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Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  9,820 ratings  ·  401 reviews
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. Wi
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ebook, 736 pages
Published May 25th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1901)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kalliope
MEAN REVERSION IS A BITCH...!!!


There is a concept in statistics, Regression or Reversion to the Mean, which is widely used in a variety of fields of knowledge. It was first realized by Sir Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, when he worked on the correlation of heights between adult children and parents.

The concept refers to the tendency for any variable which exhibits an extreme value at any point of measurement to move towards the average next time it is measured.

This mathematical tool
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Fionnuala
Reviewed in September 2013

Buddenbrooks sat on a high shelf in the back-room of my mind for many years; unread, yes, but nevertheless honoured with a prime position: I hoped to read it one day but doubted my own ability to comprehend what I thought must surely be a very difficult text.

I first came across Buddenbrooks among my sister’s text books when she began to study German at university.
Her copy impressed me not only for the mysterious title, composed of familiar syllables which the stringing
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Dolors
May 26, 2013 Dolors rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people in search.
Recommended to Dolors by: Kris & Kalliope, reading group
Shelves: read-in-2013
This is my first Goodreads reading group experience and I have to thank both Kalliope and Kris for having pointed this work out to me and for having allowed me to participate. I also want to give thanks to all the reading partners who keep posting invaluable comments which have helped me to better grasp the nature of this novel.

"Life was harsh: and business, with its ruthless unsentimentality, was an epitome of life." (Buddenbrooks, p.363)

Had I been told that an objective, even detached depicti
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Mala
Review of Buddenbrook by Thomas Mann.
Shelf: Nobel winners,Germany,Buddenbrook-group-read,Classic-ever-enduring-appeal.
Recommended for: You.

Decline of a great family always evokes interest– people watch it like they would–a train wreck,a road-side accident or a disaster movie– with fascination.
There's also an element of schadenfreude involved in "How the mighty have fallen!"

In this group read of Mann's first novel Buddenbrook, we got to watch up close and personal,the Buddenbrooks- their joys &
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Jan-Maat
How could Katia Pringsheim have gone on to marry Thomas Mann if she had ever read his first novel, Buddenbrooks beforehand? The long story of a families multifaceted decline across four generations features mental anguish, bankruptcy, insanity and no happy marriages.

Thomas Mann's first novel is set among the Lübeck Patrician class of leading merchants who dominated the small city-state. Mann drew heavily upon the family background that he left behind along with the world of business to make hims
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Kim

This is a novel I may never have read had my friend Kalliope not invited me to join in a group read. While I'm an enthusiatic reader of 19th century English and (to a lesser extent) French literature, my exposure to German literature of this period has been sadly lacking. So I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read this novel along with other neophytes and with experts in German literature. While I mostly lurked on its fringes, the group discussion has been informative and stimulating.

To a l
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Jonfaith
Apparently this was Faulkner's favorite novel from Mann. Aspects of it likely permeated his epic of the Compson family. Coincidentally I read this one while my wife's sister was staying with us over the holidays. The Sound and The Fury was read in 2004 when we visted her in London.

I thought of this novel yesterday while reading Nancy Mitford's Pursuit of Love. One almost needs to polish silver when pondering these works.
Jonathan Peto
I read a review recently of a historical novel. The reviewer believed that most historical novels fail, because they depict characters with a modern consciousness. These characters often defy the thinking of their times and act in ways that we can approve of. This novel is not historical fiction, but the fact that it was written over a hundred years ago and is full of completely recognisable, very vivid, and obviously historically accurate characters is just one of the things that wowed me about ...more
Rod
In the introduction there is an anecdote about a female friend of Mann's who read Buddenbrooks and liked it very much, saying she was never bored by it, but she was unable to explain why. Word.

I've never liked books like this; you know, multi-generational family sagas, sort of soap opera-ish. Perhaps it's because I was bored to tears as a kid by TV miniseries like East of Eden and Rich Man, Poor Man. After reading Buddenbrooks, though, I realize that maybe I just thought I've never liked books l
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Mike
Jun 20, 2013 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: Kris Rabberman
I am especially grateful for Kris Rabberman's invitation to join this group read. My experience with Thomas Mann had been limited to the short novella Death in Venice. This group has broadened my reading horizons. Without the enthusiasm of the moderators and group members, it is highly unlikely I would have turned toward Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family.

My review will be forthcoming, with the added proviso that I am woefully behind on my reviewing. However, in short, Buddenbrooks: The Decli
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Gary  the Bookworm
I have been stalling about writing a review. Just as I stalled about finishing the book. Buddenbrooks didn't exactly grab me in the beginning. The first few chapters seemed to be about a bunch of smug, self-indulgent people who wore elaborate outfits and stuffed themselves without restraint. I barely noticed the two sons, Tom and Christian, and Tony, the golden-haired daughter. If it hadn't been for the discussion threads provided by other members of our group, I may have abandoned it entirely. ...more
Sue
After thinking about this book for a bit I've decided it's now or never for this review. I've also decided to increase my rating to 5 after contemplating my primary reason for marking it a 4...the tedious description of Hanno Buddenbrook's day at school. Discussion with others has caused me to look at this somewhat differently, as a portrayal of an unbearable situation during what was proving to be a quite unhappy life. All of this fits with Mann's subtitle "The Decline of a Family".

The novel pr
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Paul
Mann's first novel and quite a saga it is; a family history stretching through the latter half of the nineteenth century and over three/four generations. It is more accessible than some of Mann's later works as here all the big topics that Mann raises are couched in routine and the daily rhythm of life. In his first novel Mann is writing about what he knows; these are the people and details of his childhood and upbringing, clearly set in his hometown of Lubeck.
I was a little reminded of the Pall
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James
I can’t believe a twenty-five year old wrote this wise and richly evocative piece of literature. The story charts the decline of the Buddenbrooks family from the heights of its commercial success in the 1830’s to a point of disastrous entropy in the 1880’s. The earliest portrayal of the Buddenbrooks clan in the book is one where old-world values still inform business practices. As the book progresses to the next generation, however, all that starts to change. New money is appearing and the old-w ...more
Noce
Monumentale invidia

Ecco un altro tomazzo che la pimpante Noce ha letto durante il liceo, periodo d’oro ove, per sfuggire a una preoccupante timidezza, faceva incetta di letture classiche. Poi, non avendo nessuno con cui confrontare le sue giovanili impressioni, si dimenticava il tutto nel giro di un annetto. La prima pagina reca la scritta, in bella grafia tonda tondissima, da liceale per niente sui generis “Roma, ‘95”. Il che vuol dire che lo comprai alla Stazione Termini, mentre con la mia cla
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Laura
From BBC Radio 4:
A 19th-century German merchant family fight to keep their supremacy.




According to Judith Adams, this book was banned and burned by Hitler and it was published when the author was 25, in 1901.

A movie Buddenbrooks (2008) and a TV series Die Buddenbrooks (1979) were made based on this fabulous book.





More review is coming soon...
Denis
Another epic by one of the world's greatest writers. Couldn't put it down. Stunning in every way, complex, fascinating, it's one of those novels that seems to have at its core a beating heart that leaves the reader breathless and deeply moved. Mann's painting of the rise and fall of a family, and of German society, is much more than a brilliant social document: it is simply a showcase for the power of literature, when stories and ideas mix in such a way that the reader is taken on a journey whic ...more
pegah
نوشتن ریویو برای این کتاب سخته چون نظر آدم رو به شدت جلب میکنه اما به شدت تکونت نمیده (البته آخرش برام خیلی تکاندهنده بود). این کتاب اولین رمان بلند توماس مان هست و از این نظر یک شاهکار محسوب میشه و جالب اینجاست که حوادث داستان تا حد زیادی منطبق با حوادث واقعی زندگی مان بوده. شخصیت پردازی و روانشناسی آدمها در این کتاب عالیه و سیر حوادث اصلا خواننده رو خسته نمیکنه. من قبلا از مان یک داستان کوتاه خونده بودم و به شدت تحت تاثیرم قرار داده بود مدتها دلم میخواست برم سراغ آثارش و این کتاب آغاز ماجراست ...more
Declan
A superior soap opera. Superior, only because the characters occupy positions of influence in their society and therefore they appear to be important. The book succeeds in repeatedly making us aware of how stifled the lives of these enormously privileged people are, but only by sinking us into a deep well of ennui. There are moments of irony, but almost no wit, no depth to the characters and no sentences that make you want to go back and read them again.

This sort of novel, charting the decline
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Tony
A 19th century family saga, rich in character study, which serves as a dissection of societal ritual and mores. Mann kills off his namesake Buddenbrook (Thomas) by means of a decayed tooth (sorry for the plot spoiler), thus providing a metaphorical coda to what ultimately went wrong. It is hard to like any one character, but easy to be fascinated by each of them. Many chapters stand very well alone, like the antepenultimate one which examines a day in the life of Hanno Buddenbrook, laying bare t ...more
Michael Braithwaite
Dec 30, 2007 Michael Braithwaite rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like familial decline
The Buddenbrooks are an upper middle class bourgeois family in Germany. The story follows multiple generations through traditions of mediocrity and "appearance only" family life. As modernity takes hold and renders their family traditions antiquated and their familial bonds tenuous at best, they begin to fall apart. I suppose some people would say it's about modernity's inability to support traditional family life, but I thought it highlighted the ways in which the middle classes focused more on ...more
David Saslav
Sep 03, 2007 David Saslav rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone over 21
One of the all-time masterworks in terms of plot and inter-generational character development. One can see clearly what existed before soap opera - in terms of characters you simply cannot wait to find out their fate, next move, inner motivation, etc. You could easily devour this in a few sittings but of course you realize that one chapter at a time will spread the pleasure out over a longer period. Don't rush!
Jimmy
You don't love someone until you love their flaws as well. And that's what I started to do with this cast of characters. They're not exactly sympathetic characters, and Mann doesn't try to endear us to them, preferring to remain aloof, distant, semi-objective. At first I was turned off by their stodgy appearances, their classist snobbery. But I soon realized that that was an unfair assessment without delving deeper into each and every Buddenbrook. The more I read about them, the more their uniqu ...more
Elena


By
Elena S. Danielson
(REAL NAME)
This review is from: Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann (German edition on Kindle)
Given the subtitle (Verfall einer Familie/Decline of a Family), reviewers don't need to worry about spoilers. The real surprise is that a book with this gloomy title and written by someone in his early twenties has engaged so many readers for so many decades, even readers who don't much care for German literature in general. And won its author a Nobel Prize. Why g
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Justin Evans
Not much to say- it is that good. The fact that Mann went on to write Magic Mountain and Dr Faustus, among others, is staggering. Here he created a range of characters, generally unsympathetic, and as boring as people usually are. But just as in real life, you come to care about them and wish them well. As the subtitle of the novel suggests, it doesn't really work out for anyone. The translation is wonderful- transparent but also just a tiny bit lyrical. My only complaint is that the women in th ...more
Beth
I haven’t delved much into German literature in the past, so reading this 19th century German family saga was a new experience for me. I found Thomas Mann’s style to be quite engaging(or perhaps the combination of Mann and the translator, John Woods, since I was reading it in translation). The prose is crisp, clean, and forward-moving. The chapters are short, and Mann doesn’t indulge in long-winded descriptions and detours like those found in novels by Dickens or Hugo. He strikes right at the he ...more
Suzanne
I'm ashamed to admit that Buddenbrook's: The Decline of a Family did not blow me away or resonate with me. The detailed descriptions of the feasts and the physical descriptions of many of the characters, down to the color of their teeth and shadows under their greasy or ashen skin, bored me. When significant characters die, the reader is invited to the funeral and then is removed for months or a year. The characters' inner emotions don't match up with their actions.
The translations of Mann's pro
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Anastasia
Sono sicura che una fetta ingente di lettori davanti a un mattone come I Buddenbrook scritto da un tedesco (Thomas Mann appunto, mi sembra idiota specificare ma..) di cui si sa la pesantezza della sua patria, eh, prova una certa riluttanza, timore e senso di imponenza che fanno in modo di inserire il titolo in quei libri che prima o poi avremo il coraggio di affrontare.
Io spero proprio che sia così, non mi piacerebbe venire a sapere che solo io nel passato ho provato questi sentimenti verso Mann
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Barbara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandra
Un capolavoro. C’è poco da dire su questo meraviglioso romanzo che ci accompagna attraverso le esistenze di quattro generazioni di una famiglia dell’alta borghesia di Lubecca, a partire dal 1835 per circa quaranta anni.
Il romanzo si apre con una scena che avrebbe potuto essere oggetto di un quadro di pittori tedeschi o fiamminghi, intitolato magari “pranzo in famiglia”, un dipinto dai contorni netti e precisi dei personaggi, degli interni, dei piatti serviti (che meraviglia il Plattenpudding!),
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19405
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intel
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More about Thomas Mann...
The Magic Mountain Death in Venice Death in Venice and Other Tales Doctor Faustus Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories

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“The Ladies Buddenbrook from Breite Strasse did not weep, however - it was not their custom. Their faces, a little less caustic than usual at least, expressed a gentle satisfaction at death's impartiality.” 5 likes
“Das Gute kommt immer zu spät, immer wird es zu spät fertig, wenn man sich nicht mehr recht darüber freuen kann.” 5 likes
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