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Old 08-09-2013, 08:04 PM   #106
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Yes, he did pile on the disasters at the end. I think what bugged me about Thomas was that he seemed to be telling her to go back for the sake of appearances, rather than because he thought it was the best thing for Tony.

And it seemed that Tony was the one who ostracised herself by expecting everyone else to speak to her first, rather than being prepared to approach others. But I suppose that was all part of this glorifying of the family that made her think herself superior to everyone else.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:46 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by Bookpossum View Post
Yes, he did pile on the disasters at the end. I think what bugged me about Thomas was that he seemed to be telling her to go back for the sake of appearances, rather than because he thought it was the best thing for Tony.

And it seemed that Tony was the one who ostracised herself by expecting everyone else to speak to her first, rather than being prepared to approach others. But I suppose that was all part of this glorifying of the family that made her think herself superior to everyone else.
You beat me to that observation. Much of Tony's problem with social ostracization stemmed from her preemptive snubs of people for slights only she saw. The rest of the world just did not see her [and her family's] superiority the way she did.
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Old 08-10-2013, 08:31 AM   #108
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It's pretty sad to think you are so much better than everyone else that you finish up isolated and lonely. But I have come across people who are a bit like that, so it rings true to me. Makes you wonder if Thomas Mann had an aunt more than somewhat like Tony.
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:29 AM   #109
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The ending of the novel is deeply depressing. But an interesting contrast between the opening and closing passages is made by Todd Kontje in the article I mentioned earlier.

He points up the fact that Hanno and his Great Grandfather are figures who are polar opposites and in this opposition they focus the catastrophic failure of the family.

Johan is seen as a patriarch. He is surrounded by a "growing family" and runs a "prosperous firm". We see him as decisive, respected and having agency.

On the other hand, Hanno is young but has none of the energetic enthusiasm we associate with youth. He is victimised in school, is a poor student, and procrastinates at every opportunity. I think that Hanno is completely negative; he has no seed of life within himself and his sad death only sealed his sterility. On a personal basis I felt very sorry for Hanno and the Prussian dominated school exacerbated his misery. But the fact remains that he had no agency; he was controlled rather than creative.

Another interesting contrast is between the young Tony who is learning the fundamentals of religion and a belief in God and the older Tony at the end. She has clearly become a sceptic who has serious doubts concerning the validity of a religious ethical system's ability to help one engage with the problems of life. It is true that Sesame asserts the value and truth of the old system but she does it against reason and through the courage of simple faith. She has the final word but is it convincing?

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Old 08-18-2013, 04:52 AM   #110
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But did you like the passage with Hanno and the improvisation? I thought it was one of the best in the book. It was particularly poignant as a prefix to his departure from the story. I loved how Mann handled Hanno's death - the curious distance, following a scene of such passion and imagination.

But the improvisation itself was quite fascinating - the theme that returned and returned. No flights of imagination escaping the underlying current, the thread of reality. Hanno's death was most probably a blessing.

But I agree with you about Hanno. He had talent, but no spark. To me, the Buddenbrook men were part of a stock that was continually being watered down. Each generation becoming weaker until you get to Hanno, who couldn't even muster enough energy to care about his talent. Christian was probably a forewarning of Hanno.

I wonder if there was a statement in general being made about what follows ascendancy - those who rise to the top through enterprise as opposed to those who inherit the wealth. Mann might have been showing us how each subsequent generation becomes more and more distant from the original pioneer; that ongoing success is more incidental or inertial, rather than earned. So that when faced with a real challenge - the changes in Germany in this case, the weaker links break and the structure collapses.
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