AickMANN

Having completed my month-long real-time review of THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN by Thomas Mann (HERE), I am convinced that it must have been an enormous influence, outweighing any other influence, on the fiction of Robert Aickman. This is not only because of the similarity I seem to be the first to observe between The Hospice and The House Berghof, and their residents, and their meals, but also because of many other factors, including tone and beguiling disarming undercurrents and tropes, an absurd-weirdness that borders on nightmare as well as rationality.

I am now revising my thoughts on the AickMANN story ‘Into The Wood’ and I shall report back in due course below in the comments.

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3 responses to “AickMANN

  1. Into The Wood by Robert Aickman

    This novella seems to house a balustraded Sanatorium equivalent to that in ‘The Magic Mountain’ (except it is for the Half-Sleep not the Half-Lung Club!) where Mann’s ‘horizontals’ have become Aickman’s ‘uprights’, ritually walking off into the benighted wood, much like Hans Castorp once tried walking off into the white-out of snow. Mann’s sanatorium conveys tropes for the First World War, and Aickman’s for the Second World War. Both ‘rest cures’ of encroaching death-luxury… Both sleep and hunger unpredictable quantities.
    Lord Rosebery we’re told in this novella never got any sleep, and our female protagonist here, Margaret (another politician like Thatcher?) gradually loses the need for sleep as she approaches her own ritual withdrawal from life or her own Strindbergian Dance of Death… Within Mrs Slater’s ‘didactic stare’.

    “…a faint mistiness, a clammy softness; […] When the sun did strike, the vague mist seemed to make it still hotter.”

    “She had noticed before that a person’s troubles, the pity the person has for those troubles, and the pity a second person feels for the first person, are all independent from one another.”

    “Losing one’s way was largely an act of intention.”

    “So eat up your mört, Margaret, and take no notice of all these gloomy thoughts.”

    A reference in the Aickman to Casanova who is another Italian Freemason like Mann’s Settembrini.

    “It is a little like the Italian parable of the onion: skin after skin comes away, until in the end there is nothing — nothing but a perfume that lingers a little, as the dead linger here a little after death, perfuming the air, and then are gone.”

  2. Meanwhile, some of you may remember the Aickman and Cannibalism thread that John Magwitch broached some time ago. I recorded it for posterity HERE
    Well, you may not be surprised to learn that there is a significant cannibalistic dream scene in Mann’s ‘The Magic Mountain’ that, during my
    real-time review, I recorded at the start of the page HERE
    But only those with strong stomachs should look at that!

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