Climbing the Magic Mountain #5: Buttress

Sometimes the thing you most dread turns out not to be as bad as you imagined.  So it is with my buttress on The Magic Mountain.

The 43-page chapter ‘A soldier, and brave’ had loomed ahead of me for so long that, now it is behind me, I can no longer remember what it was that I feared.  Admittedly, I did employ a few… what is the word?  Cheats?  I prefer the term ‘short-cuts’.  Took a couple of ladders, where I was actually staring at snakes; took a shorter route over the buttress rather than the long hike all the way around.

As I previously mentioned, I had been finding the company of Herrs Settembrini and Naphta a little tiring, and so I had taken a conscious decision only to skim-read the sections where they engage in their verbal sparrings.  I feel that I can do this was a certain justification, since even Thomas Mann describes listening to these ‘over-vocal mentors’ can be an ‘infinitude of despair.’

Adopting this principle of short-cuts, the time taken to traverse the route around the buttress was significantly reduced.  I scaled the problematic edifice in one sitting, emerging unscathed and energised to make the final push for the summit.

Page 541: “Can one tell––that is to say, narrate––time, time itself…”

© Fergus Longfellow

Fergus Longfellow feels a bit guilty of his literary short-cut.  But only a bit.

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