Thursday, October 20, 2011

MM Part 1 : Arrival / Room 34 / In the Restaurant

The Glacier Express at “The Kipfenschlucht” between St. Moritz and Zermatt, Swiss
Arrival

a) Bildung

Hans is introduced to the readers as an ordinary, unassuming young man, a student, as someone young in life, inexperienced...

foster father... HC is an orphan, has no Parents to direct him in life
coddled scion...we notice at his manners and clothes that his from a good family
few firm roots in life...
intend to return quite the same person... this is not sure ?

This is not the beginning of Hans story. We will have a flashback soon in chapter 2. But it was essential for Mann to kick off this story with Hans travelling. A Bildungs roman starts with a journey which has a disorientating effect and the Journey should be of the heroical mythical type.

direct routes turn choppy...
crossing abysses once thought unfathomable...
Uncharming landscape...
real adventure...
ascent that will never end...
wild ride...
separate from every day world...
Air he had never breathed before...
unknown, unwise, unhealthy...
extreme regions...
pitch black tunnels...
chasms revealed...
with patches of snow ...in summer ?
trees and birds left behind
a world of ineffable, phantasmagoric peaks
alien air

Hans emotions : certain anxiety, confused sense of direction, no longer knowing where is north or south..., an attack of dizziness and nausea, scared, feels anxious and queer

b) Time

Space like time gives birth to forgetfulness
River Lethe

On the Mountain there is another way of experiencing time :
"Three weeks are almost nothing for us up here..."
"Home in three weeks, that's a notion from  down below"
"they play with people's time here"
"Three weeks are the same as a day"

eternal snow, many things will seem eternal later... even soup... eternal soup, imagine that

c) Death

The Bodies ... the dead are mentioned for a first time. They are a cause for laughter. The story about the efforts that are taken to bring the disceased back to their families down there, is turned into a joke.

d) Eros

nothing yet

e) Geography

Hans is from the North

f) Notes

Enters Joachim. He is Hans' cousin. Joachim doubles up as an alter-ego of HC.
Joachim is the first of the Mentors of HC. As a military, he stands as an example for duty and discipline. He is the picture of youthful vigor but not the man he used to be...

looking healthier than ever but still ill with TBC
looks different : weary, sad expression, vehement shrug, disgust, cynic
sounds different : "You're talking so strangely" ;
HC has entered a different world. Joachim is worried that he wouldn't fit anymore down below.

The ears of Joachim are a warning:

he would have been downright handsome, if his ears had not stood out so badly.

It is important that he is described as someone who could have been attractive but is not. He is not the only mentor or idea who could be, but is not quite attractive at a closer look is not.

" A man changes a lot of his ideas here"

Hofrat Behrens, the head doctor running the Sanatorium and Dr. Krokowski are mentioned
Both are also like Joachim minor mentors  for HC. One will take care of HC bodily health, the other one his psyche.

ROOM 34

a) Buildung

Hans suffers from physical annoyances : his body is also disoriented.... cold feet, flushed face, freezing etc 

b) Time

nothing

c) Death

An American woman died here the day before yesterday...Hans is going to sleep in a bed and a room of a dead person.

Her death was predicted. 
Her Fiancé did not behave, he showed emotions.

The Austrian aristocratic horsman is coughing up his lungs. TBC is a killing disease 

d) Eros

nothing

e) Geography

Austrian, American, people come from all over the world to Davos

f) Notes

3 + 4 = 7. The number seven is a running reminder that you should not take everything at face value. There are symbolic and deeper meanings

Fumigated, that is spiffing... the young engineer is speaking

Maria Mancini cigars : another item which will turn in all kind of symbols

Repulsive ghastly noise, un-human cough, like looking down inside the horseman. 

In the restaurant

a) Buildung

Joachim seems to find consolation in the bottle

Enters Krokowski, another minor Mentor. The doctor of the mind ! His description is both attractive ( cheerful mutual trust, reassuring heartiness ) and repulsive ( looks like a ghost, worn clothes, yellow theeth, dreadfull footwear )
He should be a scientist but he looks like an artist

You are a phenomenon: Ill is normal, healthy is abnormal !

Hans steps back: Not willing to let himself examined psychological

Joachim and Krowkowski don’t match

b) Time

… you’re a mer novice with your five months
… it’s an interruption, a break in the everlasting ( there is that word again ) monotony
… There is no time as such and this is no life…

Joachim, the military man, made for action suffers from the loss of time, the waste of time… I am stagnating like an old water hole


c) Death

He recalled that someone died in that very bed….
Hans is going to sleep in a genuine but ordinary deathbed.

d) Eros

nothing

e) Geography

nothing

f) Notes

Standoffish woman: There are people staying in the Sanatorium for life ! One can stay here for longer periods

I love the details :
Rubbing the hands as if for a prayer
Eating large meals purely out of self respect
Sending the bottle of Gruaud Larose back … the Snob !

Life down there pitted against life up here

Introduction of Frau Stohr, the most illiterate and stupid person and a gossip too…
The many naughty descriptions of the patients are there to liven the story up.

Hans dream is a nice resume of all the emotions of this first part. One can easily recognize the different details… except one. Are dreams premonitions ?

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