Edited By Deborah Ascher Barnstone
Brigitte Marschall - 9 X-ray Images as the Body’s Double: From The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann to the Holy Mountain in the Life and Death of Christoph Schlingensief
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9 X-ray Images as the Body’s Double: From The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann to the Holy Mountain in the Life and Death of Christoph Schlingensief
For then, in the very innermost of his nature, and in the inmost of that innermost, perhaps there was just himself, just Hans Castorp, again and a hundred times Hans Castorp, with burning face and stiffening fingers, lying muffled on a balcony, with a view across the moonlit, frost-nighted high valley, and probing, with an interest both humanistic and medical, into the life of the body!1
— THOMAS MANN, The Magic Mountain
Hans Castorp initially appears as a guest in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, as his cousin’s visitor in the Berghof sanatorium in Davos, but he soon becomes a patient himself. An x-ray examination carried out there by the resident physician changes Castorp’s life and interferes with his existence. The view into the small mounted glass plate that Castorp always carries with him, like a gloomy “membership card,” serves as a piece of pocket-size identification and makes him face the inner most parts of his body, as if they constituted his body double in death.2 The x-ray depicts a skinned body, reveals the body as the existence of Castorp’s perception. At the same time, the x-ray connects a visual experience to an awareness of ← 237 | 238 → the body. Castorp is literally born again in a body double created by means...
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