The Magic Mountain: On our way to the top !

DiscussãoLe Salon Littéraire du Peuple pour le Peuple

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

The Magic Mountain: On our way to the top !

Este tópico está presentemente marcado como "inativo" —a última mensagem tem mais de 90 dias. Reative o tópico publicando uma resposta.

Editado: Nov 12, 2011, 2:24am


Nov 10, 2011, 5:06am

I'm here, but I've dropped my pencil down a crevase. Oh Woe is me!

Nov 10, 2011, 6:02am

Mac, I have scooted on ahead a little. What a brilliant chapter Walpurgis night was and I have just finished Snow, which is equally brilliant. Hans comes of age there is hope for the lad now.

Snow reminds me of a similar chapter in Women in Love by D H Lawrence (a contender for one of the best novels, in the English language, of the 20th century).

Nov 10, 2011, 8:00am

*splutter, cough, choke, gasp gasp gasp vomit swoon etc etc*

Nov 10, 2011, 9:14am

I'm still ahead, although I've stalled for the moment in the early parts of "A Good Soldier". Ready to hear about Snow.

Nov 10, 2011, 9:22am

letitsnowletitsnowletitsnow, or the whiteness of the way-le.

Nov 10, 2011, 9:47am

A bit behind on the book and way behind on the discussion. I'll bring up the rear.

Nov 10, 2011, 11:22am

I just finished Walpurgis Night, which means I think I am still a bit behind?

Nov 10, 2011, 11:51am

I am laughing my arse off at Peeperkorn. Talk about funny. Who'd a thought the ol' Mann to have so much mirth in him?

Nov 10, 2011, 7:47pm

I'm way behind, out of gas, need to be short-roped, and as Krakauer would say, I'm like a lizard operating on a brain-stem.

I'll catch up, though...

Nov 11, 2011, 2:51am

Damn, you guys keep an infernal pace.

Part 6 Changes !

We have left Easter behind us. We are in this chapter already 6 weeks after the Mardi-Gras happenings.

This first chapter of a new part kicks off with HC musing about the concept of time
Our dear Hans’ situation is shaken up. He has to adjust to a world without his Clavdia.
HC is a also disturbed by Joachim’s open rebellion against the medical establishment of the Berghof.
Joachim, eager to proceed with his military career, is getting more and more impatient with the unreliable results of the Gaffky Scale and with the cure in general. The fact that Marusja has left the Sanatorium temporarily does not improve things for.

“To Hell with Gaffky, I’ve had it - ,I am going home, even if it kills me”. Together with HC, we are worried for we remember Clavdia’s opinion that Joachim is very ill.

HC does not dare reproach J for he is a bit bothered by the realization that J knows about HC’s time with Clawdia.

It seems that despite the fact that Hans and Clawdia left the dining room separately on that last Carnival evening, they secretly met again a few minutes later in her room.
Hans has given her back her pencil and is now in possession of her “X-Ray” frame. X marks the moist spot? Hans is a fetishist if ever there was one !

The narrator reminds us that HC has gone to his room considerably later than Joachim and then confesses that he has not told us everything! He has chosen to pass over a certain interval. There has been another secret conversation, one we did not overhear, in which this wicked woman has cast a sequel to her spell! “Frau Chauchat plans to return” we are told.

What else happened in Clawdia’s room? Was there just an exchange of pens against X rays? Only promises made?
No there is more. Hans, it seems, has not only “known” sweet Clavdia, he has “possessed” her during one wicked, riotously, sweet hour…
If so, this is a key epiphanic moment. HC’s experience of bodily love, his transcendence in his merging with Clawdia, offers him a first glimpse of the abyss.

But poor Hans is not ready yet to go back to the real world. He remains under the spell – a shadowy token of a pledge…a possibility of a probability… that Frau Chauchat will come back.

His body helps him takes to block the idea to go back home. His fever increases, he needs injections, he is condemned for 4 more months at the Sanatorium

Behrens is the only one to whom Hans can turn for some conversation about “La Clavdia” but the doctor has no message from her. But he has a message for Joachim. He orders Hans to pass it to his cousin:” if Joachim goes down to the flatlands, he will not survive a year!”

There is a certain coolness between HC and Herr Settembrini. Hans has a bad conscience of the way he rebuked his former friend and S sulks because he still suffers the indignation of a frustrated pedagogue. Or is there more?

The narrator reminds us that there is a “mythological allusion” when S and HC finally speak again to each other. “Well my good engineer, how did you like the pomegranate?”.
The pomegranate alludes to the myth of Persephone, the woman lost in the world of the death, but how does S know that HC has tasted the forbidden fruit? S is clearly reacting like a jealous abandoned lover.

S next remark, identifying Hans to Persephone obviously predicts that Hans will stay forever on the Mountain.

The ice is broken between H and S. S compares the Sanatorium to an Ocean Liner navigating over a dangerous sea. …when such a luxury ark founders and plummets to the depts….( The Titanic sinks in 1911, Hans or Settembrini in 1908 cannot know this but Mann writing in 1919 of course knows ). A sinking Ocean Liner as a metaphor for Hubris. S does not see in Hubris a danger, on the contrary … the hubris of reason set against the dark powers is the highest form of humanity…

S is still hurt by HC’s comments during the Mardi Gras evening. He cannot withhold his jabbing at Hans : … when a man perishes in wanton experiments with the powers of unreason…. ( What a prick! )

S announces ( he too? ) his departure. Despite what he says about work etc, he is not leaving the Mountain. He has rented a cheaper lodging in town. S is financially not as favoured as Hans to be able to remain in the Sanatorium. The animosity he has against Behrens and the commercial aspect of the health-cure may well be caused by financial trouble and quarrels over payments.

Frau Salomon from Amsterdam, disgusted with her poor health improvements leaves the Sanatorium for the flatlands “cursing the doctors, the cure, the fine air etc…”
In fact, she might set a bad example.

Frau Salomon’s case is not the only one. Other people emboldened by the coming spring, leave. Some patients die (Blumenkohl, Rasmussen ), some get better ( Ferge), some go away, soon to return ( Marusja )

The unpredictable weather is described

The chapter ends with how Joachim finds out that Hans too has been lured to Krokowski’s den for a psycho-analytical session. The end of his love affair has send him to the shrink!

2. Notes

Gaffky = a numerical rating for the classification of tuberculosis according to the number of tubercle bacilli in the sputum, ranging from 1 (one to four organisms in the whole preparation) to 9 (an average of 100 per field).

See “Charming and bisexual” in one sentence. Thomas Mann secret yearning?

Morel : A phallic shape ( aphrodisiac ? ) mushroom smelling of decay of death. (Impudicus ) Love and Detah intertwined.

Nov 11, 2011, 3:36am

In the mountains myself at the moment. The NW corner of a very windy Wyoming. Stunningly beautiful. Heading towards I-15 and Salt Lake City. Almost Swiss-like. Down down through Moe Green's town and right to sunny San Diego. I've crossed this godforsaken country more times than I care to count. My first trip cost me 29 dollars in gas. 18 cents a gallon. At 4 dollars a gallon, 60 dollars a tank at 12 or so tanks, it's a lot more.

Great work Mac. I'm reading the Snow chapter at an American Indian motel, puffing on a cheroot and sampling some of the local rocket fuel. Magic seems hardly the word.

Nov 11, 2011, 4:11am

12 Love it Por ! I am in Paris, at Odeon, hammering way at my laptop in my hotelroom i

Nov 11, 2011, 4:12am

Warning ! Avalanche ahead

Mann is about to introduce another major “Pedagogue”: Leo Naphta. Like Settembrini pedagogy is written all over him albeit in a completely different way, as you will see. You could say that he is some way the “opposite” of Settembrini.

I was sure that most of you would immediately like Settembrini, as Hans did, as Mann did and as I do. Only after carefully listening to what he said, doubts would seep in and we would become more careful in accepting all of Settembrini statements and claims.

Now, Mann will bring onto stage someone I know you will hate immediately. But you should be careful not to fall into a trap into which countless readers have fallen in. Traditionally, an understanding of the MM, would be a discussion if Hans would have to listen to Settembrini or to Naphta. Further reading will enlighten you about how wrong the interpretation of this book would be if you restricted it to a Settembrini – Naphta discussion.

You should listen to Naphta attentively, for he too has ideas which are “attractive” on first glance but which are tremendously dangerous if applied wrongly. Some of you will say there is nothing attractive in Naphta’s theories, but you are wrong, maybe not attractive for you, but in any case attractive to millions of people around us. Are you not wondering why they do so?

Again, I emphasize that it is a very personal meaning and that you can read MM anyway you want, but understanding the function of the Naphta – character wrongly would be a pity.

Editado: Nov 12, 2011, 1:03am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Nov 11, 2011, 9:33am

Naphta is the more subtle thinker, for sure.

Nov 11, 2011, 8:11pm

What do you mean by "subtle"? Example?

The two are definitely very different-appearing outwardly. Settembrini is vivacious, loud, gesticulating, picturesquely Eye-talian. Naphta looks like an untypical Jesuit, being a typical Jew. Or (haha) isn't THAT the point?

Mann got a lot of flak for the physical portrayal of Naphta (eventually); to me it seems entirely within the boundaries of that racialist, classification-mad era.

Editado: Nov 12, 2011, 1:25pm

MM Part 6: Someone else

Date 21 of July 1908. Time flows faster and faster…
Hans is filling his days with study. He is not gathering wisdom from books this time but empirically as an amateur biologist, astronomy.

HC even attempts a philosophical discussion with his nephew without Settembrini even being in the neighbourhood. “Those are awfully grand notions you are playing with…” remarks Joachim. Our disciplined soldier is not afraid of big ideas either “War is necessary. Without war the world would soon go to rot” ( Moltke = German General ). War as a regenerative force !
Strange that war is mentioned…and Jews…

Ready to meet the next pedagogue?

Naphta : Settembrini avoids to introduce him to the cousins ( they are his pupils and S does not want competition )

Small, skinny, ugly, hunchbacked, pale, caustic, logical…but very well dressed… he has a cold and coughs. Not the kind of guy you want to hug

I wonder if his ugly look and the fact that he has money is intended as a naughty German caricature of a Jew?

Quotes Pietro Aretino, the man who laughed himself to death

Settembrini has found his match in Leo Naphta and soon enough the cousins are witnessing a lively discussion of these two “extremes”, the humanist against the Jesuitical Jewish Communist.

I will not analyse the discussions, as they lead to more confusion, but this can be said about Naphta. The guy is a combination of everything the German Bourgeois was afraid of: He is a Jew, a communist but above all he is a Jesuit. ( Jesuits are or were forbidden in Austria ). He reminds me in any case of the inquisitor character in the brothers Karamazov.

There are contradictory elements in his figure. He is communist with money. Money on the other hand is associated with the Jews but even more with the Jesuits. He combines Jewish intellectual radicalism and a Slavic revelry for Christ. He is progressive and reactionary, ascetic and epicurean.

He is very Jesuit. Discipline, hard work and hierarchy for him are everything. Jesuits are after all the “soldiers of God”. As a boy N has been educated by the Jesuits. Jesuits are notoriously apt to select intelligent people to join their forces, nationality and parentage are less important to them. Jesuits are no racists. They do indeed resemble a communist and military force as they force the individual into the shape of the group. Totalitarian is what they are.

Interesting is how our cousins experience the “great confusion” of the discussion between Naphta and Settembrini.

Joachim about Naphta

“ I like some things he said…” Joachim probably likes that military element of the Jesuits.
“ That nose is Jewish too…” Typical anti-Semitic reaction.
“Do you intend to visit him..” Not the kind of people they normally meet.

Hans about Naphta:

“ There is something occult about him…” Hans who wants to play the little priest himself appreciates this.

Both cousins are confused. “… the more they talked the more confused I got”

Joachim the soldier: “ The best thing is to have no opinions at all and just do your duty” How funny ! Poor Joachim !

Hans says Joachim is a mercenary: They don’t care which side they are fighting for.

Learning and getting healthy can go together says Hans. Smarter and healthier.
“ Dividing the world in two is a great mistake”.


Ordinary blue eyes? To remember us that HC is ordinary?
Princeps ( first, major ) scholasticorum ( teacher, schoolman )

Editado: Nov 12, 2011, 10:48am

Settembrini avoids to introduce him to the cousins ( they are his pupils and S does not want competition )

Or, he's AFRAID of Naphta's influence on them.

Joachim comes out as one of those who will "only obey orders". No prophetic brownie points for Mann; that's what they were like... the good soldiers.


Astronomer, chéri.

Nov 12, 2011, 1:24pm

evidement, qu'est-que je suis con !

Nov 12, 2011, 1:27pm

Lola, it gladdens my heart, that you are reading my amateurish posts critically.

Editado: Nov 12, 2011, 3:13pm

A guy named after petroleum distillates?

(Oh, that's naptha.)


Nov 12, 2011, 3:22pm

an explosive guy ! an inflammable character !

Nov 12, 2011, 3:33pm

Like me, you have probably been wondering why during the Walpurgisnight episode people were adding Bourgogne to their Champagne.

The reason is probably because they could not buy "red" champagne anymore in the shops ! They had to make an ersatz " Red champagne " by themselves.

"Red" Champagne was more common in the 19th century when 25 % to 33 % of Burgundy was added to the Champagne as well as a red "liqueur d'expedition" after the "dégorgement". This mixing in the winery was forbidden as from 1887 and the last house who made it was F. Giesler. Some people were still missing their drink 25 year later...

I am sure you are thrilled to know this.

Nov 12, 2011, 4:55pm

Red champagne it could catch on.

Nov 12, 2011, 9:40pm

>24 Macumbeira: I am thrilled to know this! but why was it forbidden?

Nov 13, 2011, 1:57am

Red champagne, we need some.

Editado: Nov 13, 2011, 12:10pm

26 I guess that the union of wine farmers started to set up "serious" rules about what could be defined as champagne and what not. Champagne is the best managed brand of the wine industry. You cannot brand even a perfume with the name Champagne nowadays.

Nov 13, 2011, 1:58am

MM Part 6: The city of God and Evil Deliverance

21st of July 1908. Hans is 11 months on the Mountain. Soon his initial 3 weeks will have turned into a year.

His favourite spot, the bench in the meadow near the brook, where Hans had his nosebleed is a place which seems to conjure up memories and reminiscences. Hans thinks about “the many and varied impressions and adventures” he had since his arrival. He has a name for this mental occupation “playing King”

His Maria Mancinis have acquired their good old taste again, a sign that he has fully adapted to the atmosphere of the Mountain. HC still orders them from his favourite shop Hamburg. This and the occasional letters to and from his uncles is his only connection with the world below.

His Clawdia infatuation is said to have calmed down – he has no more visions –
We do not believe it, because he always carries with him a “naked” picture of Clawdia with the pale halo of the flesh HC “tasted” on Mardi-Gras.
This picture from “beyond the grave” is a morbid relic. Love and death in one image. (He could have asked her after all for a lock of hair or some lingerie, no?)

He pits dualities against each other like the “rebel grandfather vs the faithfull servant”, the two sides of analysis, military vs civilian, Naphta vs Settembrini.

Settembrini lost his first fight over Hans soul against the power of“atavistic love”. Will he stand his ground against Naphta, now that the clash remains in the realm of the intellectual?

HC is interested by the idea of the “Homo Dei”, the human God and agrees to visit Naphta.

“Lukacek Ladies Tailor” (the name on the plate beside the bell). It is more than just a detail. The character of Naphta is heavily based on Gyorgy Lukacs, who was a major communist theorist in German universities at the moment Mann wrote the Mountain.

Naphta lives in luxury and has made his apartment “cosy” à la Baroque. How Jesuit !
The most startling decoration of the room is a polychrome medieval wooden statue, a naïve pieta, a strong grotesque image of suffering and torture. It is “frightfully good” according to HC.


- The beauty of the body is abstract. Only inner beauty of religious expression possesses true reality.
- The nameless Artist. Typically it an anonymous communal work. There cannot be another Mr Individual Creator. See parallel between this medieval thought and Islamic art. There is only one creator.
- This depiction of “suffering and the weakness of the flesh” is not “…glossed over and prettified…” We are in dark, religious medievalism here…
- Sign of Mortification ( killing the flesh, humiliate, abase )

Thank God, Settembrini interrupts this exhibition of terrible ideas…

Our friend the pedagogue is worried about the cousins and does not want them in the hands of Naphta.

Naphta vs Settembrini

- Spirit vs Body
- Middle ages against Graeco Roman heritage
- Independent Scientific truth vs whatever profits Man is true
- Freedom vs obeying

Settembrini mentions the Konrad von Marburg as an example of where Naphta’s idea’s lead to.

Naphta refers to “the mad exterminations of the Jacobins”

Naphta argues that torture that is done to save souls of eternal damnation is acceptable. Only if it does not arise from a belief in the next world it is bestial.

The catholic stupidity at its extreme: denying the heliocentricity.
Faith is the vehicle of understanding, the intellect is secondary.

Naphta “ What our age needs, …is terror” ( notice the flash of his glasses, like the flash of a knife, a sable, a guillotine”. Naphta is ready to do it to create a totalitarian religious – communist state. Fundamentalist statement.

The discussion goes on and on, demonstrating Naphta’s and Settembrini’s skills in this kind of conversations. Often we are not sure anymore who says what and at the end more confusion comes out of it.

Settembrini stops the discussion and invites the cousins to ( oh irony ) his monastic cell. How different from Naphta’s lodgings.

S warns the cousins “ keep your relation with Naphta within its prudent limits”
Naphta is a half fanatic half malicious humbug. Your minds and your souls are in danger.

The wealth of Naphta is of course supplied by his Jesuit order. It debunks the sincerity of his communist claims. It also undermines the sincerity of the Jesuits. But that is not all.
The pseudo Jesuit priest Naphta, is according to Settembrini a voluptuary, only interested in luxury and sensual appetites:

Settembrini reiterates his earlier warning;

- if you separate death from life in a dualistic way, you create Detah as an idea.
- Death becomes a force in competition with Life
- It becomes a seduction.
- Its kingdom is lust, because it delivers, it is an evil deliverance from morals and morality, it delivers from discipline and self control, it liberates for lust…

Got that Hans?

Up to the next chapter where something unexpected will happen!

Nov 13, 2011, 2:00am

Or I need some ... or not. I had a wee bit a me sainted birthday dinner yesterday -although the sainted birthday doesn't arrive until Tuesday. Maybe red champagne then. Does anyone have a recipe. Does anyone make it now?

Nov 13, 2011, 2:12am

Yes, but it won't be called champagne! Happy one, I hope!

The contrast between the living spaces of the two is a fun detail.

Nov 13, 2011, 12:09pm

MM Part 6: An outburst of temper / Something very embarassing

August, HC is one year on the mountain…

Ring of Polycrates : metaphor on how lucky one can be. I miss the joke here. What was Stohr thinking of?

Joachim is moody and up to something. The weather which is bad darkens the mood. Joachim is rebelling against his stay. HC is scared. If Joachim leaves, he will be left alone on the mountain. Worse, if Joachim stops his cure, HC fears he will die.

An uncovered secret love affair turns into a scandal and Behrens has to expel the three culprits. Why is this important? To explain Behrens later outburst of temper? Or are the guests of the Sanatorium slipping more and more into immorality and scandalous behaviour?

Joachim: “Director Behrens…I have decided to depart”. Joachim takes up the responsibility for his health and decides to go to the army in the flatlands.

Behrens in a frustrated rage ( I think ) has an outburst of temper. Interestingly he says that Hans is cured and can leave too. Hans cannot accept this and wants to stay in the Sanatorium – …(for) HC a departure seemed impossible… he had to wait for Clawdia Chauchat”

HC remembers Herr Albin’s suicidal boast he once overheard: the sweetness of deciding to give up.

Joachim was for HC an example of self-discipline and order. What will happen if this influence disappears? Hans has slipped in to silence and inaction. He is likened to the Quietists.

When the cousins say adieu to each other at the railway station where they met a year ago, both get emotional. Joachim uses for the first time Hans first name. With his last words he urges Hans to come soon to the flatlands too…

Hans is on his own…

Nov 13, 2011, 2:18pm

My emotional reaction. Up through book 5, I felt some sympathy for HC although I thought he needed a swift kick in the butt. However, in book 6 he gradually becomes a self-righteous little prick particularly when he first hears that Joachim is returning. At that point, he projects his own doubts about his prolonged stay at he spa onto Joachim. Of course by the end of "The Good Soldier" all that has changed.

Nov 13, 2011, 3:46pm

How can anyone not love Hans?

Look how darling:

Hans and Settembrini

Nov 13, 2011, 10:41pm

>29 Macumbeira: I was fascinated by the discussion in this chapter. especially about art, and and about science.

The christian centuries were united in their view that the natural sciences were of no significance to man...

The proletariat has taken up Gregory the Great's task. his godly zeal burns within it, and its hands can no more refrain from shedding blood than could his. Its work is terror, that the world may be saved and the ultimate goal of redemption be achieved: the children of god living in a world without classes or laws.

be afraid, be very afraid....

Note the way Mann carefully blurrs the boundaries between S and N's view of things. N, as a jesuit, has no real fixed position, it seems to me, he will take up any position in an argument in order to win it, anything to simply oppose and contradict S. S shows far more consistency and commitment to his position in his discourse. Is that what slick means by N being the more subtle thinker? I think I agree with you slick, but his thoughts are vile.

I noticed something about the two texts mentioned in this chapter, each associated with the two sides of the argument, N's and S's, both ostensibly about the same thing: human suffering, but both of them carefully blurring N's and S's positions.

N is represented by De Miseria humanae conditionis on the misery of the human condition. disregarding whether this work is real or not, the latin title is a symbol of medievalism. the title focusses on the suffering of the 'human', the individual, which should be kind of S's stance: the humanist, the worth of the individual.

S is represented by Sociology of Suffering, its vernacular title a symbol of liberation from medievalism, but at the same time it emphasises suffering itself and sociology as abstract principles. The human is not mentioned, subsumed by an academic (scholastic?) project, which is the result of course of the post medieval scientific advances. this kind of abstraction, which obscure the individual human, it could be argued should be associated with N's totalitarian view of things.

N, the archcatholic, finally arrives at communism. It was Dostoevsky who first drew a connection between these two world views. He saw that the link between them was statism: both catholicism and socialism/communism are concerned with the centralisation of state control.

Nov 13, 2011, 11:01pm

Really well stated Murr. That same directness vs complexity - wallowing in it vs. killing it off - is reflected in the living quarters.

Editado: Nov 13, 2011, 11:21pm

Lukacs ( in 29 again) was a Communist stooge, one of the worst critics in the whole field. (he was also a marxist philosopher, but these remarks pertain to his criticism only) He was famously hostile to Dostoevsky, during the Soviet period when D was regarded as reactionary by the regime. (Later of course he was rehabilitated)

L's basic motivating vision as a critic was this: the business of the critic is the relation between ideology (in the sense of Weltanschauung) and artistic creation. ( i cannot find the source of this quote.)

Lukacs stands as an example of a profoundly dishonest critic, one who deliberately twisted what he read in order to follow the orders of his ideological masters.

L dismissed Nietzsche as a mere forerunner of the Nazis, he was hostile to most of the modernists, including Conrad, Proust, Kafka and Beckett.
Susan Sonntag has a great essay about him in Against Interpretation where she totally trashes his criticism, calling it a "radical failure of sensibility".

"L is committed to a version of the mimetic theory of art which is simply far too crude."
Susan Sonntag
The Literary Criticism of George Lukacs.

It's fitting that in MM L is portrayed as a tailor, fitting together clothes for clients, and speaking in barely incomprehensible dialect.

Nov 13, 2011, 11:54pm

The snowflake vs the ugly pieta.

Great stuff about Lukacs and tailoring.

Nov 14, 2011, 12:34am

N, as a jesuit, has no real fixed position, it seems to me, he will take up any position in an argument in order to win it,

Yes, I think Mann meant us to think so, what with making Naphta a Jesuit—the connotations were exactly such—a Machiavellian order bent on survival and political domination at any cost, including that of appearing downright atheist, as modernisation and development of the ages increasingly threatened the Church. They were famous for the lengths they went to in order to win over converts— for instance, the “ethnic” Jesus was their invention. (I actually think that was pretty cool...)

human suffering, but both of them carefully blurring N's and S's positions.

Not sure about that. And while I’m being not sure, I’ll say I don't think seriously identifying Naphta as a Communist (or even small “c” communist) works. First and foremost, he believes in God and wants to establish God's reign on earth--that is, SOME reign ad majorem Dei gloriam (an original Jesuit motto, by the way), administered by his worthy brethren. This is directly opposed to the bolshevik militantly atheist programme, which sees the alpha and omega of existence and progress in the human collective, here, on earth, while life endures. Both philosophies may end in a totalitarian situation (Naphta's at any rate does so without any "maybe", beginning and ending in a transcendent Absolute) but the actors and the ideas animating the systems are totally different. Historically, Naphta simply isn’t a viable partner for Lenin.

Second, Naphta's vision of a unified, global reign is much more like the capitalist willy-nilly economically globalised world than the Communist presumably naturally-evolving utopia. (Consider also Rome's millennial global, supra-national, heresy-exterminating dominance over Catholics everywhere.) These are still Lenin's twenties, the hopes for the new order are high, the Revolution lacks no friends in the West--the Soviets themselves thought the USA, the largest industrialised country, would have a glorious revolution on its own any minute. The cold war dynamics are not in the picture, and neither is there any rhetoric of coercion. In fact, the revolution caused directly Russian withdrawal from WWI, which was a capitalist war--pacifism and international unity of the masses was the order of the new day. In a word, it wasn't the Red Army that was going to try to impose Naphta's vision of one supra-national Lebensraum for all.

This may be taking Naphta’s sophistry too seriously, but what can I do, I must apply theory to practice to see how it fits.

Back to suffering:

Naphta’s De Miseria humanae conditionis {… }the title focusses on the suffering of the 'human', the individual, which should be kind of S's stance: the humanist, the worth of the individual.

S is represented by Sociology of Suffering, {…} emphasises suffering itself and sociology as {…}an academic (scholastic?) project, which is the result of course of the post medieval scientific advances. this kind of abstraction, which obscure the individual human, it could be argued should be associated with N's totalitarian view of things.

Very interesting remarks. My interpretation is a bit different—Naphta’s “individual” is actually the least “individualised” of specimens, he’s only a symbol of human inherent wretchedness. In contrast, Settembrini’s Sociology sees the problem outside the human being—in social conditions.

N, the archcatholic, finally arrives at communism.

If that was really Mann's idea, vision for Naphta, it proved utterly wrong, and I can't imagine Mann making such a crude mistake. Nowhere was anti-Communism stronger than among the Catholics. And when you say this:

both catholicism and socialism/communism are concerned with the centralisation of state control.

You may have hit close on reasons why. Competition. ;)

Nov 14, 2011, 3:32pm

MM Part 6: An Attack repulsed

October…”two months and a half in our friend’s second year”

HC has been assigned another place at another table. Second year, second table? Anyhow he sits where Settembrini once sat.

Again disruption of the peace at the Sanatorium: Clashes between Wenzel from Bohemia and Magnus from Halle. Does it mirror of what happens in the flatlands ? We don't know, Hans does not read newspapers.

Wehsal from Mannheim : a competitor for Clawdia who looks at HC with devotion. Strange adoration ?

Hans' uncle James Tienappel visits the Sanatorium to bring his nephew back home. See chapter “eternal soup” about Settembrini who predicted this visit. Hc experiences it as a raid from the flatlands but is not too much concerned. Tienappel has probably been urged by Joachim to save the lost family member.

See how this chapter parallels the first chapters of the book. HC imitates the welcoming J gave him. ( including the story of the evacuation of dead bodies by sleigh ). HC sounds like an “old hand” of the Sanatorium. He is totally indifferent to things from down below- family, job, home -

HC sounds like a ghost: ( monotonous voice ) “We’re never cold”
T asks HC to come home.

T reacts exactly like HC the first evening, laughing with the bizarre stories HC are telling, feeling uncomfortable etc etc

Poor James Tienappel, he experiences all the lures, dangers and fantasies of the enchanted mountain: divine creatures with deep cleavages, Krokowski’s erotic conferences, the absurd time experience…even a fascination with death…

King’s Capuchin’s catacombs of Palermo… not for the fainthearted !

and Uncle Tienappel runs away…


Niello Silver : Russian silver ?
Wenzel, Wenceslas? Like saint Wenceslas patron of bohemia?

Nov 14, 2011, 9:40pm

>39 LolaWalser:
I'm not saying N is a communist, don't get me wrong, I'm saying that he will argue for communism, if it suits his purpose. as S says at one point, N is a pragmatist. I like, and agree with your take on the two books. The ironies of these two titles are endless and spinning.

my feeling about these two men: S and N is that of the two, S is much more honourable, upright, and consistent. He has his beliefs and he sticks to them no matter what. N is unscrupulous in taking up any position at all in order to win an argument.

>40 Macumbeira:
This was a very funny chapter, as you say, a repeat of the first chapter with roles reversed. Even the sequence of events was the same.

Nov 15, 2011, 2:18pm

Yes, a very funny chapter. Uncle Tienappel stank out.

Wehsal from Mannheim : a competitor for Clawdia who looks at HC with devotion. Strange adoration ?

Hans scored with the girl Wehsal wanted too. So he Da Man now. It's touching, to me at least, both Wehsal's hero-worship and Hans's boyish (childish) kiss & tellin'.

Nov 15, 2011, 11:39pm

MM Part 6: Operationes Spirituales

For one reason or another Leo Naphta’s story is told by the narrator himself. Remember how Settembrini told his story himself and we learned about Clawdia’s past through gossip.

Mann tells the story of Naphta in more detail, to explain the unlikely combination of everything the German Bourgeois feared: born a Jew, Communist by choice and fundamentalistic Christian by education.

There is blood and violence in Naphta’s youth, torture even and the young boy early links piety with cruelty, spurting blood with what is holy and spiritual.
When his dad dies crucified by angry Christians against the door of his burning house, Leo is evacuated by his mother, together with his brother and sisters to a safe village. The death of Naphta's father is really a Medieval tableau although it happens in the second part of the 19th century !

Naphta inherits the lung disease from his mother.
He rebels against his Hebrew teacher and is picked up by a Jesuit priest who helps him to enter their school Stella Matutina. The priest has recognized the intelligence of the boy. Leo has found a world where military discipline, worldly luxury and religious rigour are at his disposal.

His weak health unfortunately jeopardizes Naphta’s career within the order and he find himself in some kind of banishment on the Magic Mountain.

Naphta and Joachim military callings are compared as well as their willingness to shed blood when needed.

The second part of this chapter kicks off with a long debate between Naphta and Settembrini on “Christian reverence for human misery” switching to torture as a procedure to find out the truth, capital punishment, illness, sufffering and so on. Naphta and Settembrini are pitted against each other in a passionate discussion with HC, Ferge and Wehsal regularly interrupting for some kind of relief in this heavy text. The most horrible things are said: killing compared to the act of love, the joy of masochistic self flagellation, Sadistic torture as an improvement of Justice etc etc…

The discussion goes nowhere. Whatever Naphta or Settembrini say, the other one is likely to claim the opposite just for the sake of the argument. Again their positions seem to shift within the argumentation, so in the end we get the impression that S defends the principles of N and N those of S.

It is one big confusion for HC.

We have now arrived at what is generally understood as the central chapter of the book: Snow and its terrible next chapter.

Nov 16, 2011, 1:13am

I have a lot of discomfort with the antisemitism expressed through Naphta. Despite, or maybe partially because of this, I was more engaged in Naphta's background story than at any other point in the book. An then it's followed up with the debate which was the least readable part of the book, for me, so far. Maybe it gets easier the second time through. All I got out of it was that Naphta's intellectual derangement was actually interesting, and S loses his dignity. He becomes comical. Anyway, it seemed like a strange contrast for a single chapter - simple striking linear narrative immediately followed by an unrelated confusing, complex and pointless dialogue.

The death of Naphta's father is really a Medieval tableau although it happens in the second part of the 19th century !

But historically reasonable as this is the era of the pogroms. Gruesome stuff like this did happen then.

Nov 16, 2011, 1:55am

44 And then it's followed up with the debate which was the least readable part of the book, for me, so far.

I agree with you DC.

Nov 16, 2011, 11:37am

I am still wading through Operations Spirituales and I am finding myself increasingly disgusted with everyone's view of illness and the sick. S. seems to think that even visiting the sick is wrong and that there is nothing to admire in the fortitude of the suffering (he has a point but he takes it WAY too far, where he seems to think that you should be disgusted by the sick, rather than the reverse). What does he think we SHOULD do to alleviate suffering and illness? He is writing the magnum opus on human suffering, is it just going to say "get over yourself and do your duty"?

And N. says that you visit the sick and do all of these other disgusting things like try to get yourself sick (that was amazingly gross reading about medieval ickiness) merely for your own salvation, which is a completely selfish and horrible reason to do so. Hans C, while he is naive and silly, is actually the only compassionate person of the three.

Usually I think S has a point and his view is closer to mine. But I am just disgusted by both views. Neither are anything like normal human compassion.

Editado: Nov 16, 2011, 11:41am

I also thought Naphta's ability to completely abandon his family and then call whatever he is doing, with comfortable lodgings, good food, and all that, "asceticism", was appalling. How is his type of scholasticism "asceticism" at all? It completely changes the meaning of the word to apply it to someone like him.

As for the anti-Semitism inherent in this character, I found my mind changing about that in the middle of his chapter. In fact I thought his character speaks more to anti-Jesuit tropes than anti-Jewish ones (since he so rebelled against and abandoned his Judaism). I went to a Jesuit university (Georgetown), as some of you might know - the kindly, education-oriented priests that taught me bear no resemblance to the Jesuitical ideas described in this book.

Nov 16, 2011, 11:49am

46: I agree with you anna. Mann is taking their ideological commitments to absurd extremes. Good old Hans is more where I am at - especially as revealed in "Snow."

47: Naphta's reasoning might have been seen as Talmudic as well as Jesuitical; that's why he's such a powerhouse of sophistry!

Nov 16, 2011, 12:10pm

For me, it is not so much what N says but how he is described physically -- ugly, small, etc. -- that speaks to anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Nov 16, 2011, 12:23pm

The antisemitism expressed through N is racial and cultural, not religious. Mann won't let him escape having been born and raised Jewish, and that is ultimately what shapes him. That he applies himself through some kind of Jesuit-based theology is secondary, it's really just a tool. (Also, I'm assuming his thoughts are not truly Jesuit in any sense, but purely a concoction)

Editado: Nov 16, 2011, 12:45pm

I don't think Naphta is held up as an ascetic. He does represent the mystic.

Nov 16, 2011, 12:48pm

51: Which translation are you reading? Mine uses the term ascetic and asceticism several times.

Editado: Nov 16, 2011, 12:55pm

I am reading the Lowe-Porter. Have I disregarded it because it seemed so inapposite? Naphta is a voluptuary to the extreme - to the point of appreciating an open sore.

Editado: Nov 16, 2011, 1:01pm

I'm reading the new Woods one (or is it Wood? I don't have the book in front of me). Maybe that's the difference. We need Lola!

Naphta *is* a voluptuary, that is why the word "ascetic" is bothering me so much. Seems that he has the luxury of seeing his scholasticism as "ascetic" and getting HC's admiration for something that is demonstrably, obviously false.

Again I am seeing a lot of anti-Catholicism here or at least the idea of the "worldly-wise" Jesuit who uses sophistry for its own sake and for power over others. I am reminded of the Portuguese Jesuit character in Clavell's Shogun who was portrayed in much the same way.

I don't think he represents mysticism at all. He's very, very worldly and caught up in things of this world (while pretending not to be).

Editado: Nov 16, 2011, 1:06pm

Excellent stuff, all. I've had but little time for comment, etc. Enjoying so far. Mann is sometimes too much of a muchness but I know who my betters are, I don't complain.

Warning: do not apply naptha (fels) directly to thin skin.

Editado: Nov 16, 2011, 1:16pm

Great point about mysticism vs. worldly. However, are there worldly mysticisms? I think so. The Platonic/ideal route is not the only one. In my mind mystic is not synonymous with spiritual. Naphta is something like an aesthetic/mystic - unfortunately, that may overwhelm his ethical sense.

Nov 16, 2011, 8:06pm

I finished the book tonight, lots to say about it which I will do when I have collected my thoughts. I think it is a unique reading experience and my first thoughts are that it's longueurs stop it from being an absolute classic.

I got more out of it from this, my second reading largely thanks to Mac's excellent notes and Lola's input. Thanks guys.

Nov 16, 2011, 10:33pm

*Murr weeps silently that his contributions are not appreciated by bas*

I found this chapter infuriating as well, until I realised that it was actually rather funny. in their argument, N and S seem to be goading each other on to more and more extreme positions. In fact I had the feeling that they seemed to a) switch positions on several issues b) reach extremely similar conclusions. as the text says: Everything was intertwined and at cross purposes, a great general confusion...

Of course, everything N says is utterly vile. But, regarding what anna said above, about their attitudes to illness, I think their two arguments can be boiled down to this:

S: illness is an aberration that de'humanises' man (dehumanises in the sense that it foregrounds the demands of the body and therefore distracts man from his higher humanistic purpose, which is transcendence. S is NOT saying that sick people are inhuman. Guard against this wrong view.

N: mankind is inherently ill, illness is the true state of being.

I think Mann seems to be saying that such extreme positions are reached through the pressure of discourse, that it's all just talk, and that such talk does nothing, ultimately, to resolve the questions of life. Life remains somehow mysterious and vital in spite of all these arguments about its meaning. I think this is the meaning of HC's dream, and the meaning of the third character we are to meet later: Peeperkorn.

regarding the ascetic/sensualist discussion, I don't see that this is a dichotomy. Extreme ascetics are motivated by sensuality, and there is something highly voluptuous (sick, perverted voluptuousness) in the kind of extreme asceticism practiced by some of the medieval ascetics: all that flagellation, self mortification, self immurement in caves and cells - it's all just kinky SM. N is simply a hypocrite to talk about ascetism and live the way he does.

Editado: Nov 17, 2011, 1:16am

N. doesn't want to belong to any club that would choose him as a member. Remember he fell out early with his Rabbi. A doubter of the first rank, it seems to me.

'I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.'
Nuncle Al

Nov 17, 2011, 1:12am

Finished tonight. I want a little Magic Mountain badge.

Nov 17, 2011, 5:46am

Murr weeps silently that his thoughtful and intelligent contributions are not appreciated by bas

Sorry Murr, I didn't get round to listing everybody who has made these threads such fascinating reading. But back to your last contribution I agree with your idea that "Its all just talk" with the introduction of that wonderful personality Mynheer Peeperkorn. He reduces Settembrini and Naphta's arguments to frivolity by just being there.

Sorry for jumping ahead folks but I was wondering if the book would have been better if it had finished soon after the Mynheer Peeperkorn's stay at the Sanatorium?

Nov 17, 2011, 5:59am

MM Part 6: Snow

Top of the Mountain !

This chapter is considered by many critics to be the centre of the book. In time Thomas Mann would agree and said that he regretted not to have put this chapter at the end of the Magic Mountain. But if Snow would have been the last chapter, the book would have been completely different and probably not “open” to so many ways of understanding.

In the previous chapter, the two pedagogues Settembrini and Naphta, have given a demonstration of a rhetorically masterful but pointless debate, unconsciously switching stances and chasing each other to the extremes of the consequences of their philosophical positions. Hans and we the reader are left in “great confusion”.

Two things happen in the chapter “Snow”: Hans is visiting his old friend “Death” again ( the wintry white landscape symbolizes death, eternity, the dissolution of individuality, nothingness), getting closer than he ever did before, (the relation becoming quite personal now) and secondly he is about to come to a summary, a conclusion of what he has learned; not in words, but in a vision. Had this be the last chapter, the book would have ( in my opinion ) suffered a lot.

Is it over after this? Absolutely not, some important and excellent chapters remain to be read. The dance of death will continue in a cruel way and the “summary” to which Hans would come in this chapter will have to be reviewed nearly every chapter…

And remember, still we need to meet one more “major character” to complete the number of 7 teachers of our friend Hans.

But lets not cut corners, Snow first !

Winter. Patients of the Berghof grumble because of the lack of sunshine.
There is a lot of snow however. Mann’s description of the snowy landscape instil in the reader and the patients feelings of the “sublime and the holy”.

Frau Solomon is back from the flatlands. Her stay in the flatlands has worsened her illness and she is about to die. We fear for others who have gone down too: Joachim and Clawdia

A snowstorm is described as a “beast”, it is dangerous for you lose your way and you might even suffocate. Mann has to instruct his readers a bit about extreme weather.
(there is no tv and no NGS channel yet )

HC rebels against the “Berghof rules”and purchases a pair of skis anlearns the skill. Settembrini loves this simple act of rebellion. See how Settembrini compares himself to Mercury with wings on his ankle ( Hermes ): funny… what an agreeable companion, S is, encouraging and helping HC.

HC lately longs to be alone… “It permitted him the solitude he sought, the profoundest solitude imaginable…”. Is this a new development ?

Nature is described as dangerous and threatening. HC experiences fear and courage in his solitary expeditions. Fear is prerequisite of courage.

HC sets of on another lonely trip.

praeterit figura huius mundi ( Corinthians 7:31)” and those that use the world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

HC takes positions: he likes Settembrini ( … my pedagogue Satana…) and prefers him to Naphta ( terrorist, torturer, flogger ). A trick of light makes him remember Hippe and Clawdia. “Glad to…”

HC is losing his bearings. Blinded by the whiteness on all sides it even seems he enters the mountain at a moment. The reader is worried before HC who is acting recklessly… with some kind of defiance of death. He challenges death? “Fear made him realise he had secretly and more or less purposely, been trying to lose his bearings all the time, to forget in what direction…”. Compare this to the very first chapter, where we had also Hans visiting the world of the death.

“But there is only one word for what was happening in HC’s soul: defiance”.

Hans is caught up by the snow storm and experiences the unexpected “wind-chill” danger. ( compared Death’s scythe )
Not only is he lost, probably tired but also dangerously under-dressed.

Dangerous things are happening in his mind:
“…The more physical part…was inclined to abandon itself to the muddled state threatening to engulf him as exhaustion grew…
HC compares a life threatening situation with “illness”. “…familiar blend of languor and excitement…” “… a merciful self narcosis sets in…” Are we witnessing one more ( final?) turn in Hans “dance of death”? Another step closer to his experience with death?

Luckily HC realizes that this numbing “means great harm”

“…The desire, the temptation to lie down and rest crept into his mind”
“… All he had to do was to submit to it…” The “it” is the life-denying force. HC “withstood the temptation..”

Finally he gets cover from the shed he has already sighted several times during the afternoon.
The shed might safe his live…

Terror sets finally in…”What a hell of a state of affairs”

The situation in the snow-storm wakens up parts of HC’s brain we thought were numbed for ever: He understands that “…you ran around in a circle…a foolish arc that led back on itself…a teasing year come full circle…And so you wandered around and never found your way home”

The experience of time has slowed down considerably.

Hc mind begins to fantasize, to hear Settembrini’shorn, to see him as a genuine organ grinder,.. his mind is jumping – horizontal position – impersonal desire to lie down and sleep –

From the relative security of the wooden barn against which he is sheltering, Hans has his vision. He sees an Arcadian world, a Mediterranean landscape (the cradle of civilization) – referring to Goethe, Classicism, the Enlightment, the soil from which Settembrini draws his ideas. It is a happy scenery with beautiful, healthy people. There are hints of Clawdia – of love in this vision – of Hippe and then suddenly his eyes are diverted to another scene embedded in the happy one. In a more ancient, archaic Doric (? ) temple a gruelling scene takes place. Two witches are ripping a child apart and eat it “piece by piece, the brittle bones cracking in their mouths, blood dripping from their vile lips” The woman curse him in his own dialect…

Hans awakens into a dream – state from his mortal sleep… and ecstatic wonders about the dream. Where does it come from? What does it mean ?

“We dream anonymously and communally… the great soul, of which we are just a little piece… , dreams through us….( Jung ? )

It is our own eternal secret dream – about youth, its hope, its joy, its peace, and its bloody feast”

The dream is revelation of the Human condition, the Golden Age pitted against the cruelty of life. There is a lot of Nietzsche’s “Birth of tragedy” here with its “Olympian Magic Mountain”

Horror is in the middle of our world, most Modernist writers remind us. Mann’s sunny people do not intervene in the horror, cannot stop it, are not willing, are not able…they have to live with it.

And here comes Hans conclusion : “ Where they ( The sunny people ) charming and courteous to one another, out of silent regard for that horror? What a fine and gallant conclusion for them to draw! I shall hold to their side, here in my soul, and not with Naphta, or for that matter with Settembrini – they’re both windbags”

… in the middle is where the Homo Dei’s state is found…

And emphasized by Thomas Mann : “For the sake of goodness and love, man shall grant death no dominion over his thoughts”

Hans wakes up: My dream has granted me ( the truth ) so clearly that I will always remember… The weather changes to the better and Hans returns safely back to the Berghof.

The chapter ends ironically…

His dream was already beginning to fade…. He was no longer sure what his thoughts had been…

Nov 17, 2011, 6:21am

Snow is a brilliant section and I can see why some have suggested that it should have been placed nearer the end of the book. I don't agree. Although there is a feeling that Hans has "come of age" here, it proves to be a bit of a false dawn. He still has a long way to go, but at least he discovers he is alive, if only for a moment.

The Mediterranean vision is superb

Editado: Nov 17, 2011, 6:35am

"it proves to be a bit of a false dawn"

This is the reason why so many people are boggled by the book's meaning. After this inspiring insight of the "truth", what keeps Hans on the Mountain?

Nov 17, 2011, 8:08am

>61 baswood: no worries bas, I'm just teasing. I saw an opportunity to get revenge for your dig about DH Lawrence a few posts back.


*evil laughter from the hills*

Nov 17, 2011, 10:16am

The first part of this chapter, before Hans starts to do something (learn to ski), is about HC observing the snow and long descriptions of the snow. This seems to emphasize, to me, that HC is doing a lot of just thinking and reflecting. The length and sense of the descriptions seem to provide the same opportunity for the reader. We can read and reflect at the same time.

Then HC finds that thinking isn't enough, he has to actually go out and do something.

The one problem I have with this chapter is that it didn't change HC in anyway that I can tell. When we get to the next chapter it feels like we are dealing with the exact same HC. I'm confused by this.

Nov 17, 2011, 11:09am

66 The one problem I have with this chapter is that it didn't change HC in anyway that I can tell. When we get to the next chapter it feels like we are dealing with the exact same HC. I'm confused by this.

I agree DC, it is very strange. He comes to a bright conclusion in "Snow" and by the end of the chapter he has forgotten everything and he is again the old Hans, wasting away his time on the mountain

Nov 17, 2011, 3:07pm

Snow was my favorite chapter as well to that point, and I was expecting more change after, but now I am in the middle of the Peepercorn section and really enjoying it and the contrast with N and S. In any case I don't think Hans could have left without the return of his mardi GRAS lover.

Nov 17, 2011, 3:18pm

MM Part 6: A good soldier

Winter is over. We are in summer. Soon Hans will be two years at the Berghof;

Joachim’s time as a young officer in training is a happy time, until his weak health overtakes his “desire to do his duty”. Joachim has to return to the Sanatorium. His mother is with him.

HC concludes: the (ill) body triumphs over the soul. Has the body been lured back to a certain Marusja? Hans does not seem to understand that Joachim might die.

J has met Clawdia in the flatlands, she might come back to the Berghof for winter. The spell needs to be revived.

“Great War Games”. Is all this military muscle flexing a hint of things to come?

Settembrini turns out to be a Free – Mason which makes him a bit “terroristic” like Joachim and… Naphta. There is a whole tedious dissertation on Freemasonry. More discussions between Settembrini and Naphta.

Some phrases I jotted down : “Everything is politics” “Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil” “Wordlessness isolates”

S jokes to Hans that his Beatrice is back and that this time he hopes that he will not show any disdain towards his Virgil.

HC notices that Joachim eyes have taken on a meditative and ominous expression (foreboding or foreshadowing evil : inauspicious ). J ‘s condition worsens. Behrens predicts that our lieutenant will die in 6 to 8 weeks. “Not much hope my lad” How sad. How sad when his eyes look down in shame, how sad when he finally speaks and says adieu to Marusja. “Yes he is lost”. How sad when he finally goes horizontal, his mother summoned to his bed and dies in her arms.

Death is overrated Behrens assures Luise Ziemmsen, J will die without pain.
He dies at 7 o’clock. It is Hans who closes J’s eyes.

There is stage imagery. The curtain comes down on this last chapter of the sixth part. The narrator mysteriously promises us that it will rise one final time. We need to read a few more chapters to understand what he means.

This is Hans’s second epiphany. Death comes after love, the first epiphany, the Erotic love he experienced at the end of the fifth part. Now, it is as if Hans experiences his own death. For is his cousin not his alter-ego, his counter-part and complement, his twin brother?
After Hans’s experiences in the two last chapters, he cannot get any closer to death. One’s own death, one cannot experience, Behrens reminds us

Only the awful rictus smirk which appears on the face of Joachim drives Hans away from the “empty shell”

Could this be the last step in Hans decadent, voyeuristic attraction to death, the last step of the Danse Macabre ?

Time to open a new and final thread…”A safe descent”

Nov 17, 2011, 3:35pm

What to make of J's death being the result of acting instead of "taking stock"?

Nov 17, 2011, 3:46pm

70 Different answers to be expected from Bourgois and Rebel readers !

Nov 17, 2011, 3:46pm

Life still sucks and then you die, no matter what?

Editado: Nov 17, 2011, 4:06pm

Its a tricky thing to embrace the bad and the good in life - after all, that's what life is - without also embracing an attitude of resignation. What are we to do? Work on our gardens?

Nov 17, 2011, 4:04pm

I don't know what to make of the way the narrator interrupts the narrative to address the audience. He's done it throughout, but in a way that doesn't seem as purposeful or natural as, say, Dostoevsky's narrators. What is the purpose of it? What effect is it supposed to achieve? It always takes me out of the story to no obvious effect.

Nov 17, 2011, 4:07pm

Joachim eyes have taken on a meditative and ominous expression

Joachim's eyes brought to mind the horseman's eyes which HC tried to emulate early in our story.

Nov 17, 2011, 5:11pm

True ! I didn't make the link !

Nov 17, 2011, 5:11pm

74 irony ? To remind us that it is tale that is been told

Nov 17, 2011, 7:44pm

When I was reading the Snow section I had visions of The Chronicles of Narnia, the movie.

Editado: Nov 17, 2011, 7:57pm

But not The Shining? As a lad, I was on an ill-fated scouting trip that involved staying in snow caves where a couple of us had to hike in the dead of night to a ski resort a few miles away and find someone to go back and rescue the others. I did think of that. Luckily no one was seriously damaged. I doubt anyone had the kind of epiphany Hans had.

Editado: Nov 17, 2011, 8:46pm

Puvis De Chavannes
summer 1873

I loved the vision HC had, but it raised the following questions for me:

is it the golden age that is lost?
is it the utopia to come?
is it the fulfilment of S's humanistic vision?
is it the fulfilment of N's religious vision?
Is it designed to show that both N and S share the same end vision, but differ wildly in their view of the best way to achieve it?
who are the two women, why are there two, and why are they both women, and who is the baby? Are they Ananke and Bia, the ancient goddesses of Fate, Circumstance, and Violence, Force respectively?

it seems to me that the dream and HC's reflections on it after he wakes up are more in tune with S's vision of the world than N's. form and cultivated manners of man's fair state, of a reasonable, genial community, out of silent regard for the bloody banquet.

Isn't form and genial manners similar to S's Republic of Style. What do others think?

I found HC's return to normality very believable and normal, also in keeping with the theme which is coming to the foreground now. Great Revelations do not change one immediately. After the Great Revelation, one still must eat and sleep and excrete: the quotidian always claims us, and life reasserts itself. It takes time for Great Revelations to filter through into ones daily actions. It would be unbelievable if HC had returned from the mountain a visibly and ostensibly transformed person.

regarding the question of the end, there are still many important things HC (and the reader) has to learn on the mountain. and as mac, said he is waiting for Clawdia. from this point on in the novel, the discussions between S and N become less frequent. dialectic, argument, fades into the background, and the life force, represented by Peeperkorn, comes to the fore: eating, drinking, laughter, story telling: unreflecting, unexamined living. and then we will have music and occultism, two phenomena that the dialogic 'sciences' of S and N can only attempt to explain, but still never really manage to do so satisfactorily.

but I anticipate.

T: I think the narrative voice's interruptions are rather similar to S's padagogical purpose. Mann intrudes the narrative because he wants us to think about the arguements in the book in a conscious way. The narrative voice is the pedagogue to us, in the way that S is the pedagogue to HC. Perhaps.?

Nov 17, 2011, 8:50pm

"Language is civilisation itself"

I believe this.

Editado: Nov 17, 2011, 9:54pm

I like the way Mann varies the telling: from quoting the disputants to characterizing and summing them up and back again.

Ima haveta reread the vision and think about it some more.

Editado: Nov 17, 2011, 10:08pm

>80 tomcatMurr: I found HC's return to normality very believable and normal, also in keeping with the theme which is coming to the foreground now. Great Revelations do not change one immediately. After the Great Revelation, one still must eat and sleep and excrete: the quotidian always claims us, and life reasserts itself. It takes time for Great Revelations to filter through into ones daily actions. It would be unbelievable if HC had returned from the mountain a visibly and ostensibly transformed person.

Absolutely. The vision rarely ever lasts into the daylight reality, and the attempt to grasp at it, tie it down, and force it to remain into daylight changes it and renders it into a weak, bitter wine. These epiphanies are a conjunction of all the particularities of the moment and cannot outlast it except in shadow and vague memory. And yet, I think they do have their subtle effect, and people do gradually change if they allow themselves to. H.C. has allowed himself to change. It's subtle. He isn't significantly other than he was on the train up the mountain, but he has matured and broadened.

Often when people dramatically change, it's a result of trauma, and the change is rarely for the better.

The narrative voice is the pedagogue to us, in the way that S is the pedagogue to HC. Perhaps.?

This is how I've taken it, but I wonder if I'm missing something important because the more explicit narrative intrusions rarely do much for me, strike me as artificial, and lead me out of the story in such a way that it actually interrupts my thinking on it. At times it strikes an ironic tone that is perhaps charming, but I guess I'm more appreciative of the quieter ironies, when I catch them.

Nov 18, 2011, 12:03am

Great input all !

Nov 18, 2011, 12:08am

How fitting de Chavannes illustration

Nov 18, 2011, 12:20am

Todd Kontje in Thomas Mann, from world war to the Weimar republic

The narrative voice is part of Mann's old strategy of the double optic. he tells us to sit back and relax for a good long read
he is the conjuror who murmurs in past tenses, the old fashioned story teller.

Nov 18, 2011, 12:29am

I googled this double optic, found a link to Wagner and to Mann, but nothing more helpful.

Mann introduces the old narrator in other books too, Biblical types, who ask us to listen to a long story which they are going to tell in detail. It slows down the pace somewhat..

Editado: Nov 18, 2011, 1:20am

I thought the narrative voice one of the more attractive aspects of the novel. I got the sense of an author at the height of his powers. My sense was of being led and manipulated but in an elegant and effortless way. I kept wondering about the artistry, the bag of tricks.

...well most of the time any way.

Nov 18, 2011, 10:55am

Mejix, you are also a member of literary snobs. Is that not a cause of concern ?

Nov 18, 2011, 11:13am

All of a sudden in the Good Soldier, the narrator starts sounding like one of the patients. That was weird. I must have missed somethign earlier on? I have tried to read more deliberately than is the norm for me but I still find myself skimming sometimes.

Nov 18, 2011, 6:44pm

Is it true, Mejix, that you are a member of literary snobs? Explain yourself.

Good eyes, Captain Mac!!

Nov 18, 2011, 7:07pm

Hey! Lots of us are members of "that other list". As a matter of fact I am at least partly responsible for mejix being here as I excitedly recruited him to join our group read of the Magic Mountain. You guys better not make my guest feel unwelcome! Are you driving him off the mountain because he is too flatlander/healthy?

Editado: Nov 18, 2011, 7:10pm

we don't need to drive him off the mountain. We just need to wait until a moist spot appears, and then he will be one of us. Mejix, have you taken your rest cure today?

Nov 18, 2011, 11:44pm

#91 WTF, your back now, I must of slept through the news. A warm welcome back, Freeque!

Nov 19, 2011, 11:05am

And thank you again for the heads up Anna.
Tomcat I just got up from my rest cure, and am wondering if I should take to smoking Maria Mancinis.

Nov 19, 2011, 3:38pm

Everyone should smoke Maria.

And listen to Dark Side of the Moon while watching The Wizard of Oz.

It's like... Woah.

Nov 20, 2011, 1:56pm

I always assumed that there was a homoerotic subtext to Naphta. The way he met the Jesuit priest in a bench in a park just sounded very cruisy. A "fisher of men" is the term that is used? Settembrini's warnings to Hans seemed loaded. Plus Naphta's apartment, I mean the guy had good taste.

Nov 20, 2011, 2:43pm

We live in a age where all priests are suspect, but I did not see it like that.

Nov 21, 2011, 10:24am

They are both vying for Hans in every way.

The most important thing about Hans's epiphany in the snow is that he... forgets what it was. That flooooored me on first read. But it's SO TRUE TO LIFE.

In terms of learning, he reaches the end, he resolves the battle between his teachers, easily surpasses them in fact. He is done.