Saturday, April 20, 2013

Horizontals and Uprights


  1. Having completed my month-long real-time review of THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN by Thomas Mann, I am convinced that it must have been an enormous influence, outweighing any other influence, on the fiction of Robert Aickman. This is not only because of the similarity I seem to be the first to observe between The Hospice and The House Berghof, and their residents, and their meals, but also because of many other factors, including tone and beguiling disarming undercurrents and tropes, an absurd-weirdness that borders on nightmare as well as rationality.
  2. I am now revising my thoughts on the AickMANN story ‘Into The Wood’......
  3.  
  4. Into The Wood by Robert Aickman
  5. This novella seems to house a balustraded Sanatorium equivalent to that in ‘The Magic Mountain’ (except it is for the Half-Sleep not the Half-Lung Club!) where Mann’s ‘horizontals’ have become Aickman’s ‘uprights’, ritually walking off into the benighted wood, much like Hans Castorp once tried walking off into the white-out of snow. Mann’s sanatorium conveys tropes for the First World War, and Aickman’s for the Second World War. Both ‘rest cures’ of encroaching death-luxury… Both sleep and hunger unpredictable quantities.
    Lord Rosebery we’re told in this novella never got any sleep, and our female protagonist here, Margaret (another politician like Thatcher?) gradually loses the need for sleep as she approaches her own ritual withdrawal from life or her own Strindbergian Dance of Death… Within Mrs Slater’s ‘didactic stare’.

  6. “…a faint mistiness, a clammy softness; [...] When the sun did strike, the vague mist seemed to make it still hotter.”

  7. “She had noticed before that a person’s troubles, the pity the person has for those troubles, and the pity a second person feels for the first person, are all independent from one another.”
    “Losing one’s way was largely an act of intention.”

  8. “So eat up your mört, Margaret, and take no notice of all these gloomy thoughts.”

  9. A reference in the Aickman to Casanova who is another Italian Freemason like Mann’s Settembrini.

  10. “It is a little like the Italian parable of the onion: skin after skin comes away, until in the end there is nothing — nothing but a perfume that lingers a little, as the dead linger here a little after death, perfuming the air, and then are gone.”

  11. ————————————-

  12. And my final word on ‘The Magic Mountain’ – I have just read Mann’s own afterword to the novel for the first time and its following passage seems very relevant to this having been my SECOND reading of the novel (having first read it in 1970) and ALSO relevant to my real-time reviewing for the last five years being described as garnering a gestalt from leitmotifs!

  13. “But if you have read The Magic Mountain once, I recommend that you read it twice. The way in which the book is composed results in the reader’s getting a deeper enjoyment from the second reading. Just as in music one needs to know a piece to enjoy it properly, I intentionally used the word “composed” in referring to the writing of a book. I mean it in the sense we more commonly apply to the writing of music. For music has always had a strong formative influence upon the style of my writing. Writers are very often “really” something else; they are transplanted painters or sculptors or architects or what not. To me the novel was always like a symphony, a work in counterpoint, a thematic fabric; the idea of the musical motif plays a great role in it.
    People have pointed out the influence of Wagner’s music on my work. Certainly I do not disclaim this influence. In particular, I followed Wagner in the use of the leitmotiv, which I carried over into the work of language. Not as Tolstoy and Zola use it, or as I used it myself in ‘Buddenbrooks’, naturalistically and as a means of characterization—so to speak, mechanically. I sought to employ it in its musical sense. My first attempts were in ‘Tonio Kröger’. But the technique I there employed is in ‘The Magic Mountain’ greatly expanded; it is used in a very much more complicated and all-pervasive way. That is why I make my presumptuous plea to my readers to read the book twice.”

1 comment:

Weirdmonger said...

Meanwhile, some of you may remember the Aickman and Cannibalism thread that John Magwitch broached some time ago. I recorded it for posterity HERE
Well, you may not be surprised to learn that there is a significant cannibalistic dream scene in Mann's 'The Magic Mountain' that, during my
real-time review, I recorded at the start of the page HERE
But only those with strong stomachs should look at that!