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Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  26,866 ratings  ·  1,634 reviews
Buddenbrooks, first published in Germany in 1901, when Mann was only twenty-six, has become a classic of modern literature.

It is the story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany facing the advent of modernity; in an uncertain new world, the family’s bonds and traditions begin to disintegrate. As Mann charts the Buddenbrooks’ decline from pros
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Hardcover, 731 pages
Published October 4th 1994 by Everyman's Library (first published 1901)
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Naphta I think it depends on whether your primary concern is the name of the family (in terms of the business) or the humanity of the people. Because women c…moreI think it depends on whether your primary concern is the name of the family (in terms of the business) or the humanity of the people. Because women could not at that time carry on the family line, Clara's inheritance was being directed away from the "family". On the other hand, in today's world, I would want my husband to have my inheritance and not have it revert to my family (especially if the family seemed to be well off in the first place.)(less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Veronica To me the book is about Tony and Thomas. However, it is unfortunate that Tony is not really developed as a character, she is always the same and the s…moreTo me the book is about Tony and Thomas. However, it is unfortunate that Tony is not really developed as a character, she is always the same and the situations she lives are always the same. Thomas, while also not being particularly dynamic as a character, gets at least a final development. Hanno had good potential but was left a bit behind, in my opinion. (less)

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Ilse
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germany, 2020
Don’t ask me why, but somehow I had expected this debut novel of Thomas Mann to be as stuffy as my actual copy of the novel, gathering dust on the shelves together with Doctor Faustus for almost fifteen years.

Fortunately, I was wrong. It was far less dusty than the shelf it has been lingering on and than I had expected.

I was impressed with Mann's evocative writing on music and surprised by the subversive role Mann ascribes to art and music.

If some free time would miraculously come my way, I mig
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Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 782 from 1001 books) - Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, Thomas Mann

Buddenbrooks is a 1901 novel by Thomas Mann, chronicling the decline of a wealthy north German merchant family over the course of four generations, incidentally portraying the manner of life and mores of the Hanseatic bourgeoisie in the years from 1835 to 1877. Mann drew deeply from the history of his own family, the Mann family of Lübeck, and their milieu.

In 1835, the wealthy and respected Buddenbrooks, a family of g
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Lisa
Occasionally, reading and family life interfere with each other!

I have raised my children with the sole dogma that "I read, therefore I am". Being a family, we can't keep from judging each other according to our own specific reading preferences, and we usually believe that "we are what we read". At the moment, my son is reading Buddenbrooks while I am working my way through Brothers Karamazov, and we like to compare notes, especially as both novels are focusing on complicated family patterns -
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Paul Bryant
Nov 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned, novels
After a whole month of pecking away at this mountainous volume I arrived on page 232 and collapsed. I can’t take it anymore. Thomas Mann starts his story with a dinner party that lasts for forty (40) pages. Things went downhill from there.

NOT MUCH TO SMILE ABOUT

There’s one reasonably good joke in the 230 pages I read. It's 1848 and a crowd of vaguely agitated working men and women have gathered around the council house. One of the beleaguered toffs confronts the mob and asks what exactly is it t
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Emily May
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, classics
It was actually Boyne's A Ladder to the Sky that made me finally want to read Mann's work (I got so many recommendations from that book!). And I thought this would be an instant favourite-- I do love pretty much all family saga books.

Unfortunately, though, I experienced a real disconnect from the characters and story. Perhaps it's because this was Mann's debut and he falls prey to a number of debut author traps - like getting caught up in his own masturbatory metaphor, for example - but I'm not
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Kalliope
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: germany, classics
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 to
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Luís
Accurate to his elegant style, detailed and generous in the petty small details, Thomas Mann returned with this voluminous novel narrating the decline and anguish of a German family of the late nineteenth century.
All the complexes that can live (and suffer) upper-class people when they see themselves with distressing needs are described here, with a halo of nostalgia that surrounds the conversations. Which, more than talks, are reminiscent of a glorious and buoyant past that will not come back.
T
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Fionnuala
Buddenbrooks sat on a high shelf in the back-room of my mind for many years, and though it remained unread it was 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 older sister’s university text books. Her German edition impressed me not only for the mysterious title composed of familiar syllables which the stringing together all in one word
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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 h
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Fabian {Councillor}
"The sad thing is that one lives but once—one can't begin life over again. And one would know so much better the second time!"

The family saga of the Buddenbrooks is considered a classic of German literature, a book many people have already heard about, yet never read for a very simple reason... it's loooong. And if you appreciate your books with action and thrilling stuff, then Thomas Mann's novel is not exactly the book you should turn to because it would only disappoint you.

It took
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Hugh
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My previous experiences of Mann were The Magic Mountain and Doctor Faustus, both of which were rewarding but challenging.

Buddenbrooks was Mann's first major novel, a thinly veiled account of his own family's rise and fall over the course of the mid nineteenth century. For a book written by a young man who was only 25 when it was published, it is extremely impressive, but it is very much a book of its time, and by modern standards it sometimes seems glacially slow moving, but very atmospheric, a
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Piyangie
Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, as the subtitle implies, tells the story of the decline of one influential German family from its height. It is a fine, detailed family saga that marks four generations. Tomas Mann weaves a complete story here starting with the first generation, gradually descending onto the next generations. Mann touches on the first one briefly so as to establish the setting of the story and introduce the main actors of the saga. The next three, he touches in detail. The ...more
Jonathan Peto
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
Chrissie
Absolutely excellent, descriptive writing. Writing that pulls the reader in. Characters that are fully developed and totally real. A book with humor. A book with serious topics to consider. A book about life’s ups and downs. Every time the theme changed I was astonished to once again see how this topic and that topic and every topic touched upon had something to say to me. A long book that does not drag.

I loved reading a book set in Germany before either of the world wars! The Revolution of 194
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Lee Klein
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Bra-effin'-oh, young Mann -- I'm pretty sure this breaks the world record for precocious achievement of towering literary artistry. Published in 1899 when dude was like 25 years old. Must've taken a couple years to write. Can't imagine a current undergrad publishing something like this in a few years. But I didn't actually read Mann's text -- Mann comes to me filtered through John E. Woods's sensibility and super-steady, elastic, attentive prose style. The duo is as good as it gets. Of the four ...more
Dolors
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 dep
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Perry
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"That all those charms have pass'd away,
I might have watch'd through long decay...."

"And Thou art Dead, as Young and Fair," Lord Byron

Thomas Mann's moving 1901 saga of the respected and wealthy Buddenbrooks family of grain merchants, begins in 1835 at the death of the patriarch. The three successive generations suffer a decline in their finances and family ideals as values change and old hierarchies are upset by Germany's rapid industrialization. Two of the siblings, Thomas and Antonie, sub
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Bettie


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lsts9

Description: Michael Maloney and Barbara Flynn star in this story of an old Hanseatic merchant family fighting to keep their commercial supremacy in the changing world of 1840s Europe.

Four generations of Buddenbrooks try to sustain their inheritance - a once highly successful trading company in the port of Lübeck on the Baltic Sea - in a world where the old ways no longer seem to work. It's 1848, and the revolutionary tide running through Europe has final
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Maru Kun
The first thing I felt after closing what is without doubt one of the best novels I will ever read was an almost irrepressible urge to start writing "Klothilde: The Rise of an Independent Woman” which describes the intense mental conflict experienced by Klothilde Buddenbrook as she tries to outwardly conform to the expectations of nineteenth century German womanhood while also pursuing an intense but tragically doomed affair with Hermann Hangstrom, tells the story of her attempts at revenge agai ...more
Hanneke
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-read
I will refrain from posting a review of Buddenbrooks as I have nothing to add to the many splendid reviews of the novel. See for example Kalliope’s, Fionnuala’s or Roger’s.

There can be no doubt that Thomas Mann must be residing on the most elevated of clouds in writers’ heaven. It is astonishing that he could write so brilliantly at the age of twenty-five. His observations have already that same sharp wit as erupting in The Magic Mountain. However splendid the novel is, I will probably never re
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Mala


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 Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, we got to watch up close and personal, the Buddenbrooks- their joys & sorrows, triumphs & defeats, honour & cowardice, births, marriages, divorces & deaths, rise & fall– in short, a
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Lawyer
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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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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Roy Lotz
This novel is a crowd-pleaser. Without difficult prose or avant-garde innovation, Mann has delivered a work of enduring art, a satisfying social novel of Germany in the 1800s. Indeed, the novel is so easily digestible that I find that I have very little to say about it. But lacking ideas is no excuse for not writing.

As with much of Mann’s work, this novel—his first major production, finished at the tender age of 26—is dominated by a gently ironic tone. Mann’s irony is not as pervasive or as deep
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Matthew Ted
105th book of 2022.

About time I read a Thomas Mann novel, having only read his famous stories/novellas (most notably his Death in Venice). He was just 26 when he published this, his first novel, in 1901. Like many debuts, it's said to be semi-autobiographical. It tracks three-ish generations of the Buddenbrooks, a merchant family in Germany. Hemingway famously loved this book. It is filled with all the things multiple generations of any family (presumably) go through: marriages, divorces, deaths
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Paul
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-novels
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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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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Kim
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it

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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Raul Bimenyimana
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Set in nineteenth century Northern Germany, this is a family saga. The Buddenbrooks are a merchant family recognised in their town for their wealth and status and so each and every personal and professional decision they make is supposed to be an additional honour to the family name.

Spanning four generations, Mann writes of the upper class family's relations with the town and their business, personal lives and marriages. The lives of the third and fourth generational characters being the bulk of
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Declan
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
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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Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate in 1929, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psycholo
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“Death was a blessing, so great, so deep that we can fathom it only at those moments, like this one now, when we are reprieved from it. It was the return home from long, unspeakably painful wanderings, the correction of a great error, the loosening of tormenting chains, the removal of barriers---it set a horrible accident to rights again.” 19 likes
“Often, the outward and visible material signs and symbols of happiness and success only show themselves when the process of decline has already set in. The outer manifestations take time - like the light of that star up there, which may in reality be already quenched, when it looks to us to be shining its brightest.” 15 likes
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