|Davos around 1900|
This chapter covers the third and fourth day of Hans stay. The weather has changed to the worst.
The cousins go for shopping and meet Settembrini
Hans Castorp goes into town to buy himself some blankets. He even considers to buy a fur lined sleeping bag but backs off, frightened by the idea. Investing in a sleeping bag, which he cannot use in
would mean he considers
staying on the Mountain, to make himself at home the Sanatorium. Hamburg
Meeting with Settembrini
- he is suffering from the cold as he was from the warmth some days before. With only one set of clothes he is either over dressed or under dressed.
- He criticizes the rules of the Sanatorium which are according to him based on financial interest.
- Yearning for warmth, he has fond memories of his father
- Settembrini suffers from the stupidity of some of his tablemates
- Settembrini does not like Behrens ( because he keeps him on the mountain? ) nor Krokowski ( father confessor ) who wants to dissect his mind
Then Hans makes a careless assumption :
“One assumes stupid people must be healthy and vulgar, and that illness must ennoble people and make them wise and special”
Settembrini reacts immediately:
- placet experiri: Settembrini says that Hans like other young people is experimenting with ideas.
- Bad ideas must immediately be countered else they become an indelible trait of character in the young man
- Of all ideas “hanging” around this subject, why has Hans exactly chosen this one?
- “Illness is definitely not elegant and certainly not venerable- such a view in itself is a sickness”
- It is an ugly and outdated idea that comes from ( religious ) superstition that harmony and health is suspicious and devilish and infirmity a passport to heaven
Then Settembrin, like an organ grinder, switches to his political tune : Reason and Enlightment will battle religious superstition with earthly work, which will lead us on the path of progress and civilization and then towards a brighter light.
And now comes the catch. Settembrini in his reasoning overshoots the truths with which he has begun with and makes his ideas suspicious. Listen to the ugly things he says:
- “Illness is a debasement of humanity”
- “The tragedy begins where nature has been cruel enough to break the harmony of the personality by joining a noble and life – affirming mind to a body unfit for live”.
- ( about Leopardi) “He viewed nature as evil, and she is evil, stupid and evil”
- “ A human being who lives as an invalid is only a body – he is no better than a cadaver
Finally Settembrini sees the young mind not as an empty page, but a page fully written, the wrong and the good ideas together and it is up to the educator the erase the wrong ideas
Anyhow the message is missed on Hans and Joachim who have only been impressed by his eloquence
Snow in August. Seasons are absent on the mountain. We cannot count on them to appreciate time. See: The seasons are not all that different from one another.
Reminder that Settembrini is not as well to do as most guests.
Placet experiri: Latin phrase meaning "It pleases to experiment"
See how Hans when speaking to Settembrini is ashamed to admit that he bought blankets.