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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:32 am 
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Living in hope
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Whistler—you da man. :bow:

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:59 am 
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:rofl:


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:07 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
I see Hans as representing not just Germany, but Western civilization in general. The struggle for his soul between the secular humanism of Herr Settembrini and the religious totalitarinism of Herr Naphta (not sure why you guys refer to him as Naphtali), balanced against the hedonism of Mynheer Peeperkorn, and most of all the Circerian tempress Clawdia Chauchat represents the struggle for the "soul" of Western civilization, which exploded inevitably into World War I.


Good points, Voronwë!

LOL, I just get the names wrong! The minute I was in bed yesterday, I thought "did I just write "Naphtali" - isn't he called "Naphta"?" - and it was hard to stop myself from getting up and starting up the PC again to make the correction. :blackeye:
Naphtali is a biblical figure, I guess the subconscious just "corrects" the name with the version it's heard before.
When I first saw the name of our Semprini I thought "Isn't that the professor's name in Magic Mountain?"... :roll: :blackeye:

Whistler - :rofl:

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Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:21 pm 
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I thought his name was originally Napthali. He was Jewish and orphaned in a pogrom, then raised by Jesuits. Part of the complexity of his character was the extent to which he now identified completely with his persecutors.

Jn

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:34 pm 
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Jnyusa wrote:
I thought his name was originally Napthali.


I don't think so, Jn, though his first name was Leib, and was changed to Leo when he joined the Jesuits.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:36 pm 
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That's interesting - I don't remember that.

But weren't pogroms usually made by ordinary people? I don't remember what it says of his backstory, but if a village runs riot against its Jewish neighbours (most likely as a way to get rid of debts), that doesn't mean the Jesuits were the persecutors.

I think that both his backgrounds - Jewish and Jesuit - have the one thing in common that seemed most dangerous to the conservatives of the age, namely supra-nationalism. Neither Jews (even though many of them at the time felt themselves to be "German") nor Jesuits (or any Catholics for that matter) in people's opinions, could be trusted in their loyalty for the country, because they have higher loyalties.
It's not surprising that the state considered both Catholics and socialists hostile.

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Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:40 pm 
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Hobby: ... but if a village runs riot against its Jewish neighbours (most likely as a way to get rid of debts), that doesn't mean the Jesuits were the persecutors.

Church officials were often involved in inciting people to riot, but more importantly I think it likely that he was raised to think of all non-Jews as "them" - the bad guys. I don't think a child could be expected to distinguish whether Jesuits were or were not involved. What Naphta knew, as a child, was that the people who killed his parents also raised him. (I'm going to go with Voronwë's recollection of the name.)

I think that both his backgrounds - Jewish and Jesuit - have the one thing in common that seemed most dangerous to the conservatives of the age, namely supra-nationalism. Neither Jews (even though many of them at the time felt themselves to be "German") nor Jesuits (or any Catholics for that matter) in people's opinions, could be trusted in their loyalty for the country, because they have higher loyalties.

Yes! This is a very important dimension to consider.

Oh, and something you posted earlier, Hobby, which I forgot to copy and quote before starting this post ... I did not think that Naphta represented Western civilization; I thought he represented the part of the German psyche that could not accept Western Civilization, at least not as represented in the character of Settembrini.

I'm inclined to agree with Voronwë that the character most representative of Western Civ is Castorp. I can give a lengthier explanation but it will have to wait until late tonight or tomorrow. :)

Jn

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:42 pm 
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I don't suppose there's any chance of a group reading of this after April 25? :oops:


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:58 pm 
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It's a very long (about 1000 pages) and difficult book, it might be hard to discuss chapter by chapter. But if there's some interest, we could try to think of a way to discuss it. :) Come up with a study plan, so to speak! :D

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Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 10:15 pm 
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I'd like that. I have it, and it's one of the books I planned to read this summer. If I had a group of people to discuss it with I'm sure I'd get a lot more out of it. *makes begging, puppy eyes at everyone*

My edition is in quite small print and so is about 700 pages. It's long, but I think it's do-able. :P


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 10:46 pm 
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I would be interested in discussing it, even potentially chapter by chapter (or more likely several chapters at a time).

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:07 am 
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Yeah, I'd really like to read the book again and discuss it here.

Melly, we can wait a bit, or maybe just talk generally about the book (without explicit spoilers) until people are read to do an organized reading.

Originally, we were thinking about what we might read when P&P is done. So there's no rush.

Jn

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:17 am 
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Location: Over there.
*is muddled in her thinking*

*Tiger, tiger, burning bright
On the cover, what a fright
This Tiger gives to little me
But not as much as the lady in the red Maidenform and the guy with the fishbowl over his head.*

*there seems to be a big gap in reality here*

*stays mixed up, but what the hey*

Uh.

Thomas Mann, yes. My goodness, haven't read Mann for a very, very long time and would love to be doing it again. Death in Venice was my favourite as I recall, but I was younger then. :)

Herman Hesse, nein. Every dopesmoking weirdo I knew was "into" Steppenwolf. They were the people who thought Bilbo and the gang were smoking doobies, so there you are. I tried it, the book I mean, and thought, "OK, I guess I am not worthy." And gave up.

Never heard of Mann's brother, though.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:28 am 
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vison, I know just what you mean. ;)

It's my opinion that Hesse's lesser-known works are better on average than his more famous works. I'm not sure I ever really 'got' The Glass Bead Game. Steppenwolf has the interesting literary device of the Magic Theatre but it's not a novel that one can appreciate, I think, until one reaches middle age.

I've read (from academic types) that Peter Camenzind was his best novel, and that's one I've not read. My personal favorite was Journey to the East.

One of these days I'm going to tackle Goethe's Faust. :D

Jn

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:07 am 
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of Vinyamar
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Isn't that Flesh Gordon and Dale Hardon? Where's Dr. Jerkoff?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:56 am 
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vison :rofl:

I've actually got a little volume with texts about gardens and gardening by Hesse. I haven't read it all, but from it you wouldn't think he's the kind of person that is considered cool by the generation of the 60s.
But, then, you wouldn't think that of Tolkien either. :D

The back cover has a quote saying: Handling soil and plants can give a similar relaxation and rest to the soul as meditation.

I guess I bought it on the strength of this point. :)


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One of these days I'm going to tackle Goethe's Faust.


Do that, Jny! :D
The first part isn't all that much to "tackle", really - I mean, it's deep, so there'll be lots to think about, but it's beautiful, too, and not all that hard to read.
The second part is harder to understand (for me), and I haven't read it - it's just so full of allusions to classical literature and mythology that it's impossible for me to follow.
But the first part is the more important one anyway, and with an annotated edition it's not hard at all, and a great pleasure! :)

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Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:41 pm 
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Re, Heinrich Mann and nobody knowing him - I mentioned the movie a while ago - does really nobody remember this?

I thought it was an icon of film history. :scratch:

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Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:16 pm 
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Hobby - I forgot to anwer that!

Yes, I know the Blue Angel! Had no idea that it had been written by Thomas Mann's brother.

That story (in movie form at least) had a small special significance in my life. It was my husband's favorite movie, and he would actually cry at the end, the professor's loss of status affected him so much. He took the story at face value, as a cautionary tale that people of high status should be careful not to fall in love with low women! lol

And I remember thinking, while watching it with him the first time, that it was really about the ease with which such a person can be brought low. The warning was not to avoid low women but to avoid building your whole identity on social status.

Now that you've talked about Heinrich Mann, it makes sense to me that he really was undressing that particular 'caste' in early 20th century German society ... showing how empty their achievements were and how vulnerable they were because of it.

One of the things that was so shocking about Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s was the fact that the academic community in Germany, which was so highly respected (and still is) gave no coherent answer to Mein Kampf, which was a big pile of uneducated, incoherent drivel. Either they felt that politics was beneath them or, later I think, when the Nazis begain to dictate curriculum, they were more concerned about losing their positions than anything else.

So ... both Mann brothers, I think, put their fingers on the pulse of that generation within Germany.

There is a quote at the beginning of one of John Fowles's novels that I've always thought applied particularly well to that generation ... which would be approximately my grandparents' generation:

"The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appears." Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

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