Category Archives: Literature

Notes on Bleak House: “Bell Yard”

Mr Skimpole reflects on “how things lazily adapted themselves to purposes.” There’s no other way things can adapt. Let nature take its course. Principle of non-resistance. This is how Mr Skimpole lives his own life, never working or worrying. Mr … Continue reading

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Notes on the Magic Mountain: “Mynheer Peeperkorn”

A more than usual appreciation of – linked to his need for – alcoholic drinks. He appears to chew the liquid before it goes down, he spends so long savouring it. His head must be blurry from all he drinks … Continue reading

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Notes on The Magic Mountain: “By the Ocean of Time”

Not to deny reason, but to set limits to it. Beyond the limit of reason is life. If reason were allowed to dominate all, there would be no room for life, which after all needs room to experiment, and see … Continue reading

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Notes on The Magic Mountain: “A Soldier, and Brave”

“I am glad to see that despite your enthusiasm for freedom and progress, you have some feeling for serious things.” So says Naphta to Settembrini as they stand at the deathbed of the young man. What could be more serious … Continue reading

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Notes on The Magic Mountain: “Snow”

“What he had dreamed was already fading from his mind.” So vivid the dream, so full of meaning, and as he lay there in the snow he had vowed to live for love and virtue, and never to let death … Continue reading

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Notes on The Magic Mountain: “Operationes Spirituales”

There is no chance that Ludovico Settembrini and Leo Naphta, the intellectuals portrayed in The Magic Mountain, will ever agree with each other. If one of them says something, you can guarantee that the other will say the opposite. It … Continue reading

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Notes on The Magic Mountain: “An Attack, and a Repulse”

Hans Castorp knows something we don’t. You might wonder why a book like The Magic Mountain is so long: well, it treats of a subject impossible to put into so many words. So you need to sit with it a … Continue reading

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Fools Reproach

William Blake’s infernal wisdom: that evil is the energy of the body and acts upon desire. Good bounds this energy, and wants to restrain desire. That if your desire can be restrained, then it was a weak desire. That desire, … Continue reading

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Art and Life: Notes on some Conversations with Allen Ginsberg

It begins with the personal. “Life is full of strange experiences,” he says. Allen Ginsberg finds the extraordinary in the everyday. “Each one has his inner nature that he has to satisfy,” says Louis Ginsberg, attempting to account for the … Continue reading

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Notes on Gregory Corso’s “Variations on a Generation”

The Beat Generation was never supposed to become so big, says Gregory Corso, and that’s why it has such a stupid name. If they’d known they might have spent more time thinking about it. Perhaps not. It doesn’t make sense … Continue reading

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