeless but perhaps not pointless. What a quixotic character.

Editado: Nov 5, 2011, 11:21pm

Mac you are an awesome guide! all that stuff about sex and cigars? wooo hoooo, my god, this settimbrini needs a valprotini!

These two chapters were among my favourite so far. I disagreed vehemently with the stuff about waiting. I LOATHE waiting, in fact i am constitutionally unable to do it, like flying. rather than devouring quantities of time, it seems to me to create quantities of future-directed time which cannot be filled in any way except just......waiting.

I loved Mann's remark about the epicanthic fold! I have often thought that as well.

S's project on the Sociology of suffering reminded me of Casaubon's key to all Mythologies in Middlemarch, another lost cause. of course, the encyclopedia, the dictionary are (symbolic of) archetypal humanistic/enlightenment activities.

Behrens' remarks about the body send HC on the next stage in his quest for knowledge: science, chemistry and biology.

list of usual suspects for the classical sculptors mentioned in the chapter:

Castor and Pollux, the dioscuri, Hans Castor(p) and Jaochim?

South Metope of the Parthenon

Hermes/Mercury/ Settimbrini/Youth/the humanist ideal


Nov 5, 2011, 11:58pm

Now that I see the dioscuri statue, it can be only Polykleitos !

Nov 6, 2011, 1:11am

MM Part 5 : Research

It turns winter and HC is still on the mountain. He finds it a bit strange to celebrate Christmas away from his family for the first time.

1. Bildung

Hans is in a state of excitement. He is now filling his empty days with scientific study. Anatomy, Physiology, Biology. He tries to understand, at least scientifically, “What is Life?. Even when he involves himself in the deepest scientific thoughts, his mind produces visions of a body hovering before him with eyes having a slanted look because of a racial variation, pouting lips, smiling, leaning charmingly, etc etc and now that we are at it lets continue… the night of the pubic region – mystic triangle – pungent darkness of the armpits - red mouth – the navel – the red buds of the breast.

Mann, incidentally gives a good summary of what is scientifically known and not known at the moment he writes his book. Like with early psychology ( Freud ) and early physics ( Einstein ) you feel that we are at a threshold here… Genetics with it’s DNA is not there yet, microbiology neither…but the notion that the infinitesimal small connects to the unimaginable vast is already understood…”The atom was an energy – laden cosmic system”

It is rather funny but it remembers me of my own scientific quest and period of “scientific readings” on “Live”. Sagan, Gribbin, Prygogin, Fritjof Capra etc…

What to conclude of all this readings? That Life itself is an illness? A cancerous stimulation of the immaterial?

In the end, even this chapter on the scientific explanation of life, can only end with the fantasy of a first kiss.

2. Time

See :people leaping over the weeks. Christmas – New year – Mardi Gras. Something HC is not used to practicing.

3. Eros

Fun: Herr Albin’s dirty book : The Art of seduction. Women fight over it.

4. Note

We are reminded that the Sanatorium is a special place, now certainly under all that snow. It is now even more removed from the flatlands. See : the world seemed to be under a spell...trapped inside a fantastic dream of fatal enchantment…bewitched valley…

Nov 6, 2011, 8:32am

That Life itself is an illness?


You do have a way with words, Mac... ennoble the Cliff notes, you could!

Nov 6, 2011, 10:18am

Yes, Mac. You rock!

Nov 6, 2011, 12:29pm

99 & 100: you are too kind, but my intelligent audience is worth the effort !

Editado: Nov 7, 2011, 12:03pm

The focus on stimulus response and sexual organs had me thinking that Mann is exploring the "it's only natural" view of things versus "moral instructions from on high" view. The problem is, of course, as I think Garp's mom said, "cancer is natural", so what is natural isn't always good. The "its only natural" view just kicks the can down the road a ways.

Nov 7, 2011, 11:59am

I thought it was striking how Hans was fascinated by decay and how it is related to overexuberance (cancer cells reproducing at a great rate and destroying their systems in so doing). I am seeing an even clearer link between illness and the forbidden (a constantly recurring theme, it seems to me). The next chapter gets into this at a much more uncomfortable level for me (fascination with illness leading to fascination with death).

Nov 7, 2011, 2:49pm

You mean this chapter ?

MM Part 5 : Danse Macabre

A danse Macabre reminds us that we are mortal.

Time : Christmas and New Year and then the first months of the next year

2. Death

The Horseman, whom we heard couching the very first evening of Hans’ arrival, has died. With all the love abounding in the previous chapters, we nearly forgot that people die here too.
It is about time for Hans to resume his “Dance Macabre”.

He starts off with underscoring again “…that a dying deserved every kindness, every honour that could be bestowed on him…” this in defiance of both the opinions of Joachim and Settembrini.

He then starts to make personal visits to the Moribundi, they who are going to die. Again this is against the rules and against the common practice of the Sanatorium, where the staff normally tries to conceal the “ dying part” of their business.

Note that Hans is relaxed, at ease, …a skilled expert at all this…

The visit is very appreciated by the patients… someone at least seems to care…

HC admires the black clothing he remembers from the Verdi Opera Don Carlos

I think the world and life are such that people ought to dress mostly in black…HC remembers the attire of his grandfather and generations before him where black was the only proper colour for dress. Death and morning would permeate every day of life.
“… I always keep death in mind- that’s how I’d like it, that would be moral…” HC reminds us.

Hans is setting up his “Danse macabre”: “I have decided that from now on, I shall show more concern about serious and moribund cases”. Hans rebels against the “way” they have on the mountain to hide the death. Although it would mean breaking the house rules, Joachim accepts to join HC. Strange… does he see it as some kind of military training to get acquainted to death?

HC plans to fight the egotism prevalent on the Mountain, the absence of respect for death and the general “laissez – aller” in the face of death.
People do not seem to take death serious in the Sanatorium and for a lot of them being at the Sanatorium is an excuse for a debauched life – drinking, betting, flirting and cavorting.

HC is extremely annoyed by the “unbecoming” stupidity of Frau Stohr.

An epileptic attack by a certain Popov during a meal is a shocking interruption of the daily order of the Sanatorium. The patients who have attended Krokowski latest conference understand that Popov publicly suffers a “brain-orgasm”, the equivalent of bodily love, again a show of disrespect of the seriousness of illness and death.

Hans is going to embrace death out of a complicated spiritual need.

Leila Gerngross is Hans first “success”. He and Joachim succeed in meeting her in her (death)-bed. HC and Joachim stick to the decorum…hushed voice…holding hand…kneeling beside the bed – ah, no they don’t, that would be too much…

While the girl and her parents appreciate the visit, already after 10 minutes it becomes too much…

The mother blames the illness of her daughter on her own weak health. Mother appreciates what the cousins have done: send the daughter flowers… brought a little happiness, enjoyment… a chance of flirtation with …handsome cavaliers…
HC is annoyed by this for it seems that instead of solemnity, he has brought luscious live into the room of the dying girl

Next Fritz Rotbein, Fritz dying is business as usual but he too seems to be moved to tears by the kind visit of the cousins.

Then it is up to Frau “Overblown” Zimmermann. This very funny woman is laughing with everything and everybody: Her illness, Behrens, Hans Castorp and his funny face… hahahahaha

The silly goose makes me think about Adèle’s laughing song in the Fledermaus…. hahahahahaherrCastorp

But it does not end there. They visit what is left of Tous-les-deux, then we turn to Teddy, Herr Ferge who experienced a horrible operation without anesthetics, Frau Von Malinckrodt, the female Job and so on. The Cousins are rapidly known as the Good Samaritans and Hospitallers and Settembrini approaches HC ( one of life’s problem children ) because once more his pupil’s actions are worrying him.

“Let the dead bury their dead”

Matthew 8:18-20: "When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.'
"Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'

"Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.'

"But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.'"

Jesus means the spiritually dead or so I am told…

Mexican Lauro prepares to die as a hero in bed…

Ferge recounts sleigh travels through the Russian tundra with the eyes of the following wolves glowing like stars… ( Pushkin ? Gogol ? ) Russian Empire? Belles with protruding cheekbones and Asia in their blood? Our friend HC is immediately captivated.

Natalie Malinckrodt is quite interesting for her illness seems to reflect her moral fall. She has eloped with a younger man, a half-grown boy really, abandoning a boring husband and children. She is definitely HC’s kind of woman and he takes especially care of her. Joachim is not needed by his side when he visits her.

Karen Karstedt, a very ill dying young girl is taken for an entertainment tour by the two cousins. They visit in the village the ice-skate ring, a movie, a dance hall. Their they meet Frau Stohr, who shows insight in why HC spends time with Karen, it is a substitute for Frau Chauchat.

Finally the brave young woman, a girl really with her 19 years, with the cousins walk to the small cemetery and end in front of a new un-dug plot. There is no drama, no tears, no passionate denial of her upcoming death. There is only silence and respect.

And so the chapter ends, this danse macabre, this carousel of death. It has shown Hans and us different people facing death, different ways to face death, different attitudes but always a certain proud resignation, some kind of acceptance…Hans with his fascination of death has set a step closer to the object of his fascination. What is he up after this?

3. Geography

The Russians give a useless present
The Westerners give a practical present

4. Note

HC avoids Knut and his troop of young healthy young man. HC doesn’t want to hear of them because they remind him of the option he could take to go back home.

HC is worried about appearances from natives of Hamburg. Shame ?

Clawdia has chosen a traditional “Tartar” dress for Christmas.

Latin fo the Monks is the language of death.

Tannhauser: Opera by Wagner

Fun: The women “attire themselves in their flirtatious best” to go to see the doctor …

Nov 7, 2011, 3:05pm

Editado: Nov 7, 2011, 3:10pm

I had not thought about the contrast between the present from the Easterners and the present from the Westerners! If I recall correctly, the gifts were a silver plate and a lounge chair, respectively. If so, is there any significance to the silver plate, given Hans recurring memories about the christening bowl (and its silver plate)? Science represented by the couch/psycho-analysis versus religion, represented by the plate?

Nov 7, 2011, 3:42pm

104: Thanks!

I was wondering why HC was avoiding people from his native town. I have some ideas, yes I think it is a sort of "shame" because he is enjoying himself too much up here and does not really want to go back home (perhaps)? It just seemed weird to me that he would not be homesick at all, not wish to hear the accent of his town, not want to see people from there. It's as if he has left his hometown for good, like if you go into exile.

Nov 7, 2011, 4:34pm

> 106 smart insight of the bowl - chair metaphor slick

Nov 8, 2011, 2:52pm

A bit delayed here. On my way to Paris. I'll post the next chapter notes by tomorrow evening. Then i'll open the next thread: On our way to the top ( chapter snow ). We are half way now brave compagnons

Editado: Nov 8, 2011, 10:47pm

danse macabre, or the Triumph of death, by Breughel pere

structurally this chapter was very interesting, because so far the discussion about life and suffering, and the connection between life and death has been cerebral, very intellectual, just talk. We know there is death around us, but we haven't seen it yet. Suddenly in this chapter we see it for real. I was very moved by this chapter, and I think our two boys are doing the right thing by visiting the moribund, to hell with what the other inmates think and the rules.

Editado: Nov 8, 2011, 11:07pm

74, 80, 81

Anthony Heilbut in Thomas Mann Eros and Literature, notes that "Settembrini" is Venetian dialect for the 'September Men", ie, the pederasts who arrive once the season is over and buy the local boys at half price.

"If Mann knew this, Settembrini lives up to his name to the extent that his 'pedagogy' is happily/painfully erotic."

Nov 9, 2011, 9:12am

our two boys are doing the right thing by visiting the moribund, to hell with what the other inmates think and the rules.

Oh yes. Hans is a practical son of pragmatic Hamburg, and an engineer--there's always going to be that "hands on" element in his life, whatever "teaching" he follows. I think that is an important part of why Settembrini latches onto him, Hans is a doer. Serious thinkers need doers.

Nov 9, 2011, 9:13am

his 'pedagogy' is happily/painfully erotic."

Larnin': the new sexy!

Editado: Nov 9, 2011, 11:58am

It is sometimes hard to keep in mind the world in which TB was such a threat - although with TB resistance increasing, who knows what the future holds and even now we live with at least one terrifying terminal communicable disease, so maybe its not that hard at all.

Nov 9, 2011, 12:41pm

In Africa TB is steadily on the rise. My company is developing an X-ray device that is specifically aimed at TB mass screening over there: it can be deployed in a 4WD, send images over GSM to a diagnostic center and it gives the operator a clue about the chance that the subject is suffering from TB using CAD (which means Computer Aided Detection in our field).

It's a long way from Behrens's infernal device.

Nov 9, 2011, 9:07pm

while we are on the subject, what is a blue henry?

Nov 9, 2011, 9:47pm

Today it'd be marketed as an iSpit. A pocket spittoon made of blue glass.

Editado: Nov 9, 2011, 10:23pm

Nov 10, 2011, 12:20am

how revolting. thank you.

Nov 10, 2011, 1:41am

MM Part 5 : Walpurgisnight

This is a very entertaining chapter although it has a surprising end. “A coup de theatre” as they say in French!

The chapter alludes heavily on the “ Walpurgisnight” chapter in Goethe’s Faust.

Walpurgisnacht, the night from 30 April to 1 May, is the night when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the Brocken and await the arrival of spring.

This chapter takes place during the Carnival or Mardi Gras evening
Also in Time it is a special chapter. HC is now up in the mountain for 7 months. Joachim who arrived earlier in the Sanatorium celebrates his first year.

What to expect?

Settembrini ironically warns Hans that the Mardi Gras celebration in the Sanatorium is “magnifique”. S also makes a most cynical remark that a lot of people now death cannot join the party. “… it is over at half past nine…”. Ghosts will only appear after 12.

But the Narrator too creates high expectation:

“ At this juncture….we alone know to what these Carnival festivities eventually led…”

Settembrini our warns Hans in the same way Mephistopheles warns Faust : “Behold bright flames…”

Murk, of those flames the motley glare!
A merry club assembles there.
In a small circle one is not alone,


Soon the party is full swing. Champagne flows and Champagne mixed with Burgundy

Settembrini slips another secret message of warning to Hans “But bear in mind…” again he quotes Goethe, Faust, Walpurgis-night chapter.

“He searched his pocket for a pencil…” The meeting Hans – Clavdia is introduced with the “pen” – anecdote and the “Hippe” character.

“ My God…” echoes the “My God” of the fantasy in the “Eternal Soup” chapter

A second secret note;.. “ A party to your heart’s desire…” Goethe, Faust, Walpurgis-night chapter.

“ In the Harz mountains…” setting of Goethe, Faust, Walpurgis-night chapter.

First couples form, there is cross-dressing, there is travesty. Frau Stohr turns into a genuine witch with broom and all…Settembrini compares her with Baubo, the old woman who shows her private parts.

There is comedy with the “silent sister” and the “blue Henri”

Clavdia brushes Hans table. With her sleeve – less dress showing her beautiful arms, she looks divine to Hans.

Settembrini keeps warning Hans “ ‘Tis Lilith” Adam’s second wife, the she-devil.
Again it parallels Goethe’s Faust.

Hans is not distracted from his fascination with Clavdia. He has to take care of the annoying Settembrini first…

HC addresses Settembrini with his first name Lodovico. S experiences this nearly as an insult “ …a repulsive, barbaric practice…but it brings the pedagogue at the same level as Hans. HC does not see S as superior anymore…

HC then shows that he sees “through” Settembrini and shows ironically that he knows how Thomas Mann uses the Settembrini character. “ You are a representative of something…

HC says adieu to his pedagogue: “ To your health Lodovico…”

S cannot but comment “ Those sound like words of farewell”. S has to make place for Clavdia.

The people assemble round the Punch bowl.

The Pig drawing game of Behrens brings us back to the Pig analogy of Circe. “ And what Monsters were born” Again there is a need for a pencil. Now that he has severed his bond with Settembrini he is emboldened: he heads direct to Clawdia. Settembrini shouts one last warning…and exits.

HC experiences his “Hippe” – moment once again and finally speaks to Clawdia and says “Do you have a pencil perhaps?”

Clawdia amused and in a Mardi-Gras mood reacts amused and surprised. “You are very eager…”. She teases HC with dangling the pen in front of his nose. HC lets himself not chased away, on the contrary CC follows him “ as if pulled by a magnetic force”

They are left alone, ( S gone, Joachim gone )there is music. HC shows that he has been observing CC for a long time, that he has been since a long time interested in her. “ You are wearing a new dress…”

Their conversation in that French “dream –speak” develops rather well, CC too had noticed HC earlier etc etc… Everything goes well until the “killer” sentence is pronounced. Clawdia says “I am leaving ( the Sanatorium )”. Hans is rudely awakened from his sleep state.

The awakening is very short. HC is lured again soon enough: “ So you will be coming back…” – he is going to wait for her – No way he is ever to go back down to the real world !

CC reminds HC that Joachiim is very ill.

HC asks her X- Ray picture. CC does not have it with her. It is in her room.( important detail wink wink )

CC asks who prevented HC to make an earlier contact with her. She knows of course.
CC says “Morality cannot be found in virtue but in sin”. She is a teacher too.

“ You know the consequences Monsieur” CC teases HC by telling him the Mardi Gras Magic is over, but Hans will not accept it and declares his love in a grand and theatrical way.

While not totally unreceptive, - she strokes his hair – she decides to return to her room.
“ Adieu my Carnival Prince”, but she leaves one trailing message… “Don’t forget to return my

And Clavdia leaves.

What a chapter, what romance !

Nov 10, 2011, 1:43am

And now to the top ! Wohoooooooooo

Nov 10, 2011, 11:25am

Did anyone else find Hans' sudden ability to converse in flowing French a bit ridiculous? All of a sudden he is describing weird parts of the anatomy (the skin in the hollow of your elbow - I don't know how to say that in French, and I majored in it). I guess this is the "magic" part of that "magic mountain" and also an effect of the Carnaval feeling that you can do and say anything.

Editado: Nov 10, 2011, 11:42am

And from being unable to say a word to CC before this...

My explanation was that HC was quietly developing into a much more complicated person then what we are seeing and hearing. That there is a blind gap between what we are being to told and the actual direction where his mind is going. That HC is absorbing and re-interpreting and building ideas, but in his own way, and almost completely unexpressed in the text. I thought we first saw hints of this when he shuts S down with the questions and when he challenges S. Those seem to come out of nowhere. And, here, it is the same thing, but it a very different context. It leaves us a witness to what experiences and information enter into HC's mind, but not to how he is processing it.

Nov 10, 2011, 2:02pm

Yes, it does look like Hans found his tongue under some influence ;), but I also think the standards for speaking foreign languages appear higher the more you go into the past. Hans speaks French correctly, but it's not particularly elegant or witty, his skill just isn't nimble enough. He can't invent in French, so he doesn't think he speaks it well. (And I bet Mann felt just the same about HIS French.)

When I lived in Italy in the late eighties, I was struck by the number of Austrians and Germans who spoke French fluently--every one I met. (My roommate was French, and monolingual, and eight other girls in the house all German of some variety or other.)

I watched some French documentary recently where they interviewed a bunch of old--REALLY old--British people, diplomats, ex-soldiers, and I noticed that quite a few of them spoke French well--far better than I would expect nowadays. When French was the language of diplomacy etc., a period still covering Hans' life, more people were routinely expected to speak it on what today we'd call a high level.

Editado: Nov 10, 2011, 7:44pm

I know this is odd. I diverted off onto a spur trail and am currently reading The Castle. 'Don't ask me why I'm on this binge of futility, dar humor, byzantine bureaucracy, angst.

Maybe it's just that the sentences are shorter!

I'll get back on the trail soon, but how freakin' bizarre.

Nov 10, 2011, 8:01pm

Could finish with Ishiguro's The Unconsoled!

Nov 10, 2011, 8:23pm

Exactly! And, 'perhaps while listening to this:

Editado: Nov 10, 2011, 9:14pm

I think it's part of the magic, HC being able to speak French, but don't underestimate the extent to which educated Europeans are/were able to switch in and out of different languages. Remember, multilingualism is the norm outside the US.

I understand that there is some controversy as to the best way to translate this chapter. some insist on leaving it in French. Mann's purpose was to alienate the dialogue, to mark it out from the everyday conversation. German: prosaic, mundane; French: poetic, courtly. There is lots in the dialogue about languages:

I am speaking German even if I'm speaking French.
what good are words? Why speak. Speech, discourse, those are nice republican things.
Speaking French is like speaking without saying anything somehow with no responsibilities, the way we speak in a dream...

to a certain extent there is a change of identities when switching languages, and it is true, that one can say things in one language you would never dare to do in another.

Nov 10, 2011, 10:49pm

>129 tomcatMurr: outside the Anglo-American world, surely? Come to Canada and try to speak real French west of like Winnipeg.

One thing that's interesting about that higher standards for foreign languages in the past thing is that it only applies to the prestige European languages--that is, it's based on cultural value consensus rather than an actual objectively defined level of linguistic knowledge. French, German, certainly Greek and LAtin, but then on the other hand you get guys like Mungo Park in Africa thinking they can speak Mandinka and Fula and Wolof even though they need a bushel of interpreters everywhere they go, and Richard Burton putatively speaking thirty languages or whatev when all he could probably say in most of them was "me white man, want grub, you savvy?" and where's the bathroom.

Nov 10, 2011, 11:59pm

He probably knew a bit of sex talk in them all too.

Nov 11, 2011, 12:06am


Nov 11, 2011, 3:08am

130 "me white man, want grub, you savvy?" and where's the bathroom.


Do you know Pigafetta ? He was one of the handful of survivors of Magellan's round the world expedition. He kept a journal which survived too. He described tribes of South American Indians they met in what is now south Argentina, Patagonia, South chili.
They tried to communicate with the locals and Pigafetta wrote down some short word list and translations of the words he heard. After the extermination of these Indian tribes, this is the only thing we still know of these people and their language. They are gone for good.
The 10 or so word lists ( 30 most important words ) Pigafetta kept, where established from a sailors point of view. We know how you said in these forgotten languages penis and vagina and sperm ( le foutre ) and also of course devil ( Ourobos ) of Shakespearean fame.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:24am

>133 Macumbeira: Sailors cut right to the heart of the matter. 6909 words for swiving.

Nov 11, 2011, 2:30pm


Well noted! Although I'm not sure Burton wasn't the real thing, his Arabic was good enough to get him inside and out of Mecca alive, and many people commented on his skill with Indian languages--can't imagine that happening if all he could do was order papadums intelligibly. But then he wasn't a typical Anglo snob of his time, he actually preferred natives. One gets the impression he had a strong psychological urge to transform and behave as if he were someone else, and for that a perfect language mimicry is essential.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:10pm

>135 LolaWalser: yeah, I shouldn't have picked on Burton. The protean urge, for sure, and also I've heard it speculated with these hyperpolyglots that what happens is their language-learning circuitry doesn't ossify as they age, so they maintain the natural aptitude they had for picking up languages as children (where it happens pretyy much automatically with exposure)--and by all accounts he was a pretty bipolar fellow also, right? I could imagine an unusually wired brain having all kinds of co-effects like that.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:19pm

Yes, by all accounts he was more than a little histrionic. Come to think of it, if anyone ought to be able to pick up the Gestalt of another ethnicity at any time, it ought to be actors: ear, gesture, performance, memory, it's all there.

Do we know that language learning "ossifies" with age? Do tell.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:28pm

>137 LolaWalser:

Whether the hypothesis exactly as formulated stands, I think it's pretty clear that kids learn language easier than grownups do.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:35pm

Oh, yeah, sure--I was curious about whatever has been established "for certain".

Nov 11, 2011, 5:03pm

Regarding Clavdia's final comment at the end of "Walpurgis Night"- "“Don’t forget to return my pencil” - those are the exact words that his childhood crush Pribislav uses when Hans works up the courage to speak to him.

And this has probably already been mentioned in earlier posts (I am joining the conversation late):

Clavdia's resemblance to P.
Her voice's resemblance to P.
And for the homoerotic - look at the way Clavdia's body is described: "small breasts of a young girl," narrow hips (boyish?)
Clavdia as a substitute for P.?

Notice the Petrarchan conceit that P. and others used in their love poetry: the lover waxes hot and cold whenever he thinks of his beloved. See MM: The constituent element of his love, therefore, was not the amiable, tender melancholy found in our little song. It was instead ... a fusion of frost and heat.
cf. to Shakespeare's Romeo: "bright smoke, cold fire, sick health

And what does anyone here make of the ending of the paragraph in which the aforementioned quotation appears. The narrator interjects: We have as much right as anyone to private thoughts about the story unfolding here, and we would like to suggest that Hans Castorp would not have stayed with the people up here even this long ... if only some sort of satisfactory answer about the meaning and purpose of life had been applied to his prosaic soul from out of the depths of time. ("Mercury's Moods" p.273 woods translation.)

Nov 11, 2011, 5:14pm

Ah, I see Mac has already made the connection between Clavdia last comment and P's.

Notice at the end of "Walpurgis Night" she tells HC his temperature will probably go up. Indeed his temperature generally goes up every time he has what he considers a successful encounter with the lady.

Nov 11, 2011, 6:37pm

Whenever I read "narrow hips", I wonder.

Nov 12, 2011, 1:02am

Very good Urania ! Don't worry if you have double vision from time to time. It is the air of the mountain