Monday, October 24, 2011

MM Part 3 : Herr Albin.

Werther's Tod

Lets proceed. The Herr Albin chapter is a very interesting one. Hans Castorp overhears from his terrace the conversations going on between Albin and some female admirers surrounding him.

Albin plays with dangerous weapons, smokes heavily despite his bad lungs and stands without coat in the evening chill. Why is he doing these unhealthy things ? Only to impress his audience ?

Albin shows his terrified audience that he is ready to commit suicide, to blow out his brains,  if things get “boring”. He wants to keep the initiative of the moment and the way he is going to die to himself. Genuinely or as a show-off, Albin considers the option of suicide.

Albin is ready to give up. He has been in the sanatorium for three years and hasn’t seen any progress towards health. He thinks he is incurable.

This “giving up”, this surrender is accompanied by an agreeable feeling. Albin describes the sense of relief you get when after fighting a lost war for so long, you finally decide to give up.

Hans Castorp, empathizes easily with this feeling, he is even envious of Albin.

“ he could recall the somewhat ignominious but humorous and pleasantly untidy state of affairs that he had enjoyed in the last quarter ( of his school ), once he had given up even trying and was able to laugh at the whole thing".

Like honour, disgrace has its boundless advantages. When one is finally free of all the pressures honour brings and one can endlessly enjoy the unbounded advantages of disgrace

What disgrace has Hans Castorp in mind ? And in which fight is he going to surrender ? He and we don’t know yet. What we do know is that unlike his cousin Joachim, Hans could suffer, even enjoy dishonour as an option !

note : Goethe's Werther is buried under a linden tree, a tree he talks about frequently in his letters.,