The Magic Mountain Operationes Spirituales

LEO NAPHTA came from a little place near the Galician-Volhynian border. His father, of whom he spoke with respect, obviously with the feeling that he was now remote enough from his native scene to view it with impartial benevolence, had been the village schochet, or slaughterer—a calling different indeed from that of the gentile butcher, who was labourer and tradesman, whereas Leo’s father was an official, and the holder of a spiritual office. Elie Naphta, after being tested by the rabbi in his pious proficiency, had been empowered by him to slaughter suitable animals after the Mosaic law and according to Talmudic prescription. The performance of his ritual task had imparted something priestly to his being; and his blue eyes, which the son described as sending out gleams like stars, had held in their depth a wealth of silent spiritual fervour. The solemnity of his bearing spoke of that early time when the killing of animals had been in actual fact a priestly office. Leo, or Leib, as he had been called in his childhood, had been allowed to watch in the court-yard while the father carried out his task, aided by his helper, a powerful youth of the athletic Jewish type, beside whom the slender Elie with his round blond beard seemed still more fragile and delicate. Standing near the victim, which was hobbled and bound indeed, but not stunned, he would lift the mighty slaughter-knife and bring it to rest in a deep gash close to the cervical vertebra; while the assistant held the quickly filling basins to receive the gushing, steaming blood, and the child looked on at the sight with that childish gaze which often pierces through the sense into the essential, and may have been in an unusual degree the gift of the starry-eyed Elie’s son. He knew that Christian butchers had to stun their cattle with a blow from a club before killing them, and that this regulation was made in order to avoid unnecessary cruelty. Yet his father, so fine and so intelligent by comparison with those louts, and starry-eyed as never one of them, did his task according to the Law, striking down the creature while its senses were undimmed, and letting its life-blood well out until it sank. The boy Leib felt that the stupid goyim were actuated by an easy and irreverent good nature, which paid less honour to the deity than did his father’s solemn mercilessness; thus the conception of piety came to be bound up in his mind with that of cruelty, and the idea of the sacred and the spiritual with the sight and smell of spurting blood. For he probably saw that his father had not chosen his bloody trade out of the same brutal tastes that moved the lusty gentile butcher or his own Jewish assistant to find gratification in it, but rather on spiritual grounds, and in a sense bespoken by the starry eyes.

Yes, Elie Naphta had been a brooding and refining spirit; a student of the Torah, but a critic as well, discussing the Scriptures with his rabbi—with whom he not infrequently disagreed. In his village, and not only among those of his own creed, he had passed for something unusual, for a man of more than common knowledge—

knowledge for the most part of holy things, but possibly also of matters that might not be quite canny, and anyhow were not in the ordinary run. There was something irregular, schismatic, about him, something of the familiar of God, a Baal-Shem or Zaddik, a miracle-man. Once he had actually cured a woman of a malignant sore, and another time a boy of spasms, simply by means of blood and invocations. But it was precisely this aura of an uncanny piety, in which the odour of his blood-boltered calling played a part, that proved his destruction. There had been the unexplained death of two gentile boys, a popular uprising, a panic of rage—and Elie had died horribly, nailed crucifix-wise on the door of his burning home. His tuberculous, bedridden wife, the boy Leo, and four brothers and sisters, all wailing and lamenting with upflung arms, had fled the country.

Not utterly and entirely penniless, thanks to the father’s foresight, the little troop came to rest in a small town of the Vorarlberg. Frau Naphta found work in a cottonspinning factory, where she laboured as long as her strength held out, while the children attended the common school. The mental pabulum purveyed by this

establishment probably answered to the needs of Leo’s brothers and sisters; but for him, the eldest, it was quite insufficient. From his mother he had the seeds of his lung disease; from his father, besides his slenderness of build, an extraordinary intelligence: mental gifts that were from the first bound up with instinctive aspirations, a lofty ambition, and an ardent yearning for the more refined side of life, which caused him to reach out passionately beyond the sphere of his origin. The fourteen-and fifteen-year-old lad managed to get hold of books out of school hours, and with lawless avidity continued to educate himself and feed his growing and impatient mind. He thought and uttered things which made the failing mother draw her head down crookedly between her shoulders and look at him with both wasted hands flung out. His person and the answers he gave at religious instruction drew upon him the attention of the district rabbi, and this devout and learned man received him as a private pupil, gratifying his taste for form by instruction in Hebrew and the classics, his logical turn by mathematics. But the good man was ill paid for his pains; as time went on, it became ever clearer that he had nourished a viper in his bosom. As once between Elie Naphta and his rabbi, so it was here. They fell out, exasperation on religious and philosophical grounds ensued and grew more and more embittered; the upright cleric had everything to endure from the irritability, captiousness, scepticism, and cutting dialectic of young Leo. Added to that, the lad’s turn for sophistry and his insatiable intellect had latterly taken on a revolutionary cast. An acquaintance with the son of a social-democratic member of the Reichsrat, and with this popular hero himself, turned his thoughts on politics, and made him apply his passion for logic to the field of social criticism. He said things that made the hair stand up on the head of the good Talmudist, who in politics was entirely loyal, and gave the final blow to the relations between master and pupil. In brief it came to this: that Leo was cast out, forbidden to cross the threshold of his master’s study—precisely at the time when Rahel Naphta lay dying.

And then, immediately after the mother’s passing, Leo made the acquaintance of Father Unterpertinger. The sixteen-year-old lad sat lonely on a bench in the park district of the Margaretentop, as it was called, a small height on the bank of the Ill, overlooking the town, whence one had a pleasant spreading view over the valley of the Rhine. He sat there lost in troubled and bitter thoughts of his fate and his future, when a member of the teaching staff of the Morning Star, the pensionnat of the Society of Jesus, out for a walk, sat down near him, put down his hat on the bench, crossed one leg over the other under his cassock, and after reading his breviary awhile began a conversation which waxed very lively, and proved in the end a decisive factor in Leo’s destiny. The Jesuit, a much-travelled and cultured person, a judge and fisher of men, pedagogue by passion and conviction, pricked up his ears at the scornful tone, the clearly articulated sentences, in which the poor Jewish lad answered his first questions. A keen and tortured intellect breathed in the words, and, probing further, the good father discovered a command of fact and a caustic elegance of thought made only the more surprising by the ragged exterior of the youth. They spoke of Karl Marx, whose Capital Leo had studied in a cheap edition; and passed from him to Hegel, of whom or about whom he had also read enough to be able to say something striking. Whether from a general tendency to paradox, or with intent to be courteous, he called Hegel a “Catholic thinker”; and on the father’s laughing query how that could be substantiated, since Hegel, as Prussian State philosopher, must surely be counted definitely with the Protestants, the boy replied that precisely the phrase “State philosopher” strengthened his position, and justified his characterization in a religious, though, of course, not in a churchly-dogmatic sense. For (Leo loved the conjunction, it came from his mouth with a triumphant, ruthless ring, his eyes flashing behind his spectacles every time he could bring it in) politics and Catholicism were, as conceptions, psychologically akin, both of them belonging to a category which embraced all that was objective, feasible, empirical, with an issue into active life. Opposed to it stood the Protestant, the pietistic sphere, which had its origin in mysticism. Jesuitism, he added, clearly betrayed the political, the pedagogical element in Catholicism; the Society had always regarded statecraft and education as its rightful domain. And he cited Goethe, who, rooted in Protestantism and assuredly Protestant as he was, had yet, by virtue of his objectivity and his doctrine of action, possessed a strongly Catholic side. He had defended auricular confession, and as an educator had been well-nigh Jesuitical.

Naphta may have said these things out of conviction, or because they were clever, or because, being a poor lad, he knew how adroit flattery could be made to serve his ends. The Father laid less stress on their intrinsic value than upon the general ability of which they gave evidence. Their talk had been prolonged, the Father soon possessed himself of the facts of Leo’s personal situation, and finished by inviting the youth to visit him at the school.

And thus it was vouchsafed to Naphta to enter the precincts of the Stella Matutina. It is quite conceivable that he had already long since coveted the scholarly and social charms of that atmosphere; and now, by this turn of affairs, he had won a new master and patron far better calculated than the old one to prize and promote his peculiar aptitudes, a master cool by nature, whose value lay in his cosmopolitanism; an entry into whose circle now became the object of the Jewish lad’s desire. Like many gifted people of his race, Naphta was both natural aristocrat and natural revolutionary; a socialist, yet possessed by the dream of shining in the proudest, finest, most exclusive and conventional sphere of life. That first utterance which the society of a Catholic theologian had tempted from him was—however comparative and analytical in

form—in substance a declaration of affection for the Roman Church, as a power at once spiritual and aristocratic (in other words anti-material), at once superior and inimical to worldly things (in other words, revolutionary). And the homage he thus paid was genuine, and profound; for, as he himself explained, Judaism, by virtue of its secular and materialistic leanings, its socialism, its political adroitness, had actually more in common with Catholicism than the latter had with the mystic subjectivity and self-immolation of Protestantism; the conversion of a Jew to the Roman Catholic faith was accordingly a distinctly less violent spiritual rupture than was that of a Protestant. Sundered from the shepherd of his original fold, orphaned, forsaken, full of craving after freer air and forms of existence upon which his native gifts gave him a claim, Naphta, who was long past the age of consent, was so impatient for profession that he saved his patron all the trouble of winning this soul—or rather, this extraordinary head—for his sect. Even before Leo’s baptism he had, at the Father’s instigation, found temporary lodgment in the Stella Matutina, where he was given food for both body and mind; and had migrated hither with the greatest equanimity, and the callousness of the born aristocrat, leaving his brothers and sisters to the care of the Poor Guardians and a destiny suited to their lesser gifts.

The property of the establishment was extensive, comprising in its buildings space for four hundred pupils, with wood and meadow land, half a dozen playing-fields, farm buildings, and stalls for hundreds of cows. The institution was at once boardingschool, model farm, athletic training-school, foster-mother of future scholars, and temple of the muses—for there were constant performances of plays and music. The life was both monastic and manorial. With its discipline and elegance, its quiet good cheer, its well-being, its intellectual atmosphere, and the precision of its varied daily regimen, it soothed and flattered the lad Leo’s deepest instincts. He was exaggeratedly happy. He ate excellent meals in a spacious refectory where the rule of silence obtained—as in the corridors of the establishment—and in the centre of which a young prefect sat on a raised platform and read aloud. Leo’s zeal in his classes was fiery; and despite the weakness of his chest he made every effort to hold his own in the games and sports. He went devotedly to early mass, and took part in the Sunday service with a fervour which must have been gratifying to his priestly teachers. His social bearing was no less satisfactory to them. And on high days and holy-days, after the cake and wine, he made one of the long line of pupils who, in grey and green uniform with a stripe on the trousers, high collar and kepi, went walking in the country.

He thrilled with gratitude at the consideration they showed him, in respect of his origin, his infant Christianity, and his personal fortunes. No one in the institution seemed to know that he was an object of charity. The rules of the house favoured the concealment of his homeless and family-less state. It was forbidden to send parcels of food or sweets to the pupils; if any came, they were divided and Leo received his share with the others. And the cosmopolitanism of the institution prevented his race from being perceptible. There were other young exotics among the pupils, such as the Portuguese South-Americans, who looked even more “Jewish” than he did, and thus the idea did not come up. An Ethiopian prince had been received at the same time with Naphta; he had woolly hair, and was distinctly Moorish in appearance, though most distinguished.

In class Leo expressed the desire to study theology, in order to prepare himself for membership in the Society, in case he should be found worthy. In consequence, his place was changed from the “second school,” where the food and living conditions were more modest, to the first, where he was served by waiters at table, and had a cubicle between a Silesian nobleman, the Count of Harbuval and Chamaré, and the young Marquis di Rangoni-Santacroce from Modena. He passed his examinations brilliantly, and, true to his resolve, quitted the pupil-life of the school to enter upon his noviciate in near-by Tisis, where he led a life of service and humility, silent subordination and religious discipline, and imbibed therefrom a spiritual relish fully equal to the fanatical expectations of his early years.

Meanwhile, however, his health suffered; less, indeed, through the severity of the noviciate, which was not lacking in physical recreation, than from within. The subtlety and acumen characteristic of the educational system of which he was now the object met his own natural tendencies half-way. He spent all his days and a good share of his nights in intellectual exercises, in searchings of the conscience, in contemplation, in introspection, into which he flung himself with such a passion of contentiousness as to involve him in a thousand difficulties, contradictions, and controversies. He was the despair—if at the same time the greatest hope—of his tutors, whom he daily pushed to the limits of their endurance by his raging dialectic and the subtility of his mental processes. “Ad hœc quid tu?” he would ask, the glasses of his spectacles flashing. And the cornered Father could only admonish him to pray for a tranquil spirit—“ut in aliquem gradum quietis in anima perveniat.” This tranquillity, when achieved, consisted of a complete atrophy of the personality, a state of insensibility in which the individual became a lifeless tool; it was a veritable

“graveyard peace,” the uncanny outward signs of which Brother Naphta could see on the empty, staring faces of those about him, but to which he would never attain, even by the route of physical decay.

It spoke for the intellectual fibre of those in authority over him that his delays and drawbacks had no effect on his standing. At the end of his two years’ noviciate, the Pater Provincial himself sent for him, and after the interview sanctioned his admission into the Society. The young scholastic, having taken the four lowest orders of doorkeeper, acolyte, lector, and exorcizor, and also the “simple” vows, was now definitely a member of the Society, and set out for Falkenberg, the Jesuit college in Holland, to begin his theological studies.

He was then twenty years old. At the end of three years, the unfavourable climate and the continued mental strain had so combined to aggravate his hereditary complaint that a longer stay would have endangered his life. His superiors were alarmed by a hæmorrhage; he hovered for weeks between life and death, when they hurried him, barely convalescent, back whence he had come. In the institution where he had been a pupil he found occupation as prefect and supervisor of the boarders, and teacher of the humanities and philosophy. Such an interval was in any case prescribed for the students of the Society; but it usually lasted only a few years, after which one returned to the college to take up again the seven years’ course of study and carry it to its conclusion. This, however, it was not granted Brother Naphta to do. He continued ailing; doctor and superior decided that it was best for him to serve his order here among the pupils, in the good country air, with plenty of outdoor occupation on the farm. He took indeed the first of the higher orders, and won therewith the right to chant the Epistle on Sundays at mass—a right, however, which he never exercised, first because he was entirely unmusical, and second because of his weak chest, which made his voice break and unfitted it for singing. He never got further than being subdeacon—not even to diaconate, much less to priesthood. The hæmorrhages recurred, the fever persisted, and he had finally come to the mountains for an extended cure at the Society’s expense. This was now in its sixth year, and gradually coming to be no longer so much a cure as a fixed condition of existence, a residence for life in rarefied atmosphere, coloured by some activity as Latin master in the Davos gymnasium for slightly tubercular boys.

All this, in much greater detail, Hans Castorp learned in the course of visits to Naphta’s silken cell, either alone or in company with his table-mates Ferge and Wehsal, whom he had introduced there; or else when he met Naphta out on a walk, and strolled back to the Dorf in his company. He learned it as occasion offered, bit by bit, but also in the form of continuous narrative; and found it all highly extraordinary. Not only so, but he incited Ferge and Wehsal to find it the same, which they accordingly did. The former, indeed, all the while protested that he was just a plain man, and this high-flown stuff utterly beyond him, his experience with the pleura-shock having been the sole event in his life to raise it above the most humdrum sphere. Wehsal, however, obviously enjoyed this narrative of a man’s rise to success from humble and oppressed beginnings—and in any case there was no ground in it for arrogance, since the good fortune seemed dwindling away again in the prevailing fleshly infirmity. Hans Castorp, for his part, regretted the reverse in Naphta’s affairs, thinking with pride and concern of the ambitious Joachim, who with a heroic effort had burst through the tough web of the Rhadamanthine rhetoric and flown to the colours, where his cousin’s fancy painted him clinging to the standard with three fingers upraised in the oath of fealty. To such a standard had Naphta too sworn faith, he too had been received beneath its folds: this had been the very figure he had employed when explaining his Society to Hans Castorp. But obviously, with his deviations and combinations, he was less true to his oath than Joachim to his. Hans Castorp, listening to the future or ci-devant Jesuit, felt himself strengthened in his views as a civilian and child of peace, while realizing that this man and Joachim would each find something satisfying in the calling of the other and recognize its likeness with his own. For the one was as military as the other, and both in every sense of the word; both being ascetic, both hierarchical, both bound to strict obedience and “Spanish etiquette.” This last in particular played a great rôle in Naphta’s society, originating as it did in Spain. Its exercises, which were a sort of pendant to the army regulations issued later by the Prussian Frederick to his infantry, were first written in the Spanish language, Naphta often making use of Spanish phrases in his narrative and

descriptions. Thus he would speak of the “dos banderas”—the two standards—the Satanic and the celestial, beneath which the armies gathered for the great struggle: the one near Jerusalem, where Christ was the “capitán general” of all the faithful, the other on the plains of Babylon, of which the “caudillo” or chieftain was Lucifer. And had not the establishment of the Morning Star been, precisely, a military academy, the pupils of which were drilled by divisions in military and spiritual decorum, a mingling, so to speak, of stand-up collar and Spanish ruff? And ideas of rank and preferment, which played such a brilliant part in Joachim’s profession—how plainly, Hans Castorp thought, were they visible in that other society, wherein Naphta, alas, by reason of his illness, had been prevented from making further headway! By his account, the Society was exclusively composed of officers on fire with zeal, moved by the single thought of distinguishing themselves (insignis esse, in Latin). And these, according to the teaching of their founder and first general, the Spanish Loyola, performed a far more splendid service than any could who were guided merely by their normal reason. For theirs was a work of supererogation (ex supererogatione) in that they not only combated the rebellion of the flesh (rebellio carnis), which after all was incumbent upon any average healthy human reason to do, but were hostile to even an inclination toward the things of the sense, toward love of self and love of worldly things, even where these had not been directly forbidden. For it was better and more honourable to assail the foe (agere contra), that is, to attack, than merely to defend oneself (resistere). To weaken and break the foe—those were the instructions in the service-book; and here again, its author, the Spanish Loyola, was of one mind with Joachim’s capitan general, the Prussian Frederick, with his motto of “Attack, attack! Keep on their heels! Attaquez donc toujours!” But what Naphta’s and Joachim’s worlds had most of all in common was their

attitude towards the shedding of blood, their axiom that one must not hold back one’s hand. Therein, as worlds, as orders, as states of society, they were in stern accord. The child of peace would listen with avidity to Naphta’s stories of the warlike monks of the Middle Ages, who, ascetic to the point of physical exhaustion, and filled with a ghostly lust of power, had been unsparing in bloodshed to the end of establishing the kingdom of God and its supernal overlordship; of the warlike Templars, who had held it of far greater worth to die in battle with the infidel than in their beds, and no crime but the highest glory, to kill or be killed for Christ’s sake. Luckily, Settembrini had not been present at that conversation. He continued to fill the rôle of organ-grinder, and sang the praises of peace to harp and psaltery, but there was always the holy war against Vienna, to which he never said nay, though Naphta visited his foible with scorn and contempt, and when the Italian was glowing with passionate feeling, would lead the bourgeoisie of all Christendom into the field against him, swearing that every country, or else no country at all, was his fatherland, and repeating with cutting effect the phrase of a general of the Society, named Nickel, according to which our love of country was “a plague, and the certain death of Christian love.”

It was, of course, his ascetic ideal that made Naphta call patriotism a scourge—and what all did he not comprehend under the word, what all, according to him, did not run counter to the ascetic ideal and the kingdom of God. For not alone attachment to home and family, but even clinging to life and health were so set down, he made it a reproach to the humanist that the latter sang the praises of peace and happiness quarrelsomely accused him of love of the flesh (amor carnalis) and dependence upon bodily comfort (commodorum corporis), and told him to his face that it was the worst sort of bourgeois irreligiosity to ascribe to health or life itself any importance whatsoever.

That was in the course of the great disputation on sickness and health, which one day, close on Christmas, arose out of certain differences they had during a snowy walk to the Platz and back. They all took part Settembrini, Naphta, Hans Castorp, Ferge and Wehsal—one and all slightly feverish, at once nervously stimulated and physically lethargic from walking and talking in the severe frost, all subject to fits of shivering, and—whether principals in the argument, like Settembrini and Naphta, or for the most part receptive, like the others, contributing only short ejaculations from time to time—all, without exception, so utterly absorbed that they stopped several times by the way, in a disorderly, gesticulating knot, blocking the path of the passersby, who had to describe a circle to get round them. People even paused and listened in astonishment to their extravagance.

The discussion had grown out of a reference somebody made to Karen Karstedt, poor Karen with the open finger-ends, whose death had lately occurred. Hans Castorp had heard nothing of her sudden turn for the worse and final exit, else he would gladly have assisted at the last rites, as a comradely attention, if not simply out of his confessed liking for funerals. But the local practice of discretion had prevented him from hearing of it until too late. Karen had gone to take up the horizontal for good, in the garden of the Cupid with the crooked snow-cap. Requiem œternam. He dedicated a few friendly words to her memory, interrupted by Herr Settembrini, who began making game of his pupil’s charitable activities, his visits to Leila Gerngross, Rotbein the business man, the “overfilled” Frau Zimmermann, the braggart son of Tous-lesdeux, and the afflicted Natalie von Mallinckrodt. He censured Hans Castorp in retrospect for paying tribute in costly flowers to that dismal, ridiculous crew; and Hans Castorp replied that with the temporary exception of Frau von Mallinckrodt and the boy Teddy, the recipients of his attentions had now in all seriousness died—to which Herr Settembrini retorted by asking if that made them any more respectable. Well, after all, Hans Castorp responded, wasn’t there such a thing as Christian reverence before suffering? Before Settembrini could put him down, Naphta

interposed, and began to speak of the devout excesses manifested by pious souls in the Middle Ages, astounding cases of fanatic devotion and ecstasy in the care of the sick: kings’ daughters kissing the stinking wounds of lepers, voluntarily exposing themselves to contagion and calling the ulcers they received their “roses”; or drinking the water that had been used for the cleansing of abscesses, and vowing that nothing had ever tasted so good.

Settembrini made as though he would vomit. It was not so much, he said, the physically disgusting element in these tales that turned his stomach as the monstrous lunacy which betrayed itself in such a conception of the love of humanity. Then, recovering his poise and good humour, he drew himself up and held forth upon the recent progress of humanitarian ideals, the triumphant forcing back of epidemic disease, upon hygiene and social reform; he contrasted the horrors of pestilence with the feats of modern medical science.

All these, Naphta responded, were very honest bourgeois achievements; but they would have done more harm than good in the centuries under discussion. They would have profited neither one side nor the other; the ailing and wretched as little as the strong and prosperous, these latter not having been piteous for pity’s sake, but for the salvation of their own souls. Successful social reform would have robbed them of their necessary justification, as it would the wretched of their sanctified state. The persistence of poverty and sickness had been in the interest of both parties, and the position could be sustained just so long as it was possible to hold to the purely religious point of view.

“A filthy point of view,” Settembrini declared. A position the stupidity of which he felt himself above combating. This talk of the sanctified lot of the poor and wretched—yes, and what the Engineer, in his simplicity, had said about the Christian reverence due to suffering—was simply gammon, resting as it did on a

misconception, on mistaken sympathy, on erroneous psychology. The pity the well person felt for the sick—a pity that almost amounted to awe, because the well person could not imagine how he himself could possibly bear such suffering—was very greatly exaggerated. The sick person had no real right to it. It was, in fact, the result of an error in thinking, a sort of hallucination; in that the well man attributed to the sick his own emotional equipment, and imagined that the sick man was, as it were, a well man who had to bear the agonies of a sick one—than which nothing was further from the truth. For the sick man was—precisely that, a sick man: with the nature and modified reactions of his state. Illness so adjusted its man that it and he could come to terms; there were sensory appeasements, short circuits, a merciful narcosis; nature came to the rescue with measures of spiritual and moral adaptation and relief, which the sound person naïvely failed to take into account. There could be no better illustration than the case of all this tuberculous crew up here, with their reckless folly, light-headedness and loose morals, and their total lack of desire for health. In short, let the sound man with all his respect for illness once fall ill himself, and he would soon see that being ill is a state of being in itself—no very honourable one either—and that he had been taking it a good deal too seriously.

At this point Anton Karlowitsch Ferge girded his loins to remonstrate—he defended the pleura-shock against sneers and contumely. So Herr Settembrini thought you could take the pleura-shock too seriously, did he? With all due respect and gratitude and all that, he, Ferge, must really beg Herr Settembrini’s pardon! His great Adam’s apple and his good-natured moustaches worked up and down as he repudiated any lack of respect for the sufferings he had undergone. He was just a plain man, an insurance agent, with no high-falutin ideas; even the present conversation soared far above his head. But if Herr Settembrini meant to suggest that the pleura-shock was a good example of what he was talking about—that torture by tickling, with its stench of sulphur and its three-coloured fainting fit—well, really he was very much obliged to Herr Settembrini, he really must thank him very kindly indeed; but there had been nothing of the sort about the pleura-shock—not it! Talk about adjustments and

“merciful narcosis”—why, it had been the most sickening piece of business under the shining sun, and nobody who had not been through it could have the least idea—

“Yes, yes,” Herr Settembrini said. Herr Ferge’s collapse got more and more remarkable as time went on, and he would presently be wearing it like a halo round his head. He, Settembrini, had no great respect for sick folk who laid claim to consideration on the score of their illness. He was ill himself, and seriously; but in all sincerity he felt inclined to be ashamed of the fact. However, his present remarks were purely abstract and impersonal; and the distinction he made between the nature and reactions of a well and a sick man was based on common sense, as the gentlemen would see if they would think about insanity—take, for instance, hallucinations. Suppose one of his companions, the Engineer, say, or Herr Wehsal, should enter his room to-night at dusk and see his deceased father sitting there in a corner, who should look at and speak to him—that would be absolutely monstrous, wouldn’t it? A shattering experience, which would confound both sense and reason, and make him get out of the room as fast as he could and put himself in the care of a specialist in nervous ailments. Or wouldn’t it? The joke of the thing was that such an experience would not be possible for any of the gentlemen present, since they were all in enjoyment of full mental health. If it did happen to any of them, it would be a sure sign that they were not sound, but diseased, and they would not react to the appearance with emotions of horror and by taking to their heels, but treat it as though it were entirely in order, and begin a conversation with it—this being, in fact, the reaction of a person suffering from a hallucination. To suppose that such hallucinations affected the person subject to them with the same horror as would be felt by a sound mind was a defect of the imagination to which normal persons were often prone.

Herr Settembrini spoke with droll and plastic effect. His picture of the father in the corner made them all laugh, even Ferge, put out though he was by the slight to his pleura-shock. Herr Settembrini took advantage of their hilarity to expatiate further on the contemptibleness of people who were subject to hallucinations, and of pazzi in general. It was his opinion that these people gave way a great deal more than they need, and often had it in their power to control their own freakishness. He had made this observation when he had visited asylums for the insane. For in the presence of the doctor, or of a stranger, the patients would mostly intermit their jabbering, grimaces, and weaving to and fro, and behave quite sensibly, as long as they felt themselves under scrutiny, only to let themselves go again afterwards. For lunacy undoubtedly in many cases meant the kind of self-abandonment which was the refuge of a weak nature against extreme distress, a defence against such overwhelming blows of destiny as it felt itself, when in its right mind, unable to cope with. But almost anybody might get in that state; and he, Settembrini, had held more than one lunatic to temporary self-control, simply by opposing to his humbuggery an air of inexorable reason.

Naphta laughed derisively; Hans Castorp protested his readiness to believe Herr Settembrini’s statement. Indeed, as he pictured him smiling beneath his moustaches and fixing the feeble-minded with the eye of remorseless reason, he could well understand how the poor fellow had had to pull himself together and behave with

“temporary self-control,” though probably finding Herr Settembrini’s presence a most unwelcome incident.—But Naphta too had had experience of asylums for the insane. He recalled a visit to the violent ward, where he had seen such sights as—my God, such sights as would have been a bit too much even for Herr Settembrini’s intelligent eye or disciplinary powers: Dantesque scenes, monstrous tableaux of horror and agony: naked madmen squatting in the continuous bath, in every posture of mental anguish or in the stupor of despair; some shrieking aloud, others with uplifted arms and gaping mouths whence issued laughter that mingled all the elements of hell—

“Aha,” cried Herr Ferge, and took leave to remind them of the laughter which had escaped him when they went over his pleura. In short, Herr Settembrini’s inexorable pedantry would have had to confess itself beaten before these sights in the violent ward; in the face of which, the shudder of religious awe would surely have been a more human reaction than this condescending twaddle about reason, which our Worshipful Brother and Eminent Preceptor saw fit to put forward as a treatment for insanity.

Hans Castorp was too preoccupied to question the new titles Naphta was conferring on Herr Settembrini. Hastily he made a resolve to look them up the first chance he got; for the moment, he had his hands full with the present conversation. Naphta was acrimoniously debating the general tendency which led the humanist to exalt health and cry down and belittle illness. Herr Settembrini’s attitude was, he thought, a remarkable, even admirable example of self-abnegation, considering he was ill himself. But the position, no matter how strikingly meritorious, was as mistaken as it could well be: resting as it did upon a respect and reverence for the human body which could only be justified if that body had remained in original sinlessness, instead of sinking to its present fallen state (statu degradationis). For it had been created immortal, and by the original sins of depravity and abomination, by the degeneration of its nature, it had become mortal and corruptible, and was thus to be regarded as the prison-house and torture-chamber of the soul, or as the fit instrument for rousing the conscience to a sense of shame and confusion (pudoris et confusionis sensum), as Saint Ignatius had it.

The humanist Plotinus, exclaimed Hans Castorp, was also known to have given expression to the same idea. But Herr Settembrini flung up his hands and ordered the young man not to confuse two different points of view—and, for the rest, to be advised and maintain an attitude of receptivity.

Naphta, continuing, derived the reverence which the Christian Middle Ages paid to physical suffering from the fact that it acquiesced on religious grounds in the sight of the anguish of the flesh. For the wounds of the body not only emphasized its sunken state, they also corresponded in the most edifying manner to the envenomed

corruption of the soul, and thereby gave rise to emotions of true spiritual satisfaction: whereas blooming health was a misleading phenomenon, insulting to the conscience of man and requiring to be counteracted by an attitude of debasement and humility before physical infirmity, which was infinitely beneficial to the soul. Quis me liberabit de corpore mortis huius? Who will deliver me from the body of this death?

There spoke the voice of the spirit, which was eternally the voice of true humanity. On the contrary—according to Herr Settembrini’s view, presented with no little heat—it was a voice from the darkness, a voice from a world upon which the sun of reason and humanity was not yet risen. Truly, in his own physical person he was contaminate; yet what mattered that, since his mind was untainted and sound—and quite competent to bring confusion to his priestly opponent in any discussion touching the body, or to laugh him to scorn over the soul? He took too high a flight in celebrating the human body as the true temple of the Godhead; for Naphta straightway declared that this mortal fabric was nothing more than a veil between us and eternity; whereupon Settembrini definitely forbade him the use of the word humanity—and so it went on. Bare-headed, their faces stiff in the cold, they trod in their rubber galoshes the crisp, creaking, cinder-strewn snow, or ploughed through porous masses in the gutter: Settembrini in a winter jacket with beaver collar and cuffs—the fur was worn to the pelt, and looked fairly mangy, but he knew how to carry it off with an air; Naphta in a long black overcoat that came down to his heels and up to his ears, and showed none of the fur with which it was lined throughout. Both speakers treated their theme as of the utmost personal concern; and both often turned, not to each other but to Hans Castorp, with argument and exposition, referring to their opponents with a jerk of the head or thumb. They had him between them, and he turned his head to assent first to one and then to the other; now and again he stood stock-still on the path, tipping his body back from the waist and gesturing with his fur-lined glove as he made some quite inadequate contribution to the talk. Ferge and Wehsal circled about, now in front and now behind, now in a single row until they had to break up their line again to let people pass.

It was due to some remark of theirs that the debate took on a less abstract tone, and all the company joined in a discussion of torture, cremation and punishment—both capital and corporal. It was Ferdinand Wehsal who introduced the last-named; with obvious relish, Hans Castorp observed. As was to be expected, Herr Settembrini, in high-sounding words, invoked the dignity of the human race against a procedure whose results were as devastating in education as in penology. And equally to be ex-pected, though rendered startling by a certain kind of gloomy ferocity, was Naphta’s approval of the bastinado. According to him, it was absurd to prate about human dignity, since true dignity indwelt not in the flesh but in the spirit. The soul of man was for ever prone to suck the joys of this earthly life from the flesh instead of the spirit; thus pain, by rendering bitter to him the things of the senses, was highly efficacious, driving him back to the spirit and giving the latter the mastery over the flesh. It was shallow to contend that the discipline of the whipping-post had anything particularly shameful about it. Saint Elizabeth had been flogged by her confessor, Conrad von Marburg, until the blood came, and by such means her soul was rapt “to the third choir of angels.” She herself, moreover, had beaten with rods an old woman who was too sleepy to make her confession. The members of a certain sect, and even other persons of devout and serious character, submitted to flagellation in order that the spiritual impulse might be strengthened. Would anyone seriously contend that such a procedure was barbarous and inhuman? It was true that corporal punishment was on the decline in certain countries which considered themselves in the van of progress: but the belief that such a decline was a sign of enlightenment became only the more comic the longer it persisted.

Well, anyhow, Hans Castorp considered, so much was granted: that in the antithesis between body and soul it was undoubtedly the body which embodied—the body

embodied, that wasn’t so bad, was it?—the evil principle; in so far as the body was naturally nature—pretty good, too, that!—and nature, being diametrically opposed to the spirit and reason, was by that fact intrinsically evil—mystically evil, one might say, if it didn’t sound like showing off! But it followed from this that the body should be treated accordingly, and made to profit from disciplinary methods, which might also be called mystically evil. Herr Settembrini, for instance, that time when the weakness of the flesh had prevented him from attending the Congress for the Advancement of Civilization at Barcelona, ought to have had a Saint Elizabeth at his side—!

Everybody laughed; but while the humanist was bringing up his guns, Hans Castorp hastily began to talk about a beating he had once received, when he was in one of the lower forms in the gymnasium, where this form of punishment still survived to some extent, and there were always switches on hand. His, Hans Castorp’s social position had been too good for the masters to venture to lay hands on him; but he had once been whipped by a stronger pupil, a big lout of a fellow who had laid on with the flexible switch across Hans Castorp’s thin-stockinged calves. It had hurt so confoundedly—so “mystically”—that he had fairly sobbed for rage, and the tears had ignominiously flowed down. And he recalled having read that in the penitentiaries, when men are flogged, the most hardened reprobates will blubber like little children. Herr Settembrini hid his face in his hands, that were clad in very shabby leather gloves; and Naphta, with statesmanlike calm, asked how else they would expect to reduce refractory criminals—unless by putting in the stocks, which were quite the suitable furnishing for a prison. A humane penitentiary would be neither one thing nor the other, an æsthetic compromise: if Herr Settembrini did not think so, then it was clear that, though an æsthete, he had very little sense of the fitness of things. And in the field of education, a conception of human dignity which would bar corporal punishment from the schools had its roots, according to Naphta, in the liberalindividualism of our bourgeois, humanitarian age, in an enlightened absolutism of the ego, which was, indeed, now dying off, to give place to social conceptions made of sterner stuff: ideas of discipline and conformity, of coercion and compliance, to the realization of which an element of godly severity would be needful, and which, when realized, would make us alter all our ideas on the subject of the chastisement of the human carcass.

“Hence the phrase perinde ac si cadaver,” scoffed Settembrini. Naphta suggested that since God, in punishment of our sins, had visited us with the shameful and horrible sentence of bodily corruption, after all it was not such a frightful insult to that same body that it should now and then get a flogging. And then, somehow, all at once, they came upon the subject of cremation.

Settembrini paid it homage. That indignity of corruption, he said, of which Naphta spoke, could by its means be redressed. On practical as well as on ideal grounds, mankind was now about to redress it. He explained that he was helping prepare for an international congress for the promotion of cremation, the scene of whose labours would probably be Sweden. A model crematorium would be exhibited, planned in accordance with the latest researches and experiments, with a hall of urns; they hoped to rouse widespread interest and enthusiasm. What an effete and obsolete procedure burial was, under our modern conditions—the price of land, the expansion of our cities and consequent shoving of the graveyards out on to the periphery! And the chop-fallen funeral processions, with their dignity curtailed by present-day traffic conditions! Herr Settembrini had plenty of disillusioning facts at his command. He made a droll picture of a grief-stricken widower on his daily pilgrimage to the graveside, to hold communion with the beloved departed; and said that the man must have a superfluity of that most precious of human commodities, time; and further, that the rush of business in a large modern burying-ground must surely dash his atavistic bliss. The destruction of the body by fire—what a cleanly, sanitary, dignified, yes, heroic conception that was, compared with abandoning it to the miserable processes of decay and assimilation by the lower forms of life! Yes, the newer method was more satisfying emotionally too, and kinder to the human longing after immortality. For what the fire destroyed was the more perishable part of the body, the elements which even during one’s life were got rid of by metabolism; whereas those which

accompanied man through life, taking least share in the process of change, those became the ashes, and with them the survivors possessed the deceased’s imperishable part.

“Oh, charming,” Naphta said. “Oh, really, very good! Man’s imperishable part, his ashes!”

Naphta evidently meant to hold humanity fast to its old, irrational position in the face of established biological fact; meant to force it to remain at the stage of primitive religion, where death was a spectre surrounded by such mysterious terrors that the gaze of reason could not be focused upon it. What barbarism! The fear of death went back to a very low cultural stage, when violent death was the rule, and its horrors thus became associated with the idea of death in general. But now, thanks to the development of hygiene and the increase in personal security, a natural death was the rule, a violent one the exception; modern man had come to think of repose, after exhaustion of his powers, as not at all dreadful, but normal and even desirable. No, death was neither spectre nor mystery. It was a simple, acceptable, and

physiologically necessary phenomenon; to dwell upon it longer than decency required was to rob life of its due. Accordingly, the Hall of Death (as the modern crematory and vault for the urns was to be called) would be supplemented by a Hall of Life, where architecture, painting, sculpture, music, and poetry would combine to draw the thoughts of the survivors from the contemplation of death, from weak and unavailing grief, and fix them upon the joys of life.

“On with the dance!” Naphta mocked. “Don’t let them make too much of the funeral rites, don’t let them pay too much respect to such a simple fact as death—but without that simple fact, there would never have been either architecture nor painting, sculpture nor music, poetry nor any other art.”

“He deserts to the colours,” murmured Hans Castorp dreamily.

“Your remark is incomprehensible,” Settembrini answered him, “which doesn’t prevent it from being at the same time silly. Either the experience of death must be the last experience of life, or else it must be a bugaboo, pure and simple.”

“Will there be obscene symbols employed in the Hall of Life, like those on the ancient sarcophagi?” Hans Castorp asked with a serious air.

“By all accounts,” Naphta chimed in, “there will be a fine fat feeding for the senses.” In oils and in marbles, a humanistic taste would celebrate the glories of the senses—of the sinful body whose flesh it had saved from putrefaction. There was nothing surprising about that—it was of a piece with its fastidiousness in the matter of corporal punishment.

Thus they came upon the subject of torture—introduced by Wehsal, to whom, it seemed, it made a particular appeal. “The question,” now—what were the

gentlemen’s views about it? He, Ferdinand, when he was “on the road,” liked to visit those quiet retreats in the centres of ancient culture, where such research into the conscience of man used to be carried on. He had seen the torture-chambers of Nuremberg and Regensburg, he had made a study of them, and been edified. They had certainly devised a number of ingenious ways of man-handling the body for the good of the soul. There had never been any outcry—they rammed the famous choke-pear, itself such a very tasty morsel, into the victim’s mouth, and after that silence reigned.

“Porcheria!” Settembrini muttered.

Ferge professed his respect for the choke-pear, and the whole silent activity. But anything worse than the pinning back of his pleura he was sure had never been devised, not even in those times.

That had been done for his good!

The obdurate soul, offended justice, these warranted a temporary lack of mercy. But in fact, the torture was an invention of the human reason.

Settembrini presumed that the speaker was not quite in his senses.

Oh, yes, he was pretty well in possession of them. It was Herr Settembrini, the professed æsthete, who was probably not altogether familiar with the history of the development of mediæval jurisprudence. There had been, in fact, a process of continuous rationalization, in the course of which reason had taken the place of God, who had been shoved out of the department of justice. In other words, trial by battle had fallen into disuse, because it had been observed that the stronger man conquered even when he was in the wrong. It had been people of Herr Settembrini’s kidney, the doubters and critics, who had made the observation, and brought about the Inquisition, which superseded the old naïve procedure. Justice no longer relied on the intervention of God in favour of the truth, but aimed to get it out of the accused by confession. No sentence without confession—you could hear that still among the people, for the instinct lodged deep with them; the chain of evidence might be as strong as it liked, but if there had been no confession, there would remain a lurking feeling that the sentence was illegitimate. But how get at the confession? How procure the truth, out of the mass of circumstance and suspicion? How look into the heart, the brain, of a man who denied and concealed? If the spirit was recalcitrant, there remained the body, which could be got at. The torture was recommended to reason, as a means to an end, the end of bringing out the indispensable confession. But it was Herr Settembrini who had demanded and introduced confession, and he, accordingly, who was responsible for torture.

The humanist implored the others not to believe a word of all this. Herr Naphta was indulging in a diabolical joke. If the position had really been what he said, if it were true that the horrible thing was actually an invention of the human reason, that only showed how grievously she always needed sustaining and enlightening, and how little ground the instinct-worshippers had for their fear that things could ever be too much directed by reason on this earth! But the speaker was of course in error. The judicial abomination they were discussing could not be laid at the door of the human reason, because it went back to an original belief in hell. The rack, the pincers, the screws and tongs you saw in these chambers of torment and martyrdom represented the effort of a childish and deluded fancy to emulate what it piously believed to be the sufferings of the eternally damned. But that was not all. They thought to assist the evil-doer, whose spirit they assumed to be wrestling after confession, while his flesh, the evil principle, set itself against the soul’s desire: they had it in mind to do him a service of love, in breaking his body by torture. It was a madness of asceticism—

“How about the ancient Romans—did they harbour the same delusion?”

“The Romans? Ma che!”

“But they employed the torture as a judicial instrument.”

Logical impasse. Hans Castorp tried to help out—as if it were his metier to guide such a conversation! Of his own accord, he flung into the arena the question of capital punishment. Torture, he said, was abolished—though examining magistrates still had ways of making an accused person pliable. But the death penalty persisted, it seemed impossible to do without it. It was practised by the most civilized nations. The French system of deportation had worked very badly. There was nothing feasible to do with certain half-human beings, except to make them a head shorter!

They were not “certain half-human beings” Settembrini corrected him. They were men, like the Engineer, like himself, Settembrini—only weak-willed victims of a defective social system. He cited the case of an abandoned criminal, the kind always referred to by the prosecuting attorneys as a “beast in human form,” who had covered the walls of his cell with verse, and not at all bad verse either, much better than most prosecuting attorneys ever managed to write.

That cast a somewhat singular light on the art of verse-writing, Naphta retorted, but was not otherwise worth answering.

Hans Castorp said he was not surpiseed to hear that Naphta favoured the death penalty. To his mind, Naphta was as revolutionary as Settembrini, only in a conservative direction—a reactionary revolutionist.

Herr Settembrini, with a confident smile, assured them that the world, after passing through a period of inhuman reaction, would always return to the normal order of things. But Herr Naphta preferred to discredit art sooner than admit that it might have a humanizing effect upon a sunken wretch. He need not expect, by such fanatical talk, to make much headway with light-seeking youth. He, Settembrini, had the honour to belong to a newly-formed league, the scope of which was the abolition of capital punishment in all civilized countries. It was not yet settled where the first congress should meet; but one thing was sure, that those who addressed it would have plenty of arguments at hand. He submitted some of them forthwith: the ever-present possibility that justice might err and judicial murder be committed; the hope of reformation, which it was never possible to disregard; the biblical injunction “Vengeance is mine.”

Then he referred to the theory that the State, in its function not as the wielder of force, but as the instrument of human betterment, may not repay evil with evil; he attacked the conception of guilt, on the ground of scientific determinism; and lastly, he repudiated the whole theory of punishment.

On top of which “light-seeking youth” had to stand by while Naphta neatly wrung the neck of all these arguments, one after the other. He derided the humanist’s reluctance to shed blood, and his reverence for human life. He said that the latter was characteristic of our intensely bourgeois age, our policy of molly-coddle. Even so, its inconsistency was apparent. For let an idea arise that went beyond considerations of personal safety and well-being—and such ideas were the only ones worthy of human beings, and thus in a higher sense were the normal field of human activity—and the individual would, even under average emotional stress, be sacrificed without scruple to the higher claim. Nay, more: the individual, of his own free will, would expose himself without a thought. The philanthropy of his honoured opponent would eliminate from life all its stern and mortal traits; it would castrate life, as would the determinism of its so-called science. But determinism would never succeed in doing away with the conception of guilt. It could only add to its authority and its awfulness. Oh, so he demanded that the unhappy victim of social maladjustment be convinced of his own sinfulness, and tread in full conviction the path to the scaffold?

“Quite. The evil-doer is filled with his guilt as with himself. For he is as he is, and can and will not be otherwise—and therein lies his guilt.”

Naphta shifted the ground of the discussion from the empiric to the metaphysical. He went on to say that in behaviour, in action, determinism did indeed rule; there was no freedom of choice. But in being, the man is as he has wished to be, and as, until his last breath, he has never ceased to wish to be. He has revelled in slaying, and does not pay too dear in being slain. Let him die, then, for he has gratified his heart’s deepest desire.

“Deepest desire?”

“Deepest desire.”

They all gritted their teeth. Hans Castorp gave a little cough, Wehsal set his jaw awry. Herr Ferge breathed a sigh, Settembrini shrewdly remarked: “There is a kind of generalization that has a distinctly personal cast. Have you ever had a desire to commit murder?”

“That is no concern of yours. But if I had, I should laugh in the face of any ignorant humanitarianism that tried to feed me on skilly till I died a natural death. It is absurd for the murderer to outlive the murdered. They two, alone together, as two beings are together in only one other human relationship, have, like them, the one acting, the other suffering him, shared a secret that binds them for ever together. They belong to each other.”

Settembrini said frigidly that he lacked the brains necessary to the understanding of this death-and-murder mysticism—and he really didn’t miss them. No offence

intended; Herr Naphta’s religious gift did undoubtedly far surpass his own, but he protested that he was not envious. His own nature had an unconquerable craving for fresh air; it kept him somewhat aloof from a sphere where reverence—and not merely the unthinking reverence of youth—was paid to suffering, and that in a spiritual as well as a physical sense. In that sphere, it was plain, virtue, reason, and healthiness counted for nothing, vice and disease were honoured in a wondrous way.

Naphta concurred. He said that being virtuous and healthy did not, in fact, constitute being in a state of religion at all. It would clear the air to have it plainly stated that religion had nothing to do with reason and morality.

“For,” he added, “it has nothing to do with life. Life is based on conditions and built up on foundations which are partly the result of experience, and partly belong to the domain of ethics. We call the first kind time, space, and causality; the second, morality and reason. But one and all of these are not only foreign to, utterly a matter of indifference to the nature of religion; they are even hostile to it. For they are precisely what make up life—the so-called normal life, which is to say, arch Philistinism, ultra-bourgeoisiedom, the absolute antithesis of which, the very genius of antithesis to which, is the life of religion.”

Naphta went on to say that he would not deny to the other sphere the possibility of genius. There was much to admire in the monumental respectability, the majestic Philistinism of the middle-class consciousness. But one must never forget that as it stood, straddle-legged, firmly planted on earth, hands behind the back, chest well out, it was the embodiment of irreligion.

Hans Castorp, like a schoolboy, put up his hand. He wished, he said, not to offend either side. But since they were talking about progress, and thus, to a certain extent also, about politics, and the republic of eloquence and the civilization of the educated Occident, he might say that it seemed to him the difference—or, if Herr Naphta insisted, the antithesis—between life and religion went back to that between time and eternity. Only in time was there progress; in eternity there was none, nor any politics or eloquence either. There, so to speak, one laid one’s head back in God, and closed one’s eyes. And that was the difference between religion and morality—he was aware that he had put it very badly.

The way he put it, Settembrini remarked, naïve as it was, was less objectionable than his fear of giving offence, his inclination to give ground to the Devil. Oh, as far as the Devil was concerned, they two had talked about him aforetime, hadn’t they? “O Satana, O ribellione.” But which devil was it he had been giving ground to just now? Was it Carducci’s one—rebellion, activity, critical spirit—or was it the other? It was pretty dangerous having a devil on either hand, like this; how in the Devil’s name should we get out of it?

That, Naphta said, was no proper description of the state of affairs as Herr Settembrini looked at them. For the distinctive feature of his cosmos was that he made God and the Devil two distinct persons or principles, with “life” as a bone of contention between them—which, by the by, was just the way the Middle Ages had envisaged them. But in reality, God and the Devil were at one in being opposed to life, to bourgeoisiedom, reason and virtue, since they together represented the religious principle.

“What a disgusting hodge-podge— che guazzabuglio proprio stomachevole!” Good and evil, sanctification and criminal conduct, all mixed up together! Without judgment! Without direction! Without the possibility of repudiating what was vile!

Did Herr Naphta realize what it was he denied and disavowed in the presence of youth, when he flung God and the Devil together and in the name of this mad two-inoneness refused to admit the existence of an ethical principle? He denied every standard of values, he denied goodness! Horrible!—Very well, then there existed neither good nor evil, nothing but a morally chaotic All! There was not even the individual in possession of a critical faculty—there was only the all-consuming, the all-levelling universal communalty, and mystic immersion in her!

It was delicious, Herr Settembrini’s thinking of himself as an individualist! For to be that, one had at least to recognize the difference between morality and blessedness, which our honoured illuminant and monist most certainly did not! A society in which life was stupidly conceived as an end in itself, with no questions asked about its ulterior meaning and purpose, was governed by a tribal and social ethic, indeed, a vertebrate morality, if you liked, but certainly not by individualism. For individualism belonged, singly and solely, in the realm of the religious and mystical, in the so-called

“morally chaotic All.” And this morality of Herr Settembrini’s, what was it, what did it want? It was life-bound, and thus entirely utilitarian; it was pathetically unheroic. Its end and aim was to make men grow old and happy, rich and comfortable—and that was all there was to it. And this Philistine philosophy, this gospel of work and reason, served Herr Settembrini as an ethical system. As far as he, Naphta, was concerned, he would continue to deny that it was anything but the sheerest and shabbiest bourgeoisiedom.

Settembrini enjoined him to be calm—his own voice shaking with passion. He found Herr Naphta’s talk about bourgeoisiedom simply insufferable—and God knew why he should put on that contemptuous, aristocratic air! As if the opposite of life— and we all knew what that was—was likely to be more refined than life itself!

New cries, new catchwords! Now it was the “aristocratic principle.” Hans Castorp, all flushed and depleted from taxing his brains in the cold, shaky as to his capacity for clear expression, hot and cold with his own audacity, heard himself babble that always since a child he had pictured death to himself as wearing a starched ruff, or at least a sort of half-uniform, with a stand-up collar, while life, on the other hand, wore an ordinary collar. His words sounded, even to himself, like a drunken impropriety; he hastened to assure the company that that was not at all what he had meant to say. And yet—wasn’t it a fact that one couldn’t imagine certain people dead, simply because they were so very ordinary? That must mean they were very fit for life, but could not die, because unfit for the consecration of death.

Herr Settembrini said he was confident Hans Castorp uttered such stuff merely for the sake of being contradicted. The young man would find him ever ready to lend a hand in the intellectual warfare, against attacks like the present. The Engineer had used the expression “fit for life”; had he intended it in a derogatory sense? To him it was synonymous with “worthy of life,” the two conceptions being perfectly harmonious, and suggesting by a natural process of association another equally beautiful, “worthy of love.” One might with truth say that he who was worthy of the one was fully worthy of the other. And both together, loveworthy and life-worthy, made up the true nobility.

Hans Castorp found that charming—most edifying. Herr Settembrini had quite won him over with his plastic theory. Say what you like—and there was a lot to be said for the idea that illness had something solemn and ennobling about it—yet after all, you couldn’t deny that illness was an accentuation of the physical, it did throw man back, so to speak, upon the flesh and to that extent was detrimental to human dignity. It dragged man down to the level of his body. Thus it might be argued that disease was un-human.

On the contrary, Naphta hastened to say. Disease was very human indeed. For to be man was to be ailing. Man was essentially ailing, his state of unhealthiness was what made him man. There were those who wanted to make him “healthy,” to make him

“go back to nature,” when, the truth was, he never had been “natural.” All the propaganda carried on to-day by the prophets of nature, the experiments in

regeneration, the uncooked food, fresh-air cures, sun-bathing, and so on, the whole Rousseauian paraphernalia, had as its goal nothing but the dehumanization, the animalizing of man. They talked of “humanity,” of nobility—but it was the spirit alone that distinguished man, as a creature largely divorced from nature, largely opposed to her in feeling, from all other forms of organic life. In man’s spirit, then, resided his true nobility and his merit—in his state of disease, as it were; in a word, the more ailing he was, by so much was he the more man. The genius of disease was more human than the genius of health. How, then, could one who posed as the friend of man shut his eyes to these fundamental truths concerning man’s humanity? Herr Settembrini had progress ever on his lips: was he aware that all progress, in so far as there was such a thing, was due to illness, and to illness alone? In other words, to genius, which was the same thing? Had not the normal, since time was, lived on the achievements of the abnormal? Men consciously and voluntarily descended into disease and madness, in search of knowledge which, acquired by fanaticism, would lead back to health; after the possession and use of it had ceased to be conditioned by that heroic and abnormal act of sacrifice. That was the true death on the cross, the true Atonement.

“Aha!” thought Hans Castorp. “You unorthodox Jesuit, you, with your interpretations of the Crucifixion! It’s plain why you never became a priest, joli jésuite à la petite tache humide! Now roar, lion!” he mentally addressed Herr Settembrini. And the lion roared. He characterized all Naphta had said as quibbling, sophistry, and confusion.

“Say it!” he cried to his opponent, “say it in your character as schoolmaster, say it in the hearing of plastic youth, say straight out, that the soul is—disease! Verily you will thereby encourage them to a belief in the spiritual. Disease and death as nobility, life and health as vulgarity—what a doctrine whereby to hold fast the neophyte to the service of humanity! Davvero, è criminoso!” And like a crusader he entered the lists in defence of the nobility of life and health, of that which nature gave, for the soul of which one did not need to fear. “The Form,” he said; and Naphta rejoined

bombastically: “The Logos.” But he who would have none of the Logos answered:

“The Reason,” and the man of the Logos retorted with “The Passion.”

It was confusion worse confounded.

“The Object,” cried one, the other: “The Ego!” “Art” and “critique” were bandied back and forth, then once more “nature” and “soul,” and as to which was the nobler, and concerning the “aristocratic problem.” But there was no order nor clarity, not even of a dualistic and militant kind. Things went not only by contraries, but also all higgledy-piggledy. The disputant not only contradicted each other, they contradicted themselves. How often had Settembrini not spent his oratory in praise of criticism, as being the aristocratic principle? Yet now it was for its opposite, for “art,” that he made the same claim. How often had Naphta not stood for instinct, what time Settembrini called nature a blind force, mere “factum et fatum,” before which reason and human pride must never abdicate! But here now was Naphta on the side of the soul and disease, wherein alone true nobility and humanity resided, while Settembrini flung himself into advocacy of nature and her noble sanity, regardless of his inconsistency on the score of emancipation from her. The “Object” and the “Ego” were no less involved in confusion—yes, and here the confusion, moreover, remained constant, was the most literal and incorrigible; so that nobody any longer knew who was the devout and who the free-thinker. Naphta sharply forbade Settembrini to call himself an individualist, for so long as he denied the antithesis between God and nature, saw in the problem of man’s inward conflict no more than the struggle between individual and collective interest, and was vowed to a materialistic and bourgeois ethic, in which life became an end in itself, limited to utilitarian aims, and the moral law subserved the interest of the State. He, Naphta, was well aware that man’s inner conflict based upon the antagonism between the sensible and the supra-sensible; it was he, not Settembrini, who represented the true, the mystical individualism. He, not Settembrini, was in reality the free-thinker, the man who looked for guidance within himself. Hans Castorp reflected that if that were true, then what about the “anonymous and communal”—not to mention any other contradiction? And what about those striking comments he had made to Father Unterpertinger on the subject of Hegel’s

Catholicism, and the affinity between Catholicism and politics, and the category of the objective which they together comprised? Had not statecraft and education always been the special province of the Society to which Naphta belonged? And what an education! Herr Settembrini himself was certainly a zealous pedagogue, zealous to the point of tedium; but he could simply not compete with Naphta in the matter of ascetic, self-mortifying objectivity. Absolute authority, iron discipline, coercion, submission, the Terror! All that might have its own value, but it paid scant homage to the individual and the dignity of his critical faculty. It was the army regulations of the Prussian Frederick, the Exercise-book of the Spanish Loyola all over again; it was rigid, it was devout, to the very marrow. But one question remained to be asked: how had Naphta arrived at this savage absolutism, he who, by his own account, believed not at all in pure knowledge or unfettered research, in other words not in truth, the objective, scientific truth, to strive after which was for Ludovico Settembrini the highest law of human morality. Here was the object of his rigid devotion, whereas Naphta with reprehensible looseness referred truth back to mankind itself, and declared that that was truth which advantaged man. Wasn’t it the most utter bourgeoisiedom, the sheerest utilitarian Philistinism, to make truth depend on the interest of mankind? It certainly could not be considered strict objectivity, there was much more free-thinking and subjectivity about it than Leo Naphta would admit—it was, indeed, quite as much politics as Herr Settembrini’s didactic phrase: “Freedom is the law of love of one’s kind.” That, obviously, was to make freedom, as Naphta made truth, depend upon man, and thus was more orthodox than liberal. But here again were distinctions that tended to disappear in the process of definition. Ah, this Settembrini—it was not for nothing he was a man of letters, son of a politician and grandson of a humanist! He had lofty ideas about emancipation and criticism—and chirruped to the girls in the street. On the other hand, knife-edged little Naphta was bound by the strictest sort of vows; yet in thought he was almost a libertine, whereas the other was a very fool of virtue, in a manner of speaking. Herr Settembrini was afraid of “Absolute Spirit,” and would like to see it everywhere wedded to democratic progress; he was simply outraged at the religious licence of his militant opponent, which would jumble up together God and the Devil, sanctification and bad behaviour, genius and disease, and which knew no standards of value, no rational judgment, no exercise of the will. But who then was the orthodox, who the freethinker? Where lay the true position, the true state of man? Should he descend into the all-consuming all-equalizing chaos, that ascetic-libertine state; or should he take his stand on the “Critical-Subjective,” where empty bombast and a bourgeois strictness of morals contradicted each other? Ah, the principles and points of view constantly did that; it became so hard for Hans Castorp’s civilian responsibility to distinguish between opposed positions, or even to keep the premisses apart from each other and clear in his mind, that the temptation grew well-nigh irresistible to plunge head foremost into Naphta’s “morally chaotic All.” The confusion, the crosspurposes, became general, and Hans Castorp suspected that the antagonists would have been less exacerbated had not the dispute bitten into their very souls. They had got up meantime to the Berghof. Then the three who lived there walked back with the others as far as their door, where they stood about in the snow for some further while, and Settembrini and Naphta continued to dispute. It was apparent to Hans Castorp that their zeal was the zeal of the schoolmaster, bent on making an impression upon his plastic mind. Herr Ferge reiterated that it was all too much for him; while Wehsal, so soon as they had got off the themes of torture and corporal punishment, showed small interest. Hans Castorp stood with bent head and burrowed with his stick in the snow, pondering the vasty confusion of it all.

They broke off at last. There were no limits to the subject—but they could not go on for ever. The three guests of the Berghof took their way home, and the two disputants had to go into the cottage together, the one to seek his silken cell, the other his humanistic cubby-hole with the pulpit-desk and the water-bottle. Hans Castorp betook himself to his balcony, his ears full of the hurly-burly and the clashing of arms, as the army of Jerusalem and that of Babylon, under the dos banderas, came on in battle array, and met each other midst tumult and shoutings.