The Well of the Past

… Thomas Mann brought his very important contribution: [ to these questions: what is an individual and wherein does his identity reside?] we think we act, we think we think, but it is another or others who think and act in us: that is to say, timeless habits, archetypes, which – having become myths passed on from one generation to the next – carry an enormous power and control us (says Mann) from “the well of the past.”

Milan Kundera, Testaments Betrayed: An Essay in Nine Parts. trans Linda Asher. Faber and Faber, 1995 (1993).

Mann’s contribution mentioned here by Kundera is from Joseph and his Brothers. I bought a copy today in an edition of just under 1500 pages, daunting and exciting in equal measure. It recalls the idea Mann started to develop through Hans Castorp in Magic Mountain, straying into Jungian, perhaps even Gnostic realms.

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