Sunday 5 August 2012

Visiting the Buddenbrook House

During our last holidays, we visited the beautiful town of Lübeck, situated in the North of Germany, at the Baltic Sea. During the Cold War, this was the last town in North-Western Germany. Today, luckily, you wouldn't even be able to tell. You also can't tell that more than 1,000 houses were totally or partly destroyed in 1942 through Allied bombings. Today, it is full of old houses, huge churches, a pretty little river flowing through the town, and the home town to three Nobel prize winners. Willy Brandt was born here, our former chancellor who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1971 for his efforts to reconcile West Germany and the Eastern countries, East Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union. Günter Grass, author, graphic artist, sculptor and Nobel Prize winner for Literature (in 1999), originally from Gdańsk (then Danzig) lives here now.

And then there is the family Mann. Heinrich Mann, the elder brother, and Thomas Mann, the Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1929. Both very famous in their own right and known for a vast amount of novels, plays, short stories, essays and their social criticism, and both had to go into exile during the Nazi regime. The Mann family was a renowned merchant family, their father a Senator of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck. The brothers grew up in a large and wealthy family and drew the ideas for their subjects from their everyday life.

"Buddenbrooks" (GE: Buddenbrooks) is one of my favourite novels ever. We read it in the book club and I wrote a review about it here. You can visit the house of the family Mann, it has been transformed into a museum as the "Buddenbrook House".

In 1842, Johann Siegmund Mann jun. (Thomas' and Heinrich's grandfather) bought the house in the Mengstraße and today it is known as the house of the family Buddenbrook. A beautiful white house with a Baroque façade and a Rococo gable, in the middle of the town, just next to the largest church St. Marien. The two lowest stories have been transformed into a museum with information on the family Mann and the house itself, on the third floor, you can see two rooms that have been restored to look like the rooms in the book when the family is leaving the house. There are several little items strewn throughout the rooms with the respective passages from the novel to show what they mean.

I would have loved to have the whole house restored to see how the Buddenbrooks (or Manns) really lived, but on the whole, this was a very pleasant visit and I can only recommend to anyone who is interested in literature to read the book and visit the house if you are in the area.

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

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