Translated with an introduction by
THE SPINDLE OF NECESSITY
"THIS passage has been much
discussed, but the following points are generally agreed:
(1) The' Spindle of Necessity' is intended, however imper-fectly,
to give a picture of the working of the Universe.
(2) Plato thought that the universe was geocentric, with the fixed
stars on a sphere or band at the outside, the earth at ,the centre,
and the orbits of the sun, moon, and planets between earth and
(3) The rims of the whorl are intended to represent these orbits,
and have the following equivalences:
1. The fixed stars
Thus, for example, we are told that
'the fourth (Mars)was reddish' and 'the eighth (Moon) was illuminated
by the seventh (Sun)'.
(4) The breadth and relative motion of the rims represent the
distances and relative speeds of the planets, though it is difficult
to be certain about details (cf. Cornford, Plato's Cosmology,
(5) The singing sirens are Plato's version of the Pythagorean
doctrine of the' harmony of the spheres', which Aristotle de-scribes
'It seems to some thinkers that bodies so great must inevitably
produce a sound by their movement: even bodies on the earth do
so, although they are neither so great in bulk nor movng at so
high a speed, and as for the sun and the moon, and the stars,
so many in number and enormous in size, all moving at a tremendous
speed, it is incredible that they should fail to produce a noise
of surpassing loudness. Taking this as their hypothesis, and also
that the speeds of the stars, judged by their distances, are in
the ratios of the musical consonances, they affirm that the sound
of the stars as they revolve is concordant. To meet the difficulty
that none of us is aware of this sound, they account for it by
saying that the sound is with us right from birth and has thus
no contrasting silence to show it up; for voice and silence are
perceived by / Page 463 / contrast with each other, and so all
mankind is undergoing an experience like that of a coppersmith,
who becomes by long habit indifferent to the din around him' (De
Caela, II, 9, trans. Guthrie, Loeb edition).
In the more detailed interpretation of the passage there is much
uncertainty, and the Greek itself is far from unambiguous. There
are those (e.g. J. S. Morrison,1 JHS, 1955, p. 59f.; Parmenides
and Er) who prefer to translate the word here rendered'
through' by 'across', and to suppose that the phrase refers to
a straight band of light running across the heavens. This makes
it more difficult to understand what is meant by 'from above';
but in any case it is not easy to see quite where the souls
are and what it is they see 'in the middle of the light'
(or 'down the middle of the light').
The 'pillar' and 'rainbow' do not help much. Though
the natural meaning of 'pillar' is something standing upright,
it could be used to illustrate a straight band of light; the reference
to the rainbow appears to be to its colour, but the rainbow is
also a band of light running across the sky. We are left with
the two other illustrations, the swifter and the spindle.
Morrison and Williams, Greek Oared Ships, pp. 294-8, have
shown pretty conclusively what a 'swifter' (Greek hypozoma)
is. It is a rope running longitudinally round a ship, from stem
to stern, whose purpose was' to subject the outside skin to a
constricting tension which would keep the structure from work-ing
loose under the stress of navigation under oar and sail' (p. 298).
There is a clear parallel with the light which 'holds the circumference
together'. In addition the ends of the swifter were brought inboard
at the stern where there was a device for tighten-ing them. Similarly
the ends of the' bands of heaven' are brought in, though exactly
where or how is not clear. But the illustration certainly seems,
so far, to indicate that there is a band of light running
round the heaven, whose ends are brought in and some-how fastened,
and which holds the whole heaven together.
But Plato proceeds at once to the second illustration of the spindle.
Fig. 1(Figure omitted) shows a spindle. Essentially it
consists of shaft and weight or whorl. The function of the weight
is to keep the thread spinning: the shaft is needed not only as
an axis of revolu-tion but also for winding the thread when it
has become too long. To hold the thread while the next length
is spun there must be something to which to fasten it, the function
of the hook in this / Page 464 / passage. The primary purpose
of the comparison is to illustrate, from a familiar object, a
system in which the heavenly bodies go round the earth in rings.
The description of the whorl makes this fairly clear, and the
main weakness of the comparison is that it makes no provision
for the inclination of the axis of the ecliptic, in which sun,
moon and planets move, to that of the fixed stars. The armillary
sphere in the Timaeus (Plato: Timaeus and Critias
(Penguin)) is a more satisfactory illustration. But there are
further problems. Nothing is said about the position or shape
of the earth. It must be at the centre of the system, with the
heavenly bodies revolving round it. Once the heavenly bodies have
been thought of as three dimensional, it is a fairly obvious step
to think of them as spheres: if the moon is not a disc
it must be a ball. And it is plausible therefore to suppose
the earth to be spherical, as it undoubtedly is in the Timaeus
and as it is commonly supposed to be in the Phaedo (though
Mr Morrison has challenged the sup-position and holds that the
earth is a hemisphere with flat surface in both Phaedo
and The Republic: Phronesis IV, 1959, pp. 101-9;
Classical Quarterly lxii, 1964, pp. 46 ff.). Granted a central
earth of spherical or other shape there remains the problem of
the spindle shaft. Does it correspond to anything in the physical
universe? If the spindle of. Necessity 'hangs from the ends of
the band of heaven' one would suppose that it does. It is true
that the spindle is only a model; but a good model reproduces
the main features of its original, and in the Timaeus there
is an axis' stretched through the whole' (40 B.C.). Though this
in turn may be a reflection of the more sophisticated model in
that dialogue, it is none the less a not unreasonable inference
that Plato thought of the universe as turning on some sort of
We are left therefore with a rather unsatisfactory inconsistency
between the two illustrations. The swifter suggests a band of
light running round the heavens, the spindle an axis round which
they pivot. If the ends of the band when brought in could form
a pillar of light that was also an axis it would reconcile the
two illustrations, but the evidence hardly allows one to speak
with certainty. In any event there are still obscurities. If the
band (or pillar) of light is a feature of the physical universe,
why do we not see it? Or can it be the Milky Way, as some have
suggested? Where are the souls when they see and then reach the
light, whether it be band or column? There is nothing to suggest
that they are ever anywhere but on the surface of the earth. The
de-scription of the meadow, with the chasms leading up into heaven
/ Page 465 / and down into earth, beneath which the unjust soul's
journey takes place, leaves no doubt that it is on the earth's
surface, though at some remote point on it (like the grove of
Persephone and the Elysian plain, where incidentally Rhadamanthus
is, in the Odyssey). If the earth were spherical
then they might well be at a point from which they could see features
of the universe which we cannot. But even so, just where and how
are the' ends' of the bands brought inboard (to use the nautical
metaphor) and tied to the spindle? At a later point we are suddenly
told, after a descrip-tion which appears to relate to the physical
universe, that the spindle is on the 'lap of Necessity' (617b).
But this is an incon- sistency that follows the introduction of
the Fates and their traditional occupation of spinning; it is
good symbolism to put the universe on the lap of Necessity, and
so the inconsistency of making her sit within the system on her
lap is overlooked. It is, indeed, well to remember that this passage
occurs in a myth, that in his myths Plato often gives symbolic
meaning precedence over precision of detail, and that there are
therefore likely in the detail to be features that are strictly
Hilda Richardson's article The Myth of Er, C.Q. xx, 1926,
p. 119, is perhaps still as good a treatment as any of the whole
section (Part XI, Section 3). Further references are given in
Note page 463 1. I am grateful
to Mr Morrison for several discussions on this passage, in which
we could never reach an agreed solution.
THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN
Page 465 / 466
They talked of "humanity,"
of nobility - but it was / the spirit alone
that distinguished man, as a creature largely divorced from nature,
largely opposed to her in feeling, from all other forms of organic
life. In man's spirit, then, resided his true nobility and his
merit - in his state of disease, as it were; in a word, the more
ailing he was, by so much was he the more man. The genius of disease
was more human than the genius of health. How, then, could one
who posed as the. friend of man shut his eyes to these fundamental
truths concernIng man's humanIty? Herr Settembrini had progress
ever on his lips: was he aware that all progress, in so far as
there was such a thing, was due to illness, and to illness alone?
In other words, to genius, which was the same thing? Had not the
normal, since time was, lived on the achievements of the abnormal?
Men consciously and voluntarily descended into disease and madness,
in search of knowledge which, acquired by fanaticism, would lead
back to health; after the possession and use of it had ceased
to be conditioned by that heroic and abnormal act of sacrifice.
That was the true death on the cross, the true Atone- ment."
THE TRUE AT ONE
THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN
"AN UNASSUMING young man was travelling, in midsummer, from
his native city of Hamburg to Davos-Platz in the Canton of the
Grisons, on a three weeks: visit.
From Hamburg to Davos is a long journey - too long, indeed, for
so brief a stay. It crosses all sorts of country; goes up hill
and down dale, descends from the plateau of Southern Germany to
the shore of Lake Constance, over its bounding waves and on across
At this point the route, which has
been.so far over trunk-lines, gets cut up. There are stops and
formalIties. At Rorschach, m Swiss territory, you take train again,
but only as far as Landquart, a small Alpine station, where you
have to change. Here, after a long and windy wait in a spot devoid
of charm, you mount a nar-row-gauge train; and as the small but
very powerful engine gets under way, there begins the thrilling
part of the journey, a steep and steady climb that seems never
to come to an end. For the sta-tion of Landquart lies at a relatively
low altitude, but now the wild and rocky route pushes grimly onward
into the Alps themselves.
Hans Castorp -such was the young man's name - sat alone in his
little grey-upholstered. compartment with his alligator-skin hand-bag,
a present from his uncle and guardian, Consul Tienappel - let
us get the introductions over with at once - his travelling- rug,
and his winter overcoat swinging on its hook. The window was down,
the afternoon grew cool, and he, a tender product of the sheltered
life, had turned up the collar of his fashionably cut, silk-lined
summer overcoat. Near him on the seat lay a paper-bound volume
entitled Ocean Steamships; earlier in the journey he had studied
it off and on, but now it lay neglected, and the breath of the
panting engine, streaming in, defiled its cover with particles
Two days' travel separated the youth - he was still too young
to have thrust his roots down firmly into life from his own /
Page 4 / world, from all that he thought of as his own duties,
interests, cares and prospects; far more than he had dreamed it
would when he sat in the carriage on the way to the station. Space,
rolling and re-volving between him and his native heath, possessed
and wielded the powers we generally ascribe to time. From hour
to hour it worked changes in him, like to those wrought by time,
yet in a way even more striking. Space, like time, engenders forgetfulness;
but it does so by setting us bodily free from our surroundings
and giving us back our primitive, unattached state. Yes, it can
even, in the twinkling of an eye, make something like a vagabond
of the pedant and Philistine. Time, we say, is Lethe; but change
of air is a similar draught, and, if it works less thoroughly
it does so more quickly.
Such was the experience of young Hans Castorp. He had not meant
to take the journey seriously or commit himself deeply to it;
but to get it over quickly, .since it had to be made, to return
as he had gone, and to take up his life at the pomt where, for
the mo-ment, he had had to lay it down. Only yesterday he had
been en-compassed in the wonted circle of his thoughts, and entirely
taken up by two matters: the examination he had just passed, and
his approaching entrance into the firm of Tunder and Wilms, ship-builders,
smelters; and machinists. With as much impatience as lay in his
temperament to feel, he had discounted the next three weeks; but
now it began to seem as though present circumstances required
his entire attention, that it would not be at all the thing to
take them too lightly.
This being carried upward into regions where he had never be-fore
drawn breath, and where he knew that unusual living condi-tions
prevailed, such as could only be described as sparse or scanty
- it began to work upon him, to fill him with a certain concern.
Home and regular livmg lay not only far behind, they lay fathoms
deep beneath him, and he continued to mount above them. Poised
between them and the unknown, he asked himself how he was going
to fare. Perhaps it had been ill-advised of him, born as he was
a few feet above sea-level, to come immediately to these great
heights, without stopping at least a day or so at some point in
be-tween. He wished he were at the end of his journey; for once
there he could begin to live as he would anywhere else, and not
be re-minded by this continual climbing of the incongruous situation
he found himself in. He looked out. The train wound in curves
along the narrow pass; he could see the front carriages and the
labouring engine vomiting great masses of brown, black, and greenish
smoke, that floated away.Water roared in the abysses on the right;
on the / Page 5 / left, among rocks, dark fir-trees aspired toward
a stone grey sky. The train passed through pitch-black tunnels,
and when daylight came again it showed wide chasms, with villages
nestled in their depths: Then the pass closed in again; they wound
along narrow defiles, with traces of snow in chinks and crannies.
There were halts at wretched little shanties of stations; also
at more important ones, which the train left in the opposite direction,
making one lose the points of the compass. A magnificent succession
of vistas opened before the awed eye, of the solemn, phantasmagorical
world of towering peaks, into which their route wove and wormed
itself: vistas that appeared and disappeared with each new winding
of the path. Hans Castorp reflected that they must have got above
the zone of shade-trees, also probably of song-birds; whereupon
he felt such a sense of the impoverishment of life as gave him
a slight attack of giddiness and nausea and made him put his hand
over his eyes for a few seconds. It passed. He perceived that
they had stopped climbing. The top of the col was reached; the
train rolled smoothly along the level valley floor.
It was about eight o'clock, and still daylight. A lake was visible
in the distant landscape, its waters grey, its shores covered
with black fir-forests that climbed the surrounding heights, thinned
out, and gave place to bare, mist-wreathed rock. They stopped
at a small station. Hans Castorp heard the name called out: it
was "Davos-Dorf." Soon he would be at his journey's
end. And sud-denly, close to him, he heard a voice, the comfortable
Hamburg voice of his cousin, Joachim Ziemssen, saying "Hullo,
there you! Here's where you get out! "and peering through
the window saw his cousin himself, standing below on the platform,
in a brown ulster, bare-headed, and looking more robust than ever
in his life before. He laughed and said again: "Come along
out, it's all right! "
"But I'm not there yet!" said Hans Castorp, taken aback,
and still seated.
Oh, yes, you are. This is the village. It is nearer to the sana-torium
from here. I have a carriage. Just give us your things."
And laughing, confused, in the excitement of arrival and meet-ing,
Hans Castorp reached bag, overcoat, the roll with stick and umbrella,
and finally Ocean Steamships out of the window. Then he ran down
the narrow corridor and sprang out upon the plat- form to greet
his cousin properly. The meeting took place With-out exuberance,
as between people of traditional coolness and re- serve. Strange
to say, the cousins had always avoided calling each other by their
first names, simply because they were afraid of / Page 6 / showing
too much feeling. And, as they could not well address each other
by their last names, they confined themselves, by estab-lished
custom, to the thou.
A man in livery with a braided cap looked on while they shook
hands, quickly, not without embarrassment, young Ziemssen in military
position, heels together. Then he came forward to ask for Hans
Castorp's luggage ticket; he was the concierge of the Inter- national
Sanatorium Berghof, and would fetch the guest's large trunk from
the other station while the gentlemen drove directly up to supper.
This man limped noticeably; and so, curiously enough, the first
thing Hans Castorp said to his cousin was: "Is that a
war veteran? What makes him limp like that? "
"War veteran,! No fear! " said Joachiin; with
some bitterness. " He's got it in his knee - or,
rather, he had it - the knee-pan has been removed."
Hans Castorp bethought himself hastily.
"So that's it? " he said, and as he walked on turned
his head and gave a quick glance back. "But you can't make
me believe you've still got anything like that the matter with
you! Why, you look as if you had just come from manoeuvres! "
And he looked sidelong at his cousin.
Joachim was taller and broader than he, a picture of' youthful
vigour, and made for a uniform. He was of the very dark type which
his blond-peopled country not seldom produces, and his ulready
nut-brown skin was tanned almost to bronze. With his large, black
eyes and small, dark moustache over the full, well-shaped mouth,
he would have been distinctly handsome if his ears had not stood
out. Up to a certain period they had been his only trouble in
life. Now, however, he had others.
Hans Castorp went on; "You're coming back down with me, aren't
you? I see no reason why not."
"Back down with you? " asked his cousin, and turned
his large eyes full upon him. They had always been gentle, but
in these five
months they had taken on a tired, almost sad expression.
Why, in three weeks"
"Oh, yes, you are already on the way back home in your thoughts;"
answered Joachim. "Wait a bit. You've only Just come. Three
weeks are nothing at all, to us up here.- they look like
a lot of time to you, because you are only up here on a visit,
and three weeks is all you have. Get acclimatized first
- it isn't so easy, you'll see. And the climate isn't the only
queer thing about us. You're going to see some things you've never
dreamed of - just / Page 7 / wait. About me - it isn't such smooth
sailing as you think, you with your' going home in three weeks.'
That's the class of ideas you have down below. Yes, I am brown,
I know, but it is mostly snow-burning. It doesn't mean much, as
Behrens always says; he told me at the last regular examination
it would take another half year, pretty certainly."
"Half a year? Are you crazy? " shouted Hans Castorp.
They had climbed into the yellow cabriolet that stood in the stone-paved
square in front of the shed-like station, and as the pair of brown
horses started up, he flounced indignantly on the hard cushions.
"Half a year! You've been up here half a year already! Who's
got so much time to spend -'
"Oh, time:-!' said Joachim, and nodded repeatedly, straight
In front of him, payIng his cousin's honest indignation no heed.
"They make pretty free with a human being's idea of time,
up here. You wouldn't believe it. Three weeks are just
like a day to them. You'll learn all about it," he said,
and added: "One's ideas get changed."
Hans Castorp regarded him earnestly as they drove. " But
seems to me you've made a splendid recovery," he said, shaking
"You really think so, don't you? " answered Joachim;"
I think I have too." He drew himself up straighter against
the cushions, but immediately relaxed again. ' Yes, I am better,"
he explained, " but I am not cured yet. In the left lobe,
where there were rales, it only sounds harsh now, and that is
not so bad; but lower down it is still very harsh, and
there are rhonchi in the second intercostal space."
" How learned you've got," said Hans Castorp-
"Fine sort of learning! God knows I wish I'd had it sweated
out of my system in the service," responded Joachim. "
But I still have sputum," he said, with a shoulder-shrug
that was somehow indif-ferent and vehement both at once, and became
him but ill. He half pulled out and showed to his cousin something
he carried in the side pocket of his overcoat, next to Hans Castorp.
It was a flat, curving bome of bluish glass, with a metal cap.
"Most of us up here carry it," he said, shoving it back.
" It even has a nickname; they make quite a joke of it. You
are looking at the landscape? "
Hans Castorp was. " Magnificent! "he said.
"Think so? 'asked Joachim.
They had driven for a space straight up the axis. of the valley
along an irregularly built street that followed the line of the
rail-way; then, turning to the left, they crossed the narrow tracks
and / Page 8 / a watercourse, and now trotted up a high-road that
mounted gently toward the wooded slopes. Before them rose a low,
pro-jecting, meadow-like plateau, on which, facing south-west,
stood a long building, with a cupola and so many balconieses
that from a distance it looked porous, like a sponge. In this
building lights were beginning to show. It was rapidly
growing dusk. The faint rose-colour that had briefly enlivened
the overcast heavens was faded now, and there reigned the colourless,
soulless, melancholy transi-tion-period that comes just before
the onset of night. The popu-lous valley, extended and rather
winding, now began to show lights everywhere, not only
in the middle, but here and there on the slopes at either hand,
particularly on the projecting right side, upon which buildings
mounted in terrace formation. Paths ran up the sloping meadows
to the left and lost themselves in the vague blackness of the
pine forest. Behind them, where the valley nar-rowed to its entrance,
the more distant ranges showed a cold. slaty blue. A wind had
sprung up, and made perceptible the chill of evenmg.
"No, to speak frankly, I don't find it so overpowering,"
said Hans Castorp. "Where are the glaciers, and the snow
peaks and the gigantic heights you hear about? These things aren't
very high, it seems to me."
" Oh, yes, they are," answered Joachim. " You can
see: the tree line almost everywhere, it is very sharply defined;
the fir-trees leave
off, and after that there are absolutely nothing but bare rock.
And up there to the right of the Schwarzhorn, that tooth-shaped
peak, there is a glacier - can't you see the blue? It is not very
large, but it is a glacier right enough, the Skaletta. Piz Michel
and Tinzen- horn, in the notch - you can't see. them from here
- have snow all the year round." .
"Eternal snow," said Hans Castorp.
"Eternal snow,if you like. Yes, that's all very high.
But we are frightfully high ourselves: sixteen hundred
metres above sea-level. That's why the peaks don't seem any
"Yes, what a climb that was! I was scared to death, I can
tell you. Sixteen hundred metres - that is over five thousand
feet, as I reckon it. I've never been so high up in my life."
And Hans Ca-storp took in a deep, experirnental breath of the
strange air. It was fresh, and that was all. It had no perfume,
no content, no humidity; it breathed in easily; and held for him
" Wonderful air," he remarked,
Yes, the atmosphere is famous. But the place doesn't look its
best to~night. Sometimes it makes a much better impression-es
/ Page 9 / pecially when there is snow. But you can get sick of
looking at it. All of us up here are frightfully fed up,
you can imagine," said Joachim, and twisted his mouth into
an expression of disgust that was as unlike him as the shoulder-shrug.
It looked irritable, dis- proportionate.
You have such a queer way of talking." said Hans Castorp.
Have I? " said Joachim, concerned, and turned to look at
"Oh, no, of course I don't mean you really have - I suppose
it just seemed so to me for the moment," Hans Castorp hastened
to assure him. It was the expression all of us up here,
' which Joa-chim had used several tlmes, that had somehow-struck
him as strange and given him an uneasy feeling.
Our sanatorium is higher up than the village, as you see,"
went on Joachim. "Fifty metres higher. In the prospectus
it says a hun-dred, but it is really only fifty. The highest
of the sanatoriums is the Schatzalp - you can't see it from here.
They have to bring their bodies down on bob-sleds
in the winter, because the roads are blocked."
"Their bodies? Oh, I see. Imagine! " said Hans
Castorp. And suddenly he burst out laughing, a violent,
irrepressible laugh, which shook him all over and distorted his
face, that was stiff with the cold wind, until it almost hurt."On
bob-sleds! And you can tell it me just like that, in cold
blood! You've certainly got pretty cynical in these five
"Not at all," answered Joachim, shrugging again. "Why
not? It's all the same to them, isn't it? But maybe we do get
cynical up here~ Behrens is a cynic himself - but
he's a great old bird after all, an old corps-student. He is a
brilliant operator, they say. You will like him. Krokowski is
the assistant - devilishly clever article. They mention his activities
specially, in the prospectus. He psy-cho-analyses the patients."
"He what? Psycho-analyses - how disgusting! "
cried Hans Castorp; and now his hilarity altogether got the better
of him. He could not stop. The psycho-analysis had been
the finishing touch. He laughed so hard that the tears
ran down his cheeks; he put up his hands to his face and rocked
with laughter. Joachim laughed just as heartily
- it seemed to do him good; and thus, in great good spirits, the
young people climbed out of the wagon, which had slowly mounted
the steep, winding drive and deposited them be..
fore the portal of the International Sanatorium Berghof."
"Thus ended the campaign of
the flat-land to recover its lost Hans Castorp"
HIS age would have been hard to say,
probably between thirty and forty; for though he
gave an impression of youthfulness, yet the hair on his temples
was sprinkled a with silver and gone quite thin on his head. Two
bald bays ran along the narrow scanty parting, and added to the
height of his forehead. His clothing, loose trousers in light
yellowish checks, and too long, double- breasted pilot coat, with
very wide lapels, made no slightest claim to elegance; and his
stand-up collar, with rounding comers, was rough on the edges
from frequent washing. His black cravat showed wear, and he wore
no cuffs, as Hans Castorp saw at once from the lax way the sleeve
hung round the wrist. But despite all that, he knew he had a gentleman
before him: the stranger easy, even charming pose and cultured
expression left no doubt of that. Yet by this mingling of shabbiness
and grace, by the black eyes and softly waving moustaches, Hans
Castorp was irresistibly re-minded of certain foreign musicians
who used to come to Ham-burg at Christmas to play in the streets
before people's doors. He could see them rolling up their velvet
eyes and holding out their soft hats for the coins tossed from
the windows. "A hand-organ man," he thought. Thus he
was not suprised at the name he heard, as Joachim rose from the
bench and in some em-barrassment presented him: "My cousin
Castorp, Herr Settem-brini."
Hans Castorp had got up at the same time, the traces of his burst
of hilarity still on his face. But the Italian courteously bade
them both not to disturb themsdves. and made them sit down / Page
57 / again, while he maintained his easy pose before them. He
smiled, standing there and looking at the cousins, in particular
at Hans Castorp; a smile that was a fine, almost mocking deepening
and crisping of one comer of the mouth, just at the point where
the full moustache made its beautiful upward curve. It had upon
the cousins a singular effect: it somehow constrained them
to mental alertness and clarity; it sobered the reeling Hans Castorp
twinkling, and made him ashamed.
Settembrini said: "You are in good spirits - and with reason
too, with excellent.reason. What a splendid morning! A blue sky,
- a smiling sun " - with an easy, adequate motion of the
arm he raised a small, yellowish-skinned hand to the heavens,
and sent a lively glance upward after it - " one could almost
forget where one is."
He spoke without accent, only the precise enunciation be- trayed
the foreigner. His lips seemed to take a certain pleasure in forming
the words. It was most agreeable to hear him.
You had a pleasant journey hither, I hope? " he turned to
Hans Castorp. "And do you already know your fate - I mean
has the mournful ceremony of the first examination taken place?
" Here, if he had really been expecting a reply he should
have paused; he had put his question, and Hans Castorp prepared
to answer. But he went on: Did you get off easily? One might put
- " here he paused a second, and the crisping at the comer
of his mouth grew crisper - "more than one interpretation
upon your laughter. How many months have our Minos and
Rhada-manthus knocked you down for? " The slang
phrase sounded droll on his lips."Shall I guess? Six?
Nine? You know we are free with the time up here - "
Hans Castorp laughed, astonished, at the same time racking his
brains to remember who Minos and Rhadamanthus
were. He answered: Not at all- no, really, you are under a misappre-
hension, Herr Septem - " .
"Settembrini," corrected the Italian, clearly and with
empha-sis, making as he spoke a mocking bow.
"Herr Settembrini - beg your pardon. No; you are mistaken.
Really I am not ill. I have only come on a visit to my cousin
Ziemssen for a few weeks, and shall take advantage of the oppor-tunity
to get a good rest - "
"Zounds! You don't say? Then you are not one of us? You are
well, you are but a guest here, like Odysseus in the kingdom of
the shades? You are bold indeed, thus to descend into these depths
peopled by the vacant and idle dead - "
"Descend, Herr Settembrini?
I protest. Here I have climbed up some five thousand feet to get
here - "
That was only seeming. Upon my honour, it was an illusion,"
the Italian said, with a decisive wave of the hand. We are sunk
enough here, aren't we, Lieutenant? " he said to Joachim,
who, no little gratified at this method of address, sought to
hide his satisfaction, and answered reflectively:
I suppose we do get rather one-sided. But we can pull our-selves
together, afterwards, if we try."
"At least, you can, I'm sure - you are an upright
man," Set-tembrini said. ,. Yes, yes, yes," he said,
repeating the word three times, with a sharp s, turning
to Hans Castorp again as he spoke, and then, in the same measured
way, clucking three times with his tongue against his
palate. ., I see, I see, I see," he said again, giving
the s the same sharp sound as before. He looked the new-
comer so steadfastly in the face that his eyes grew fixed in a
stare; then, becoming lively again, he went on: "So you come
up quite of your own free will to us sunken ones, and mean to
bestow upon us the pleasure of your company for some little while?
That is delightful. And what term had you thought of putting to
your stay? I don't mean precisely. I am merely inter-ested to
know what the length of a man's sojourn would be when it is himself
and not Rhadamanthus who prescribes the limit."
"Three weeks," Hans Castorp said, rather pridefully,
as he saw himself the object of envy.
O dio! Three weeks! Do you hear, Lieutenant? Does
it not sound to you impertinent to hear a person say 'I am stopping
for three weeks and then I am going away again
? We up here are not acquainted with such an unit of time as the
week - if I may be permitted to instruct you, my dear sir. Our
smallest unit is the month. We reckon in the grand style - that
is a privilege we shadows have. We possess other such; they are
all of the same quality. May I ask what profession you practise
down below? Or, more probably, for what profession are you preparing
your-self? You see we set no bounds to our thirst for information-curiosity
is another of the prescriptive rights of shadows." "Pray
don't mention it,' said Hans Castorp. And told him.
" A ship-builder! Magnificent! " cried Settembrini.
"I assure you, I find that magnificent - though my own talents
lie in quite another direction."
"Herr Settembrini is a literary man," Joachim explained,
rather self-consciously. He wrote the obituary notices of
Car-ducci for the German papers-Carducci, you know."
He got / Page 59 / more self-conscious still, for his cousin looked
at him in amaze-ment, as though to say: "Carducci?
What do you know about him? Not any more than I do, I'll wager."
" Yes," the Italian said, nodding. "I had the honour
of telling your countrymen the story of our great poet and free-thinker,
when his life had drawn to a close. I knew him, I can count myself
among his pupils. I sat at his feet in Bologna. I may thank him
for what culture I can call my own- and for what joyousness of
life as well. But we were speaking of you. A ship-builder! Do
you know you have sensibly risen in my estimation? You represent
now, in my eyes, the world of labour and practi-cal genius."
"Herr Settembrini, I am only a student as yet, I am just
" Certainly. It is the beginning that is hard. But all work
is hard, isn't it, that deserves the name? "
"That's true enough, God knows - or the Devil does,"
Hans Castorp said, and the words came from his heart.
Settembrini's eyebrows went up.
" Oh," he said, " so you call on the Devil
to witness that senti- ment - the Devil incarnate,
Satan himself? Did you know that my great master wrote a hymn
to him? "
"I beg your pardon," Hans Castorp said, "a hymn
to the Devil? "
"The very Devil himself, and no other. It is sometimes
sung, in my native land, on festal occasions. 'O salute, O
ribellione, Oforza vindice della ragione! . . .' It is
song. But it was hardly Carducci's Devil you had in mind
when you spoke; for he is on the very best of terms with hard
work; whereas yours, who is afraid of work and hates it like poison,
is probably the same of whom we are told that we may not hold
out even the little finger to him."
All this was making the very oddest impression on our good Hans
Castorp. He knew no Italian, and the rest of it sounded no less
uncomfortable, and reminded him of Sunday sermons, though delivered
quite casually, in a light, even jesting tone. He looked
at his cousin, who kept his eyes cast down; then he said: ' You
take my words far two literally, Herr Settembrini. When I spoke
of the Devil, It was Just a manner of speaking,
I assure you.'
".Somebody must have some esprit," Settembrini
said, looking straight ahead, with a melancholy air. Then recovering
himself, he skilfully got back to their former subject, and went
on blithely: " At all events, I am probably right in concluding
from / Page 60 / your words that the calling you have embraced
is as strenuous as It is honourable. As for myself, I am a humanist,
a homo humanus. I have no mechanical ingenuity however
sincere my respect for it. But I can well understand that the
theory of your craft re-quires a clear and keen mind, and its
practice not less than the entire man. Am I right? " ,
"You certainly are, I can go all the way with you there,"
Hans Castorp answered. Unconsciously he made an effort to reply
with eloquence. " The demands made to-day on a man in my
profession are simply enormous. It is better not to have too clear
an idea of their magnitude, it might take away one's courage:
no, it's no joke. And if one isn't the strongest in the world
- It is true that I am here only on a visit; but I am not very
robust, and I cannot with truth assert that my work agrees with
me so wonderfully well. It would be a great deal truer to say
that it rather takes It out of me. I only feel really fit when
I am doing nothing at all."
" As now, for example? "
"Now? Oh, now I am so new up here, I am still
rather bewildered - you can imagine."
" Ah - bewildered."
" Yes, and I did not sleep so very well, and the early breakfast
was really too solid. - I am accustomed to a fair breakfast, but
this was a little too rich for my blood, as the saying goes. In
short, I feel a sense of oppression - and for some reason or other,
my cigar this morning hasn't the right taste, something that as
good as never happens to me, or only when I am seriously upset-
and to-day it is like leather. I had to throw it away, there was
no use forcing it. Are you a smoker, may: I ask? No? Then you
cannot imagine the annoyance and disappointment it is lor anyone
like me, who have smoked from my youth up, and taken such pleasure
"I am without experience in the field," Settembrini
answered, "but I find that my lack of it is in no poor company.
So many fine, self-denying spirits have refrained. Carducci
had no use for the practice. But you will find our Rhadamanthus
a kindred spirit.
He is a devotee of your vice." "Vice,
Herr Settembrini? "
"Why not? One must call things by their right names; life
is enriched and ennobled thereby. I too have my vices..."
THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN
Excursus on the Sense of
"WHEN they came upstairs after the meal, the parcel containing
the blankets lay on a chair in Hans Castorp's room; and that after.
noon he made use of them for the first time. The experienced Joachim
instructed him in the art of wrapping himself up, as practised
in the sanatorium; they all did it, and each new-comer had to
learn. First the covers were spread, one after the other; over
the chair, so that a sizable piece hung down at the foot. Then
you sat down and began to put the inner one about you: first lengthwise,
on both sides, up to the shoulders, and then from the feet up,
stooping over as you sat and grasping the folded-over end, first
from one side and then from the other, taking care to fit it neatly
into the length, in order to ensure the greatest pos-sible smoothness
and evenness. Then you did precisely the same thing with the outer
blanket - it was somewhat more difficult to handle, and our neophyte
groaned not a little as he stooped and stretched out his arrns
to practise the grips his cousin,showed .him. Only a few old hands,
Joachim said, could wield both blankets at once, flinging them
into position with three self assured motions. This was a rare
and enviable facility, to which belonged not only long years of
practice, but a certain knack as well. Hans Castorp had to laugh
at this, lying back in his chair with aching muscles; Joachim
did not at once see anything funny in what he had said, and looked
at him dubiously, but finally laughed too. "
"There," he said, when
Hans Castorp lay at last limbless and cylindrical in his chair,
with the yielding roll at the back of his neck, quite worn out
with all these gymnastic exercises; "there, nothing can touch
you now, not even if we were to have ten below zero."
He withdrew behind the partition, to do himself up in his turn.
That about the ten below zero Hans Castorp doubted; he
was even now distinctly cold. He shivered repeatealy as he lay
look-ing out through the wooden arch at the reeking, dripping
damp outside, which seemed on the point of passing over into snow.
It was strange that with all that humidity his cheeks still burned
with a dry heat, as though he were sitting in an over-heated room.
He felt absurdly tired from the practice of putting on his rugs;
actually, as he held up Ocean Steamships to read it, the
in his hands. So very fit he certainly was not - and totally anaemic,
as Hofrat Behrens had said; this, no doubt, was why he was so
susceptible to cold. But such unpleasing sensations were out-weighed
by the great comfort of his position, the unanalysable, the almost
mysterious properties of his. reclining-chair, which he had applauded
even on his first experence of it, and which re-asserted themselves
in the happiest way whenever he resorted to it anew. Whether due
to the character of the upholstering, the inclination of the chair-back,
the exactly proper width and height of the arms, or only to the
appropriate consistency of the neck roll, the result was that
no more comfortable provision for re-laxed limbs could be conceived
than that purveyed by this ex-cellent chair. The heart of Hans
Castorp rejoiced in the blessed fact that two vacant and securely
tranquil hours lay before him, dedicated by the rules of the house
to the principal cure of the day; he felt it - though himself
but a guest up here - to be a most suitable arrangement. For he
was by nature and temperament passive, could sit without occupation
hours on end, and loved, as we know to see time spacious before
him, and not to have the sense of its passing banished, wiped
out or eaten up by prosaic activity. At four o'clock he partook
of afternoon tea, with cake and jam. Followed a little movement
in the open air, then rest again, then supper - which, like all
the other mea times, afforded a certain stimulus for eye and brain,
and a certain sense of strain; after that a peep into one or other
of the optical toys, the stereo-scope, the kaleidoscope, the cinematograph.
It might .be still too much to say that Hans Castorp had grown
used to the life up here; but at least he did have the daily routine
at his fingers' ends.
There is, after all, something peculiar about the process of habit-
/ Page104 / uating oneself in a new place, the often laborious
fitting in and getting used, which one undertakes for its own
sake, and of set purpose to break it all off as soon as it is
complete, or not long thereafter, and to return to one's former
state. It is an interval, an interlude, inserted, with the object
of recreation, into the tenor of life's main concerns; its purpose
the relief of the organism, which is perpetually busy at its task
of self-renewal, and which was in danger, almost in process, of
being vitiated, slowed down, relaxed, by the bald, unjointed monotony
of its daily course. But what then is the cause of this relaxation,
this slowing-down that takes place when one does the same thing
for too long at a time? It is not so much physical or mental fatigue
or exhaustion, for if that were the case, then complete rest would
be the best restorative. It is rather something psychical; it
means that the perception of time tends, through periods of unbroken
uniformity, to fall away; the percep-tion of time, so closely
bound up with the consciousness of life that the one may not be
weakened without the other suffering a sensible impairment. Many
false conceptions are held concerning the nature of tedium. In
general it is thought that the interesting-ness and novelty of
the time-content are what "make the time pass "; that
is to say, shorten it; whereas monotony and emptiness check and
restrain its flow. This is only true with reservations. Vacuity,
monotony, have, indeed, the property of lingering out the moment
and the hour and of making them tiresome. But they are capable
of contracting and dissipating the larger, the very large time-units,
to the point of reducing them to nothing at all. And conversely,
a full and interesting content can put wings to the hour and the
day; yet it will lend to the general passage of time a weightiness,
a breadth and solidity which cause the eventful years to flow
far more slowly than those poor, bare, empty ones over which the
wind passes and they are gone. Thus what we call te-dium is rather
an abnormal shortening of the time consequent upon monotony. Great
spaces of time passed in unbroken uni-formity tend to shrink together
in a way to make the heart stop beating for fear; when one day
is like all the others, then they are all like one; complete uniformity
would make the longest life seem short, and as though it had stolen
away from us unawares. Habitu-ation is a falling asleep or fatiguing
of the sense of time; which ex-plains why young years pass slowly,
while later life flings itself faster and faster upon Its course.
We are aware that the intertercala-tion of periods of change and
novelty is the only means by which we can refresh our sense of
time, strengthen, retard, and rejuve-nate it, and therewith renew
our perception of life itself. Such is / Page 105 / the purpose
of our changes of air and scene, of all our sojourns at cures
and bathing resorts; it is the secret of the healing power of
change and incident. Our first days in a new place, time has a
youthful, that is to say, a broad and sweeping, flow, persisting
for some six or eight days. Then, as one " gets used to the
place," a gradual shrinkage makes itself felt. He who clings
or, better ex- pressed, wishes to cling to life, will shudder
to see how the days grow light and lighter, how they scurry by
like dead leaves, until the last week, of some four, perhaps,
is uncannily fugitive and fleet. On the other hand, the quickening
of the sense of time will flow out beyond the interval and reassert
itself after the return to ordinary existence: the first days
at home after the holiday will be lived with a broader flow, freshly
and youthfully- but only the first few, for one adjusts oneself
more quickly to the rule than to the exception; and if the sense
of time be already weakened by age, or - and this is a sign of
low vitality - it was never very well developed, one drowses quickly
back into the old life, and after four-and-twenty hours it is
as though one had never been away, and the journey had been but
a watch in the night.
We have introduced these remarks here only because our young Hans
Castorp had something like them in mind when, a few days later,
he said to his cousin, and fixed him with his bloodshot eyes:
" I shall never cease to find it strange that the time seems
to go so slowly in a new place. I mean - of course it isn't a
question of my I being bored; on the contrary, I might say that
I am royally enter-tained. But when I look back - in retrospect,
that is, you under-stand - it seems to me I've been up here goodness
only knows how long; it seems an eternity back to the time when
I arrived, and did not quite understand that I was there, and
you said: Just get out here - don't you remember? - That
has nothing whatever to do with reason, or with the ordinary ways
of measuring time; it is purely a matter of feeling. Certainly
it would be nonsense for me to say: 'I feel I have been up here
two months' - it would be silly. All I can say is "very long.'
"Yes," Joachim answered, thermometer in mouth, I profit
by it too; while you are here, I can sort of hang on by you, as
it were." Hans Castorp laughed, to hear his cousin speak
thus, quite simply, without explanation."
THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN
"He had never seen Frau Chauchat's
face so close, so clear in all its details. He could have counted
the tiny / Page 146 / hairs that stood up from the braid she wore
wreathed round her head - they were reddish-blond, with a metallic
sheen. No more than a hands-breadth or so of space had been between
his face and hers, whose outline and features, peculiar though
they were, had been familiar to him as long as he could remember,
and spoke to his very soul as nothing else could in all the world.
It was an un-usual face, and full of character (for only
the unusual seems to us to have character); its
mystery and strangeness spoke of the un- known north, and
it teased the curiosity because its proportions and characteristics
were somehow not very easy to determine. Its keynote, probably,
was the high, bony structure of the prominent cheek-bones; they
seemed to compress the eyes - which were un-usually far
apart and unusually level with the face - and squeeze them into
a slightly oblique position; while at the same time they appeared
responsible for the soft concavity of the cheek, and this, in
turn, to result in the full curve of the slightly pouting lips.
Then there were the eyes themselves: the narrow" Kirghiz"
eyes, whose shape was yet to Hans Castorp a simple enchantment
and whose colour was the grey-blue or blue-grey
of distant moun-tains; they had the trick of sidewise, unseeing
glance, which could sometimes melt them into the very hue of mystery
and darkness - these eyes of Clavdia, which had gazed so forbiddingly
into his very face, and which so awfully resembled
Pribislav Hippe's in shape, expression, and colour that they
fairly frightened him. Resembled was not the word: they
were the same eyes. The breadth, too, of the upper part of the
face, the flattened nose, everything, even to the flush in the
white skin, the healthy colour of the cheek - which in Frau Chauchat's
case, as in so many others, merely counterfeited health and was
a superficial,effect of the open-air cure - everything was precisely
Pribislav, and no differently would he have looked at Hans Castorp
were they to meet again as of old in the school court-yard.
It had been staggering in the extreme. Hans Castorp thrilled at
the encounter, yet experienced a mounting uneasiness like that
he felt when he realized how narrow was the proximity that en-closed
him and the fair Russian. That the long-forgotten Pribislav Hippe
should appear to him in the guise of Frau Chauchat and look at
him with those " Kirghiz " eyes - this
was to be immured, not with opportunity, but with the inevitable,
the unescapable, to such an extent as to fill him with conflicting
emotions. It was a situation rich in hope, yet heavy with dread
- it gave our young friend a feeling of helplessness, and set
motion a vague instinct to cast about, to grope and feel for help
or counsel. One after an / Page 147 / other he mentally
summoned up various people, the thought of whom might serve him
as some sort of mental support.
There was the good, the upright Joachim, firm as a rock
- yet whose eyes in these past months had come to hold such a
tragic shadow, and who had never used to shrug his shoulders,
as he did so often now. Joachim, with the "Blue
Peter" in his pocket, as Frau Stohr called the
receptacle. When Hans Castorp thought of her hard, crabbed
face it made him shiver. Yes, there was Joa-chim - who
kept constantly at Hofrat Behrens to let him get away
and go down to the longed-for service in the " plain "
- the " flat. land," as the healthy, normal world
was called up here, with a faint yet perceptible nuance of contempt.
Joachim served the cure single-mindedly, to the end that
he might arrive sooner at his goal and save some of the time which
"those up here" so wantonly flung away; served it unquestioningly
for the sake of speedy recovery - but also, Hans Castorp
detected, for the sake of the cure itself, which, after all, was
a service, like another; and was not duty duty,
wherever performed? Joachim invariably went upstairs after
only a quarter-hour in the drawing-rooms; and this mlitary precision
of his was a prop to the civilian laxity of his cousin, who would
otherwise be likely to loiter unprofitably below, with his eye
on the company in the small salon. But Hans Castorp was
con-vinced there was another and private reason why Joachim
with-drew so early; he had known it since the time he saw his
cousin's face take on the mottled pallor, and his mouth assume
the pathetic twist. He perfectly understood. For Marusja
was almost always there in the evening -laughter-loving Marusja,
with the little ruby on her charming hand, the handkerchief with
scent, and the swelling bosom, tainted within - Hans Castorp
com-prehended that it was her presence which drove Joachim
away, precisely because it so strongly, so fearfully drew him
Was Joachim too "immured" - and even worse off
than him-self, in that he had five times a day to sit
at the same table with Marusja and her orange-scented
handkerchief? However that might be, it was clear that Joachim
was preoccupied with his own troubles; the thought of him could
afford his cousin no mental support. That he took refuge in daily
flight was a credit to him; .but that he had to flee was anything
but reassuring to Hans Ca-storp, who even began to feel
that Joachim's good example of faithful service of the
cure and the initiation which he owed to his cousin's experience
might have also their bad side.
Hans Castorp had not been up here three weeks.
But it seemed 'longer; and the daily routine which Joachim
so piously observed /Page 148 / had begun to take on, in
his eyes, a character of sanctity. When from the point of view
of " those up here," he considered life lived down in
the flat-land, it seemed somehow queer and un-natural.
He had grown skilled in the handling of his rugs and the art of
making a proper bundle, a sort of mummy, of himself, when
lying on his balcony on cold days. He was almost as skilful as
Joa-chim - and yet, down below, there was no soul who knew aught
of such an art or the practice of it! How strange, he thought;
yet at the same moment wondered at himself for finding it strange-
and there surged up again that uneasy sensation of groping for
He thought of Hofrat Behrens and his professional advice, be-stowed
" sine pecunia," that he should, while he was
up here, or his life like the other patients, even to the taking
of his temper-ature. He thought of Settembrini, and of how he
had laughed .that same advice, and quoted something out of
The Magic Flute. Did thinking of either of these two afford
him any moral support Hofrat Behrens was a white-haired man, old
enough to be Hans Castorp's father. He was the head of the establishment,
the high authority And it was of fatherly authority
that the young now felt an uneasy need. But no, it would not do:
he could not think with childlike confidingness of the Hofrat.
The physician had buried his wife up here, and been brought so
low by grief. almost to lose his mind; then he had stopped on,
to be near her grave and because he himself was somewhat infected.
Was he sound again? Was he single-mindedly bent on making his
patients whole, so they could go back to service in the world
below? His cheeks had a purple hue, he looked fevered. That might
be only the effect of the air up here; Hans Castorp, without fever,
so far as he could judge without a thermometer, felt the same
dry heat in his face, day in, day out. Of course,
when one heard the Hofrat talk, one might easily conclude he had
fever. There was some thing not quite right about it; it all sounded
very jovial and lively but on the whole forced, particularly when
one thought of purple cheeks and the watery eyes, which seemed
to be still weeping for his wife. Hans Castorp recalled what Settembrini
had about the Hofrat's vices and chronic depression - that might
have been malicious; it might have been sheer windiness. But he
did find it sustained or fortified him to think of Hofrat Behrens.
Then there was Settembrini himself, of course - the chronic oppositionist,
the windbag, the "homo humanus," as he styled
himself. Hans Castorp thought him well over, with his gift of
the gab, his florid harangue on the combination of dullness and
dis / Page 149 / and how he, Hans Castorp, had been taken to task
for calling a "dilemma for the human intelligence."
What about him?
would the thought of him be anyway efficacious? Hans Castorp recalled
how several times, in the extraordinarily vivid dreams visited
his sleep in this place, he had taken umbrage at the dry subtle
smile curling the Italian's lip beneath the flowing mous-e; how
he had railed at him for a hand-organ man, and tried to shove
him away because he was a disturbing influence. But that in his
dreams - the waking Hans Castorp was no such matter, but a much
less untrammelled person; not disinclined, either, on the whole,
to try out the influence upon himself of this novel type,
with its critical animus and acumen, despite the fact that he
found the Italian, both carping and garrulous. After all, Settembrini
had called himself a pedagogue; obviously he was anxious to exercise
influence; and Hans Castorp, for his part, fairly yearned to be
influenced-though of course, not to an extent which should cause
him to pack his trunk and leave before his time, as Settembrini
had in all seriousness proposed.
" Placet experiri," he thought to himself; wIth
a smile. So much Latin he had, without calling himself a homo
humanus. The up-shot was that he kept his eye on Settembrini,
listened keenly and critically to what he had to say when they
met on their prescribed walks to the bench on the mountam-slde,
or down to the Platz, or wherever and whenever opportunity offered.
there were, too: for instance, at the end of a meal Settembrini
would rise from table before anyone else and saunter across among
the seven tables, in his check trousers, a toothpick between
his lips to where the cousins sat. He did this in defiance of
law and custom, standing there in a graceful attitude, with his
legs crossed, talking and gesticulating with the toothpick. Or
he would draw up a chair and sit down at the corner of the table,
between Hans Castorp and the schoolmistress, or between Hans Castorp
and Miss Robinson, and look on while they ate their pudding. which
he seemed to have forgone.
" May I beg for admission into this charmed circle? "
he would say, shaking hands with the cousins, and comprehending
of the table in a sweeping bow. "My brewer over there
- not to mention the despairing gaze of the breweress! - But,
really, this Herr Magnus! Just now he has been delivering a discourse
on folk.psychology. Shall I tell you what he said? . The Fatherland,
it is true, is one enormous barracks. But all the same it's got
a lot of solid capacity, it's genuine. I wouldn't change it for
the fine manners of the rest of them. What good are fine manners
to me if / Page 150 / I'm
cheated right and left? ' And more of the same kind. I am at the:
, end of my patience. And opposite me I have a poor creature,
with churchyard roses blooming in her cheeks, an old maid
from Sieben-burgen, who never stops talking about her brother-in-law,
a man we none of us either know or wish to know. I could stand
it no longer, I shook their dust from my feet, I bolted."
"You raised your flag and took to your heels,"
Frau Stohr stated.
" Pre - cisely," shouted Settembrini. "I fled with
my flag. All, what an apt phrase! I see I have come to
the right place; nobody else here knows how to coin phrases like
that. - May I be per- mitted to inquire after the state of your
health, Frau Stohr?
It was frightful to see Frau Stohr preen herself.
" Good land! "she said. " It is always the same,
you know your-self: two steps forward and three
back. When you have been sit-ting here five months, along
comes the old man and tucks on an-other six. It is like
the torment of Tantalus: you shove and shove, and think
you are getting to the top - "
" Ah, how deligntful of you, to give poor
old Tantalus a new job, and let him roll the stone uphill
for a change! I call that true
benevolence. - But what are these mysterious reports I have
been hearing of you, Frau Stohr? There are tales going about -
tales about doubles, astral bodies, and the like. Up to now I
have lent them no credence - but this latest story puzzles me,
" I know you are poking fun at me."
" Not for an instant. I beg you to set my mind at rest about
this dark side of your life; after that it will be time to jest.
Last night, between half past nine and ten, I was taking a little
exercise in the garden; I looked up at the row of balconies; there
was your light gleaming through the dark; you were performing
your cure, led by the dictates of duty and reason. ' Ah,' thought
I, , there lies our charming invalid, obeying the rules
of the house, for the sake of an early return to the arms of her
waiting husband.'-And now what do I hear? That you were seen at
that very hour at the Kurhaus, in the cinematografo "
(Herr Settembrini gave the word the Italian pronunciation, with
the accent on the fourth syllable) " and afterwards in the
cafe, enjoying punch and kisses, and -"
Frau Stohr wriggled and giggled into her serviette, nudged Joa-chim
and the silent Dr. Blumenkohl in the ribs, winked with coy confidingness,
and altogether gave a perfect exhibition of fatuous complacency.
She was in the habit of leaving the light burning on her balcony
and stealing off to seek distraction in the quarter be-low. Her
husband, meanwhile, in Cannstadt, awaited her return.
was not the only patient. who practised this duplicity.
And," went on Settembrini, that you were enjoying those kisses
m the company of - whom, do you think? In the company
of Captain Miklosich from Bucharest. They say he wears a corset
-but that is little to the point. I conjure you, madame, to tell
me! Have you a double? Was it your earthly part which lay there
alone on your balcony, while your spirit revelled below with Captain
Miklosich and his kisses? " '
Frau Stohr wreathed and bridled as though she were being ticked..
" One asks oneself, had it not.be:n better the other way
about, " Settembrini went on; 'you enjoying the kisses by
yourself, and the rest-cure with Captain MikIosich - "
"Tehee! " tittered Frau Stohr..."
WHIMS OF MERCURIUS
"...But to return,
by way of example, to some of those strains and stresses to which
Hans Castorp s state was prone. Our young man was sitting on a
painted garden chair, with his back against the wan, talking with
his cousin, whom he had forced, against his will, to come outside;
in front of him; by the balustrade, Frau Chauchat stood smoking
with her table-mates. He talked for her benefit; she turned her
back. His thirst for conversation was not satisfied by Joachim;
he must needs make an acquaint- ance - and whose? No other than
Hermine Kleefeld's. He di-rected a casual word toward that young
lady, then presented, himself and his cousin by name, and drew
up another chair, in order to carry on the game. Did she know,
he asked, what a deuce of a fright she had put him in, at their
first encounter, when she had whistled him such an inspiriting
welcome? He did not mind owning that she had accomplished her
purpose; he had felt as though someone had hit him on the head
- she / Page 233 / might ask his cousin! He called it an outrage,
frightening harm-less strangers like that, piping at them with
her pneumothorax! And so forth and so on. Joachim, quite aware
of the role that was being forced upon him, sat with his eyes
on the ground; even Fraulein Kleefeld gradually perceIved, from
Hans Ca- storp's distraught and wandering eye, that she was being
made a tool of, and felt piqued accordingly. And still the poor
youth went on smirking and turning phrases and modulating his
voice, until at last he actually succeeded in making Frau Chauchat
turn round and look him in the face. But only for a moment. Her
Pribislav eyes glided rapidly down his figure, as he sat there
one knee over the other, with a deliberate insouciance which had
all the effect of scorn; they paused for a space upon his yellow
boots, and then carelessly, with perhaps a smiile in their depths,
It was a bitter, bitter blow. Hans Castorp. talked
on awhile, feverishly. Then, inwardly smitten by the power of
upon his boots, he fell silent almost in the middle of a word,
and lapsed into deep dejection. Fraulein Kleefeld, bored and of-fended,
went her way. Joachim remarked, not without irrita-tion, that
perhaps they might go up to the rest-cure now. And a broken spirit
answered feebly that they might.
Hans Castorp anguished piteously for two days. Nothing oc-curred
in that time to be balsam for his smarting wound. What had she
meant by her look? Why, in the name of reason, had she visited
him with her scorn? Did she regard him merely as a healthy young
noodle from down in the flat-land, whose rece-ptivity was sure
to be of the harmless sort; as a guileless, ordi-nary chap, who
went about laughing and earning his daily bread and filling his
belly full; as a model pupil in the school of life, with no comprehension
of anything but the tedious ad-vantages of a respectable career?
Was he, he asked himself, a mere freckless tourist and three-weeks'
guest, or was he a man who had made his profession on the score
of a moist spot, a member of the order, one of those up here,
with a good two months to his credit-and had not Mercurius
only yesterday evening climbed up to 100o?
Ah, here, even here, lay me bitter drop that overflowed his cup:
Mercurius had ceased to mount! The fearful depression
of these days had a chilling, sobering,
relaxing effect upon Hans CastofF's system, which, to his pro-found
chagrin, aisplayed itself in a reduced degree of fever, scarcely
higher than normal. He had the cruel experience of / Page
234 / proving to
himself that all his anguish, all his dejection, had no other
result than to separate him still further from Clavdia, and from
that which was significant in her existence.
The third day brought the blessed releif. It was early
upon a magnificent October morning, sunny and fresh. The meadows
were covered with silvery-grey webs. The sun and the waning moon
both hung high up in a lucent heaven. The cousins were abroad
earlier than usual, meaning to honour the fine weather, by extending
their morning walk a little further than the pre-scribed limits,
and continuing the forest path beyond the bench by the watercourse.
Joachim's curve, too, had lately shown a gratifying decrease;
he had accordingly suggested this refreshing irregularity, and
Hans Castorp had not said no.
"We seem to be cured," he said, "no fever, free
of infection, as good as ripe for the world again. Why shouldn't
we have our fling? " They set out with walking-sticks, and
hatless - for since his "profession" Hans Castorp had
resigned himself to the pre-vailing custom, despite the original
assertion of his own contrary- minded conventions. But they had
not yet covered the initial ascent of the reddish path, had arrived
only at about that point where the novice had once encountered
the pneumatic crew, when they saw at some distance ahead of them,
slowly mount-ing, Frau Chauchat; Frau Chauchat in white,
a white sweater and white flannel skirt, even
white shoes. Her red-blond hair gleamed in the
morning sun. To be precise, Hans Castorp saw her; Joa-chim was
made aware of her presence by an' unpleasant sensa-tion of being
dragged and pulled along by his cousin, who had started up at
a great pace, after having suddenly checked and almost stood still
on the path. Joachim found the compulsion exceedingly annoying.
His breath came shorter, he began to cough, Hans Castorp, with
his eyes on his goal, and his breath-ing apparatus apparently
in splendid trim, gave little heed; and Joachim, having recognized
the situation for what it was, drew his brows together and kept
step for step, feeling it out of the question to let his cousin
go on alone.
The lovely morning made Hans Castorp sprightly. And his soul,
in that period of black depression, had secretly assembled its
powers. He felt a sure intuition that the moment was come to break
the ban. He strode on, dragging the panting and re- luctant
Joachim in his train, and they had as good as overtaken Frau Chauchat,
at the point where the path grew level and turned to the right
along the wooded hillock. Here the young man slackened his pace,
not to be breathless with exertion in the / Page
235 / moment of carrying out his
purpose. And just beyond the bend in the path, between mountain
and precipice, where the sunlight
slipped athwart the boughs of the rust-coloured firs, it actually
fell out, the wonder came to pass, that Hans Castorp, on Joa-chim's
left, overtook the fragile fair one, he went by her with a manly
stride, and then, at the moment when he was beside her, on her
.right, greeted her with a profoundly respectful! hatless inclinatlon
of the head, and a murmured "good-mornmg," to which
she answered by a friendly bow, that showed no trace of surprise,
and a good-morning in her turn. She said it in Hans Castorp's
mother-tongue, and smiled with her eyes. And all that was something
different, something fundamentally and blessedly other than that
look she had bent upon his boots - it was a gift of fortune, an
unexampled turn in affairs, a joy well-nigh beyond comprehending,
it was the blessed release.
Transported by that word, look, and smile, half blinded by his
senseless joy, Hans Castorp trod oil winged feet, hurrying the
misused Joachim with him, who uttered not a word, and gazed away
down the steep. It had been a manoeuvre of a rather unscrupulous
sort; in Joachim's eyes, as Hans Castorp well knew, it looked
very like treachery. Yet it was not the same thing as borrowing
a lead-pencil of a perfect stranger; one might even say it would
have been ill-bred to pass by a lady with whom one had been for
months under the same roof and not salute her. They had even been
in conversation with her, that time in the waiting-room. That
was why Joachim could say nothing; but Hans Castorp well knew
another reason that made his honour-loving cousin walk on in silence
with averted head, while he himself was so supremely happy, so
glad all over, at the suc-cess of his manreuvre. Never a man down
in the flat-land who had "given his heart" to some healthy,
commonplace little goose, been successful in his suit,
and experienced all the ortho-dox and anticipatory gratifications
proper to his state, never could such a man be blissfuller,
no, not half so blissful, as Hans Castorp
now over this momentary joy which he had snatched. - And so, after
a while, he clarped his cousin heartily on the shoulder and said:
"Hullo, what's the matter with you? Isn't it magnificent
to-day? Let's go down to the Kurhaus afterwards, there will probably
be music. Perhaps they'll play that thing from Carmen. -
What's the matter? Has anything got under your skin? "
"No," Joachim answered.
"But you look so hot, I'm afraid your curve has gone up again."
It had. The greeting he had exchanged with Clavdia Chau- / Page
236 / chat had overcome the mortifying depression; it was at bottom
the consciousness of this which had lay at the root of Hans Castorp's
gratification. Yes, yes, Joachim was right, Mercurius was mounting
again: when Hans Castorp consulted him, on their return from their
walk, he had climbed up to 104°..."
THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN
"IF certain insinuations on Herr Settembrini's part had angered
Hans Castorp, the annoyance was quite unjustified, as also his
feeling that the schoolmaster had been spying on him. A blind
man must have seen how it stood with the youth; he himself did
nothing to conceal his state, being prevented by a certain native
and lofty simplicity. He inclined rather to wear his heart upon
his sleeve, in contrast - if you like, favourable contrast - to
the devotee from Mannheim, with his thin hair and furtive mien.
But in general we would emphasize the fact that people in Hans
Castorp's state regularly feel a craving for self-revelation,
an impulse to confess themselves, a blind preoccupation with self,
and a thirst to possess the world of their own emotions, which
is the more offensive to the sober onlooker, the less sense, reason-ableness,
or hope there lies in the whole affair.
How people in this state go about to betray themselves is hard
to define; but it seems they can neither do nor leave undone anything
which would not have that effect - doubly so, then, in a society
like that of the Berghof, where, as the critically minded Herr
Settembrini once expressed it, people were pos-sessed of two ideas,
and only two temperature - and then again temperature.
By the second temperature he meant preoccupa- tion with
such questions as, for instance, with whom Frau Consul-General
Wurmbrandt from Vienna consoled herself for the de-fection of
Captain Miklosich - whether with the Swedish minion, or Lawyer
Paravant from Dortmund, or both. Everybody knew that the bond
between the lawyer and Frau Salomon from Am-sterdam, after subsisting
for several months, had been broken by common consent, and that
Frau Salomon had followed the lean-ings of her time of life and
taken up with callow youth. The thick-lipped Ganser from Hermine
Kleefeld's table was for the present under her wing; she had taken
him " to have and to hold," as Frau Stohr, in legal
parlance, yet not without perspicuity, had put it-and thus Lawyer
Paravant was free either to quarrel or to compound with the Swede
over the favours of the Frau Consul- General, as seemed to him
"These affairs then - in which,
of - course, the passage along the balconies, at the end of the
glass partitions, played a considerable role -were rife in Berghof
society, particularly among the fevered youth. They occupied people's
minds, they were a salient
feature of life up here - and even in saying thus much we are
far from having precisely defined the position with regard to
them. Hans Castorp, on this subject, received a singular impression:
it was that a certain fundamental fact of life, which is conceded
the world over to be of great importance, and is the fertile theme
of constant allusion, both in jest and earnest, that this fundamental
fact of life bore up here an entirely altered emphasis. It was
weighty with a new weight; it had an accent, a value, and a sig-nificance
which were utterly novel- and which set the fact itself in a light
to make it look much more alarming than it bad been before. Tbus
far, whenever we have referred to any questionable performances
at the Berghof, we have done so in what may have a seemed a light
and jesting tone; this without prejudice to our a real opinion
as to the levity, or otherwise, of the performances, and
solely for the usual obscure reasons which prompt other peo-ple
to adopt the same, But as a matter of fact, that tone was far
less usual in our present sphere than it is elsewhere in the world.
Hans Castorp had considered himself pretty well-informed on the
subject of the above-named " fact of life " which has
always and everywhere been such a favourite target for shafts
of wit. And he may have been right in so considering. But now
he found that the
knowledge be bad bad down in the flat-land had been most
inade-quate, that be had actually been in a state of simple ignorance.
For his personal emotions in the time of his stay up here - upon
the nature of which we have been at some pains to enlighten the
reader, and which bad been at moments so acute as to wring from
the young man that cry of "Oh, my God! " - had opened
his eyes, had made him capable of hearing and comprehending the
wild, the overstrained, the namelessly extravagant key in which
all the " affairs " up here were set. Not that, even
up here, they did not make jests on the subject. But up here,
far more than down below jests seemed out of place.They made one's
teeth to chat-ter, an took away one's breath, they betrayed themselves
too plainly for what they were, a thin and obvious disguise for
a hid-den extremity - or rather, an extremity
impossible to hide. Hans
Castorp well remembered the mottled pallor of Joachim's skin when,
for the first and only time, he had innocently alluded to Marusja's
physical charms in the light tone he might have assumed at home.
He remembered the chill withdrawal of the blood from / Page 238
/ his own face, the time he had drawn the curtain to shield Madame
Chauchat from the sun; he knew that he had seen the same look
on other faces up here, both before and since - he usually marked
it in pairs, as, for example, on the faces of Frau Salomon and
young Ganser, in the beginning of that relation between them so
happily described by Frau Stohr. Hans Castorp, we say, re-called
all this, and realized that under such circumstances it would
not only have been very hard for him not to " betray himself,"
but that the effort would not have been worth his pains. In othe
words, not alone the noble simplicity which did him honour, but
also a certain sympathetic something in the air urged him not
to do violence to his feelings or make any secret of his condition.
Joachim had, as we know, early spoken of the difficulty of forming
acquaintances up here. In reality this arose chiefly from the
fact that the cousins formed a miniature group by themselves in
the society of the cure; but also because the soldierly Joachim
was bent on nothing else but speedy recovery, and hence objected
on principle to any closer contact or more social relations with
fellow sufferers. It was a good deal this attitude of his that
pre-vented his cousin from exposing his feelings more freely to
th world at large. Even so, there came an evening when Joachim
might behold his cousin the centre of a group composed of Her-mine
Kleefeld, Ganser, Rasmussen, and the youth of the monocle and
the finger-nail, making an impromptu speech on the subject of
Frau Chauchat's peculiar and exotic facial structure, and be-traying
himself by his unsteady voice and the excited glitter of' "
eyes, until his listeners exchanged glances, nudged each other,
This was painful for Joachim; but the object of their mirth seemed
insensible to his own self-betrayal; perhaps he felt that his
state, if concealed and unregarded, would never come to any proof.
He might count, however, on a general understanding ot it, and
as for the inevitable malice that went with it, he took that for
granted. People, not only at his own table, but at neighbour-ing
ones as well, enjoyed seeing him flush and pale when the glass
door slammed. And even this gratified him; it was like an outward
confirmation and assertion of his inner frenzy, which seemed to
any him calculated to forward his affair, and encourage his vague
senseless hopes. And so it too made him happy. It came to this:
that people actually stood about in groups to observe the infatu-ated
youth - after dinner, on the terrace, or on a Sunday after-noon
before the porter's lodge, when the letters were distributed,
for on that day they were not carried to the patients' rooms.
He / Page 239 / was quite generally known to be very far gone,
drunk as a lord and not caring who knew it. Frau Stonr, Fraulein
Engelhart, Her-mine Kleefeld and her friend the tapir-faced girl,
Herr Albin, the young man with the finger-nail, and perhaps others
among the guests - would stand together and watch him, with the
comers of their mouths drawn down, fairly chortling, whilst he,
poor wight, his face aglow with the heat that from the first had
never left him, with the glittering eye the gentleman rider's
cough had kindled, would gaze, forlornly and frantically smiling,
in one certain direc-tion.
It was really splendid of Herr Settembrini, under these circum-stances,
to go up to Hans Castorp, engage him in conversation, and ask
him how he did. But it is doubtful whether the young man knew
how to value and to be grateful for such benevolence and freedom
from prejudice. One Sunday afternoon the guests were thronging
about the porter's lodge, sttetching out their hands for letters.
Joachim was among the foremost; but Hans Castorp had stopped in
the rear, angling, in the fashion we have described, for a look
from Clavdia Chauchat. She was 'standing near by, among a group
of her table-mates, waiting until the press about the lodge should
be lightened. It was an hour when all the patients mingled, an
hour rich in opportunity, and for that reason beloved of our young
man. The week before, he had stood at the window so close to Madame
Chauchat that she had in fact jostled him, and then, with a litde
bow, had said: "Pardon." Whereat he, with a feverish
presence of mind for which he thanked his stars, had re- sponded:
" Pas de quoi, madame."
What a blessed dispensation of providence, he thought, that
there should be a regular Sunday afternoon distribution of letters!
One might say that he spent the week in waiting for the next week's
delivery. And waiting means hurrying on ahead, it means regarding
time and the present moment not as a boon, but an ob-struction;
it means making their actual content null and void, by mentally
overleaping them. Waiting, we say, is long. We
might just as well - or more accurately - say it is short, since
it con-sumes whole spaces of time without our living them or making
any use of them as such. We may compare him who lives
on expectation to a greedy man, whose digestive apparatus works
through quantities of food without converting it into anything
of value or nourishment to his system. We might almost go so far
as to say that, as undigested food makes man no stronger, so time
spent in waiting makes him no older. But in practice, of course,
there is hardly such a thing as pure and unadulterated waiting."
"Well, the week had been somehow
devoured, and the hour for the Sunday afternoon post came round
again, so like the other it seemed never to have changed. Like
to that other, what thrilling opportunities it offered, what prospects
lay concealed within it of coming into social relations with Frau
Chauchat! Prospects that made the heart of young Hans Castorp
leap and contract, yet without actually issuing in action; for
against their doing so lay certain obstacles of a nature partly
military, partly civil. In other words, they were in part the
fruit of Joachim's presence, in part the result of Hans Castorp's
own moral compunctions; but also, in part, they rested upon his
sure intuition that social relations with Frau Chauchat, conventional
relations, in which one made bows and addressed her as madame,
and spoke French as far as possible, were not the thing at all,
were neither necessary nor desirable. He stood and watched her
laugh as she spoke, precisely as Pribislav Hippe had laughed
as he spoke, that time In the school yard: she opened her mouth
rather wide, and her slanting, grey-green eyes narrowed themselves
to slits above the cheek~bones. That was, to be sure, not "beautiful
"; but when one is in love, the aesthetic judgment counts
for as little as the moral.
" You are expecting dispatches, Engineer? "
Only one person could talk like that - and he a disturber of Hans
Castorp's peace. The young man started and turned toward Herr
Settembrini, who stood there smiling the same fine, human-istic
smile that had sat upon his features when he greeted the new-comer,
at the bench by the watercourse. Now, as then, it mortified Hans
Castorp. We know how often, in his dreams, he had sought . to
drive away the organ-grinder as an element offensive to his peace;
but the waking man is more moral than the sleeping, and, as before,
the sight of that smile not only had a sobering effect upon Hans
Castorp, but gave him a sense of gratitude, as though it
had responded to his need.
"Dispatches, Herr Settembrini?
Good Lord; I'm no ambassa-dor! There might be a postcard there
for one of us. My cousin is
just asking." . .
" That devil on two sticks in there has handed mine out to
me already," Herr Settembrini said, and carried his hand
to the side pocket of the inevitable pilot coat. "Interesting
matter, I must confess, of literary and social import. It is about
an encyclopaedic publication, to which a philanthropic institution
has considered me worthy to contribute. Beautiful work, in short
- ". Herr Set-tembrini interrupted hiimself. "But how
about you? " he asked. "How are your affairs going?
For: instance, how far has the / Page 241/ process of acclimatization
gone? You have .not been so long among us but that one may still
put the question."
"Thanks, Herr Settembrini. It still has its difficulties
it seems. It very likely will have, up to the last day.. My cousin
told me when I came that many people never got used to it. But
one gets used in time to not getting used."
"A complicate4 process," laughed the Italian. "
An odd way of settling down in a place. But of course youth is
capable of any-thing. It doesn't. get used to things, but it stikes
" And after all, this in't a Siberian penal settlement."
No ah, you have a fancy for oriental simile. Natural enough. Asia
surrounds us - wherever one's glance rests, a Tartar physiog-
nomy." Herr Settembrini gave a discreet glance over his shoulder.
" Genghis Khan," he said. " Wolves of the steppes,
snow, vodka, the knout, Schlusselburg, Holy Russia. They ought
to set up an altar to Pallas Athene, here in the vestibule - to
ward off the evil spell. Look yonder - there is a species of Ivan
Ivanovitch without a shirt-front, having a disagreement with Lawyer
Paravant. Botn of them want to be in the front rank to receive
their letters. I can't tell which of them is in the right, but,
for my part, Lawyer Para-vant fights under the aegis of the goddess.
He is an ass, of course; but at least he knows some Latin."
Hans Castorp laughed - a thing Herr Settembrini never did. One
could not imagine him laughing heartily; he never got fur-ther
than ,the fine, dry crisping of the comer of his mouth. He looked
at the laughing young man, and presently asked: "Have you
received your diapositive? "
"I have received it," Hans Castorp weightily affirmed.
"Just the other day. Here it is," and he felt for it
in his inner breast pocket.
"Ah, you carry it in a case. Like a certificate, as it were
- a sort of membership card. Very good. let me see it." And
Herr Settem- brini held it against the light, betweeh the thumb
and forefinger of his left hand; a little glass plate framed in
strips of black paper. The gesture was a common one up here, one
often saw it. His face, with the black almond-shaped eyes, displayed
a slight grimace as he did so, but whether this happened in the
effort to see more clearly or for other causes, he did not permit
it to appear.
"Yes, yes," he said, after a while. "Here is your
identity card. Thanks very much," and he handed the plate
back to Hans Castorp over his shoulder, without looking.
"Did you see the strands? " asked Hans Castorp. "And
know," Herr Settembrini answered him very deliber-ately,
" my opinion of these productions. You know too that those
spots and shadows there are very largely of physiological origin.
I have seen a hundred such pictures, looking very like this of
yours; the decision as to whether they offered definite proof
or not was left more or less to the discretion of the person looking
at them I speak as a layman, but a layman of a
good many years' experience."
" Does your own look much worse than this one? "
" Rather worse. I am aware, however, that our lords and mas-ters
do not base any diagnosis on the evidence of these toys alone.
Then you purpose stopping the winter up here with us? "
" Yes - Lord knows - I am beginning to get used to the idea
of not going back until my cousin does." .
" Getting used, that is, to not getting used
- you put that very wittily. I hope you have received supplies
from home - winter clothing, stout foot-gear? " .
" Everything - all in the proper order. I informed my relatives,'
jand our housekeeper sent me everything by express delivery. I
shall do nicely now."
" I am relieved. But hold - you need a bag, a fur sack! What
are we thinking of? This late summer is treacherous - it can turn
to winter inside an hour. You will be spending the coldest months
" Yes, the sleeping-sack," Hans Castorp said. "That
is a requi-site, I suppose. It had crossed my mind that we must
be going down to the Platz one of these days soon to buy one.
One never needs the thing again, of course - but even for the
five or six months it is worth while."
" It is, it is. - Engineer," said Herr Settembrini in
a low voice, coming close to the young man as he addressed him,
" don't you know there is something frightful in the war
you fling the months about? Frightful because unnatural, inconsistent
with your char-acter; it is due solely to the facility of your
time of life. Ah, the fatal facility of youth! It is the despair
of the teacher, for its proneness to display itself in the wrong
direction. I beg you, my young friend, not to adopt the phrases
current up here, but to speak the language of the European culture
native to you. Up here there is too much Asia. It is not without
significance that the place is full of Muscovite and Mongolian
types. These people - " Herr Settembrini motioned with his
chin over his shoulder - "do not put yourself in tune with
them, do not be infected with their ideas; rather set yourself
against them, oppose your nature, your higher
/ Page 243 / nature against them; cling to everything
which to you is by nature and tradition holy, as a son
of the godlike West, a son of civiliza-tion: and, for example,
time. This barbaric lavishness with time is in the Asiatic style;
it may be a reason why the children of the East feel so much at
home up here. Have you never remarked that when a Russian says
four hours, he means what we do when we say one? It is easy to
see that the recklessness of these people where time is concerned
may have to do with the space concep-tions proper to people of
such endless territory. Great space, much time - they say, in
fact, that they are the nation that has time and can wait.We Europeans,
we cannot; We have as little time as our great and finely articulated
continent has space, we must be as economical of the one as of
the other, we must husband them, En-gineer! Take our great cities,
the centres and foci of civilization, the crucibles of thought!
Just as the soil there increases in value, and space becomes more
and more precious, so, in the same meas-ure, does time. Carpe
diem! That was the song of a dweller in a great city. Time'is
a gift of God, given to man that he might use it - use it, Engineer,
to serve the advancement of humanity."
Whatever difficulty, if any, his phrases offered Herr Settem-brini's
Mediterranean palate, he brought them out with a clarity, a euphony,
one might almost say a plasticity; that was truly re-freshing.
Hans Castorp made no answer save the short, stiff, em- barrassed
bow of a pupil receiving a reprimand. What could he have said?
Herr Settembrini had delivered a private lecture, almost whispered
it into his ear, with his back to the rest of the people in the
room; it had been so pointed, so unsocial, so little conversable
in its nature, "that merely to commend its eloquence seemed
lack- ing in tact. One does not tell a schoolmaster that he has
expressed himself well. HansCastorp, indeed, had done so once
or twice in the early days of their aquaintance, probably from
an instinct to preserve the social equilibrium; but the humanist's
utterances had never before reached quite such a didactic pitch.
There was noth- ing for it but to pocket the admonition, feeling
as embarrassed as a schoolboy at so much moral,izing. Moreover,
one could see by Herr Settembrini's expression that he had not
finished his train of thought. He still stood so close to Hans
Castorp that the young man was constrained to bend a little backwards;
and his black eyes gazed fixedly into the other's face.
"You suffer, Engineer," he went on. "You are like
one dis-traught - who could help seeing it? But your attitude
toward suf-fering can be a European attitude; it should not be
the oriental, which in its soft abandonment inclines so readily
to seek this spot./ Page 244/
The oriental attitude toward suffering is one of pity and a bound-
less patience - that cannot, it ought not to be ours, to be yours!
- Look - we were speaking of what the post had brought us, look
at these! Or better, come with me, it is impossible here -let
us withdraw, and I will disclose to you certain matters. Come
with me! "And turning, he drew Hans Castorp away, and they
entered one of the small reception-rooms, the first on the right
next the vestibule, which stood empty. It was furnished as a reading-
and writing-room, with oak panelling and a light, vaulted ceiling,
book- cases, a centre table covered with newspapers in holders
and sur- rounded with seats, and writing appurtenances arranged
in the bay-windows. Herr Settembrini advanced as far as the neighbour-
hood of one of the windows, Hans Castorp followed. The door remained
The Italian sought the baggy side pocket of his pilot coat, and
drew thence with impetuous hand a bundle of papers in a large,
already opened envelope. Its contents - various printed matter,
and a sheet of writing - he ran through his fingers under Hans
"These papers," he said, "bear the stamp, in French,
of the International League for the Organization of Progress.
I have them from Lugano, where there is an office of a branch
of the League. You inquire after its principles, its scope? I
will define them for you, in two words. The League, for the Organization
of Progress deduces from Darwinian theory the-philosophic concept
that man's profoundest natural impulse is in the direction of
self-realization. From this it follows that all those who seek
satisfaction of this impulse must become co-labourers in the cause
of human progress. Many are those who have responded to the call;
there is a considerable membership, in France, Italy, Spain, Turkey,
and in Germany itself, I myself have the honour of having my name
inscribed on the roll. A comprehensive and scientifically executed
programme has been drawn up, embracing all the projects for human
improvement conceivable at the moment. We are study-ing the problem
of our health as a race, and the means for com-bating the degeneration
which is a regrettable accompanying phenomenon of our increasing
industrialization. The League envis-ages the founding of universities
for the people, the resolution of the class conflict by means
of all the social ameliorations which recommend themselves for
the purpose, and finally the doing away with national conflicts,
the abolition of war through the de-velopment of international
law. You perceive that the objects toward which the League directs
its efforts are ambitious and / Page 245 / broad in their scope,
Several international periodicals are evidence of its activities
- monthly reviews, which contain articles in three or four languages
on the subject of the progressive evolution of civilized humanity.
Numerous local groups have been established in the various countries;
it is expected that they will exert an edify-ing and enlightening
influence by means of discussion evenings and appropriate Sunday
observances, Above all, the League will strive its utmost to aid
with the material at its disposal the political party of progress
in every country, You follow me, Engineer?"
"Absolutely," Hans Castorp replied, with precipitation.
He had, as he spoke, the feeling of a man who finds himself slipping,
but for the moment contrives to keep his feet.
Herr Set:tembrini appeared satisfied. " I assume that these
are new and surprising ideas to you? "
"Yes, I confess this is the first time I have heard of these
" Ah;" Settembrini murmured, "ah,
if you had only heard of them earlier! But perhaps it is not yet
too late. These circulars - you would like to know what they say?
Listen. Last spring a formal meeting of the League was called,
at Barcelona. You are aware that that city can boast of a quite
special affinity with pro-gressive political ideas. The congress
sat for a week, with ban-quets and festivities. I wanted
to go - good God, I yearned to be there and take pa:rt
in the deliberations. But that scurvy rascal of a Hofrat forbade
me on pam of death, so - well, I was afraid I should die,
and I didn't go. I was in despair, as you may
imagine, over the trick my unreliable health had played me. Nothing
is more painful than to be prevented by our physical our animal
nature from being of service to reason. My sansfaction, therefore,
over this communication from Lugano is the more lively. You are
curious to know what it says? I can imagine. But first,
a few brief explanations: the League for the Organization of Progress,
mind-ful of its task of furthering human happiness - in other
words, of combating human suffering by the available social methods;
to the end of finally eliminatmg it altogether; mindful also of
the fact that this lofty task can only be accomplished by the
aid of so-ciology, the end and aim of which is the perfect State,
the League, in session at Barcelona, determined upon the publication
of a series of volumes bearing the general title: The Sociology
of Suffering. It should be the aim of the series to classify
human suffering ac-cording to classes and categories, and to treat
it systematically and exhaustively. You ask what is the use of
classification, arrange-ment, systematization? I answer you: order
and simplification are / Page 246 / the first steps toward the
mastery of a subject - the actual enemy is the unknown. We must
lead the human race up out of the primi-tive stages of fear and
patient stupidity, and set its feet on the path of conscious activity.
We must enlighten it upon two points: first, that given effects
become void when one first recognizes and then removes their causes;
and second, that almost all individual suffer-ing is due to disease
of the social organism. Very well; this is the object of the
Sociological Pathology. It will be issued in some twenty
folio volumes, treating every species of human suffering, from
the most personal and intimate to the great collective strug-gles
arising from the conflicting interests of classes and nations;
it will, in short, exhibit the chemical elements whose combination
in various proportions results in all the ills to which our human
flesh.is heir. The publication will in every case take as its
norm the dignity and happiness of mankind, and seek to indicate
the meas-ures and remedies calculated to remove the cause of each
devia-tion. Famous European specialists, physicians, psychologists,
and economists will share in the compostion of this encyclopaedia
of suffering, and the general editorial bureau at Lugano will
act as the reservoir to collect all the articles which shall flow
into it. I can read in your eyes the questions to what my share
is to be in all these activities. Hear me to the end. This great
work will not neglect the belletrist in so far as he deals with
human suffering: a volume is projected which shall contain a compilation
and brief analysis of such masterpieces of the world's literature
as come into question by depicting one or other kind of conflict
- for the con-solation and instruction of the suffering. This,
then, is the task entrusted to your humble servant, in the letter
you see here."
"You don t say, Herr Settembrini! Allow me to offer you my
heartiest congratulations! That is a magnificent commissIon, just
in your line, I should think. No wonder the League thought of
you! And what joy you must feel to aid in the elimination of human
"It is a work very broad in its scope," Herr Settembrini
said thoughtfully," and will require much consideration and
wide reading. Especially," .he added and.his gaze seemed
to lose itself in the immensity of his task, " since literature
has regularly chosen to depict suffering, and even second - and
third rate masterpieces treat of it in one form or another. But
what of that? So much the better! However comprehensive the work
may be, it is at least of a nature that will permit me to carry
it on, if needs must, even in this accursed place - though
I hope I need not be here long enough to bring it
to a conclusion. That is something." he said, / Page 247
/ moving closer to Hans Castorp, and subduing his voice nearly
to a whisper, "that is something which can hardly be said
of the duties nature lays upon you, Engineer! This is what I wanted
to bring out, this is the word of warning I have been trying to
utter. You know what admiration I feel for your profession. But
as it is a practical, not an intellectual calling, you are differently
situated from myself, in that you can only pursue it down in the
world - only there can you be a true European, only there can
you actively fight suffering, improve the time, further progress,
with your own weapons and in your own way. If I have told you
of the task that has fallen to my lot, it was only to remind you,
only to recall you to yourself, only to clarify certain conceptions
of yours which the atmospheric conditions up here were obviously
beginning to becloud. I would urge it upon you: hold yourself
upright, preserve your self-respect, do not give ground to the
un-known. Flee from this sink of iniquity, this island of
Circe, whereon you are not Odysseus enough to dwell in safety.
You will be going on all fours - already you are glancing toward
your forward extremities, and presently you will begin to grunt
- have a care! "
The humanist had uttered these admonitions in the same low voice,
shaking his head impressively. He finished with drawn brows and
eyes directed toward the ground. To answer him slightly or jestingly,
as Hans Castorp would once have done, was out of the question.The
young man weighed that possibility for a second, standing with
lowered lids. Then he lifted his shoulders and spoke, no louder
than Herr Settembrini: "What shall I do? "
"What I told you."
"You mean-go away? "
Herr Settembrini was silent.
"What you mean to say is that I should
leave for home? "
"It was the advice I gave you on the first
" Yes - and then I was free to do so, though it seemed
to me silly to throw up the sponge just because the air up here
put me about a bit. But now it is a rather different state
of affairs: I have been examined, and Hofrat Behrens told
me in so many words that it would be no good my going home,
I should only have to come back again; and that if I
stopped down there, the whole lobe would be at the devil before
you could say Jack Robinson."
"I know; and now you have the evidence in
"You say that so ironically - with the right
kind of irony, of course, that cannot for a moment be misunderstood,
the direct and classic device of oratory - you see,
I remember the things you say. But do you mean that
after you have seen this photograph, / Page 248
/ after the x-ray and Behrens's diagnosis,
you take it upon your-self to advise me to go home?"
Settembrini hesitated for a second. Then he drew himself up and
directed the gaze of his black eyes full upon Hans Castorp's
face. He answered, with an emphasis not quite without theatrical
effect: "Yes, Engineer, I take it upon myself."
But Hans Castorp's bearing too had stiffened. He stood with his
heels together, and looked straight at Herr Settembrini in his
turn. This time it was a duel, Hans Castorp stood his ground,
Influences from not far off gave him strength. Here was a school-master
- but yonder was a woman with narrow eyes He made no apologies
for his words, he did not beg Herr Settembrini not to take offence;
he answered: "Then you are more prudent for your
self than for others. You did not go to Barcelona in the
face of the doctor's orders. You were afraid of death,
and you stopped up here."
To a certain point Herr Settembrini's pose was undeniably shaken;
his smile, as he answered, was slightly forced.
"I know how to value a ready answer - even though
your logic smacks of sophistry. It would disgust me
to enter the lists in the sort of rivalry that is too current
up here; otherwise I might reply that my case is far more
serious than yours - so much more, in fact, that it is
only by artificial means, almost by deliberate self deception,
that I can keep alive the hope of leaving this place and
having sight of the world below before I die. In the moment
when that hope can no longer be decently sustained, in that moment
I shall turn my back on this establishment, and
take private lodgings somewhere in the valley. That will be sad;
but as the sphere of my labours is the freest, the least
material in the world, the change cannot prevent me from
resisting the forces of disease and serving the cause of humanity,
up to my latest breath. The difference between us, in
this respect, I have already pointed out to you..
Engineer, you are not the man to assert your better
self in these surroundings. I saw it at our
first meeting. You reproach me with not having
gone to Barcelona. I submitted to the prohibition, not
to destroy myself untimely. But I did so with the
most stringent reservations; my spirit protested in pride
and anguish against the dictates of my wretched body,
Whether that protest survives in you, as you comply
with the behests of our powers that be - whether it is
not rather the body, the body and its evil propensities,
to which you lend a ready ear - "
"What have you against the body? " interrupted
Hans Castorp suddenly, and looked at him with wide blue
eyes, the whites of / Page 249 / which" were veined
with blood. He was giddy with his own temerity and showed
as much. - Whatever am I saying? he thought.
I'm getting out of my depth. But I won't
give way; now I have begun, I won't give
him the lastword if I can help it. Of course he
will have it anyhow, but never mind, I will make"the
most of it while I can. - He enlarged upon
his objection: "But you are a humanist,
are you not? What can you have to say against
the body? " -
Settembrini's smile this time was unforced and confident. "
'What have you against analysis? ' " he
quoted, with his head on one side. "Are you
down on analysis? You will always find me
ready to answer you, Engineer," he said, with a bow
and a sweeping downward motion of the hand, "particularly
when your opposition is spirited; and you parry
not without elegance. Human-ist-yes, certainly, I
am a humanist. You could never convict me
of ascetic inclinations. I affirm, honour, and love the
body, as I protest I affirm, honour,
and love form, beauty, freedom, gaiety, the enjoyment of life.
I represent the world, the interest of this life, against
a sentimental withdrawal and negation, classicism against romanticism.
I think my position is unequivocal. But there
is one power, one principle, which commands
my deepest assent, my highest and fullest allegiance
and love; and this power, this principle, is the intellect.
However much I "dislike hearing that conception of
moonshine and cobwebs people call 'the soul' played off against
the body, yet, within the antithesis of body and
mind, the body is the evil, the devilish
principle, for the body is nature, and nature
- within the sphere, I repeat, of her antagonism to the
mind, and to reason - is evil, mystical
and evil. ' You are a humanist? ' By all
means I am a humanist, because I am a friend of
mankind, like Prometheus, a lover of humanity and human
no-bility. That nobility is comprehended in the
mind, in the reason, and therefore you
will level against me in vain the reproach of Christian
Hans Castorp demurred.
"You will," Herr Settembrini persisted, "level
this reproach in vain, if humanistic pride one day learns
to feel as a debasement and disgrace the fact that
the intellect is bound up with the body and
with nature. Did you know that the great Plotinus is said
to have made the remark that he was ashamed to have a body?
"asked Settembrini. He seemed eager for a reply,
and Hans Castorp was - constrained to confess that this was the
first he had heard of it.
"We have it from Porphyrius. An absurd remark, if
you like. But the absurd is the intellectually
honourable; and nothing can / Page 250 /
be more pitiable than the reproach of absurdity, levelled against
the mind as it asserts its dignity against nature,
and refuses to abdicate before her. - Have you heard of
the Lisbon earthquake, Engineer? "
"An earthquake? No - I see no newspapers up
"You misunderstand me. En passant,
let me say it is a pity, and very indicative of the spirit
of this place, that you neglect to read the papers. But
you misunderstand me, the convulsion of nature
to which I refer is not modern. It took place some
hundred and fifty years ago."
"I see. Oh, wait - I have it. I have
read that Goethe said to his servant, that night in
his bedchamber - "
"No, it was not of that I was speaking," Settembrini
interrupted him, closing his eyes, and shaking
his small sallow hand in the air. " Besides,
you are confusing two catastrophes. You are think-ing
of the earthquake of Messina. I have in mind the
one that visited Lisbon in the year 1755."
"Well, Voltaire was outraged by it."
"Outraged? That is - how do you mean? "
"He rebelled. Yes. He declined to accept that
brutal fatum et factum. His spirit refused to abdicate
before it. He protested in the name of reason
and the intellect against that scandalous dere-liction of nature,
to which were sacrificed thousands of human lives, and three-quarters
of a flourishing city. You are astonished? You
smile? You may well be astonished; but as
for smiling, give me leave to tell you it is out
of place. Voltaire's attitude was that of a worthy descendant
of those old Gauls that shot their arrows against the heavens.
There, Engineer, you have the hostility the intellect
feels against nature, its proud mistrust, its high-hearted
in- sistence upon the right to criticize her and her
evil, reason-denying power. Nature is force;
and it is slavish to suffer force, to abdicate
before it - to abdicate, that is,inwardly. And there
too you have the humanistic position which runs
not the slightest risk of in-volving itself in contradictions,
or of relapsing into churchly hy-pocrisy, when it sees in the
body the antagonist, the representative of the evil
principle. The contradiction you imagine you see is at
bottom always the same. ' What have you against analysis?
'Noth-ing - when it serves the cause of enlightenment, freedom,
prog-ress. Everything when it is pervaded by the horrible haut
gout of the grave. And thus too wIth the body. We are
to honour and uphold the body when it is a question of
emancipation, of beauty, of freedom of thought, of joy, of desire.
We must despise it in so / Page 251 / far as it sets itself up
as the principle of gravity and inertia, when it obstructs
.the movement towards light; we must despise it in so far as it
represents the principle of disease and death, in so far
as its specific essence is the essence of perversity,
of decay; sensuality, and shame."
These last words Settembrini had uttered standing close to Hans
Castorp, very rapidly and tonelessly, as though to make an end
of the subject. Succour was nigh for the youth: Joachim
entered the reading-room, with two postcards in his hand.
The Italian broke off; and the dexterity with which he altered
his tone for one in a lighter and fitting social key was
not lost upon his pupil- if so Hans Castorp may be called.
"There you are, Lieutenant! Have you been looking
for your cousin? I must apologize; we had
fallen into conversation - if I am not mistaken, we
have even had a slight disagreement He is not a bad reasoner,
your cousin, a by no means contemptible an-tagonist in
an argument - when he takes the notion."..."