The Magic Mountain : A safe descent.
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The font in the Knopf edition is sooooo small. And the spacing is so tight in the paperback or soft cover version. One page must equal 1.5 normal pages.
I read the Woods translation but also picked the Spanish translation by Mario Verdaguer out of curiosity. Its fascinating what a difference the translator can make and how they deal with different situations.
I only scanned the Spanish version. The English version, as usual, felt less clunky, more fluid. The thing about the formal pronouns makes more sense in Spanish though. And the final sentence, to my ears, is sounds better.
This is the last part, the seventh part, and it is introduced by short dissertation on Time.
The narrator reminds us that a Narration like Music “fill time”.
There are different ways to “experience” Time. There is the time described by the narration and the time needed to read this narration. Although, we started reading a month ago, it feels like ages ago…. ( at least to me ) and how many years have passed since Hans first arrival at the Berghof. Mann cleverly does not mention when Clawdia had arrived so we cannot make an exact calculation…but does it matter ? Clawdia is back, what great news!
Mann is getting short on inspiration: 3 chapters will be titled Peeperkorn.
Peeperkorn is a colonial Dutchman. He is from the east and the west. His name reminds us of this duality. Pepper the spice from the east. “Koren”, grain the bread of home.
A Dutchman, Peeperkorn drinks Jenever ( from Schiedam btw ), the liquid bread. ( Not Gin ! )
“someone else”. The narrator promises that this last “pedagogue” will “spread great confusion” over our hero but this time ( Thanks God !) “no one need to worry that yet another instigator of intellectual and pedagogic confusion has made his appearance”. Mann knows we have got our fill.
PP is the companion of Clawdia
PP is described as a God – like figure. His hair forms an aura around his head, he commands respect with his colourless eyes, he has a white and regal head and a beard. His most impressive way however, is how he speaks, speaking without saying anything, with unfinished incomprehensible phrases , punctuated with hand and arm movements like an orchestra conductor… a fantastic figure ( and funny too ! ). PP calls everybody “my child” and surrounds himself occasionally with 12 people.
The positioning of his fingers when he underscores what his about to say, remind me of a “Christ Pantocrator” . Christ like too is how he raises his Jenever glass. It looks like an Eucharist ( see also next chapter )
PP speaks about himself in the 3rd person when drinking.
PP is ill too. Maybe Malaria, or worse.
Clawdia ignores Hans for now.
The kinky Egyptian Princess is back too ( with here eunuch, a castrated Moor ), she turns out to be a lesbian…
“Jewish woman from Romania with the very plain name of Landauer”. Is Mann taking a jab at the anarchist Gustav Landauer?
My languishing Céladon: referring to the hero of the “Novel of novels” l’Astrée by Honoré d’Urfé
Hans has « lost » Clawdia but has to witness each day how she and PP enjoy themselves together. He is jealous.
It is Clawdia, who opens the conversation again with Hans. “…and your cousin, monsieur?”
Hans first words to Clawdia is “Dead”. Joachim is dead. When Hans start speaking nonsense, only the reader can follow the ramble.
Hans uses Mme Chauchat’s first name. ( Who is the uneducated savage now ?)
CC does not accept it.
HC confesses that he has been waiting for her. “Fool !”.
CC still does not like Settembrini and his Mediterranean arrogance
Pieter Peeperkorn joins the couple. They are three now, like “ménage à trios” or like the “Christian Trinity”?
PP is the great himself and is immediately open and sympathetic to Hans. He does not see in the young man someone ordinary or unassuming but someone “promising”.
PP organizes an “evening” of drinks food and game. Let us enjoy ourselves. Again he gathers 12 people around the table for a game of 21. ( numerology again ). As they sit around the table with PP toasting, the scene resembles the Eucharist or a Bacchanale
Peeperkorn has seated Hans between him and Clawdia.
Everthing goes well until food that is served is (according to PP) a gimcrackery, cheap, tasteless. PP explodes in fury ! Clawdia calms him down and PP makes an effortless transition from rage to composure…
PP keeps his pleasures holy, simple, directly from the hand of God…drink, eat. Smoking is already too sophisticated, decadent? Cocaine – Hashish – Opium is too much. But PP does not reprove, does not judge.
“The unforgivable Sin lies in…” Hans takes over the answer, but we don’t know what in the eyes of PP is the “unforgivable Sin”.
“Demands”, Life’s holy, feminine demands upon our manly honor and vigor…”
HC likens PP to the God Bacchus. That would make Clawdia, Ariadne ? will she help our Perseus out of the Labyrinth?
“Life is a woman sprawled…”
The defeat of feeling in the face of Live, that is the inadequacy for which there is no pardon, no pity…. Impotency is the unforgivable sin…
Hans babbling nearly infuriates PP in a comic scene.
PP refers to the sleep at Gethsemane. The sleep of the last night.
Matthew 26:45 “Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting?... Behold, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners”.
The party starts all over again !
When the rumor goes that Behrens approaches, the party breaks up and HC and CC accompany PP to his room.
“Kiss one another!” Hans refusal makes him suspicious…
To any Orthodox or Catholic Christian, Jesus’ right hand is unmistakably shown as being raised to give a blessing.
The arrangement of the hand, repeated by clergy when blessing others, is also rich in meaning.
The fingers spell out the four-letter Christogram “IC XC”, as it is by the name of Jesus that we are saved and receive blessings. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;” (Phil 2:10).
The fingers are arranged to form the following letters—IC XC—
Hence, the index finger points upward, forming an “I.” The middle finger is curved to form a “C.” The fourth finger crosses over the thumb to form an “X,” while the little finger is curved in a manner similar to that of the middle finger, thereby forming another “C.”
The three fingers of Christ – as well as spelling out “I” and “X” – confess the Tri-unity of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The touching finger and thumb of Jesus not only spell out “C”, but attest to the Incarnation: to the joining of divine and human natures found in the body of Jesus Christ.
28: Nice review, as usual. I was thinking what is there to do with Hans, really, but the author found a way. I still envy Hans' port at breakfast. (Is that first or second breakfast?)
This chapter announces a “quite memorable excursion” ( including Naphta + Settembrini ) to the Fluela waterfall near Davos. This excursion coincides with Peeperkorn “departing”. The narrator is very mysterious about the way Peeperkorn departs. He doesn’t die like Ziemmsen, that at least is sure.
The narrator is also worried about time speeding past. The hour hand turns at speed of seconds, a time experience of opium or hash-addicts. The narrator fears the censor…
Hermetic pedagogy ? in what sense? Obscure? Esoteric?
HC does not see Peeperkorn as a rival and maybe this annoys Clawdia.
HC visits P in his room. It is a luxury room adjoining Clavdia’s room. P is very ill. He has malaria and takes Quinine drinks as a cure.
Clawdia is present in the room (to make sure HC will not divulge their tryst to Peeperkorn?)
See Peeperkorn imagery
lance-nailed captain’s hand
dancing heathen priest
Fingers forming the ring of perfection and the three “finger lance” pointing upwards.
Peeperkorn gives a dissertation on poison, he knows all about it and seems to be fascinated by it’s killing properties.
HC introduces everybody to everybody, well aware of the differences between his many pedagogues and friens. It is an expression of his “life – affirming” nature, everything is worth listening too.
Important enough to notice is that for both Naphta and Settembrini, as for all pedagogues , women are a disruptive and distracting element. A silent primal hostility unites both men against “La Clawdia”
Peeperkorn walking reminds HC of the steps of a senile old man rather than a king. Peeperkorn the wounded king, the fisher king ? Did Mann see Wagner’s Parsifal ?
It is rather comical to picture Naphta and Settembrini overwhelmed by the presence and personality of Peeperkorn. HC is not taking sides.
Settembrini accuses Hans of worshipping Peeperkorn’s “personality” as an idol. You are venerating a mask, you are in danger of idol – worship. You see something mystical where there is only mystification…You should be ashamed of yourself …
Mundus vult decipi…Petronius: “Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur” "The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived."
See also Marcus Varro: “there are many truths, which it is useless for the vulgar to know; and many falsities which it is fit the people should not suppose are falsities”.
Settembrini is still jealous: “ … your weakness for things Asian is well known…I cannot treat you to such wonders”
And showing his Latin temperament
“your businesslike composure borders on the grotesque”
Settembroni accuses HC of unmanliness in his acceptance of Peeperkorn, his rival for Beatrice
Funny because Settembrini is aware that he has to be silent about the themes of jealousy and acceptance of rivals. He too did not show any “manly” bravery.
Interesting is how the “presence” of Peeperkorn puts in the shadow all rational; intellectual arguments. Whatever S and N discuss about, people await the stuttering reaction of Peeperkorn. Here is a “presence”, people will flock to, against all intellectual presentiments and ego’s. Is this the secret of the initial populist success of Hitler, Il Duce and Stalin.
Again a long argument between N and S is developed. Is anybody, characters and readers alike still following these discussions?
Peeperkorn interrupts the discussions and commands his companions to notice the “taste” and the “smell” of the crisp mountain air. They do. Then he spots the regal eagle. Peeperkorn for a moment is the Zeus, the god of the sky, lord of Mount Olympus. Is his raised sharp fingernail, lightning ready to strike?
The chapter finishes with two anecdotes.
1° Clawdia approaches Hans mimicking his first approach of Hippe.” Do you have a poststamp. They have a long and deep “lovers” discussion. Despite her attitude, she gives the impression to be in need of a friend. There are hints at the impotence of Peeperkorn and he is illness. Is Clawdia approaching Hans, a sign of the end of Peeperkorn.
This discussion is ended with a kiss on the lips. A Russian kiss.
Clawdia does not accept the claim that HC staid on the mountain for her. She will not be responsible for his waste of time. We agree, it is Hans folly.
Clawdia speaks with premonition: “Germans will one day be the enemy of humankind, because they are so repulsively egoistic”. The Magic Mountain was written in 1924.
2° The second scene takes place in Peeperkorn’s room where the old Man wants to know the true feeling and relation between Hans and Clawdia. HC is afraid, clumsily confesses. Wine is spilled like blood, there are even some words about a duel, but in the end P and HC close a bond of brotherhood. Peeperkorn has assigned HC as his successor?
There are a few of us doing a group read of Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach over on club read 2011 and so I had wondered about Peeperkorn being likened to the Fisher King. However I could not place the grail and M Chauchat is no virgin.
The relationship between M Chauchat and Peeperkorn is interesting, they are described as travelling companions and there is little evidence of anything more - no intimacies seem to be exchanged.
If there is a Christological connection to him, it seems inverted, or purposely distorted. The text itself frequently refers to him with the metaphor of a "heathen priest," and at least once, somewhere between Dionysus and Silenus.
I just finished the book this morning. With the finish of it, it gathers up around itself so many more layers of feeling and meaning... I have lived with the book for something like a quarter of a year now. It's going to take time to settle in before I know what to think of it. I know it's going to require a second reading to really even begin to come to terms with it. On first reading it feels like I've just skimmed the surface.
Upon completing I have a strange affection for Naphta. I don't like him, but he made me think more than S (and I'm so thankful for a certain bit at the darkness that wasn't quite what I dreaded, which would have been so much worse). So, in ode to Naphta, an excerpt from Charles Bukowski, one that's been on my mind for much of time I have been reading this:
its not so much that nothing means
anything but more that it keeps meaning
Thanks Mac. This first read isn't really complete until I have read all your commentary. So, I'll try to stand by closely over the coming US holiday. Terrific summary of MP (cont.), one of my favorite chapters in this book.
But I recognize both reactions "we skimmed the surface". It has been like this for me each time I turned over the last page... this feeling never goes away. It is a Magical book.
Peeperkorn has organized an excursion to the Fluela Valley waterfall. The occasions for such activities become less and less for the man is very ill and has to stay more and longer in his bed.
The group consists of 7 people: Peeperkorn, La Clawdia, Hans, the brainy duo Settembrini and Naphta and Ferge and wretched Wehsal.
The excursion is physically demanding for Peeperkorn… the departure is postponed several times…
Creepy Wehsal is sick of love and his comments on his lust for Clawdia are scary. Strange that Hans accepts this kind of obnoxious ramblings and masochistic fantasies. Hans in fact acts very mature and adult.
Pieter Peeperkorn leads his procession towards the waterfall.
“The woods were not like others…”. We are entering a fantastic realm…
Words like exotic, eerie, bizarre, disfigured, sickly are used to describe nature around them.
There is a feeling of ghosts here, mourners maybe, subjects who are “draped”, “wrapped” and “webbed”. The sound of the waterfall is overwhelming. It is the “pandemonium of hell”
They thought they could hear menacing, threatening trumpet calls and brutal male voices.
Where are we?
Speaking to each other is not possible. However Peeperkorn decides to picknick right there where the noise is too much. They pick-nick in silence like deaf-mutes in a howling storm.
Peeperkorn gives a long soundless speech. He challenges nature, tries to dominate the waterfall with his presence and his voice, but his voice is drown out by the thunder of the water. The whole scene underscores his impotence.
The old King, the fallen God looks now more like the Man of sorrows.
After his inaudible speech, Peeperkorn decides to go back to the Berghof. They return in silence. That same night Hans is woken and asked to come to the room of Peeperkorn. The old man is dead. He has committed suicide. Poisoned himself, using a snake – like device.
The brilliant scene of Hans kissing Clawdia on the brow over the dead body, while the Malayan servant’s eyes turn white conclude this chapter and the story of Pieter Peeperkorn.
Is it Man's made God bending down for the atavistic ur -powers of Nature.
Was it not awe in front of cataclysmic events and Sublime Nature that was the spark out of which religion started?
Maybe we have experienced some regression? From Intellect ( Settembrini & Naphta ) to Presence ( Peeperkorn ) to forces of nature.
So if I were to attempt such a dialogue to summarize the three figures that attract Hans' attention, I might write:
Rationalism: Celebrate human liberty and happiness through the use of reason!
Scholasticism: Celebrate God through human slavery amd misery!
Nature: Celebrate! What? You want answers? Not going to get any answers from me!
This makes sense.
I was also thinking about how Settembrini is the first major influence on Hans, and he remains to the end. Later we get Naphta, and Peeperkorn, and there's various smaller figures throughout, but Settembrini is there through it all.
Settembrini may have become apparently ridiculous at times, but I think this is really more like the way fathers are first demi-gods, then overbearing autocrats, then ridiculous, wounded, and pity worthy, and then finally human. Settembrini is an incredible figure. He isn't appealing to me as an ideal, but in the way he is so thoroughly human even in his idiosyncrasies and flaws. I love the end of the book, which reverberates back over the book all the way to the beginning.
I still have trouble with this view of Naphta, though I don't want to rehash the arguments from the other thread. He seems to hide in the darkest aspects of medievalism, but that's only one of the shadows in which he lurks. He seems to flit here and there wherever he finds something to suit his purpose, but what is his purpose once you remove the façade from it?
I didn't intend a "simple allegory". Those are the keys in which these characters are played, and there's certainly little simple about the tune.
Well, Hans is somewhat ill too, ill with existence.
#43 "I don't want to rehash the arguments from the other thread. "
T, which other thread?
...going to wikipedia and then then to look for the other thread...
I basically do not see Naphta as representative of medieval thought, nor of Christian thought except in the most narrowly defined -- and negative -- way. Taken as representative of Christianity, even of a specifically medieval, and 'swounds obsessed Christianity, he is a caricature. Having reached the end of the book, I don't think Mann was making a caricature of the worst aspects of medieval Christianity. Naphta was reactionary in such a way that he would claim anything that would suit his argument.
>57 mejix: The curious thing about the character is that his discussion is more historical, philosophical than strictly religious. He doesn't strike me as a particularly religious personality...
Religion seems like a tool on his belt, almost, or an aspect of a his overall ideology, which seemed to me quite removed from theological concerns.
Stupor is an introduction for the four last (and strange) chapters. Mann is preparing the end…and warns us that some characters we are now meeting, we see for the last time…
HC is still on his Mountain although we cannot understand why…
Peeperkorn and Joachim are dead.
Clawdia is gone
The teachings are over,
And strangest of all, Behrens thinks that Hans illness has nothing to do (anymore) with TBC…There is some blood taking without decisive outcome. There is no reason to stay on the Mountain.
Why is Hans idling away, wasting away his youth in that damn Sanatorium?
Hans has entered a state of “ Stupor”.
Stupor according to Wiki is the lack of critical cognitive function and level of consciousness wherein a sufferer is almost entirely unresponsive and only responds to base stimuli such as pain.
The narrator compares the stupor with a demon who has a hold on HC. “This is life without time, care or hope, life as a stagnating hustle-bustle of depravity, dead life”.
HC fills his time, as all the old timers do, with “fads”: photography, stamp collecting, chocolate tasting, mathematical games ( with endless and innumerable outcomes ), bogus business plans , to end with the worst of all…playing patience.
Our old friend Settembrini cannot belief his eyes. Hans even insults Settembrini with a “placet experiri”- remark while playing this stupid game.
Things are happening in the flatlands “ The world situation baffles me” Settembrini , who read papers, says. HC is not interested. Hans, we know, does not read papers.
The Great Stupor, both in HC mind as in the world down below, will come to no good, the narrator warns us. “The end will be a catastrophe, a thunderstorm and a great cleansing wind will break the spell and wrench life from its dead standstill and overturn the doldrums in a terrible Last Judgment…”
The great Stupor continues. After the “patience” fad, we switch to music. Music, if it has the effect of a drug, is politically suspect. You should remember that from the teachings of Settembrini…
Love for music fills the emotional gap which Clavdia has left. Hans listening to the music “filling time” should be therapeutic. The different operas, ballet themes and songs are carefully chosen by the narrator. They create a spark of an emotional memory in Hans and the reader and as such are a perfect resume of the story to which end we are coming. It is brilliantly done….
To entertain its guests the Berghof has invested in a German-made “Polyhymnia” music cabinet. Behrens gives a demonstration with a first record. What else could we expect but…
1.The ouverture of the opera “Orpheus in the Underworld” by Offenbach
Hans too has travelled to the Underworld and has not been able to bring back his Clawdia…
“ Ach, Ich habe Sie verlohren”... I have lost you...
2. An Italian baritone singing from “ The Barber of Seville” by Rossini
Is that Settembrini we hear ? – eh il barbiere.( eh inginere ) Di Qualita, di Qualita!
3. An aria from La Traviata by Verdi
Beautiful Violetta is ill, has tuberculosis, but thinks she is healed, she is not…
She has no eyes for the younger Alfredo who declares her his love (Un di, felice, eterea – the day I met you )…in spite of the fact that she is with another older man.
Hans takes over the manipulation of the machine as soon as Behrens leaves.
4. The Barcarole from the “Les contes d’Hoffman” by Offenbach.
Hoffmann falls in love with Giuletta but his love is not returned…
HC has discovered a new passion, a new Love. He spends time with the machine till late at night, then from early in the morning.
5. „Blick ich umher in diesem edlen Kreise“ from Wagner’s Tannhauser
The ministrel Tannhauser, like Hans, is imprisoned on the enchanted Mountain Horselberg by his love for Venus
This is the Opera, Mann is most indebted to, although he never admits it...
6. « Da mi il braccio, mia piccina » from Puccini’s “La bohème »
Rodolfo is madly in love with Mimi. After some time Rodolfo wants to leave Mimi because of her flirtatious behavior. But the poor girl is terminally ill…
Hans appoints himself as caretaker of the musical cabinet and even takes the key.
The cabinet is described as a coffin, a temple, it is ghostly music…
Hans has favorite discs. The narrator lists them for us…All of them conclude with a reunion of Love in Death.
Radames cannot forsake his love for the Barbarian girl Aida.
They are thrown and reunited in a tomb where they die in each other arms
Tu en questa tomba… the final scene
2. L’après midi d’un Faune by Claude Debussy
Reminiscent of Hans waking up on the bench near the mountain brook, those beautiful days he “played king”
3.Carmen by Bizet
Corporal Don Jose is ripped apart by his love for the beautiful gypsy woman and doing his duty. Here too Love ends with death
Here is ( gasp ) Anna Antonacci in La Habanera…
4.Faust by Gounod
Valentin makes us think about our poor Joachim
Here is “avant de quitter ce lieu”
and we end with
5. Schubert’s Lindenbaum
Which was this world of forbidden love behind this enchanting song ?
It was Death…
Nothing good can come of having too much time at hand…
I must confess that when I read this chapter for the first time, I was as shocked as Hans by what had happened. Lulled into comfort during fifty and more chapters of realistic style and the kind irony of the narrator, I was not prepared to what Hans and the readers were about to experience…
A very sad chapter…
Edhin Krokowski’s ( first time I notice his first name ) interest is slipping from the psychoanalytic towards the paranormal ( hypnotism, somnambulism, etc etc )
The Danish girl Ellen Brand from the city of Odense ( the city of HC Andersen ), a new patient at the Berghof shows some uncanny knack to uncover hidden objects. “Voices” seem to direct her. She has some paranormal talents.
Krokowski decides to “take care” of the young girl. She seems to be haunted by the spirit of a young boy, a child named Holger who whispers her answers or directions…
( Holger or Olger is the name of one of the kings of the Mountain) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_in_the_mountain
Ellen has regular visions and paranormal experiences, so the bored patients of the Sanatorium decide to organize a séance of spiritism in the room of Hermine Kleefeld
Using a glass and tokens with the letters of the Alphabet they summon a ghost. Holger soon enough indicates he is invisibly present. It starts as a game. Holger appears to be a poet and recites a Romantic poem by making a glass slide over the table towards the different letters.
When they decide to switch to practical questions and Hans asks how long he shall remain in the Sanatorium things start to change. There are knocks, the lights go out, Ellen Brand slips into a sleep-like state.
Hans gets an enigmatic answer: “Go Across” and then something about his room nr.34. To his surprise he finds the x-ray picture of Clawdia on his lap. It seems that the Poltergeist has dropped it their on purpose for Hans did not have the picture with him at that moment.
The answer to Hans question could be understood as “Go 3 + ( a cross ) 4 = 7” “Go after seven years?”. But why the Clavdia picture reappears is not clear. Has something happened to her?
They stop the experience… for now
Settembrini disapproves and is understandably angry with Hans that he participates in this act of primitive magical mumbo jumbo.
Hans, who has stayed away from this paranormal activity for some time, is lured back by his friends, because the spirit Holger has appeared to the audience and Ellen Brant has promised to bring back a deceased person.
Hans, with his awful fascination for death, is thinking about… Joachim. Remember how listening to the Valentin part of the Gounod opera, has brought Joachim to HC mind.
The séance starts. Light is dimmed, music is played. ( an ouverture by Millocker )
Ellen goes in trance with spasms and shakes…
“Whom shall friend Holger reveal to us?”. Nobody dares to say a name until HC frivolously asks to see his cousin Joachim Ziemssen again. ( That bloody placet experiri of the boy!).
They wait while the girl is in trance for 2 hours! The term scandalous is appropriate for what is happening…
The exhausted Ellen makes pulling movements with her hands, just like Joachim when he was about to die. After a short break, they continue. The trancelike state of Ellen is compared to a woman in labour. Hans suggest to put on another record, Valentin’s prayer from Gounod’s Faust. Although Hans is sure that the record was not brought to the room, it seems that by accident ( slipped into the wrong sleeve ) it is available and Wesel puts it on…
Suddenly Joachim makes his appearance. He materializes even before Hans notices him. It is an absolutely chilling passage. Summoning his cousin from the world of the dead is an awful act of desecration. Hans looks up and looks straight at Joachim. “There was one more person than before in the room…” It is our Joachim of the last hours, like he was described on his death-bed, with hollow cheeks and warrior’s beard. His beautiful eyes look tenderly and in friendly silence at Hans…He is in the field garb of the coming war, probably with a steel picklehaube on his head.
It is a terrible sad but crucial moment. The novel’s two basic stitches Love and Death are sewn and complete Hans spiritual development. Hans understands he has crossed the line and is both physically sick ( he wants to throw up ) and mentally stunned…he sobs, mumbles “forgive me” to his cousin …tears blind him…
Hans pulls himself free, leaving Ellen in a state of shock and Krokowski in anger. Under menace Krokowski hands Hans the keys of the room and our friend…
A very sad chapter indeed.
Thanks so much for the music chapter. I loved this chapter, especially the detailed program notes of each piece and had fun identifying them in my mind - of course all these pieces are very famous. The Apres midi d'un faun was so perfectly described/evoked! (I love Debussy.)
You guys know Aida was commissioned for the opening of the Cairo Opera House but it was not ready in time and they had to open it with Rigoletto. It is often performed in Egypt at the Pyramids, now. (The Cairo Opera House burned down, there is another one now)
The demon of stupor makes place for the demon of irritability, contempt, acute petulance, a love of quarrels. A penchant for outbursts of rage, nasty verbal exchanges and even…yes… fisticuffs.
The peaceful sanatorium has become the scene of nasty, embarrassing moments: quarrels, fights, anti-semitism…
Clearly what happens on the mountain is a reflection of worser things taking place in the flatlands. But it is the infection of the atmosphere that worries us most.
The unthinkable happens. A fierce discussion between Naphta and Settembrini, just like the ones we witnessed so many times before, turns awry. Naphta challenges Settembrini for a duel. Settembrini accepts. The discussions are over, it is the defeat of the intellect. Hans, Wehsal and Ferge try to bring the two antagonists to reason but with no success.
Mann has read his Lermontov and the details of the duel are described in detail. The duelists go for quality; they choose Belgian Brownings to settle their discord.
Standing face to face, both Settembrini and Naphta underscore their intellectual stances.
Settembrini the humanist, refuses to shoot at Naphta and makes his point by emptying his weapon by shooting in the air. Naphta is furious, turns the pistol and shoots himself. For him too, the suicide, the self-destruction underscores the intellectual stance he has been defending since we met him for the first time.
It is just brilliant how Mann brings this scene, so well in line with what those two man have said before and what we have come to expect from them.
Bravo Settembrini !
Bravo Thomas Mann !
Can’t believe it, but tomorrow we will read the last chapter.
I found Highly Questionable irritating. So much nonsense, and then I'm suddenly supposed to take it seriously and think about it. My mind rebelled, and is trying to pretend the chapter doesn't really exist.
The Great Petulance, meanwhile, had me at the edge of my seat, and left me with a lot to think about. One of my favorite chapters. Not sure if I'd say Bravo to Settembrini, as he seemed to me to defy his own principals. But he was brave, and I am terribly relieved he walked away from it.
And, Naphta. I just can't feel too much dislike for Naphta. He's constantly described as freely changing his argument just to win. Since I got lost in those arguments, I can't say for sure it's not true, but it's doesn't seem true. It seems to me that Naphta had a clear position, but it just wasn't directly stated in his words. His end was so certain. My tenuous take, and I'll have to read this again to know how far off from the truth I am, is that S represents a certain kind of idealism that was universally accepted as true both at that time, and today. That his "humanism" is essentially a desire to be to make the best of humanity using modern "enlightenment". Lets' be clear, he is no scientist, there is nothing empirical in what he does. His ideas are commendable, and his expression of them is beautiful. But, in the end they are just ideas with no really true foundation. There is nothing to prove or prove against. Naphta sees this, he is aware of the philosophical and logical flaw. And he attacks it in his own way. In the end he wins, S is undermined and becomes a chatterbox to HC. But Naphta loses too; he loses meaning and ends up in a very stark meaninglessness...which leads directly to his last speech and suicide. Apologies for my errors here, this is just an idea of the moment. Corrections welcome.
Mac - I'll be sad to see your last contribution here.
Hans remains seven years at the Sanatorium Berghof and sits at each of the seven tables.
His tablemates at the last, “bad Russian” table come from the foggy edges of Europe.
Hans has become some kind of a hermit, an anchorite. He takes less care about himself and wears a goatee. There is, the narrator adds, a certain philosophical negligence in his appearance.
With the exception of his occasional visits to his mentor Settembrini, Hans has become silent and most people, even the doctors and nurses, leave him alone.
Hans has no watch anymore and no calendars in his room, so he is also standing outside time now. Time has continued slipping past and many things have changed, people have died, kids have grown up and died and the old consul Tienappel has died too. While Hans is very distant to what happens in the flatlands, he still sees the departing of his uncle as another step towards his total freedom.
He has stopped writing letters to people he once knew, stopped ordering his Mancinis ( replaced them by a new brand “Oath of Rutli” – an independence symbol ), cut all strings which still attached him to the flatlands.
We hear a “Rumble of thunder”. We are in the Summer of 1914 ( WW1 officially begins 28th July ). The two demons introduced in the last chapters Stupor and Petulance, have taken geopolitic dimensions and are the cause of war.
“The Thunderbolt itself was the deafening detonation of great destructive masses of accumulated stupor and petulance”
The War has of course an effect on the residents of the Berghof too. People are fleeing the sanatorium and travelling down to the flatlands.
The Magic Mountain bursts open and “rudely sets the entranced sleeper outside the gate”. (The Tannhauser gate of Wagner’s opera…)
Our friend Hans has not seen things coming despite the warnings of Settembrini. Hans is the Sevensleeper.
“There he sits ( rubbing his eyes ) in the grass like man who has failed to read the daily papers”
HC is released, set free… “not by his own actions he had to admit to his shame”
Settembrini is very ill and will not make it down to the flatlands.
There is an emotional adieu between Settembrini and Hans
Next we find ourselves on the battlefield “Where are we ? What is that ?”
Sounds of War, Brass blaring, Drumbeats. There is a Regiment of volunteers, youngsters, students, 3000 of them. Statistically 1000 are about to die in the imminent attack.
A “shameful and sublime” war scene interrupted with a vision of that “golden age” , we remember from the chapter snow.
Among the volunteers we discern our Hans for a final last time…
He has turned into a real soldier, without hesitation he steps on the hand of a fallen comrade. Marching towards the enemy, he is singing to himself strophes of Schubert’s “Der Lindenbaum”.
“Upon its bark, I have carved there so many words of love
And all its branches rustled, as if they called to me”
The world of Death beckons…
The narrator and the readers take leave of Hans. “We have told your story to the end…”.
Hans disappears in the fog of war. It is not likely that he will survive. But for the story, it does not matter that much…
What a way to finish a Bildungsroman ! Has all that learning served to nothing? Will all those pedagogic efforts be crushed by the next bomb?
And even if we get an answer to the question “Will Love rise up from this carnival of death too?”, will it be in an endless cycle of learn and build and then…destroy?
( the end, not in the sense of the “last page” but in the sense of St Thomas of Aquinas : the purpose of the work)
I wish you'd read all my books for me.
Behrens ( body ) vs Krokowski ( mind )
After the massacres of 14 - 18 Mann changed his intention of writing a comical morbid book to something more serious. He also softened a bit his conservative patriotic stance
I was reading Nietsche on vacation and this made me think of the whole setting and premise of MM:
For the human being is more ill, less certain, more changeable, more insecure than any other animal - there`s no doubt about that. He is the sick animal. Where does that come from? To be sure, he has also dared more, innovated more, defied more, and demanded more from fate than all the other animals combined. He is the great experimenter with himself, unhappy and dissatisfied, who struggles for ultimate mastery with animals, nature, and gods - still unconquered, always a man of the future, who never gets any rest from his own inner powers, so that his future relentlessly burrows like a thorn into the flesh of his present. Why should such a brave and rich animal also not be the animal in most danger, the one which, of all sick animals, suffers the most lengthy and intense illness? . . .
Genealogy of Morals:
Third essay section 13
Nietzsche--sounds like he was writing about himself, no?
My much lighter reviewer is posted here: http://www.librarything.com/review/72703812
The Tibetan prayer flags are all faded, discarded gas bottles everywhere, a few human remains still scattered about, near the summit.
Where the freeque is everybody?
I started prematurely, circa September, 2011, lost a crampon, got a wicked bad case of cerebral edema, tossed the book across the room, got caught up with work, gave up, resumed, read other tomes, returned, got frostbite on my toe, and finally committed to finishing, this weekend.
It was a bear. Hell, it was German. Hell, it was harder than Ulysses.
But I'm actually looking forward to re-reading all these ancient, wonderful posts, as well as my crisp copy of A Companion to Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain. I'm sure someday, I will heed Herr Mann's recommendation and actually read this beast MM, again.
but did you manage to finish the introduction "The Making of the Magic Mountain,"or the complete novel ? It is not clear...
But well done well done in any case
(Sandy-dawg becomes roseate-y dog.)
And yes, Mac, I finished the whole darned, snot-filled saga.
Of course, there was also a delightful description of school student Susan Sontag's pilgrimage to The Mann residence, for tea.