Never too Late to Read Classics discussion

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family
This topic is about Buddenbrooks
56 views
Archive 2021 Authors > 2018 April German Author: Buddenbrooks

Comments Showing 1-50 of 91 (91 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Apr 01, 2018 05:16AM) (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann is a 1901 novel 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. 731 pages

It was Mann's first novel, published in 1901 when he was twenty-six years old.

In 1835, the wealthy and respected Buddenbrooks, a family of grain merchants, invite their friends and relatives to dinner in their new home in Lübeck, Germany. The family consists of patriarch Johann Jr. and his wife Antoinette; their son Johann III ("Jean") and his wife Elizabeth, and the latter's three school-age children, sons Thomas and Christian, and daughter Antonie ("Tony"). They have several servants, most notably Ida Jungmann, whose job is to care for the children. During the evening, a letter arrives from Gotthold, estranged son of the elder Johann and half-brother of the younger. The elder Johann disapproves of Gotthold's life choices, and ignores the letter. Johann III and Elizabeth later have another daughter, Klara.


message 2: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Apr 01, 2018 05:15AM) (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
OR

Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane is a realist novel published in book form in 1895, Effi Briest marks both a watershed and a climax in the poetic realism of literature. It can be thematically compared to other novels on 19th century marriage from a female perspective. 272 pages

Seventeen-year-old Effi Briest, the daughter of a German aristocrat, is married off to 38-year-old Baron Geert von Innstetten, who courted her mother Luise and was spurned for his status, which he has now improved.


message 3: by Beth Buning (new)

Beth Buning | 28 comments I just requested Effi Briest from the library. Excited to start it!
I picked up North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell in the meantime.


Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments Buddenbrooks is a magnificent novel that I've read twice. Thank goodness as it frees me up to read Effie Briest and Kidnapped. But there's also The Book of Disquiet and I'd reread the 2 Holmes ... there's a cornucopia this month! Good choices!

Last week, I saw my law school friend friend who introduced me to Buddenbrooks in 1977 and told him I was reading Effi Briest. He read it as a German major in undergrad and lamented that, while contemporaries and many scholars ranked it with Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, Americans are well aware of those two, while Effi Briest remains mostly unknown here. I neglected to tell him I first heard of it on NTLTRC less than 2 years ago.


message 5: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 02, 2018 05:37AM) (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments I have always found Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest both amazing and infuriating (but in a good way). When I read this (in German) for university, it was not at first so much the fact that seventeen year old and very much still childish and naive Effi (who has been raised by her family to be like that, mind you) is basically just married off like prized livestock that bothered me, but I personally found it and still find it incredibly distasteful and even creepy that Effi is being married to Baron von Instetten, to one of her own mother's former suitors. I mean, obviously, von Instetten is at almost 40 years of age old enough to be her father, but to me, there is also something not quite comme il faut about asking for the hand in marriage of the daughter of your erstwhile courting interest (and that the Briests agree with basically giving their daughter to the wife's former beau so to speak, that has always kind of made me very very uncomfortable).

Now the rest of my review will be encased in spoiler tags, and just to be honest, the review is analytical and also shows some clear likes and dislikes, in other words, what I love about Effi Briest and what I have always found problematic (and it is also based on the original German version, as I have in fact not read the English language translation).

(view spoiler)


message 6: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 02, 2018 08:52AM) (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments I have a question for those readers who have read Buddenbrooks in English translation. How do the translators show the different manners of speech of the upper class (whose members in Thomas Mann's original generally speak standard German) and the servant class (whose members in Thomas Mann's original often speak Platt, speak Low German)?


message 7: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Apr 02, 2018 04:33PM) (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
Brian
I am glad you are somewhat excited about this month's reads! Effi Briest is on the 1000 books you should read before you die list.
This review helps with maybe understanding better why it is on this list:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/200...

Im thinking it was Rosemarie who first brought it up but not positive.
I have it on my wish list.
Happy Reading Brian!


message 8: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 02, 2018 04:09PM) (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Lesle wrote: "Brian
I am glad you are somewhat excited about this month's reads! Effi Briest is on the 1000 books you should read before you die list.
Im thinking it was Rosemarie who first brough..."


I recommend the book, although I did not like (on a personal) level many of the characters, especially that Effi is being married to her mother's former suitor always kind of makes me cringe. And Fontane is a brilliant wordsmith.


message 9: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (last edited Apr 02, 2018 04:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rosemarie | 8298 comments Mod
Effi Briest is one of my favourite 19th century novels and Effi is a delightful young woman.
Even though Effi does get married in the book, the title uses her maiden name, unlike Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary.

After you have read the book, you will discover why this is so.


message 10: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Rosemarie wrote: "Effi Briest is one of my favourite 19th century novels and Effi is a delightful young woman.
Even though Effi does get married in the book, the title uses her maiden name, unlike Anna Karenina and..."


It always bothers me that quite a goodly number of readers consider Effi a spoiled brat, sigh. Yes, she is childish and naive for her age, but this is due to her upbringing.


message 11: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rosemarie | 8298 comments Mod
I never got that impression. Maybe it has to do with the translation?


message 12: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I never got that impression. Maybe it has to do with the translation?"

It could be, but I never got that impression either, and since I have only ever read Effi Briest in German, I have no idea if in the translation, Effi appears and acts spoiled.


message 13: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Rosemarie wrote: "Effi Briest is one of my favourite 19th century novels and Effi is a delightful young woman.
Even though Effi does get married in the book, the title uses her maiden name, unlike Anna Karenina and..."


What did you think of Effi being married off to one of her mother's former suitors?


message 14: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rosemarie | 8298 comments Mod
I will save my comments until members have had a chance to read the book, but I will add that there is a character with a name I absolutely think is wonderful-- Alonzo Gieshübler.

I hope everyone will enjoy Effi Briest as much as I did.

And that goes for Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family too. Thomas Mann is my favourite 20th century German author and I am trying to read all his works at least once.
I started reading his books in university in 1973, and have reread some since then.


message 15: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
Rosemarie the one company I love to order my used books online from (as if they disappoint me in anyway they take care of it-no issues, which is nice) only has Effi in German right now. So its on my wish list still!

I do have Buddenbrooks and am looking forward to starting the read soon.

Anyone else thinking about reading Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family?


message 16: by Brian (last edited Apr 02, 2018 04:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments Lesle wrote: "Brian
I am glad you are somewhat excited about this month's reads! Effi Briest is on the 1000 books you should read before you die list.
This review helps with maybe understanding be..."


Yes, Rosemarie had read it and knew all about it, but I thought you had posted the picture of Thomas Fontane in the "Guess the Author" picture game, which I think is where I learned about it. I can still picture Fontane.


message 17: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Lesle wrote: "Rosemarie the one company I love to order my used books online from (as if they disappoint me in anyway they take care of it-no issues, which is nice) only has Effi in German right now. So its on m..."

I am hoping to get to Buddenbrooks, I need to reread it as I read it years ago for university.


message 18: by Tony (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tony | 101 comments Yes I'm in for Buddenbrooks.

I've just read Effi Briest (in english), my second of his following Irreversible. I agree with many of the points manybooks makes under his spoilers comments. I have got much more affection for Effi as a character than I have for Madame Bovary.


message 19: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 02, 2018 04:53PM) (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Tony wrote: "Yes I'm in for Buddenbrooks.

I've just read Effi Briest (in english), my second of his following Irreversible. I agree with many of the points manybooks makes under his spoilers comments. I have g..."


Me too, I have always felt a bit uncomfortable with regard to Emma Bovary. And I am not a he :-) but who can tell.


message 20: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "Lesle wrote: "Brian
I am glad you are somewhat excited about this month's reads! Effi Briest is on the 1000 books you should read before you die list.
This review helps with maybe un..."


Your memory is much better than mine!


message 21: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
Wonderful Tony!
I enjoy reading the novels with you!

Do you have an idea when you plan to start?


message 22: by Tony (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tony | 101 comments Well, I'm reading the Virginian and Goodbye to Berlin right now so that should take a few days. After that, I'm ready to start when you are ready. what's good for you?


message 23: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
I was just telling Rosemarie, I think we might have to work this weekend. Early Vote starts the 10th and we are a bit behind :(

Probably not till Sunday, of thats ok with you?

Oh I hope you enjoy the Virginian as much as I did!


message 24: by Tony (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tony | 101 comments Manybooks wrote: "Tony wrote: "Yes I'm in for Buddenbrooks.

I've just read Effi Briest (in english), my second of his following Irreversible. I agree with many of the points manybooks makes under his spoilers comme..."


My apologies Manybooks! Really enjoyed your post.


message 25: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Tony wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Tony wrote: "Yes I'm in for Buddenbrooks.

I've just read Effi Briest (in english), my second of his following Irreversible. I agree with many of the points manybooks makes under ..."


No need to apologise :-)


message 26: by Tony (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tony | 101 comments Lesle wrote: "I was just telling Rosemarie, I think we might have to work this weekend. Early Vote starts the 10th and we are a bit behind :(

Probably not till Sunday, of thats ok with you?

Oh I hope you enjoy..."


Yes, that's good for me Lesle.


Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments Manybooks wrote: "Tony wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Tony wrote: "Yes I'm in for Buddenbrooks.

I've just read Effi Briest (in english), my second of his following Irreversible. I agree with many of the points manybooks..."


Until I learned otherwise, I also thought you were male. Maybe its because your screen name starts with the word "Man." Aah, the human brain.


message 28: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Brian wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Tony wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Tony wrote: "Yes I'm in for Buddenbrooks.

I've just read Effi Briest (in english), my second of his following Irreversible. I agree with many of th..."


No problem ...


message 29: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
“Ich liebe dich ja… wie heißt es doch, wenn man einen Zweig abbricht und die Blätter abreißt? Von Herzen, mit Schmerzen, über alle Maßen.”
― Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest


Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments "Ich liebe dich ja." I need to use that on my wife.


message 31: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
She would probably appreciate being told you love her!


Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments Lesle wrote: "She would probably appreciate being told you love her!"

I did know what it meant when I used it. My wife is German on both sides. She didn't know what I said, though.

FINISHED EFFI BRIEST CHAPTER 11

Very much enjoyed the opening section in Effi's hometown with her friends and family. I enjoy Fontane's descriptions and character observations, such as this one about Hulda's parents:

"Pastor Niemeyer was extremely embarrassed at this (his wife's) stream of caustic remarks, with no sense of refinement or propriety, and once more regretted having married his housekeeper."

I find Effi delightful so far but see expected trouble for a marriage formed for practical rather than romantic reasons.
In the next section in Kessin, there are unexpected eerie aspects in the Chinaman and ghost allusions, almost creating a slightly 'Rebecca' atmosphere. Interesting to see if that goes anywhere.


message 33: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "Lesle wrote: "She would probably appreciate being told you love her!"

I did know what it meant when I used it. My wife is German on both sides. She didn't know what I said, though..."


Hummm...not thinking that's a good thing, if she has no idea!


message 34: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
Anyone in on either of these reads?


message 35: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rosemarie | 8298 comments Mod
I have read Effi Briest three times and Buddenbrooks twice and am following the discussions and enjoy reading the comments.


message 36: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 08, 2018 06:29AM) (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Lesle wrote: "Anyone in on either of these reads?"

I have read both books, but do need to reread Buddenbrooks. For Effi Briest, I just reread the book last year (and if you are willing to consider spoilers, you are welcome to check out the musings, the review I posted in message five).


Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments Lesle wrote: "Anyone in on either of these reads?"

Sometimes few members enter into the discussions. I know when I read The Brothers Karamazov last year I felt like the lone reader, even though it had received 20 or so member votes. The other comments were by previous readers like Rosemarie. I treated it like I would a buddy read.
I'd say it was because this month there are 3 translation books to choose from, but the Book of Disquiet discussion is still mainly Rosemarie, who has read the German reads several times.
However, it's still in the first third of the month so others may yet comment. I'm certainly enjoying both Effi and Kidnapped, and look forward to reading Manybooks' comments on this thread when I finish.


message 38: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Brian wrote: "Lesle wrote: "Anyone in on either of these reads?"

Sometimes few members enter into the discussions. I know when I read The Brothers Karamazov last year I felt like the lone reader, even though it..."


I am glad you are enjoying Effi Briest.


message 39: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5607 comments Mod
My edition is translated by John E Woods (First American Edition) who actually has won several PEN awards.

So I'm in Part 1, Chapter 1 of 648 pages!


message 40: by María (last edited Apr 09, 2018 06:58AM) (new)

María | 30 comments Lesle wrote: "Anyone in on either of these reads?"

I'm in on Effi Briest, but I'm reading two other books at the moment and I don't know when I'll be able to start with it, maybe in one or even two weeks. I reckon it'll be the first German classic I read.


message 41: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rosemarie | 8298 comments Mod
Good to hear that, Maria. We have a whole month to read the book, and even longer if you need to, since the discussion threads stay open.
Happy reading.


Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments Lesle wrote: "My edition is translated by John E Woods (First American Edition) who actually has won several PEN awards.

So I'm in Part 1, Chapter 1 of 648 pages!"


Yes, Buddenbrooks is a mini-Hefty! My Oxford edition of Effi Briest is a more easily managed 240 pages, though I'm also constantly reading the notes to understand the historical context. I find the notes very interesting.
The notes enhance what I learned about, such as the Hanseatic League, while reading a non-fiction book about Bach and Frederick the Great.
Yes, with Effi Briest I get both history and her story.


message 43: by Beth Buning (new)

Beth Buning | 28 comments I wonder why Effi Briest is difficult to find in print? There was only one copy shared amongst many local libraries.
I did start it yesterday, and I am curious about the prewedding day described. It sounds like a tradition in Prussia. I wonder what the meaning of the play was??


message 44: by Kathy (new) - added it

Kathy | 1186 comments I'll be reading Effi Briest but probably starting later in the month.


message 45: by Kathy (new) - added it

Kathy | 1186 comments I found Effi Briest through thriftbooks.com. It's in paperback form and was only 3.49 + shipping.


message 46: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rosemarie | 8298 comments Mod
That's a good deal, Kathy. I hope you enjoy the book.


message 47: by Tony (last edited Apr 11, 2018 09:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tony | 101 comments Manybooks wrote: "I have a question for those readers who have read Buddenbrooks in English translation. How do the translators show the different manners of speech of the upper class (whose members in Thomas Mann's..."

I'm just starting Buddenbrooks now. My version is the Vintage classic translated into English by H.T. Lowe-Porter. He adds a translator's note at the beginning: -

"..Buddenbrooks is a triumph of style in its own language.....the author has recorded much dialect. This difficulty is insuperable. Dialect cannot be transferred. So the present translation is offered with humility. It was necessary to set oneself the bold task of transferring the spirit and the letter so far as might be; and above all, to make certain that the work of art, coming as it does to the ear in German, like music out of the past, should, in English, at least not come like a translation - which is a thing of naught."


Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments FINISHED EFFI BRIEST -POSSIBLE SPOILERS

I really enjoyed it except I felt I missed the actual affair. There's Effi in the sleigh ride that has Crampas whispering in her ear and covering her fingers with hot kisses. The she's with hubby, there's New Year's Eve and talk about Effi feeling guilty with different people. No description of any affair or confirmation; just Effi being glad to go to Berlin to get away from her temptation. I re-read thinking I missed something, wondering if Crampas got a quickie in the sleigh, which didn't make sense, or whether it was the translation.
Finally, after several inferences at best, there are the letters and a little insight into the affair. .
I would have liked to get Effi's thoughts during the affair, or just some facts so I could make my own insights to what Effi may have been thinking during the affair.
I understand the author wanted to emphasize other social mores, attitudes and the effects rather than the specifics of the affair. I wasn't looking for torrid romantic scenes just more Effi insights.
A great book anyway, just short of a really great book due to my feeling a bit confused during the read.


message 49: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks | 501 comments Brian wrote: "FINISHED EFFI BRIEST -POSSIBLE SPOILERS

I really enjoyed it except I felt I missed the actual affair. There's Effi in the sleigh ride that has Crampas whispering in her ear and covering her finger..."


I agree that from our perspective, there really was not much of an affair, but according to Prussian 19th century mores, there was, I guess, and enough for a duel and for Effi to be completely shunned by everyone.


message 50: by Brian (last edited Apr 14, 2018 04:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brian Reynolds | 3786 comments Manybooks, I have no problem in seeing the existence of an affair substantial enough for a Prussian duel, it's just that... to cite a comment much better than I could write from Goodreads user Jr Bacadayan:

"What is curious about the novel is that the adulterous act is never so much as depicted, It goes on for a while in the background with little hints here and there, but the reader can be inclined to attribute it to a playful imagination. It is treated like a ghost to be wary of, always alluded to but never explicitly confirmed. Not until the last few pages is the suspicion set and the heavy feeling substantiated. It creeps slowly, silently, and hovers like smog disguised as mist mingling the spirits of trust and guilt..."

I like Jr's use of the ghost analogy from the story and his depiction of the book as:

"A rare novel that exercises gleeful restraint yet echoes more than the proverbial canon.... It tells the story of a young woman who yields to everything thrown her way..."

I guess I'm saying, while I don't mind the restraint in depicting the adulterous acts, I still wish I knew more about what Effi was thinking during the affair.


« previous 1
back to top