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The Doppelgänger


Edited By Deborah Ascher Barnstone

The Doppelgänger – the double, twin, mirror image or alter ego of someone else – is an ancient and universal theme that can be traced at least as far back as Greek and Roman mythology, but is particularly associated with two areas of study: psychology, and German literature and culture since the Romantic movement. Although German language literature has been a nexus for writing on the Doppelgänger, there is a paucity of scholarly work treating a broader selection of cultural products from the German-speaking world. The essays in this volume explore the phenomenon of the double in multiple aspects of German visual culture, from traditional art forms like painting and classical ballet to more contemporary ones like film, photography and material culture, and even puppet theatre. New ways of understanding the Doppelgänger emerge from analyses of various media and time periods, such as the theme of the double in a series of portraits by Egon Schiele, the doubling of silk by rayon in Weimar Germany and its implications for class distinctions in Germany, and the use of the x-ray as a form of double in Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain and Christoph Schlingensief’s performance art.
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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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