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Buddenbrooks (1901)

by Thomas Mann

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,730861,703 (4.18)347
A Major Literary Event: a brilliant new translation of Thomas Mann's first great novel, one of the two for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1929. Buddenbrooks, first published in Germany in 1900, when Mann was only twenty-five, has become a classic of modem literature -- the story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany. With consummate skill, Mann draws a rounded picture of middle-class life: births and christenings; marriages, divorces, and deaths; successes and failures. These commonplace occurrences, intrinsically the same, vary slightly as they recur in each succeeding generation. Yet as the Buddenbrooks family eventually succumbs to the seductions of modernity -- seductions that are at variance with its own traditions -- its downfall becomes certain. In immensity of scope, richness of detail, and fullness of humanity, Buddenbrooks surpasses all other modem family chronicles; it has, indeed, proved a model for most of them. Judged as the greatest of Mann's novels by some critics, it is ranked as among the greatest by all. Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929.… (more)
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» See also 347 mentions

English (59)  German (6)  Dutch (4)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  Danish (2)  Hebrew (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (85)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
One of those capital "B" books that. Written in one of the most wonderful german you can imagine, it is a story about a family over a view generations and their slow downfall.

Even the most dullest scenes are written in a way that you just cannot skip them and other scenes are written in such an amazing way that you can actually feel it. ( )
  gullevek | Dec 15, 2020 |
Buddenbrooks.

The name alone conjures up richness, grandeur, and decay. A sense of history pummelling us into submission, and of small moments lodged alongside great ones. I'm not as well-read in Mann as I should be (he seems, these days, to be one of the shibboleths of the literary establishment), but Buddenbrooks is the very definition of a classic.

Four generations of 19th century Germans across 700 pages sounds like a cruel ask, but Mann is writing with a style that is Stendhal crossed with Zola, although he lacks the cynicism of either of those gentlemen. Indeed, for all of his symbols of elegant decay, one gets the sense that Mann rather empathises with this beguiling family.

If you're going to join the clan, you can't go wrong with John E. Wood's famous translation. Straightforward, poetic, and compelling:

"The consul climbed the stairs to his living quarters, and the old man groped his way down along the banister to the mezzanine. Then the rambling old house lay tightly wrapped in darkness and silence. Pride, hope, and fear all slept, while rain pelted the deserted streets and an autumn wind whistled around corners and gables."

Every character in the extended family is beautifully realised, from resentful old Thomas to larrikin Christian, their determined sister Tony (my favourite character) and grey-haired old Ida. The book is written in a succession of very short chapters, creating a sense of the piling up of moments like individual knitting loops that come together to form a rich tapestry - or, for that matter, the lines drawn in the old, gold-striped family notebook representing each branch of the family, so childishly (yet ominously) crossed out by the young Hanno, certain before his maturity that there will be no more. Think of the party that opens the novel, or Hanno's captivating piano recital.

"Is that how the world works - like a pretty melody? That's merely flimsy idealism."

Of course, you don't need silly old me to tell you that Mann was a literary luminary. Still, I can't emphasise enough the ease and poignance of this great novel. It shouldn't be an intimidating classic, by any means. ( )
1 vote therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
A masterful work. ( )
  colligan | Jul 18, 2020 |
»Es ist eine hervorragende Arbeit, redlich, positiv und reich«, urteilte S. Fischers Lektor Moritz Heimann nach der Lektüre des Manuskripts über Thomas Manns, ersten Roman, seinen wohl am meisten gelesenen, am meisten verbreiteten. ›Verfall einer Familie‹ - sein Untertitel scheint ihn einzureihen in eine bestimmte Gattung, aber »der Zug zum Satirischen und Grottesken«, der darin steckt, hebt ihn zugleich davon ab, gibt ihm einen eigenen Charakter, eigene Wirkung bis in die Gegenwart. Thomas Mann erzählt nur wenig verschlüsselt die Geschichte seiner Familie und ihrer Stellung in der Vaterstadt Lübeck, soweit er sie nachvollziehen, in Einzelheiten überblicken konnte, ja sogar noch miterlebt hat. Verwandte, Honoratioren und markante Persönlichkeiten seiner Jugend werden integriert. Den meisten Raum nimmt das Leben Thomas Buddenbrooks ein - »ein modernes Heldenleben«; sein Sohn Hanno wird einen langen Strich unter die Genealogie der Familie setzen und sich rechtfertigen mit den Worten: »Ich glaubte ... ich glaubte ... es käme nichts mehr ...« In den mehr als hundert Jahren seit seinem ersten Erscheinen hat der Roman unzählige Menschen in seinen Bann gezogen und hat bis heute nichts an Charme und Aktualität eingebüßt.
  Fredo68 | May 18, 2020 |
Especially glad I read this. It has has an authenticity about it that could only come from a keen observer of family life. No wonder the Nazis burned the book. Mann splinters the ideals of bourgeois duty.
  ivanfranko | Feb 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (183 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mann, ThomasAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fontcuberta i Gel, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graftdijk, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lowe-Porter, H. T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Molenaar, Johan deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, DerekIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quanjer, Th. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reed, T.J.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rho, AnitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosoman, LeonardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wallenström, UlrikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, John E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Was ist das. - Was - ist das..."
"Je, den Düwel ook, c'est la question, ma très chère demoiselle!"
"And - and - what comes next?"                                                                                                                                            "Oh, yes, yes, what the dickens does come next? C'est la question, ma tres chere demoiselle!"
Quotations
p. 262: "A businessman cannot be a bureaucrat," he told his former schoolchum Stephen Kistenmaker--of Kistenmaker & Sons--who was still Tom's friend, though hardly his match intellectually, and listened to his every work in order to pass it on as his own opinon.
...
"Ah, I almost fear that as time goes on the businessman's life will become more and more banal."
p 506: What was Death? The answer came, not in poor, large-sounding words: he felt it within him, he possessed it. Death was a joy, so great, so deep that it could be dreamed of only in moments of revelation like the present. It was the return from an unspeakably painful wandering, the correction of a grave mistake, the loosening of chains, the opening of doors - it put right again a lamentable mischance.
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A Major Literary Event: a brilliant new translation of Thomas Mann's first great novel, one of the two for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1929. Buddenbrooks, first published in Germany in 1900, when Mann was only twenty-five, has become a classic of modem literature -- the story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany. With consummate skill, Mann draws a rounded picture of middle-class life: births and christenings; marriages, divorces, and deaths; successes and failures. These commonplace occurrences, intrinsically the same, vary slightly as they recur in each succeeding generation. Yet as the Buddenbrooks family eventually succumbs to the seductions of modernity -- seductions that are at variance with its own traditions -- its downfall becomes certain. In immensity of scope, richness of detail, and fullness of humanity, Buddenbrooks surpasses all other modem family chronicles; it has, indeed, proved a model for most of them. Judged as the greatest of Mann's novels by some critics, it is ranked as among the greatest by all. Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929.

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