Hans Castorp

Summs didn’t know how he had initially come across this name, maybe it had been something he had overheard, but for years the mere pronunciation of its syllables would give him an extraordinary sense of self-possession.

He would be feeling “diffuse” and unconcentrated. His spirit would seem “out there” among the many things he perceived, even unto the horizon, rather than “in here” within himself, which was the source and lord of his capacity to perceive. But then he would pronounce the syllables of this name Hans Castorp in a whisper, and it was as if his spirit, from every corner of the globe, returned quickly back into him. He would feel almost shaken by the reanimation. He was himself again, within himself — self-possessed.

When he discovered by chance one day where the name came from — it was the principal character of a novel — he was disappointed and the word lost something of its power for a time. It was not so much that it came from a work of fiction that had disappointed him, although he had an unfavorable attitude toward fiction, but that it came from anywhere in nature and was not the name of a spirit from another heaven or dimension.

However, the name’s power was no illusion, and still today he would pronounce it, and his seeking inquiring spirit, which had spanned the world and beyond, would hear his call and come roaring back.


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