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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 98 | volume XVII | September-October, 2014



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 98September-October, 2014

The Body as a Psychosomatic Atlas

(Several psychosomatic aspects in the works Transposed Heads by Thomas Mann and The Body by Hanif Kureishi)

p. 1
Vasko Maglešov

The story in the novella Transposed heads by Thomas Mann, which myth-critically can be interpreted as an ancient initiation scenario of two friends, offers picturesque corpus of information for the understanding of the two types of corporeality. The story is about Nanda, member of the class Shudra (the lowest class of India) – portrayed as irresistibly attractive, thanks to his physical activity as a blacksmith and cowman, which provided him with “strong muscles” (according to the description, he has an athletic body type), which he often smears with oil, and about Shridaman who belonged to one of the higher castes in India, Brahmans (erudite, wise men). Shridaman unlike Nanda had a different appearance: a thin nose, mild pupils, sloping stomach (according to the descriptions, he had a pyknic type of body), in a word, a so-called Brahman (priestly) look. These two friends had different status and culturally positions within the community. In India, every caste has its own “dharma”, i.e. law and rules that each member is obliged to comply. Shridaman, because of Brahman origin, had been involved in the highest spheres of the community and had a high reputation because of his erudition. His friend Nanda is a contrasting example, not only because of his physical constitution, but his intellect as well – body displayed almost like the figure of the god Apollo, but without the ability to speak nicely and with more limited intellectual range. Mann, through the descriptions in the novella, presents two contrasting narrative identities. The only common thing between them is that they are long-time friends, “in coniunctio maxima”. Describing their mutual friendship, even from the beginning he initiates the congenital (inborn) and acquired (cultural) diversity – crucial for the vicissitudes that will shake the axis of their relationship.
    If a brief description is made of the two types of corporeality[1], it can be summarized that the value of Shridaman stems from his head (intellect) whereas the value of Nanda from his body. Moreover, from the very beginning, Mann decisively presents a chain of descriptions that highlight the fact that those two friends have a different “value share” and “surplus”. “That was a body that undoubtedly serves as a supplement and a pendant to the smart and noble head, which is the main part of the whole, while on the contrary, in Nanda’s case, the body was the fundamental part, and head just a pleasant accessory.”[2]


1. The term corporeality, in the broadest semantic scope, means physical or bodily nature, i.e. it refers to the physiological i.e. material characteristics of the body.
2. Odbrana dela, „Pripovetke“, Tomas Man, Matica Srpska, Beograd, 1980, 195 стр.

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