The Magic Mountain Der Zauberberg by thomas mann

By thomas mann

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There was Hans Castorp’s father’s name, there was Grandfather’s own, there was Greatgrandfather’s; then the “great” came doubled, tripled, quadrupled, from the old man’s mouth, whilst the little lad listened, his head on one side, the eyes full of thought, yet fixed and dreamy too, the childish lips parted, half with awe, half sleepily. That great-great-great-great—what a hollow sound it had, how it spoke of the falling away of time, yet how it seemed the expression of a piously cherished link between the present, his own life, and the depth of the past!

We repeat that natural sympathy was in play here too, the close family tie and essential intimacy which not infrequently leaps over an intervening generation. Senator Castorp was tall and lean. The years had bent his back and neck, but he tried to counteract the curvature by pressure in another direction; drawing down his mouth with sedulous dignity, though the lips were shrunken against the bare gums, for he had lost all his teeth, and put in the false ones only to eat. It was this posture also which helped to steady an incipient shaking of the head, gave him his look of being sternly reined up, and caused him to support his chin on his neckcloth in the manner so congenial to little Hans Castorp’s taste.

He had altered with the illness, his nose looked sharp and thin; the lower half of his body was hidden by a coverlet on which lay a palm branch; the head was lifted high by the silken pillow, so that his chin rested beautifully in the front swell of the ruff. Between the hands, half-shrouded in their lace cuffs, their visibly cold, dead fingers artfully arranged to simulate life, was stuck an ivory cross. He seemed to gaze, beneath drooping lids, steadfastly down upon it. Hans Castorp had probably seen his grandfather several times at the beginning of this last illness, but not toward the end.

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