Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

While touring Germany in 2002, this books was hailed as the ultimate German story. I bought it upon returning home and always meant to read it. The length demanded dedication to the read and I must admit I felt it would be dry and a difficult read. Spurred by the reading list for our Burgen und Berge Honors trip, I tackled it during Christmas vacation and I am so sorry that I had not read it sooner. I didn't want to put it down and was sorry that it had ended. The story of the Buddenbrooks family begins in 1835 and continues to the book's end in 1876. Mann is incredible as he characterizes the members of the family. His descriptions are magnificent and you immediately can picture them all in your mind. Johann (Jean) becomes the ultimate patriarch with a devotion to the well-lived life. Elisabeth, his wife, upon his death assumes the role as mentor, and devoted matriarch. Their children, Tony, Tom, Christian, and Clara all have happy and sad times in their lives. We struggle with them as they celebrate the good and bad times. The detail that Mann gives us - of Christmas on Meng Strasse, a Prussian school or the summer at Travem√ľnde - allows the reader to be a part of his work. It will not soon be forgotten.

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