Week 13: This week’s pages were two sections that made an interesting juxtaposition: in the first, we learn more about the character of Naphta, and then Castorp witnesses another extended philosophical argument between Naphta and Settembrini, everything “intertwined and at cross-purposes, a great general confusion,” which is certainly how this reader experienced it! Then in the next section Castorp learns to ski, embracing the beautiful snowy landscape, and gets dangerously lost in a snowstorm, his fatigue and near frozenness inducing a hallucinatory dream in which the confusion of the philosophical debate seems to come clear to him. I can’t wait to discuss all of this with all of you as I admit I find it all very fascinating but also a bit opaque (“two half-naked old women” dismember and then “devour” a child in a kind of temple, in front of which lies a landscape of “sunny, civilized happiness”?). Castorp seems to be moving toward a sort of clarity of his own beliefs and understanding as the book moves into its final third…but how does it all coalesce for the reader?
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For next week: Read to the end of Chapter 6!