Narrative Medicine book club: Magic Mountain, Week 14

Week 14: In this week’s selection we see the return of Joachim to the Berghof — briefly a joyous reunion between the cousins, but then, within a few months, a swift deterioration leading ultimately to Joachim’s death. I’m not sure (yet?) what to make of this! Coming as it does, even in this one section, after more debate between Settembrini and Naphta, it seems perhaps to serve as a reminder (to the reader as well as to Castorp!) that no matter the intellectual arguments, illness and death are real, and the Berghof is not merely a site for contemplation and flight from reality. The director, standing at Joachim’s death bed, calls him a “crazy fellow,” saying that “honor was the death of him,” and that his return to “down below” and to “force and violence” was ultimately the cause of his death. I wonder. But I am sorry for the loss of Joachim (Joachim, we hardly knew ye!), and curious how his death will affect Castorp, if at all — especially as the return of Chauchat is now on the horizon. 

For next week: read to the section “Mynheer Peeperkorn (Continued)” in Chapter 7.

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