The story of a German bourgeois family and its decline over a period of 40 years. The novel opens in 1835 when the prosperous Buddenbrook family movesThe story of a German bourgeois family and its decline over a period of 40 years. The novel opens in 1835 when the prosperous Buddenbrook family moves into a large stately home in town of Lubeck (which is unnamed in the novel). Over the next 700 pages, Mann traces the fortunes of the family and how the grain merchant fortune is slowly dissipated. The characters of the family also change; from upstanding pious pillars of the community interested in commerce to sickly artistes.
This is a naturalistic novel in the 19th century realistic mode. Mann is not concerned with the political events of the time (most of which happen in the background) but rather with ironic, incisive portraits of human foibles and egoism. None of the characters is likeable but they are all realistic.
There are a lot of themes to chew on in this book - the role of art vs. commerce, family responsibility, philosophy and it is easy to see why it is considered a classic. I could appreciate it but didn't exactly enjoy the experience of reading it. I would be interested in how the book is appreciated/judged in modern Germany. This would be a good book to recommend to readers who enjoy European literature of the 19th Century/early 20th century, especially family sagas....more
I found this book enjoyable and entertaining despite having seen several movie/tv adaptations and knowing the entire plot. Dickens has more wickedly fI found this book enjoyable and entertaining despite having seen several movie/tv adaptations and knowing the entire plot. Dickens has more wickedly funny in several scenes than I remembered from some of his other works. I love his use of funny/inventive names (Pumblechook, Magawitch) and some of the sentiment did grate a bit (seriously how saintly and wonderful could Joe be). I never have cared much for Pip and Estella and Pip seemed to be more of a ungrateful snot than I thought he was in the movie adaptations.
I especially enjoyed the audio narrator - Simon Preble - and will listen to more audio books read by him. ...more
Wharton's final novel that was finished by Marion Mainwaring (which is a awesome British surname, btw). I enjoyed it but found the character of Nan StWharton's final novel that was finished by Marion Mainwaring (which is a awesome British surname, btw). I enjoyed it but found the character of Nan St. George, a little too naive and idealized (although since she ages from about 15 to 23 throughout the course of the novel, the naivity is excusable). Unlike many Wharton heroines, Nan gets a happy ending with the man she loves. I really love reading about this time period (late Victorian) and the whole issue of marriage as a business transaction is plot that Wharton excels at. ...more
I didn't enjoy this as much as I had hoped to. Outside of Pygmalion, I was unfamiliar with Shaw's work although I did have a sense of him as a publicI didn't enjoy this as much as I had hoped to. Outside of Pygmalion, I was unfamiliar with Shaw's work although I did have a sense of him as a public personality. I felt that Joan was made too ancillary a character for a play that was about her; it seemed that long stretches of the play were of men in power discussing what to do with this uppity woman. I found Shaw's decision to set the most dramatic scenes off-stage (the battles, Joan's death) to be an inheritance from Greek drama but it didn't work for me. Perhaps my expectations are too informed by the 21st century, but some physical action would have been welcomed, especially since Joan is remembered today for her prowess in battle. I also believe the seeing a performance of the play might have aided in my enjoyment. ...more