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Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

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4.15  ·  Rating details ·  18,950 ratings  ·  911 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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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…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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4.15  · 
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 ·  18,950 ratings  ·  911 reviews


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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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Emily May
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics, 2018
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 tool
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Luís C.
True to his elegant style, detailed and generous in the petty small details, Thomas Mann returned with this voluminous novel in which narrates the decline and anguish of a German family of the late nineteenth century.
All the complexes that can live (and suffer) people of the upper class, when they see themselves in distressing needs, are described here, with a halo of nostalgia that surrounds the conversations, which, more than conversations, are reminiscent of a glorious and buoyant past that w
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Ahmad Sharabiani
782. Buddenbrooks, 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.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و ششم ژانویه سال 2012 میلادی
بودنبروکها (زوال یک خاندان) - توماس مان (ماهی) ادبیات آلما
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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, 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 stringin
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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 hi
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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 me almo
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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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Dolors
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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 depict
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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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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 finall
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Lee
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
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 &am
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Lawyer
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer 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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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 Buddenbrooks, a respected, wealthy 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, subor
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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
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
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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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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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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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
Jonfaith
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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Gary  the Bookworm
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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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W.D. Clarke
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I am normally not all that into the Grand Family Saga, but this was eminently, compulsively readable, something which, alas was part of its problem for me, as I usually go in for the kind of books whose inventive use of language challenges me in well nigh every paragraph, and though there are times in this novel when the narrative takes on a thrilling intensity—in my mind combining the baleful bitterness of one of Conrad's narrators (I am thinking of Nostromo here) with the synoptic knowingness ...more
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...
Mark Hebwood
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german
With the first line, I was born into the family of the Buddenbrooks. Some thirtythousand lines later, I left my family behind, or rather those few that were still alive.

When I was born, I started exploring my new world, and I was quickly initiated. In line 11, I had already met grandfather, the parents, and their daughter Tony. In line 90, I knew something of their personalities, and family lineage. In line 100, I was beginning to find out where I was. I was in the drawing room of my family's ho
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Denis
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Serbian: Tomas Man

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.” 15 likes
“Das Gute kommt immer zu spät, immer wird es zu spät fertig, wenn man sich nicht mehr recht darüber freuen kann.” 11 likes
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