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Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family [Paperback]

Thomas Mann
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 28 1994 Vintage International
A Major Literary Event: a brilliant new translation of Thomas Mann's first great novel, one of the two for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1929.

Buddenbrooks, first published in Germany in 1900, when Mann was only twenty-five, has become a classic of modem literature -- the story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany. With consummate skill, Mann draws a rounded picture of middle-class life: births and christenings; marriages, divorces, and deaths; successes and failures. These commonplace occurrences, intrinsically the same, vary slightly as they recur in each succeeding generation. Yet as the Buddenbrooks family eventually succumbs to the seductions of modernity -- seductions that are at variance with its own traditions -- its downfall becomes certain.

In immensity of scope, richness of detail, and fullness of humanity, Buddenbrooks surpasses all other modem family chronicles; it has, indeed, proved a model for most of them. Judged as the greatest of Mann's novels by some critics, it is ranked as among the greatest by all. Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A superior new translation of Mann's 1901 saga about four generations of an affluent German family.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The reissue of Mann's wonderful first novel in a new translation is a cause for rejoicing. In loving, ironic, and sympathetic detail, Mann portrays several generations of a merchant family who belong to the bourgeois aristocracy in Lubeck, tracking them from high point to decline. While the author himself helped Lowe-Porter in the authorized English translation (1938), Woods simply has a better ear for dialog and for smoothing Mann's German syntax into a more naturally flowing English one. He is even so bold as to tackle puns that Lowe-Porter pretended weren't there. Highly recommended.
- Michael T. O'Pecko, Towson State Univ., Md.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Surprisingly Resonant Portrayal of a Lost Era Feb. 10 2004
Format:Paperback
In his 1762 treatise "The Social Contract," Rousseau wrote: "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." Mann's magnum opus, pregnant with bleak symbolism and teeming with lives lived in quiet desperation, highlights this stark fact.
"Buddenbrooks" is the story of a merchant family and their wholesale grain-trading business. It covers the rise of the Buddenbrook firm from the days of the German confederation, to its eventual dissolution during the early years of the Deutsches Reich. As the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the Buddenbrook firm is an unyielding prison from which escape is nearly impossible. Despite their wealth and status in the community, the Buddenbrooks were not truly free to pursue their own happiness. In the name of business prestige and family honor, Antonie Buddenbrook, daughter of patriarch Jean Buddenbrook, forgoes the love of her life to marry a cunning businessman who marries her for her dowry, which he uses to prop up his failing business. Thomas, the heir to the Buddenbrook empire, witnessing his sister's sacrifice, breaks off his youthful affair with a common girl and decides to focus his energies on learning the ropes of the world of business. Christian, Thomas's brother, was early on marked to be a scholar due to his wit; however, the untimely death of Jean Buddenbrook compels him to take up a position in the firm. In due course, events and personal circumstances unmask Christian's dissipation and mental incapacity for the practical pursuits of commerce. Gotthold, the 'prodigal son' and stepbrother of Jean Buddenbrook, decides to marry beneath his station, and is disowned in a particularly acrimonious manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars deadly June 11 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
In the same league with Gabriel Garcia Marquez' "100 Years of Solitude," and Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." It's the mighty Buddenbrooks (noble German businessmen) versus the Industrial Revolution, and I won't let on who claims the victory. Mann tackles countless issues in this massive and wonderful novel, which is intricately set up and extremely engaging if you have no trouble immersing yourself in late 19th century Germany.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Decadence of a family Nov. 16 2003
Format:Paperback
This novel (from the hand of Thomas Mann) was published in the early years of the XXth century. It tells the story of the decadence of a burgouise family, from its highest point of economic power, to its desintegration. The beginning of the novel has to do with the new house that has been bought by the patriach of the family. We meet there the three brothers, whose actions will be followed in the novel. Thomas, Cristian and Tony (Antoinnete). As they grow up, they learn the rules to survive their society and maintain their status. Tony has to learn that she cannot follow her love, if it is against the interests of her family. Thomas learns that he must follow the footsteps of his father... and Christian learns that he has no role in the world, but to annoy his brother. The world changes as it brings new rich people to town, with new ways of making business. Slowly the Buddenbrooks begin to lose their economic stability. This novel from Thomas Mann (a somewhat autobiographical one) describes the spaces, making it clear through them the kind of world this family lives in. There is a sharp picture of the characters... not only physical, but mental.
I will always remember Tony's romance in Travemünde, and how an idilic place is beautifully described, only to be soon reminded, that it is only a romantic fantasy... no more than that. Her later marriage is memorable, too. It is heartbreaking and humilliating. Another memorable moment is the realization of Thomas', that his son is not to follow his footsteps into the family business. Finally, watch for that description of the last of the Buddenbrooks' normal day: how terrifying was school for him... his friendships and his ailment. It is just adorable and moving.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A colossal opus from a 25 years old genius Feb. 20 2003
Format:Paperback
Thomas Mann, whose birthday centennial was celebrated last year not only in German but also all over the world, is the most influential German prose writter from the 20th century and The Budenbrooks is his most important work. He lived a good part of his life outside Geman, due to the persecution of the Nazi regime, in Los Angeles and afterwards in Switzerland. It seems that he never felt too much comfortable to move back to German, and may be to this, he never accomplished anything which could be compaired to the stature attained by his most celebrated book, which was deeply ingrained with the German burgeois way of life of his time. Some people say that is a kind of autobiographic novel , where many of the aspects of Thomas Mann's social sourroundings and family life were portrayed in the book, with an accuracy and sharpness of a genius, who lived life sorrounded by all kinds of problems one could imagine (homosexuality, drugs, family disputes on genius primacy) but who, at the other hand, was, in his own ways, deeply affected by burgeois values and familly affection.
When the book was written Mann had only 25 years, which adds content to some theories that mathematical and other type of geniuses minds are in their prime when one reaches 30 years of age, thus explaining the exclamation of sir Bertrand Russel, that got fame long after he hit his intelectual prime.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read
A story about "duty to society" and "obligation to society" above any happiness to one's self and enjoyment of one's life. Read more
Published 1 month ago by BCReader
3.0 out of 5 stars my love hate relationship with Tomas Mann
This is a very well written book, I like the short chapters, and this edition, even if as a paperback is fine. The problem is that I do not like Mann very much. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Katah
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!
I read this book for an Independent Study on the works of Thomas Mann. Although I found the beginning a tad slow, it soon picked up. Read more
Published on June 5 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars One to remember
Buddenbrooks is an amazing novel, both in scope and its beautifully rendered characters. The story concerns the Buddenbrook family and their life as prosperous merchants in Lubeck... Read more
Published on May 23 2003 by Randyll McDermott
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written, very readable classic.
Buddenbrooks is superbly written, splendidly elegant fiction of the best kind. The novel follows the life of a family (the Buddenbrook family) for the course of about fifty years,... Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2003 by bixodoido
5.0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt, worthy of a Nobel Prize
Buddenbrooks is the most autobiographical of Mann's works--and the one that most of all, earned Mann the Nobel Prize for Literature. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2001 by Joanna Daneman
5.0 out of 5 stars A polished, pensive exploration of eruptive human fatalism.
A classy, modernistic literary magnum opus that is truly representative of global literature, Thomas Mann's masterpiece about the bourgeois-which is a tornado of unceasing... Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2001 by Christian Engler
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-chronicled characters, but not a philosophical work.
The first third of this novel is wonderful, and the middle third is slow, but the final third was equal to the first. The characters are rich, the story is interesting. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2001 by John Hovig
4.0 out of 5 stars To the Dude from Chandler, AZ
Your experience with this book is very similar to mine. I made the resolution to read it, but I struggled through the first 300 pages - it must've taken me a month. Read more
Published on May 9 2001 by JEFFREY C ZOERNER
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