Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

by Thomas Mann

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307780959
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/25/2011
Series: Vintage International
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 736
Sales rank: 305,039
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

John E. Woods is the distinguished translator of many books -- most notably Arno Schmidt's Evening Edged in Gold, for which he won both the American Book Award for translation and the PEN Translation Prize; Patrick Suskind's Perfume, for which he again won the PEN Translation Prize in 1987; Mr. Suskind's The Pigeon and Mr. Summer's Story; Doris Dorrie's Love, Pain, and the Whole Damn Thing and What Do You Want from Me?; and Libuse Monikova's The Facade. Mr. Woods lives in San Diego and is currently at work on a translation of Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain.

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Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
comett More than 1 year ago
Buddenbrooks (1901) is one of the two great works that earned Thomas Mann the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. It is primarily set in Mann's birthplace, the northern German city of Lubec, between the 1830s and the 1870s and spans four generations of an affluent entrepreneurial family. Three of the novel's third generation of Buddenbrooks remain with the reader for most of the novel and are pivotal to plot and the family's ultimate fate. Each differs from the other two, but all maintain a close relationship with their mother, Elizabeth Buddenbrook, with whom they frequently connect for various family functions; some happy, others not. A sister, Tony, perseveres through adversity to live vicariously through her family's social status and the successes of her father, brother, and the family's grain marketing business. But enmity characterizes the relationship between her two brothers: Christian, a ne'er-do-well playboy, consistently squanders his share of the family fortune while Thomas, the elder of the two and arguably the novel's most thoroughly developed character, as well as his generation's patriarch, is a successful businessman and local politician with an identity so intertwined with family tradition and business that he easily becomes disenchanted with his musically talented son Hannu (an only child and sole male cousin) who remains socially withdrawn and has no interest in plying the family trade. Such dynamics beg the rhetorical question: what becomes of remaining family members when those who provide nurturing or economic security pass away and sentimental or symbolic structures are sold (family home) or close down (grain business) because nobody has the wherewithal to keep things going as they were? On a concluding note, Buddenbrooks, a novel in praise of the intact family as a source of stability and security, has withstood the test of time to remain a welcome addition to any university literature course emphasizing the 19th and early 20th century novel. It will appeal most to those who enjoy fictional works focusing on social interactions and family dynamics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first novel from Thomas Mann, and what a novel. It is something quite astonishing, that he received the nobel prize basically because of this novel (although he got it almost twenty years later). It is not Thomas Mann's best, but it is a true classic of the XXth century. The novel follows the decadence of the Buddenbrooks family, from their peak to its dissapearance. The main characters are the three kids we meet in the first part of the novel (Toni, Thomas and Christian). They have to learn the rules to maintain their status, even if they take their loves away, their pride, and even, their love for live. Toni learns that her idilic romance is nothing but a lie, which cannot be carried. Christian is never able to find himself in a world, where his brother is usefull and commands the destiny of the family. And Thomas is unable to run the family business with ease. These conditions join a new set of conditions to make business (as the XIXth century comes to an end, 'new moneys' begin to appear and to change the way of making business). When Thomas thinks that his getting a place in the local government is a big sign of everlasting prosperity, he is unable to see how far is the control of the world from the politics 'per se'... it is more and more the world of politics being controlled by economic power. And his economic power decreases day by day. One has to marvel at the beauty in certain passages, such as Toni romance in Travemünde (which is located in Lübeck), the depiction of one day in the life of a decadent, Thomas realization that he is not only linked to his own family, but to the whole world. Thomas Mann's great use of irony allows the reader to read further the lines... to pass the romantic, tragic or comedic tone of certain passages and be able to connect them to a broader range of relations: society, politics, emotional life, psychology, literature and art. I love this book. Not as much as The Magic Mountain, or Doctor Faustus... but I love it more than any contemporary novel.
technodiabla on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I found this book to be surprisingly readable considering it's age (I read the original English translation). Also, considering the plot was just basic life events it was a real page turner. The character development is sublime throughout. The best thing about Buddenbrooks though is the interesting perspective into family decline and societal evolution. If you try and find the parallels in today's world, in your own family, it is very eye-opening. Mann finds and reveals so many timeless truths. Some passages are worth re-reading, even commiting to memory. I highly recommend this book to anyone-- do not be put off the length, age, or origin. This book is for everyone and very accessible.
Coffeehag on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a really oppressive book.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Ok, so this is a "great" novel. They even made a mini-series out of it for Public TV. So let's just assume it is a work of genius, and then we dont have to subject ourselves to the neverending sinking story of this German family.
patience_crabstick on LibraryThing 8 months ago
My first Thomas Mann novel. I loved it. A long, delicious soap-opera of a novel. There's a more extensive review at my xanga site (Daylily02) date January 3, 2007.
Laiane on LibraryThing 8 months ago
After seeing a reference to this book -- not once but twice -- from a blogger whose literary opinions I respect highly, I decided to take the plunge and buy this in hardcover. My experience with German lit is slender, but I'm so glad I decided to read Buddenbrooks! I was impressed by the psychological detail of the characters. The chapters of the family Christmas and Hanno's school day are nothing short of stunning. A classic, truly.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing 8 months ago
To sum up Buddenbrooks it is a four-generational story about the downfall of a middle class family. There is no storyline other than following the lives of the Buddenbrooks from 1835 to 1977. The Buddenbrooks are a typical family. They have their problems like everyone else. Faulty business deals, unstable health, failed marriages, partnerships made and broken. My favorite parts involved daughter Tony and her relationships with her family and the men who pursued her. The way her father simultaneously protects her and throws her to the wolves is eyebrow raising, but pretty typical of a father-know-best attitude.
rokinrev More than 1 year ago
This was my “Big Book Of Summer 2018”. Many years ago, I saw this book in its original German, and had a fascinating discussion about how this book parallels books like “The Forsyth Saga” and “Upstairs Downstairs”. After reading another review last fall, I decided to give it a chance. There are literally hundreds of pages devoted to this book and this author all over the internet; so I am not going into great detail on the storyline itself, except to say that Mann literally becomes each character in a book that covers four generations of a Northern German family: the Buddenbrooks. In 1837, as the book opens;Johann Buddenbrook and his wife Elizabeth hold an elegant dinner party. Their four children:Thomas, Antoni, Christian and Clara along with various family members celebrate at a true groaning table, celebrating the end of the Napoleonic conflicts and the beginning of better times. The story then focuses on the family and its joys and dramas through school, work, love, choices-or lack of them, familial expectations, duty and honor. It is widely believed Thomas’s Mann used his own neighborhood of Lubeck as the basis for this rather long book. However, it reads like contemporary historical fiction (even with this 1993 translation), hooking you early on and keeping you there at births, deaths, struggles and triumphs. But Mann also stays true to the times, solidly bring this book from 1837-the end of the 1800s; sprinkling historical, theological, ethical, economic and sociological “discoveries”. I do recommend this book with a 4 1/2 star rating and I will be returning to other Thomas Mann books in the future
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this again after many years. It had aged well. Truly engrossing, great descriptive power, elegant and polished, if one likes Mann's somewhat wordy style.