Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann Download (read online) free eBook (PDF ePub Kindle)

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

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

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 prosperity to bankruptcy, from moral and psychic soundness to sickly piety, artistic decadence, and madness, he ushers the reader into a world of stunning vitality, pieced together from births and funerals, weddings and divorces, recipes, gossip, and earthy humor.

In its immensity of scope, richness of detail, and fullness of humanity, buddenbrooks surpasses all other modern family chronicles. With remarkable fidelity to the original German text, this superb translation emphasizes the magnificent scale of Mann’s achievement in this riveting, tragic novel.
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    Lisa

    Jun 25, 2014

    rated it
    it was amazing

    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 –

    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 – with which we are quite familiar.

    My son, frustrated with the character of Grünlich, a true sleazeball and hypocrite, complained that there seems to be a Uriah Heep in each family, thus reigniting a debate on David Copperfield that we had last year. Going on to reflect on the struggles of the different generations of Buddenbrooks to find a balance between individual and collective identity within a patriarchal family structure, he murmured:

    “Some things are very much like our family!”

    Strong personalities, big dreams, different ideas and clashing worldviews – we came to the conclusion that most families go through the general changes that the Buddenbrooks experienced during the 19th century. We could detect the same power struggles in Dostoevsky and Dickens. So it is not so much that “we are what we read”, but rather that “we read what we are”. And that is what makes those old-fashioned, long, over-detailed classics shockingly contemporary and relevant to us.

    Put a random set of characters into a house, make sure to create a balance of interdependence and delicate power distribution, and you will see them act out dysfunctional family life without needing a script to stick to. Brother One takes a role, which requires Brother Two to act out the antagonist’s drama, while Sister One looks for a way out of the dilemma of being raised to obey her family and simultaneously to be proud of herself and her independence. Sister Two will oscillate between different positions to fill the gaps left by the rest of the family. And that is just the horizontal line. Add the vertical lines in the family tree and you are lucky if you manage to tell the story in as many words as Dickens, Dostoevsky or Mann.

    Sounds like a dull formula, but it isn’t.

    After all, that is what we call life, and it’s not dull at all. We can all spend a whole day fretting over the fact that a sibling, parent, spouse or child used a certain kind of voice level when saying goodbye, and we can read a whole generation’s worth of implications into the wave of a hand. Thomas Mann put down on paper what he had experienced first hand himself, and the very fact that the family is far from unique (on the contrary, quite common) is what makes it appealing to readers of all ages.

    Family life turned world literature. World literature turned family competition. Who will finish first? My son with Buddenbrooks, or me with Karamazovs? If you say it doesn’t matter, you know nothing of families at all.
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