Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 12

Week 12: Joachim leaves the Bergdof! Quite suddenly, in a brief chapter, Castorp’s cousin has had enough and quickly departs. The cousins awkwardly say farewell, Joachim calling Castorp “Hans” in a “moment of the most embarrassing exuberance,” and then Castorp is alone, having chosen to stay on at the sanatorium despite the doctor having given him permission to leave. So interesting, the way the idea of health and illness is still played with here, with Castorp continuing to tell himself he is ill even when the veil is lifted and the doctor all but says it’s a hoax! In the next section, Castorp’s great uncle comes to visit — so much comedy ensues, as inevitably the doctors try to get him to admit he’s sick and should stay, and he himself wrestles against the pull of the sanatorium’s “spirit,” so strong that he literally has to flee in the night. But even after “a stay of only eight days,” Castorp thinks, “everything down in the flatlands would seem totally false, unnatural, and wrong for a good while…”

For next week: Read to section “A Good Soldier” in Chapter 6. 

And our next meeting via Zoom will be August 23 at 11am! Register Here!