|
Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Book » Reviews » Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family » User review

A polished, pensive exploration of eruptive human fatalism.

  • Nov 20, 2001
Rating:
+5
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 recherche prose and firmly solidified ideas-is a stylish prose epic, a historical and social whirlwind of unimaginable breadth and intelligence that will certainly leave the reader in absolute awe. Considered to be the first 'realistic' novel that dealt unreservedly in the exploration of grim day-to-day truths and harsh realities-divorce, death, social and economic abatement, transgression of conventional and societal norms, loss of ideology, faith, respect and madness-Buddenbrooks is an accurate replication of nineteenth century German aristocracy, small town highbrowism, and internal, familial oligarchic domination. Buddenbrooks is a novel that is framed in the form of generations, the first being the patrician class, the midpoint being the upper middle class and the latter ultimately representing the genteel lower class. The Buddenbrook Family at the start of the novel are a moralistic clan who cloy their materialistic needs whenever they feel the need to do so, whether it be lavish furnishings for their costly homes or vacations to the sea resort of Travemunde, they are a household, who, at the beginning, can afford their 'excesses.' But through a series of misfortunes and bad judgements, each generation becomes a little less well off than before. Coupled with the misfortunes and bad judgements are the inherent vices that some of the characters seem to possess: Christian's poor work ethic and theatre fetish, Antonie's unremitting superciliousness, Thomas Buddenbrook's stringent outlook of how life and society must function, Ida Jung[mann's] incessant coddling of young Hanno... For everything that is good and strong within this family, there is something bad and gnawing with which to combat it. The balance of justice, however, never seems to weigh down in the Buddenbrook's favor. There is a stark divide between the role of men and women; the former are the breadwinners and the latter are dainty butterflies who provide the care. But what happens when Christian and Hanno's perception of how life should be lived clashes with that of Thomas? It becomes a calamitous disaster that slowly takes root in anything and everything. And bit by bit, the decadant lifestyle so enjoyed by the numerous bon vivants, ebbs away until only one side is left standing to live unhappily in a new altered environment. In past novels, authors have tried diligently to tackle the theme of good vs. evil; the forms that good and evil have shown themselves have certainly varied over the years, but in Buddenbrooks, evil seems best represented in the form of social and economic classicism. It is something that has become sanctified to them. Although it represses some or all of the characters (you decide), wealth is something they all fervently strive for, despite the fact that it blatantly obstructs their true inner wants and needs-like drugs or alcohol; it is a cover-up for something deeper and more profound. Money seem to be the core to which the Buddenbrooks revolve, for it comes in many directions: Dowaries, the firm and various inheritances. But as all that happens, it slowly replaces the good qualities of the characters immediately affected. There is a loss of forbearance, empathy and understanding. That is best illustrated when Antonie-by a slow process of guilt-is bargained away like a piece of chattel to Herr Grunlich in the name of family honor. Love is love. Hate is hate. Human foibles can not be fixed so they adhere to other people's perceptions of what respectable is. The Buddenbrooks have many faults, but they do not allow those very human imperfections to take their natural course in life, and because that is so, they steep themselves into further social and economic muck and mire. As an assortment of characters pass away and the level of depression rises, the dignity held so steadfastly at the start becomes quite eroded. And the only thing that is left standing at the end of the novel is faith-the one true possession of value above all the others. Buddenbrooks is fat and wonderful, an unyielding edifice of modernistic writing.

What did you think of this review?

Helpful
0
Thought-Provoking
0
Fun to Read
0
Well-Organized
0
Post a Comment
More Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a... reviews
review by . May 11, 2013
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 recherche prose and firmly solidified ideas-is a stylish prose epic, a historical and social whirlwind of unimaginable breadth and intelligence that will certainly leave the reader in absolute awe. Considered to be the first 'realistic' novel that dealt unreservedly in the exploration of grim day-to-day truths and …
About the reviewer
Christian Engler ()
Ranked #652
Not much to say; my info section and likes pretty much says it all. Cheers.
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

You
cengler
Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this book

Wiki

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

Details

ISBN-10: 0679752609
ISBN-13: 978-0679752608
Author: Thomas Mann
Publisher: Vintage

© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists