Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain Week 3

Week 3: Hans Castorp has barely been at the sanatorium even a week, but he feels he has been there “a very long time” – the reader, too, feels a sense of expanded time, and wonders at the way that Mann, the writer, is creating for us a sense of what his character is experiencing. Many interesting themes are emerging in these pages — the relation between body and soul, between sickness and health, between memory and feeling (what is it that Castorp keeps almost remembering when he encounters Madame Chauchant?), and of course, the nature of time. What is happening, really, as Castorp slowly becomes “one of them,” settling into the life of an ill person in this sanatorium? The hints and movements of the transformation are fascinating; this transformation seems, so far anyway, to be the main “plot” of the book. Subtly, with this transformation, Mann seems to challenge us to ask about the very nature of illness and of time, and the way the two may relate to one another. 

Looking forward our first zoom meeting tomorrow, Sunday June 14, at 11 AM! Register at

For next week: Read to the section “Growing Anxieties/Two Grandfathers” in Chapter 4. 

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