Week 17: The conclusion of the Peeperkorn story surprised me quite a bit. And Chauchat’s departure doesn’t even get its own paragraph?! In the wake of these losses Castorp descends into a full solitude, a “stupor,” where meaning and engagement is harder to find. Yet we end these pages with the introduction of a gramophone to the Berghof; Castorp falls in love with it quite literally (his obsession recalls when he first started reading the medical textbooks), and we get an examination of his favorite recordings, which bring him into deep relation with the world of art and feeling. “…An object created by the human spirit and intellect, which means a significant object, is ‘significant’ in that it points beyond itself, is an expression and exponent of a more universal spirit and intellect, of a whole world of feelings and ideas that have found a more or less perfect image of themselves in that object – by which the degree of its significance is measured. Moreover, love for such an object itself is equally ‘significant.'” I love reading Mann on art; hard not to read all of this as a reflection on the novel itself, as we come close to its end.
For next week: Read to “The Great Petulance.”