Saturday, 7 May 2011

Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family"

Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901

I have read "Buddenbrooks" a couple of times and think this is one of the best books of German literature. It is usually described as Thomas Mann's masterpiece. The author is definitely one of Germany's most famous and best writers. The novel, an epic story, dates from 1901 and describes the life in a wealthy merchant family over several decades from the 1800s until the beginning of the twentieth century. The story is based on the author's own family who lived in Lübeck, the town where this novel takes place. It belonged to the Hanseatic League which "was an alliance of trading guilds that established and maintained a trade monopoly over the Baltic Sea, to a certain extent the North Sea, and most of Northern Europe for a time in the Late Middle Ages and the early modern period, between the 13th and 17th centuries" (an early European Union, if you wish). Quite an interesting part of the history of that part of Northern Europe.

A wonderful novel, rich expressions, perfect detailed writing, also about some important history that isn't described very often. If you enjoy history and would like to learn more about Germany at the beginning of the last century, this is the book for you. But even if you are not interested in history, this is also a great family saga, one that will never leave you again. A family that was so rich and important and had so much influence on the politics and economy of a whole town and region and who can't to cope with the changes into modern life. Read it. You won't regret it.

From the back cover: "Thomas Mann's first novel, Buddenbrooks, is drawn from his own life and experience.
The Decline of a Family, his story of a prosperous Hanseatic merchant family and their gradual disintegration is also an extraordinary portrayal of the transition from the stable bourgeois life of the nineteenth century to a modern uncertainty. "

We discussed this in our book club in August 2007 and in February 2015.

I also read "The Magic Mountain".

Thomas Mann received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929 "principally for his great novel, 'Buddenbrooks', which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature".

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.
I was lucky to be able to visit the Buddenbrook House in Lübeck, you can read about my experience here.

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