Déjà vu, the sublime, and the uncanny: the route to self-overcoming of Hans Castorp's "Schnee" vision in Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg
Smith, Craig O. (Craig Odell)
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Critics have dealt extensively with Thomas Mann's Zauberberg in terms of literary technique, thematic elements, structural composition, literary influences, psychological and philosophical aspects, historical significance, and place within German literature. Despite the apparently exhaustive analyses of Mann's novel, a satisfactory treatment of the events of its central "Schnee" subchapter has hitherto remained remarkably absent from the critical literature. A detailed analysis of "Schnee" is indispensable to a proper understanding of the Zauberberg's overall plot and its significance in the European intellectual and literary tradition.This dissertation offers an extensive and significant description of the protagonist's experiences in "Schnee" as a reliving of events in the novel's greater plot. It performs an in-depth analysis of Hans Castorp's psychological turmoil during his skiing excursion in the central subchapter, the enhancement of his predicament during his subsequent dream, and the intellectual resolution of conflicting psychological forces that coincides with his moment of awakening. The dissertation employs seminal concepts in German psychology, philosophy, and aesthetics in demonstration of the Zauberberg protagonist's act of surmounting uncanny experience through the sublimity of reasonable resolve. The dissertation contributes to the understanding of the novel's central themes, elements of composition, significant aspects of its structure, and overall plot. It also includes an unprecedented preliminary analysis of the relationship between the uncanny and the sublime as principal components of psychology and aesthetics---a relationship of whose central aspects Thomas Mann demonstrates his fundamental awareness.The dissertation's two sections thus correspond to Hans Castorp's sublime and uncanny experiences during his skiing expedition in "Schnee" and his subsequent overcoming of his underlying psychological conflict through cognitive reflection. A process of transcending the repressive dilemma of the individual's adaptation to modern society constitutes the overriding educational component of Thomas Mann's novel of education---a process whose goal of sublime self-reconciliation is achieved through direct confrontation of one's repressed desires and fears. Only through consideration of Mann's profound insight into questions of psychology and aesthetics may one arrive at a proper understanding of his novel's significance both within the Bildungsroman genre and in the European intellectual tradition.
- German