Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 13

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? 

Join our zoom call this Sunday and let’s discuss! Register at

For next week: Read to the end of Chapter 6!

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