Thread: Literary Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:25 AM   #46
desertblues
New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
So what did the Buddenbrooks in? A combination of bad luck and bad choices, as with most downfalls? Plus the physical issue; the Thomas generation was marked by poor health. Did Antoinette Buddenbrooks introduce a physical weakness into the line? But she was pretty hardy, so I suspect it was some kind of developed degeneracy in the line, ending with poor Hanno. Perhaps Christian's bastard and Tony's line, with fresher blood, will endure, although without the Buddenbrooks' name or fortune.

(...)

Really no one was likable. I laughed at Tony, pitied poor Hanno, and felt great indifference toward the rest. Characters don't have to be likable but they need to be interesting. Oh, Kai, great kid. But what was in store for him, especially with the undertones of homosexuality?

I admit I rushed it toward the end and I probably should have slowed down, to appreciate the language. Even in translation, the descriptions were powerful, once Mann got away from detailing teeth and whiskers. But I was ready to be done.

I do think we have a hero, though:

Spoiler:
Permaneder! Who was satisfied with enough, had no interest in money for its own sake and so honest as not to hang on to money that was not morally his. Glad to get rid of Tony, too, no doubt.
Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
I read Watts, but Lowe-Porter renders it as "don't throw yourself away," which I think flows more naturally as a conversation.

My take on it was different, that Thomas was trying simultaneously to reassure her while acting a dog in the manger. Assuring her she wasn't "ruined," but at the same time trying to keep her from pursuing a similar affair. It involved both sexual jealousy but also a dose of reality. She could move on, since no one knew, but affairs of their sort were hugely risky for a shopgirl and should be eschewed. Now that he was done with her!
I am but halfway in the book, but there's bound to be no great surprises I think. It gently flows in that constricted society where I couldn't have lived for the love of money. Well...

I think Thomas did take advantage of the girl and being the hypocrite he is, he assured her it wasn't a sordid affair, but something 'higher', a somewhat higher love, above level of the ordinary. He said it as much to reassure the girl as himself, being a God-and law abiding gentleman.

edit: I think the translation 'don't throw yourself away" is more apt than 'demean'.
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