Week 2: We are learning more about life at the sanatorium and getting a sense of the cast of characters. Castorp and his cousin eat lavish meals, take their “rest cures” in the terrifically comfortable balcony chairs, and we see Castorp beginning to be acclimatized to the life of being a “patient” without necessarily being aware of it (I’m guessing that very soon he will buy a thermometer). There are hints that this place works with different rules, perhaps, than elsewhere — Castorp’s cigar is disgusting to him as it never is, no matter how he tries to enjoy it. And the “Half-Lung Club”! Can someone who knows about how lungs work please explain to us how far-fetched (or not!) that whole thing is?? I appreciated what Castorp says about understanding; when his cousin says he will come to understand that “things are serious only down below in real life,” Castorp says, “I’m already taking a great deal of interest in all of you up here, and once one is interested, why then understanding follows as a matter of course, doesn’t it?” This seems so profound and true to me, and a very important message for out current moment — curiosity, interest, being the things that lead to understanding (and understanding, in so many situations, to peace).
For Week 3: Read up to the section title “Politically Suspect” in Chapter 4.