Maine: Reading

My pleasure reading in Maine was mostly occupied by Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, the James Woods translation. I’d never read it, and I like to read a long thick novel in Maine — although the situation is prety different now as a parent of young kids, so I don’t have the endless uninterrupted hours that I used to read War and Peace and Middlemarch in high school. And the Mother West Wind and Freddy the Pig books when younger.

Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot and made my way through it off and on, and then a few nights before we left, I put it down on the front porch with 50 or so pages to go and went off on an outing. While we were away, it rained, and the book got soaked. I tried to dry it in the sun and made some progress, but it was still fairly damp when we left. Finally last night on getting back to Cambridge I used a combination of the microwave and a hair dryer on it. On Matt’s suggestion I tore off the last 75 pages of the book and concentrated on that piece, managing to dry it pretty well.

It’s a good holiday reading book, in a way: sort of about an endless vacation, unbroken leisure to the point of maddening tedium. At this point what may stick most in my mind is the scene where Hans Castorp (why is he always referred to by his full name?) goes skiing and gets lost in a snowstorm. Also his rival in love the amazing Mynheer Peepercorn. And the takings of one’s temperature several times a day and wrapping oneself up in a camel’s-hair sleeping bag for afternoon rest.  And the philosophical musings on time.  It is a strange book and often pretty hilarious. I’d like to read some criticism on the novel — I suppose it must be an allegory of pre-WWI Europe to some degree.

Also have read 2/3 or Orhan Pamuk’s Snow. Turned my attention to that as I waited for Thomas Mann to dry out. Also a strange and funny book with memorable snow as Ka the poet wanders around Kors during a military coup. I also want to read Pamuk’s nonfiction book about Istanbul.

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