Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 18

Week 18: What a fascinating sequence in our next-to-last week! In this week’s chapter, “Highly Questionable,” we witness a séance, with the medium of a young Berghof patient named Ellen Brand. Her “spirit,” a “deceased, ethereal creature” named Holger who “speaks” through her, conjures for Castorp and a small group of others, after nearly two hours of writhing and sweating, the figure of Castorp’s cousin, Joachim. What a moment! We don’t totally know what happens for Castorp as he sees his cousin, gazing at him in “friendly silence” with “tenderness,” but Castorp, in response, whispers “‘Forgive me,'” though the text specifies that he whispers it to himself. Does he say this to excuse the fact that he then gets up to turn on the light and leave the room? Or is he saying this, instead, to Joachim? A very powerful, evocative, and unexpected scene. And so we are propelled forward to the end! Those who haven’t finished yet, how do you predict this will all end? 

For next week: Finish the book!! And join our LAST zoom meeting on Saturday (not Sunday!) October 3rd at 11 am! Register at

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