Friday, November 11, 2011

MM Part 5 : Walpurgisnight


Luis Riccardo Faléro, “The Vision of Faust” (1878)


This is a very entertaining chapter although it has a surprising end. “A coup de theatre” as they say in French!

The chapter alludes heavily on the “ Walpurgisnight” chapter in Goethe’s Faust.

Walpurgisnacht, the night from 30 April to 1 May, is the night when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the Brocken and await the arrival of spring.

This chapter takes place during the Carnival or Mardi Gras evening
Also in Time it is a special chapter. HC is now up in the mountain for 7 months. Joachim who arrived earlier in the Sanatorium celebrates his first year.

What to expect?

Settembrini ironically warns Hans that the Mardi Gras celebration in the Sanatorium is “magnifique”. S also makes a most cynical remark that a lot of people now death cannot join the party. “… it is over at half past nine…”. Ghosts will only appear after 12.

But the Narrator too creates high expectation:

“ At this juncture….we alone know to what these Carnival festivities eventually led…”

Settembrini our warns Hans in the same way Mephistopheles warns Faust : “Behold bright flames…”

Murk, of those flames the motley glare!
A merry club assembles there. 
In a small circle one is not alone,


Soon the party is full swing. Champagne flows and Champagne mixed with Burgundy

Settembrini slips another secret message of warning to Hans “But bear in mind…” again he quotes Goethe, Faust, Walpurgis-night chapter.

“He searched his pocket for a pencil…” The meeting Hans – Clavdia is introduced with the “pen” – anecdote and the “Hippe” character.

“ My God…” echoes the “My God” of the fantasy in the “Eternal Soup” chapter

A second secret note;.. “ A party to your heart’s desire…” Goethe, Faust, Walpurgis-night chapter.

“ In the Harz mountains…” setting of Goethe, Faust, Walpurgis-night chapter.

First couples form, there is cross-dressing, there is travesty. Frau Stohr turns into a genuine witch with broom and all…Settembrini compares her with Baubo, the old woman who shows her private parts.


There is comedy with the “silent sister” and the “blue Henri”

Clavdia brushes Hans table. With her sleeve – less dress showing her beautiful arms, she looks divine to Hans.

Settembrini keeps warning Hans “ ‘Tis Lilith” Adam’s second wife, the she-devil.
Again it parallels Goethe’s Faust.

Hans is not distracted from his fascination with Clavdia. He has to take care of the annoying Settembrini first…

HC addresses Settembrini with his first name Lodovico. S experiences this nearly as an insult “ …a repulsive, barbaric practice…but it brings the pedagogue at the same level as Hans. HC does not see S as superior anymore…

HC then shows that he sees “through” Settembrini and shows ironically that he knows how Thomas Mann uses the Settembrini character. “ You are a representative of something…

HC says adieu to his pedagogue: “ To your health Lodovico…”

S cannot but comment “ Those sound like words of farewell”. S has to make place for Clavdia.

The people assemble round the Punch bowl.

The Pig drawing game of Behrens brings us back to the Pig analogy of Circe. “ And what Monsters were born”  Again there is a need for a pencil. Now that he has severed his bond with Settembrini he is emboldened: he heads direct to Clawdia. Settembrini shouts one last warning…and exits.

HC experiences his “Hippe” – moment once again and finally speaks to Clawdia and says “Do you have a pencil perhaps?”

Clawdia amused and in a Mardi-Gras mood reacts amused and surprised. “You are very eager…”. She teases HC with dangling the pen in front of his nose. HC lets himself not chased away, on the contrary CC follows him “ as if pulled by a magnetic force”

They are left alone, ( S gone, Joachim gone )there is music. HC shows that he has been observing CC for a long time, that he has been since a long time interested in her. “ You are wearing a new dress…”

Their conversation in that French “dream –speak” develops rather well, CC too had noticed HC earlier etc etc… Everything goes well until the “killer” sentence is pronounced. Clawdia says “I am leaving ( the Sanatorium )”. Hans is rudely awakened from his sleep state.

The awakening is very short. HC is lured again soon enough: “ So you will be coming back…” – he is going to wait for her – No way he is ever to go back down to the real world !

CC reminds HC that Joachiim is very ill.

HC asks her X- Ray picture. CC does not have it with her. It is in her room.( important detail wink wink )

CC asks who prevented HC to make an earlier contact with her. She knows of course.
CC says “Morality cannot be found in virtue but in sin”. She is a teacher too.

“ You know the consequences Monsieur” CC teases HC by telling him the Mardi Gras Magic is over, but Hans will not accept it and declares his love in a grand and theatrical way.

While not totally unreceptive, - she strokes his hair – she decides to return to her room.
“ Adieu my Carnival Prince”, but she leaves one trailing message… “Don’t forget to return my
pencil”

And Clavdia leaves.
What a chapter, what romance !

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