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Old 07-22-2013, 04:18 PM   #31
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So having completed Parts I through IV I have a few in progress comments relative to the discussion so far.

First kudos to Issybird for her apt comparison of this book to The Forsyte Saga. I would say that the latter, as far as my memory goes, did seem to move a little more briskly than I am finding Buddenbrooks to. Though I would never characterize either as a “page turner.”


I am reading the Thomas translation, and while this is my first and only read of Buddenbrooks so I can't compare to the alternate Lowe-Porter translation, nothing leaps out at me to suggest that I am gaining or losing anything by my choice. It is true that it strikes me as comic that a word like ain't would come out of the mouth of a mid-19th Century German, I still get the intended meaning.

The discussion of how and why Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize is very interesting. Having set myself the task of reading something by every Nobel Prize for Literature winner, and with the intent to get what may be the hard stuff (both hard to read and hard to get from my local library) out of the way first I have been working forward in years from the year the first prize was awarded. My own opinion is that while there were a couple of the authors that received the prize prior to WWI whose books still stand up for the most part I would say that the criteria for receiving such a supposedly prestigious award have changed, become more exacting, over the years.
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Old 07-22-2013, 05:21 PM   #32
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Maybe it's interesting to know that "The Buddenbrooks" is partly autobiographical in the way that most of the literary persons are modelled on "real" persons of the Mann-family.
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Old 07-22-2013, 10:42 PM   #33
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My copy has just arrived! I'll be away for a week as we are going to Sydney for a big family reunion. Not much time for reading, but I'll do my best!
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Old 07-23-2013, 03:37 AM   #34
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I didn't know Mann became American citizen?
It was interesting to read few details about him and about the Buddenbrooks from NY Times Obiturary

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/gene...bday/0606.html
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:11 AM   #35
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First impressions on reading this book:
At the beginning ( the free Gutenberg version, which is 792 pages btw) it seemed to me that Mann takes a long time to set the stage.... But, there's a kind of fine tuning here of the social classes, the use of (French)words and (German)dialect, that would be difficult to comprehend these days. I can understand the German dialect though.
I take it that this detailed picture serves the understanding of the rest of the book. Anyway; it gets me in the correct rythm, the gentle flow of that period, for reading about life with the Buddenbrooks.

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.

I am halfway in the book now(p.310) and the story flows slowly from one family member to the other, and back. I don't see much depth or development in the characters.
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.

About the translation: What is the English expression for the loving description (p.30)of Buddenbrook sr., "du gutes Schnuckeltier"?
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:56 AM   #36
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They all seems to have different numbers of pages. I have a Penguin with 591 pages. Can you give the chapter and roughly where in the chapter it is?
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Old 07-23-2013, 05:04 AM   #37
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They all seems to have different numbers of pages. I have a Penguin with 591 pages. Can you give the chapter and roughly where in the chapter it is?
I'm in the 5th book, chapter 7, p.366.
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:48 AM   #38
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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.”
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:07 AM   #39
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I'm in the 5th book, chapter 7, p.366.
Sorry, I wasn't clear - I meant the page 30 reference you asked about earlier.
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:45 AM   #40
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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.”
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.)

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Sorry, I wasn't clear - I meant the page 30 reference you asked about earlier.
That is in the 5th chapter of the first part.

Last edited by desertblues; 07-23-2013 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:55 AM   #41
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Ah, was it about Buddenbrooks senior, or Herr Overdieck? I think it might be the latter, where:

... his wife had a new pet name for her husband: 'You good old bell-wether,' she said, and laughed so hard that her cap bobbed up and down. (page 25 of the Penguin.)

Given that a bell-wether is a castrated ram who leads the flock of sheep and has a bell round his neck so you can hear where they are if you can't see them, I'm not sure how he would have felt about that term!
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:06 AM   #42
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Ah, was it about Buddenbrooks senior, or Herr Overdieck? I think it might be the latter, where:

... his wife had a new pet name for her husband: 'You good old bell-wether,' she said, and laughed so hard that her cap bobbed up and down. (page 25 of the Penguin.)

Given that a bell-wether is a castrated ram who leads the flock of sheep and has a bell round his neck so you can hear where they are if you can't see them, I'm not sure how he would have felt about that term!
Thank you, Bookpossum. Now I remember why I'd rather read in the original language if possible.

And...if I were Buddenbrooks sr. I would prefer 'Snuckeltier', that has something of a cuddly teddybear about it, to 'the castrated ram', however sweetly said and meant.
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:13 AM   #43
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Thank you, Bookpossum. Now I remember why I'd rather read in the original language if possible.

And...if I were Buddenbrooks sr. I would prefer 'Snuckeltier', that has something of a cuddly teddybear about it, to 'the castrated ram', however sweetly said and meant.
Well, I suppose a teddybear is pretty sexless too!
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:01 AM   #44
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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.

There were a few more powerful scenes toward the end involving Hanno, his summer vacation at the shore contrasted with a single endless day at school. The whole book would have benefited from being edited down and having a point of view, or a single focus. I got an everything but the kitchen sink vibe from it, especially toward the end, when music and metaphysics were added to the mix, although I admit I snickered at Thomas's brief epiphany. The treatment of the changing political situation was so much more effective, addressed as it was in the random comment, one of the few instances of subtlety I can think of in the entire book.

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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Old 07-23-2013, 10:03 AM   #45
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'the castrated ram', however sweetly said and meant.
Watts has it as "sweet honey ram." Pretty much the same thing, but gentler.
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