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Old 07-23-2013, 09:13 AM   #46
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I have a question for those reading this in German. Going back to Chapter 15 of Part Three where out of the blue we are told of the sexual affair that Thomas Buddenbrook has been engaged in with Anna, a young woman working in a flower shop. He twice says to her: “But don’t do anything to demean yourself, Anna, do you hear? Because you haven’t so far, indeed you haven’t.”

I interpreted this as him warning her not to do or say anything that might embarrass him or cause him any difficulties (say such as showing up at the Buddenbrook residence demanding satisfaction) now that he is summarily dumping her because he is taking a position in Amsterdam. I just wonder it the translation is accurate, especially the expression “demean yourself.”
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!
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:25 AM   #47
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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.
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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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Old 07-23-2013, 12:27 PM   #48
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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.
Failure to thrive, rather than any sort of crisis. I kept waiting for something dramatic to cause bankruptcy or death, but instead they drifted along. Other families had oodles of children and extended family and were growing, the Buddenbrooks in contrast kept to themselves and gradually shrunk in status and numbers.
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:32 PM   #49
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Still...I do like reading this book as it takes one within this family and within this period in German history. I am interested in with what they come up with next.
Perhaps every book lover is something of a 'voyeur', or do I speak only for myself?
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Old 07-23-2013, 02:47 PM   #50
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Despite of the lightness of the French words that are used, the (for me) somewhat sterile period of Biedermeier http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biedermeier
and Bürgerlichkeit is what comes to my mind. No wild adventure here; all has to have its order, its fixed place under the more or less benevelont eye of God and society.
That's true but this changes with the progress of the story. I've read this books some years ago but this an impression that I've keept: All values will change.
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:24 PM   #51
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Money and social class are important. The women know their place, are rather realistic, and Thomas Mann treads very lightly over the difficulties of the lower classes.
yes, could not agree more about the social classes: and the scene at the Town Hall (the "riot") is in essence contemptuous and condescending.
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Old 07-23-2013, 05:52 PM   #52
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yes, could not agree more about the social classes: and the scene at the Town Hall (the "riot") is in essence contemptuous and condescending.
That was one of my favorite scenes in the whole book. The burghers held hostage by the rabble, as they had food brought lest they miss a meal and the "rabble" were a handful of townspeople out for the fun who didn't even know what they wanted. Both sides came off badly and I thought it was hilarious. And then Krõger expired on the way home because of the affront to his sense of order!

I agree with you that Buddenbrook had too cheap a victory. I was interested that at least according to Mann, the revolution of 1848 largely passed over Lùbeck.
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Old 07-23-2013, 06:04 PM   #53
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This is the original:
'Man wird getragen, siehst du ... Wenn ich am Leben bin, werde ich das Geschäft übernehmen, werde eine Partie machen ... ja, ich bin offen gegen dich, beim Abschied ... Und auch du ... das wird so gehen ... Ich wünsche dir alles Glück, meine liebe, gute, kleine Anna! Aber wirf dich nicht weg, hörst du?... Denn bis jetzt hast du dich =nicht= weggeworfen, das sage ich dir ...!«'

Thomas tells Anna that it should be over; both will go their own way, and that she shouldn't do anything that would bring her down to a lower level. She hasn't been that kind of girl (I guess he meant a kind of prostitute) to him till now and she shouldn't become one after he leaves her. (BTW: For him that means that he isn't a man that visits prostitutes himself, but only nice honest girls.)


That is in the 5th chapter of the first part.
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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!
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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'.
Thank you both. That makes very good sense to me now.
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Old 07-24-2013, 06:08 AM   #54
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Still...I do like reading this book as it takes one within this family and within this period in German history.
And I must admit that I find it increasingly funny (I never expected it). I don't know if this comes across with the English translation but the original contains a lot of subtil humour and irony.
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:48 AM   #55
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And I must admit that I find it increasingly funny (I never expected it). I don't know if this comes across with the English translation but the original contains a lot of subtil humour and irony.
Yes, the book is growing on me now. I like the dialect of Tony's husband and am at the point that things aren't going that smoothly, that neat, any more. The political and economic context is developing as well.

It says something about the quality of a writer that one can't be indifferent when reading his/her books.

on.....
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Old 07-25-2013, 06:32 AM   #56
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I'm just over a third through the book. Didn't really like the first section with the dinner party. However, after it got going I enjoyed it more.

Will still be a while before I get through it though.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:53 PM   #57
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I'm at page 400 or something (of 792) and feel myself beginning to see the idea behind it.

This book is like life's seasons. It begins quite fresh; all is good and new. There's progress and a hint of spring in the air. Now, if I may continue; summer with its fruits(also the fallen fruits) - the marriages, babies of Tony and Gerda, the death of the old- has come to an end and the family's splendor is turning lustreless.

Thomas Mann could have called this book ' Decline and Fall of the Buddenbrooks'.
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Old 07-25-2013, 02:23 PM   #58
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Thomas Mann could have called this book ' Decline and Fall of the Buddenbrooks'.
Actually, he did. The title is rendered in English as Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family.
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Old 07-25-2013, 02:50 PM   #59
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Actually, he did. The title is rendered in English as Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family.
he, he, that's a nice one, Issybird. That serves me right of not wanting to read too much around a book before I read it.
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:59 PM   #60
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Same in German, the full title is Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie and that's just the same as Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family.

While I double-checked that on Wikipedia I found a picture of Thomas Mann from 1900, the time he wrote Buddenbrooks. Might be interesting because most pictures are usually taken arround 1940 - 50 when he was much older.

I often wondered how Thomas Mann looked at the age of 25, and here's the answer:

Spoiler:
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