The Magic Mountain and The Middle of the Journey: Analogous Tales

by Sam Bluefarb (November 2011)

* And death is a perennial, if not always an imminent visitor, presided over by the sanatorium’s head doctor, Hofrat Behrens, who seems more at home with teaching patients how to die (i.e., to quietly accept death) than how to cure them.

*  Later, in a response of her own, newly pregnant Nancy lectures him:

Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England (1883),* Emerson speaks of two parties, the party of the Past and the party of the Future. And Nancy, as we can see from her exchange with Laskell, has rejected the past and appropriately identified herself with the progressive future. However, by relegating him to the moribund, reactionary past, she effectively cuts him off from “the world of [activist] men.”


[His watch] was ticking. It had not stopped. . . . Amazing! Could it be that he had lain there in the snow for only ten minutes

or a little longer. . . . ?

* was to point out those idiosyncratic mannerisms Chambers affected in his underground days —in some ways, more than affectations alone, because of his very real fears of assassination. Maxim, too, takes on the precautions of the hunted man, and for much the same reasons.

*Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain (1924, New York: Vintage Books, 1996).

*Lionel Trilling, The Middle of the Journey (New York: The Viking Press, 1947).

*American Transcendentalist Web. http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/transcendentalism/authors/emerson/essays/historicnotes.htmlralities

[1] His father was a  shochet, slaughterer of animals in the Biblically prescribed (i.e., Kosher) manner.. A shochet must be an observant Jew of impeccably religious character and practice.

*Philip Rahv, “The Sense and Nonsense of Whittaker Chambers,” Partisan Review, 19, no. 4, 1952. 

Sam Bluefarb is Prof. Emeritus, Los Angeles Harbor College.

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