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Free site book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. Buddenbrooks: Roman. byMann, Thomas, Publication date Publisher[Frankfurt am Main?]: Fischer. Collectioninternetarchivebooks; china. Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie 85 editions. This epic, sub-titled ‘The Decline of a Family’, was Mann’s first novel, published in The novel is widely regarded as a classic portrait of bourgeois society and family life in 19th century Germany.


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Buddenbrooks for free download in a number of formats - including epub, pdf, azw, mobi and more. Sind die Knaben aus der Schule gekommen?«fragte sie Ida. Aber Tony, die vom Knie des Großvaters aus in den»Spion«durchs Fenster . Landmarks of world literature Thomas Mann BUDDENBROOKS Landmarks of world Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann dies of H. Bahr, Die Uberwindung des. Buddenbrooks: Decline of a family. Read more · בית בודנברוק - Buddenbrooks · Read more · Mann: Buddenbrooks (Landmarks of World Literature). Read more.

The construction of the Kiel Canal set the seal on this decline. We should not think of the historical background to the novel as if it were simply 'given' or static, like the backdrop to an historical tableau, fulfilling a decorative function as a still life or as local colour.

The fact that major historical Retrospect on the nineteenth century 15 events remain in the background, discussed by Thomas and his barber, or sketched in en passant by the narrator, does not mean that they have no role in the novel.

The period was one of great historical change and cried out for interpretation and perspective.

That history yields meaning in accordance with the needs of the reader of history, and that historical facts as such are dead and irrelevant, was a dictum of Nietzsche's with which Thomas Mann certainly concurred. Only the history that can be brought alive in the portrayal of the family and is related to Mann's thematic concerns is likely to have made its way into the novel.

The process of selection from historical material is complex. It is not just that, in writing the novel, Mann selected from history as carefully as from his family papers and therefore left out events - such as the great Hamburg fire of , or more surprisingly Richard Wagner's visit to the city in Of course facts are left out, otherwise novels would be as long as history itself.

What is important is that the selection of facts implies an interpretation of history, one which Mann either gained through study or which, as he later conceded, he might have taken over 'half unconsciously' from his own background XII, At all events, Mann's presentation of German history is dominated by the Liibeck perspective.

Unlike Theodor Fontane, with whom he is often appropriately compared, Mann has nothing positive to say about the Prussian tradition and next to nothing about the events on the road to German unification.

The Danish and Austrian Wars appear in the narrative, but are heavily muted and form little more than the ironic background to the nursery games of Hanno.

It is clear that Mann felt these events to be only marginally relevant to the story he wanted to tell. At all events, the novel's action lies outside the main stream of Bismarckian power-politics, although this does not imply a parochial perspective on events or any contravention of historical realities.

Mann is anything but uncritical of Liibeck, but his portrait of nineteenthcentury Germany is rooted in Liibeck. We should recall how hectic was the upsurge in historical writing at the end of the century.

Buddenbrooks

This affected not only diplomatic and political history in the wake of the great names of German historical writing Ranke, Treitschke and Mommsen , but still more importantly social and economic history. While Mann's Liibeck perspective made him less than susceptible to a Prussian view of German history, the experience of his family's economic decline opened his eyes to the major events taking place in the social and economic life of the country. Had Mann's family come from the sort of professional background shared by so many nineteenth-century writers public service, law, medicine, teaching, the church , he might not have felt so closely the dramatic changes which were transforming Germany, for they took place precisely in the economic sector.

At the beginning of the century, trade was in the hands of individual family firms such as the Buddenbrooks. The family house was coextensive with the office and even with the storerooms and warehouses, and the head of the family ruled over both with equal authority. Family firm did not only mean that all the family were active in the firm: it meant also that many of the employees were part of the wider family circle and that even the suppliers were seen as part of a paternalistic structure, linked to the merchant both by economic advantage and by loyalty and tradition.

Upon this world, whose attitudes are enshrined in the elder Buddenbrook, two principal changes broke in. Trade became less personal, the individual merchant saw in his firm less an expression of his value-system, and more a means of profit alone. For the early Buddenbrooks, following the pattern of a primitive stage of capital accumulation, wealth was tangible sacks of grain in the storehouse and personal, residing in dowries, houses the family inhabited and in healthy bank-balances, read out to the family at funerals and engagement ceremonies, and meticulously recorded by Mann.

By the end of the century wealth was less tangible, capital accumulation a more volatile process, the growth of joint-stock companies and stock- Retrospect on the nineteenth century 17 markets moved the emphasis from the commodity in the warehouse to the seemingly self-generating activities of money itself.

Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie by Thomas Mann

The changes for the merchant were enormous. Not only did he move into the uncharted waters of financial crises and bank-collapses for which he had no explanation: the market took on a life of its own, requiring mental and moral facilities for which the old merchant class felt illequipped by tradition and ethos. As Mann tried to place his own experiences in the wider context of his family and society and in addition to place family and society in a still wider historical context, he found himself tackling a central issue of his day, one which the newly emerging social sciences were beginning to confront.

While Marx's attention lay more with the changes in industrial capitalism, a number of sociologists Tonnies, Weber, Simmel and Sombart most notably were exploring themes still closer to Mann's own experience.

In particular their consideration of the relationship between the traditional forms of economic activity and the new spirit of the age - in Tonnies' terms the difference between 'Gemeinschaft' community and 'Gesellschaft' society , for Sombart the difference between traditional and new capitalist, 'Burger' and 'Bourgeois' , for Simmel that between personal culture and the 'philosophy of money' - shows with what attention the decline of traditional classes was studied towards the end of the nineteenth century.

There is no need to argue that such discussions 'influenced' Mann many of them could not have influenced Buddenbrooks, for they are subsequent to it , or that Mann was trying to put into fictional form ideas which he had encountered in the social sciences.

We must, however, see the drive towards historical understanding of the present as one of the 'pressures of history' in Mann's own generation, and in his novel. It may, in conclusion, be useful to underline the deliberateness with which Thomas Mann introduced historical perspective into his narrative.

Julia's letter tells how their aunt had fallen in love with an army officer; how her parents, disapproving of this liaison, had driven her into the first disastrous marriage. It is here that Mann substitutes the Morten episode 3, , a section of the novel with unmistakable political overtones. Morten is a standardised portrait of a politically committed student of the day.

He proudly shows Tony the sash which marks him as a member of the 'Burschenschaften', the student associations whose historical role was to preserve the liberal and national ideal from the days of the Napoleonic liberation. At the same time it is clear that the figure of the doctor Morten is studying medicine , representing scientific method, freedom from tradition, and meditation between the classes, was part of the literary tradition of European realism compare the figure of Bianchon in Balzac.

Early sketches for the novel suggest that Morten was to have had the function of objective commentator on the family's decline, standing above events and at a sovereign distance from the central characters Lehnert, Noticeably, however, Mann settled on a much more discreet and understated function for the character, and allowed him to fade rapidly from the novel.

The fact that Mann is not writing a political novel, and does not give Morten prominence outside his brief flirtation with Tony, should not mislead us into thinking that the Revolution too is a mere episode, or that the actual course of events in Liibeck in which Mann records with considerable accuracy have no further implications for the novel. Just as historians see as a pivotal point in German history, so Mann suggests within the novel a wide implication for the event.

There is more than a hint that certain of the ideas of '48, notably those on the emancipation of women, relate directly to the situation which Tony experiences as her parents thrust upon her the repulsive Griinlich.

Yet Tony is more than a victim of such attitudes. Mann's exposure of the Retrospect on the nineteenth century 19 narrowness of outlook in which Tony is confined is not personal, but directed at her whole class and upbringing.

Her renunciation of Morten in favour of Griinlich, her choice in favour of tradition - the 'link in the chain' 3,13 - rather than innovation represented by new ideas and classes, is the Buddenbrooks' failure, their failure to link with the politically progressive elements of the middle classes; it slams the door on their alliance with the spirit of the age, and Tony's marital disaster drags the family down with her.

After all, the Buddenbrooks were not prominent enough a family to insist so strongly on their social superiority to the professional middle classes. Their prosperity went back little further than war-profiteering in the Napoleonic period, and Morten's romantically coloured view of Tony which she gladly makes her own as 'a princess' 3,8 in no way corresponds to reality.

Tony is pleased at the title as it corresponds once again to the 'feudal' 2,2 views of her Kroger grandparents, which she finds so attractive, but which repeatedly have dire consequences for her. In rejecting Morten she is following a historically fateful course, and in illustrating this in his plot - in contradiction of his sources - Mann is showing that 'history' is anything but background.

It is one of the instruments of knowledge which his text will use. Chapter 3 The evolution of the novel Buddenbrooks is the product of a short span of years. The first page is dated October , the last page was written in mid-July In contrast to the twelve years which The Magic Mountain took to write, the composition period of Buddenbrooks is both short and homogenous. Even within these few years, however, Mann's intention for the novel passed through three distinct phases.

While Mann himself felt, as we have seen, that he reached self-assurance in his use of the medium of narrative writing with the story 'Der kleine Herr Friedemann', and while it is evident that a remarkable number of Mann's first thoughts found their way into the final form of the novel so that it is not helpful to think of Buddenbrooks changing its emphasis because of Mann's inexperience as a novelist , nevertheless Mann's intentions shifted during the writing of the novel, and with this shift of intention came also a shift in literary genre.

This shift should not be misunderstood as a sign of Mann's personal uncertainty: rather it was the youthfulness or immaturity of the social novel in Germany that did not enable Mann to put his themes across within an established genre.

This was an aspect of the novel in Germany on which many of the early reviewers of Buddenbrooks were agreed. We shall see later that Mann rejected many aspects of the popular German tradition in the novel, and despite the major achievements of Theodor Fontane within the field of the novel of polite society - known and appreciated by Mann as he worked on his own novel - Mann had to look outside the German tradition for literary models.

Fontane had not attempted the theme that was Mann's starting-point: to integrate the problematic situation and the experiences of the artist into the novel of good society. Some 20 The evolution of the novel 21 fifty years after he had written the first page of his novel Mann recalled: 'I well remember that initially only the figure and experiences of the sensitive late-comer Hanno were important to me [.

The original intention was straightforward. The novel was to work over elements of Mann's own experiences as the nonconformer in the family tradition, the aesthete who had departed from the spartan north and taken up residence in the artistic south, and it would portray his environment only so far as it related to these experiences, although in fact Christian and Tony both figure in the earliest notes for the novel his home town seemed distant and remote, 'essentially no more than a dream' X, Perhaps that dream included an element of nostalgia, but it related to a society which Mann had been pleased to leave and which had little cause to remember him with affection or pride.

Thus the story he wanted to tell would include the kind of malicious and satirical caricature Heinrich and Thomas had used in their 'Picture book for well-behaved children'. This adolescent sarcasm - in the Mann circle it was known as 'gippern' - was part of the intention behind the novel, it made of Liibeck 'a dream, grotesque and venerable' X,15 , an object of both derision and paradoxical respect to its recalcitrant son.

Even before the first page of the original manuscript was written, however, the projected novel had begun to take on a new dimension, prompted by Mann's wish to give the dream concrete and tangible life, and to set his own experiences in the historical context of the family tradition.

In part, this shift of emphasis was brought about by Mann's own 'bourgeois' sense that writing was justified not simply as a preoccupation with self but as a coming-to-terms with a 'venerable' reality; in part, too, it resulted from a growing interest in other members of his family, notably in Elisabeth Haag-Mann, the model for Tony; but in part also it was a legacy from his reading of the realists, with their passion for documentation and detail.

Since Mann was cut off from first-hand sources and, in view of his projected topic, had not even thought that he would need them, he turned to his family for help in collecting the information with which to fill out his narrative, to bring to life the milieu in which his own immediate experiences had been gathered, and to convey the reality of additional characters.

His mother supplied many details; family papers and letters were used; his sister Julia sent him a twenty-eight page account of the life and character of the aunt who was to appear so prominently in the novel as Tony Buddenbrook; his cousin Marty sent information in reply to specific questions about the economic life of the city, some concerned with details such as corn prices and the like - and some much more directly contributing to the novel's plot, as Marty gave his opinion as to the most common forms which the economic decline of a Lubeck firm might take.

Mann's use of these sources has many interesting features. At a stylistic level they show his skill in assimilating a variety of materials into a consistent and personal style what in a letter to Adorno in Mann called 'hoheres Abschreiben' 'a kind of superior copying' , casting in a personalised epic form incidental documentary material, finding psychological keys to illuminate sources which are much less differentiated.

The novel shows Mann's great ability to refashion material, to bring to life experiences which he knew only at second hand. Recipes supplied by his mother are transformed into the lively dinner conversations of the guests in Part One; a cartoon from Simplicissimus comes to life as Herr Permaneder; memories of Goethe's Werther go into the Consul's enthusiasm for the family's neglected garden 1,5 ; and other words or images from Mann's reading give us Griinlich and his slimy name, and that mischievous 'x' which Hanno vainly hunts across his maths books.

The novel is a patchwork, yet so superbly joined together that there is only one pattern. As we look at the sources, we notice too that Mann's awareness The evolution of the novel 23 of his novel's thematic shape and direction was much stronger than his allegiance to mere historical chance in the narrative which his family skeletons bequeathed to him. He changed, as we saw, major features of Aunt Elisabeth's story to suit his own purposes: notably the Morten episode.

Invented too is Tony Buddenbrook's return to Liibeck after her disastrous second marriage. Julia Mann's account had much to say of other colourful episodes in their aunt's life - her sadness when possible engagements to a Prussian lieutenant and to a South German nobleman were wrecked - but Mann ignored these. He was also highly selective in his approach to the reasons Marty had proffered for the decline of a Liibeck firm, and modified those which he decided to use.

As he subsumed elements from Marty's purely economic account into the wider historical and psychological perspective of his novel, Thomas Mann revealed from the start that his focus would be radically different and that the causality he traced behind events would be far removed from that which his cousin suggested.

If, as a child of his class and of his literary age, Mann was interested in documentary material, it was as grist to an artistic intention, not as providing the shaping principle of the work itself. Already, however, one can see that there would be problems of organisation and perspective in combining Mann's original intention - the inward and subjective story of the late-comer aesthete - with the much less introspective story of the family's colourful fortunes and the background against which that story was played out.

It was here that the question of genre - of what type of novel Mann wished to write arose. Certain types of novel could handle the personal story; for the other elements a different form might be required. It is well known, for instance, that Mann greatly enjoyed the Scandinavian family novels of Kielland and Lie and read them intensively at the time of writing Buddenbrooks. They were appropriate models for certain aspects of Mann's intention in portraying family history, and sympathetic in their evocation of a common cultural milieu.

Kielland's Poison offered Mann a type of novel which combined, within a milieu very similar to Liibeck and with an intention not unrelated to Mann's, the study of a sensitive youth's rejection of school with a broad picture of the norms and life-style of the society.

Nevertheless, for all their affinities, the Scandinavian writers lacked much that was important to Mann's novel from its very inception.

The atmosphere of their work, damp with the sea-mists that swirled also round the gables of Liibeck, might be nostalgic, but it had nothing cosmopolitan to it. Perhaps it is that tendency towards parochialism which has left Kielland and Lie's work so short of an international following, especially in comparison with the public Mann's work reached.

If it was parochial, their work also had nothing to say about the experience of art; it could hardly satisfy fully the needs of the conscious exile from Liibeck, who was deliberately savouring in Italy the joys of an aesthetic existence. Not only did much of Mann's reading point in ways he did not wish to go: his sources themselves implied and, in the case of Julia's letter, openly expressed, ideological and moral values with which Mann was not necessarily in sympathy.

Including them in his manuscript would bring the novel close to what Nietzsche had dubbed 'antiquarian history', a pious and reverent registering of the soil in which one's roots and origins can be traced, an attitude which is typified in the chronicle style of the Buddenbrooks' family papers, ' [. Even quantitatively Mann's sources presented him with a problem.

As new material flooded on to his desk, and as he found that 'egg' from which he and his family's story had emerged ever more elusive, so the novel's centre of gravity shifted further away from Hanno and the material came to resemble a civic chronicle, a history of the city of Liibeck across nearly one hundred years.

This in turn made new The evolution of the novel 25 demands on the novel's form, and, thanks to Mann's extensive reading of European literature during these years, he hit upon a form which could handle both the thematic needs and the sheer volume of his material.

Of particular importance was his encounter in with a lesser-known novel of the Goncourt brothers, Renee Mauperin The novel offered Mann two stylistic features which with reinforcement from other realist writers came to have a marked influence on Buddenbrooks.

The use of short selective chapters from Tolstoy, Mann took over the organisation of these chapters into separate parts and a witty combination of links and breaks between the sections give the work a lightness in handling voluminous material. It is a stratagem which makes possible the celebrated opening of the novel with its unsituated, indeed somewhat mysterious dialogue. Renee Mauperin begins with a conversation which we only gradually realise to be taking place between two people swimming in the Seine.

Secondly, Mann took from the Goncourts' novel the technique of associating the generations of a family with a particular historical period.

There is nothing original about this technique: clearly Renee's father will tend to personify the Napoleonic France in which he spent his youth, and Renee's friends will in turn like Morten Schwarzkopf be shaped by the events of But, although nothing particularly subtle is implied by this method, it greatly helped Mann to relate family history to public history, and to find in the socio-historical placing of individual characters and events a distanced standpoint from which to view and portray his own family.

The obvious affinities between the character of Renee and that of Tony Buddenbrook confirm the importance of the model. The European realist movement did not merely offer Mann organisational principles for his voluminous subject-matter. It had developed into literary method precisely that type of critical intellectual enquiry into social behaviour which Mann needed to analyse his own experiences.

We pointed to this process in our discussion of the novel's relationship to history: a still more telling example is in the approach of the novel towards a theme which greatly interested other realist writers - organised religion. In the style of family chronicle, or the pious antiquarian history of a notable city, Mann's view of the Church as an institution might have been that of the local historian, keeping a ledger of the incumbents of the Marienkirche, a quaint character here, an admirable man of God there.

Instead he chose to interpret the religious theme of the novel sociologically. His intention emerges in the contrast between the opening scene, rehearsing a catechism which causes an eight-year-old city girl to give thanks for the creation of her 'land and cattle' - an anachronism which amuses her grandfather with his Enlightenment scepticism - and the closing scene where it is left to the few scarred survivors of the family circle to proclaim their confidence in that catechism's teachings on the Hereafter.

The opening and closing scenes locate the family's decline firmly within the history of ideas, in a period perched uncomfortably between confident rationalism, self-confident Protestantism and nihilism. Despite images which strikingly encapsulate a sceptical view of religion - Johann Buddenbrook's easy contempt for superstition, the pietistic excesses of the Jerusalem evenings, Hanno's mocking view of religion from the heights of the organ loft, or the reduction of religious education to headcounting among Job's sheep and camels - and despite the many reviewers of the novel who saw in it a deliberately antiChristian work, Mann's intention is plain: to investigate the social and historical function of religion in his own family's history and in the history of his culture and class.

Quite evidently, Mann's interests focus on two themes: the relationship between religion and capitalism, and between The evolution of the novel 27 religion and the family's decline. Tawney's Religion and the Rise of Capitalism Mann recognised the affinities with his own novel. He records the motto over the door of the Meng Strasse house, 'Dominus providebit' The Lord will provide , out of a genuine historical interest in the processes by which Protestantism adapted to, and was itself adapted by, the economic activities of his own class.

The family book with its beautifully observed combination of commercial handwriting and overreligious sentiments is a close record of this interrelation, as is the scrutiny of those telling phrases 'Christian, Father and Businessman' which Gotthold addresses to Johann 1,10 , or that balance between piety and business sense with which Griinlich penetrates the family circle and which the Consul so astutely reverses when he extricates Tony from his clutches.

One could not claim that Mann answers sociologists' questions - for instance, the chicken-and-egg question which Tawney reproaches Weber for not solving: namely whether the religion is the ideological form of capitalism, or capitalism the economic form of Protestantism - but there can be no doubt that Mann's eye is caught by socio-historical issues far more than by unproblematised local colour, or still less - by confessional writing.

So it is that the actual clergymen who figure in the lives of the prominent Liibeck families are with the colourful exception of the eccentric habitues of the Jerusalem evenings characterised exclusively in terms of their function, and are as a result ail-but interchangeable.

Far from providing differentiated cameo-portraits of the local clergy, Mann merges the three generations of priests Wunderlich, Kolling and Pringsheim into a neat composite picture of a stable compromise between dogma and sensitivity to the needs of the rich. We see this clearly in Wunderlich's behaviour at the family celebration, and in Kolling's attitude towards Tony's marriage. Mann had a strong tendency towards self-stylisation even in his allegedly non-fictional accounts of his life and works and presented as stages in the development of his work opinions which reviewers gave of the finished novel, so we need not feel his own comments necessarily to be binding.

Whether the work is, or is not, a naturalist novel, will emerge only from close examination of the text. Nevertheless, Mann's account of the shift in intention and literary model which we have just followed is useful in drawing attention to a process characteristic of much that Mann would write.

Each of these stages represented for Mann major elements of his selfunderstanding as a writer, not simply in his first novel but throughout his life. It is true to say that Mann always remained faithful to this triadic structure, if not to the chronological sequence: autobiography, representation, analysis.

Chapter 4 The theme of decline Some two years before the plan for Buddenbrooks had taken hold of him, Mann wrote to a friend a short sketch of his family's fall from grace, and the aspects of interest which the story contained for him: My father was in business, a practical man but with an inclination towards art and interests outside the business.

The eldest son Heinrich is a poet, but also a 'writer', with strong intellectual gifts, expert in criticism, in philosophy and politics. Then comes the second son me , who is only an artist, only a poet, only a man of mood, without intellectual power, socially useless.

Hardly surprising if finally the late arrival, the third son, devotes himself to the vaguest of the arts, the art furthest of all from the intellect, the art that requires nothing more than nerves and senses, and no brains at all that is, music. That's what you call degeneration. But I find it devilishly nice. But, quite apart from that, with the impressions and influences he grows up amidst, the lad will scarcely develop into a business man.

To Grautoff, late May This letter, with its disarming openness, shows the charm which Thomas Mann found in the story of the 'sensitive latecomer'. It shows the stylisation of his family story, and it suggests that degeneration was a standard topos of intellectual discussion in his day.

It makes obvious that the novel would have a descending structure. An early suggestion for a title for Buddenbrooks was 'Abwarts' Downhill. The finished novel lives up to this plan more strongly perhaps than to any other element in its preliminary drafts. Its sub-title, 'Verfall einer Familie' Decline of a Family , gives the work its structure. A brief review of the individual parts of the novel will show how insistently the novel focuses on the descending line.

Part One offers an 'overture' Vogt to the novel, in the shape of a large family celebration in , the first major dinner-party in the Buddenbrooks' Meng Strasse house. While a strong impression is given of wealth and success.

Mann carefully introduces some factors which will delimit the latter: questions about the succeeding generation, family tension and disunities, and more generally the sad fact that they celebrate in the house of a family recently reduced to ruin. Part Two looks briefly at the potential for the future represented by the Consul and his children, Thomas, Christian and Antonie Tony , and offers a contrast between its summary of Tony's 'happy childhood' and the immediate arrival in Part Three of a significant cloud on her horizon, the repulsive and dishonest suitor Griinlich.

With Tony's engagement to Griinlich, recorded in the family book of whose sanctimonious tones we were previously given reason to be suspicious, and Thomas's surreptitious farewell to Anna, the petty bourgeois lover of his youth - both actions portrayed as fateful steps out of the protected world of childhood Part Three concludes. Part Four moves from one catastrophe to the next, interweaving Tony's divorce with two highly dramatic deaths, not only that of Lebrecht Kroger, who represents the historical order which is just passing, but also the Consul's death, the principal figure of the whole of Part Four.

Of all the deaths, so prominent in the novel, the Consul's enjoys the most obvious narrative attention: a set-piece natural description, recognised by critics and author alike as a show-stopper and allowed briefly to reverberate again in the hail-storm that later destroys Thomas's business hopes 8,5. Part Five brings the reader up to date with the downward progress of Christian, shows the life of the Konsulin and her daughter in a world of dubious and morbid piety, and introduces Gerda Arnoldsen into the family, 'the mother of future Buddenbrooks' 5,9 , juxtaposing her in a consciously The theme of decline 31 dramatised way with the traditional world of the Buddenbrooks into which she intrudes, and strikingly ignoring details of the honeymoon or of Gerda and Thomas's actual relationship.

Within the range of the family novel it would be hard to imagine a more portentous introduction.

Part Six deals at surprising length with Tony's calamitous second marriage, counterpointed with Thomas's fear that his own marriage will remain childless; the obviously comic elements in Tony's story are held in check by the recognition that calamity is now ushered in not by deception and swindling but by an event whose triviality is emphasised by the narrator's playful refusal to reveal it: the harmless insult of a man in his cups.

Over such trifles the family now stumbles. The good news with which Part Seven opens Hanno's birth and christening is immediately juxtaposed to Christian's obvious and grotesque inadequacies, just as Thomas's victory in the Senate elections is balanced by the death of his younger sister Clara.

This death not only undermines the family's morale, it is followed by the unexpected news of a major business loss, another drain on the capital sum which the head of the family, watched by the reader, keeps an anxious eye upon throughout the novel, and whose diminution matches the family's more general decline.

Part Eight takes its shape from the ending in scandal and disgrace of Tony's surrogate third marriage for that is the perspective from which her daughter's marriage is shown , which acts as a pendant to the major business disasters that strike Thomas. Part Nine is packed with disaster, beginning with the Konsulin's death, describing a major row between Thomas and Christian, culminating in the sale of the Konsulin's home to Buddenbrooks' business rivals, the Hagenstroms, and ending - as an ironic counterpoint to the assurance of her happy childhood which concluded Part Two - with Tony's tears.

Part Ten belongs almost exclusively to Thomas and the final stages of his decline, and ends with his only son Hanno screwing up his face against the hard and cold wind that blows over the fresh earth of his father's grave, that same wind which whistled round the gables of the prosperous house at the end of Part One.

At the end only his widowed mother, his aunt Tony and various harpy-like figures of the Buddenbrook sisters are left to mourn and to disperse.

Even if we did not know that the novel was written, so to speak, backwards, starting from the most recent events and gradually moving back to the more remote period of family history, we would certainly be struck by the increasing focus on the inner psychological dimension of its characters.

Part Ten, for instance, is longer than Parts One and Two together. While we pass over Gotthold's marriage, the Revolution, the Consul's death, in a very few pages, we spend at least fifty pages with Hanno on that famous day at school and at the harmonium.

In tracing the decline of the family, therefore, Mann not only covers a wide range of themes in his search for understanding: his enquiry turns towards an exploration of the hidden recesses of the soul.

Mann found in his reading of the family novels of Kielland and Lie no shortage of examples of decline. Like the Buddenbrooks, the heroes of these novels are often striving to maintain a family firm against a multiplicity of assailants.

These assailants are, in fact, neatly personified among the minor characters of Mann's novel: drink and gambling, speculative greed or laziness in the conduct of the business, a crooked or criminal nature the fascination with degeneration into crime and depravity was one of the more infectious by-products of naturalism's concern with heredity, as our opening quotation from Sherlock Holmes suggested , the pursuit of adultery or an unfortunate marriage.

As we look at the 'suitors', the loose-living men in Liibeck society such as Gieseke and Dollmann. If it is evident where Mann drew on these devices, it is also evident that he uses them to illustrate rather than initiate decline the Konsulin's somewhat The theme of decline 33 degrading, but financially by no means disastrous, entanglement in the Jerusalem evenings - modelled on Kielland's portrayal of the Haugianer sect in Schiffer Worse - is a case in point ; indeed, Mann gives these factors no role in motivating the downfall of his principal family.

Perhaps it was in order to avoid such cheap foreshortenings of decline that he attached so much importance to the length and slowness of his narrative. This can be seen even in the figure of Christian. Far from being the cause of the family's decline the material losses he brings upon the family are little more than pin-pricks , Christian has the function of showing up in exaggerated form characteristics more widely found in the family. In particular he shows how his father whom he so closely resembles bequeathed to the family attitudes which degenerate into a total inadequacy for life.

It is precisely Christian's excessive imagination, his unwillingness to confront emotion for instance at his father's grave 5,2 , and the refusal to be truthful with himself that cause Christian to be so useless in the business world; but these characteristics, as the novel repeatedly emphasises, are inherited and shared with other members of the family, in whom, in a less grotesque form, these general traits contribute substantially to the decline of the family.

Christian's argument with Thomas after their mother's death 9,2 which we shall discuss in detail in the following chapter makes clear Christian's function in the novel. It is worth noticing also that the grotesque elements in Christian which Mann plays down are those which have their origin in literary models, in that fashionable concern of the s for the dilettante and the decadent. The person becomes, as it were, the epitome of the history of his own family. Conan Doyle, The Empty House' The Return of Sherlock Holmes An object created by the human mind, that is to say a significant object, is 'significant' for the very reason that it points beyond itself, that it is the expression and exponent of a more general intellectual truth, of a whole world of feeling and ideas, a world which has found in it its more or less perfect symbol.

We measure the degree of its significance by the success of its symbolic representation. What is more, the love of such an object is also significant in its own right. It says something about the person who experiences this love. Literary background and reading public Buddenbrooks and the 'crisis of the novel' Suggestions for further reading xi xii xxi 1 10 20 29 38 56 69 69 78 80 83 86 94 Acknowledgements It is a pleasure to record my gratitude to those who have helped me during my work on this book, and especially to Peter Stern, from whose inspiring teaching and scholarship my own interests in Thomas Mann first developed and who has guided the volume to its present form with the clearheadedness and unfailing kindness that have enriched German studies for so many colleagues and past pupils.

Jochen Vogt generously gave me access to the materials he had collected for his own outstanding study of Buddenbrooks, and for this and the privilege of working with him in various projects in the field of modern German literature, I would like to record my thanks.

Christian Oeser with characteristic generosity read my early drafts, and Helen Gallagher brought them, if not me, into the electronic age and the wordprocessor. To them all, as to the German Academic Exchange Service, fons et origio of so much work in German, I owe sincere thanks.

To whom else could I dedicate this book about Mann's great family novel, however, than to my sons? Note on editions used References to the text of Buddenbrooks are given in the form of part and chapter numbers e. References to other works by Mann are taken from the standard 13 volume edition Gesammelte Werke in dreizehn Banden, 2nd edition, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, and given in the form of volume number roman and page number arabic: Ill, Other references are to works listed in the short bibliography.

Translations from the German texts are in all cases my own. I was not concerned with producing a reading-text, but with conveying precise meaning.

Overwhelming defeat of Prussian troops at Jena. Continental blockade. French troops in Liibeck. Liibeck freed by troops under Crown Prince Bernadotte. Battle of Nations signals final phase of Napoleonic era. Congress of Vienna. Liibeck confirmed as member of German Confederation and as a Free City. Final Acts of Congress establish Metternich system in central Germany. July Revolution in Paris. Bourbons replace Orleans. Echoes in Germany soon suppressed. Major public expressions of liberal nationalism variously suppressed Hambacher Fest, Young Germany, Gottingen Professors.

Foundation of Customs Union Zollverein without Austria. Birth of daughter, Marie Elisabeth Mann. Birth of Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann. Accession of Louis-Philippe in Paris, Rhine crisis. Early industrialisation Borsig's first locomotive. Marie Elisabeth Mann to boardingschool of Therese Bouflet. Weavers' unrest in Silesia. German National Assembly in Paulskirche Frankfurt until In Liibeck a new constitution dissolves the distinction between citizens and inhabitants formerly based on property rights.

Universal suffrage, Senate elected by the lower chamber 'Biirgerschaft'. Popular uprisings throughout Germany; defeat of the revolution. Freytag, Soil und Haben. Flaubert, Madame Bovary. Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann to Amsterdam. Turgenev, Fathers and Sons. Prussian and Austria vs. Austrian War. Prussia and Italy vs. Austria, Bavaria and Wiirtemberg. Liibeck introduces measures ending the monopoly of the guilds.

North German Confederation founded under Prussian domination. Mann to Julia da Silva-Bruhns Birth of Luiz Heinrich Mann d.

Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy. German Empire proclaimed. Kaiser Wilhelm I, Chancellor Bismarck. Wagner inaugurates the Bayreuth festival. Birth of Julia Elisabeth Theresa Mann. Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann elected to Senate. Laws against the socialists. Zola, Le Roman experimental. Move to new house, Beckergrube Birth of Carla Augusta Orla Mann. Kielland, Poison. Lie, Ein Malstrom.

Birth of Paul Thomas Mann. Real-gymnasiale Abteilung. Autumn Mention of early dramas, a romance and lyric. Kielland, Schiffer Worse H. Ibsen, The Wild Duck. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil. Bourget, Le Disciple. Germany begins to found colonial empire. Berlin reaches population of one million. Liibeck's population 63, Bismarck dismissed as Chancellor by Wilhelm II. Bahr, Die Uberwindung des blood-poisoning.

Naturalismus; F. Wedekind, Spring's A wakening. Hauptmann, The Weavers.

May with Otto Grautoff edits G. Hauptmann, Hanneles Der Fruhlingssturm. Enters insurance office in Munich. Mann, In einer Familie. Occasional student at the Technical University. First visit to Italy. Fontane, Effi Briest.

Building of the Kiel Canal, lost ; June: To Rome and Palestrina. Publication of Der kleine Herr Friedemann. Work on stories publication dates in brackets: Military service curtailed through injury.

Ibsen, When We Dead Awaken. Mann, Im Schlaraffenland; G. Frenssen, Jorn Uhl. Boer War. Nietzsche, Nietzsche contra Wagner. Gide, The Immoralist. Conrad, Heart of Darkness. James, The Golden Bowl. Married Katja Pringsheim. Among their children are Erika , Klaus and Golo Galsworthy, The Man of Property. Forster, Howards End. Death in Venice. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers. Proust, Swann's Way. Outbreak of First World War.

Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Mann, Man of Straw. Armistice, proclamation of Weimar Reflections of an Unpolitical Man. Support for Weimar Republic declared T. Eliot, The Waste Land. Joyce, Ulysses. Hitler's unsuccessful putsch. The Magic Mountain. Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer, V. Woolf, Mrs Dalloway; F. Kafka, The Trial. Gide, The Counterfeiters. Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Nobel Prize for Literature. Doblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz. Wall Street Crash. Beginning of final crisis of Weimar R. Musil, The Man without Republic. Chancellor Briiuning governs Qualities via Emergency Decrees.

January Hitler appointed February 11 Leaves Germany in fact Chancellor. First volume of Joseph and his brothers appears. Further volumes in , and Meeting with President Roosevelt. Erika Mann marries W. Auden in order to obtain UK citizenship.

Loss of German citizenship. Lotte in Weimar.

Start of BBC broadcasts to Germany. Mann, Mephisto. World War and 'Final Solution'. Brecht, Mother Courage. Doctor Faustus. Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Adenauer first Chancellor of FRG. Korean War encourages industrial revitalisation of Federal Republic. The Holy Sinner. Returns to Europe. Residence in Switzerland. Death of Stalin. Confessions of Felix Krull. August Frisch, Stiller. Thomas Buddenbrook is presented in so rounded and human a manner that, even if we did not know Mann's explanation that the figure is both a portrait of his father and a self-portrait, we could not mistake the special position which he occupies in the novel.

The vitality and infectious exuberance of Tony Buddenbrook does not increase when we see the figure of Thomas Mann's aunt Elisabeth Haag-Mann as her model, nor is Hanno's viewpoint on the world more compelling for our knowledge that in so many respects it reproduces Mann's own childhood experiences.

It requires in any case no profound scholarship to see the limitations to autobiography, since manifestly Thomas Mann did not die of typhus at the age of sixteen. The richness is in the novel, not in a biography behind the novel.

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All the same, a writer's biography, in the broadest sense, is never irrelevant to an understanding of the literary work. The process by which experience is transformed into fiction shows the particular configuration of a writer's literary imagination, and if we see the writer's life as an expression of concrete historical possibilities and limitations in a given age his work takes on a further dimension as a creative exploration and redefining of those possibilities.

Even so, some writers' biography will remain in the background, under stones which only literary historians will turn over, whereas for other writers, such as Thomas Mann, their own life has a foreground position; they find within themselves and the biography chance has decreed for them the material for a lifetime's work. Such has been Mann's fate, and that of his first novel Buddenbrooks.

Perhaps it is understandable that a writer, producing so mature a masterpiece at the age of twenty-five many early reviewers of the novel spoke of their surprise at learning that its author was not, as aspects of its style and themes might suggest, well over sixty , should spend so much time reflecting on its origins and importance in his life, trying to persuade himself that it was his own product and not a cuckoo's egg laid in his nest.

Paul Thomas Mann - his schoolboy publications used the pseudonym Paul Thomas - was born on 6 June at number 36 Breite Strasse in the city of Liibeck, which lies close to the Baltic Sea some few miles west of the present Federal German border.

His father, Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann had since been the owner of the family firm of commission agents and corn merchants.

He had held the largely honorary position of Royal Netherlands Consul in the city, and since the far more prestigious elected office of Liibeck Senator. Thomas Mann's mother - had been born in Brazil, being christened Julia da Silva-Bruhns, but educated as a boarder in Liibeck. Her father was originally from the city and owned a plantation in Brazil, while her mother was of Brazilian nationality and Portuguese-Creole extraction.

Julia da Silva-Bruhns was wellknown for her beauty and musical talent, and in his fiction Mann ascribed artistic temperament to a strong polarity of inherited characteristics: Mann's childhood was a happy one, a group of five children in a spacious house, built by his father in on the Beckergrube 52, surrounded by the cultural and historical richness of a city proud of its traditions.

Mann enjoyed the Life and works 3 life of the city from the inside, son of one of its prosperous and respected families. His sisters, Julia and Clara, were younger than Thomas Mann; his brother Luiz Heinrich Mann - , who was also to distinguish himself as a writer, although his work has been slower to be established in the literary canon of Western Europe, was four years Thomas's senior.

Their brother Viktor was born in Thomas Mann regarded his schooling as a distasteful and unprofitable episode. As Buddenbrooks makes clear - Part Eleven is among other things a savage attack on the ethos and methods of Mann's former school - the 'Realgymnasium' brought Mann neither intellectual satisfaction nor the skills necessary to a business career. He repeated a class twice, and left without the formal leaving certificate, the 'Abitur', thus joining the select group of German intellectuals among them Albert Einstein who showed lack of success at school to be no measure of intellectual distinction.

Without the comradeship and intellectual excitement of a literary club to which he belonged, school days in Liibeck would have had nothing to offer Mann, save the painful demonstration of the hostility of the city and its 'culture' to the type of intellectual activity which interested him. From these years date Mann's earliest literary efforts: Very shortly after the family had enjoyed the pinnacle of its public success, the civic celebration in of the centenary of the family firm, Thomas Mann's life changed drastically.

The death of his grandmother it is her house opposite the Marienkirche which is preserved today as the Buddenbrooks' house was followed by the unexpected and premature death of his father, on 13 October According to his testamentary instruction, the firm was liquidated. None of his children was permitted by the will to attempt to carry on the firm - not that they had wanted to, but the firm was certainly a good business proposition still.

In March he left school and took up work in a fire insurance office, echoes of which can be found in his portrait of Hugo Weinschenk's downfall in Buddenbrooks. It was in the insurance office, 'among sniffing clerks', that Mann wrote what was to be his first published work, the short story 'Gefalien' Fallen , which brought his name for the first time to the attention of literary circles in his new home.

Finding fire insurance as little fun as school, Mann gave up his job and determined upon a journalistic career. He registered as an occasional student at the Technical University of Munich, following 'from time to time regularly and not entirely without profit' lecture courses on economics, history, aesthetics and literature.

Mann gradually became better known in the Munich literary scene, both as a writer of short stories and, for a brief period, as co-editor with his brother of the very reactionary journal, Das zwanzigste Jahrhundert The Twentieth Century.

With his brother he undertook extensive travels in Italy and it was while Mann was in Rome that 'Der kleine Herr Friedemann' was published, along with four other short stories, in the eponymous collection in This collection marked the sealing of Mann's life-long association with the influential publisher Samuel Fischer. The seeds of Buddenbrooks were sown in a remark of Fischer's early in , to the effect that he would be interested to see a longer prose work from the young author's pen.

As all the editorial staff had just been arrested or gone abroad on a charge of lese-majesty, it was a good time to be looking for a job with the magazine. His editorial work distracted him from completing his novel, but it gave him still more contacts with the literary world of Munich and a stronger sense of the literary climate into which he was to launch his own works. Buddenbrooks was not his Life and works 5 only project, and several of his best-known stories originated in this period, including Tonio Kroger' which was conceived during a journey to Denmark via Liibeck in September In May Buddenbrooks was completed and the manuscript dispatched, and Mann enlisted for his one-year compulsory military service.

In December he was discharged as medically unfit, an inflamed tendon making Thomas Mann one of the less tragic victims of the German army's parade march. During his military service Mann received the first response from Samuel Fischer to the manuscript he had submitted. Fischer praised the novel, but asked that it be drastically shortened.

Although he would in later life speak ironically of the length of his first novel, Mann replied with a passionate defence of its length as one of its principal stylistic features, and with exemplary confidence in his author Fischer agreed to publish the novel with only superficial amendments. The pages which Mann rewrote from his original manuscript are the only survivors of his handwritten copy of the work.

The novel eventually appeared in October in two volumes. It sold well, certainly better than Der kleine Herr Friedemann, but its price kept sales to a modest level. The publication of a cheap, one-volume edition in helped the novel to a wide popularity.

It remains Mann's major-selling novel and, with 'Tonio Kroger', the most abidingly popular of all Mann's works. The role of the early stories in Mann's development is complex, reflecting his progress on two distinct though interrelated levels. We may see these stories as part of an apprenticeship leading to the precocious mastery revealed in Buddenbrooks.

Within few pages they deal with failure and death, and with the phenomenon of the social outsider. Certain of their themes have no part in the novel - notably the portrayal of the consequences of an often grotesquely misplaced love - but other themes reappear in Buddenbrooks: In terms of style we see how sketchy impressionistic techniques of 'Vision' and 'Gefallen' give way to an increasing mastery of psychological narrative, which Mann came to see not as an interest in the abnormal, the melodramatic and the grotesque, but as an intellectual penetration of everyday reality.

In a letter of 25 October to his friend Otto Grautoff, Mann explained that he had overcome his excessive enthusiasm for the 'Viennese "art" and vanity' of Hermann Bahr, to whom his first published story 'Vision' had been dedicated. Although, as we shall see, he never lost his enthusiasm for Bahr's commitment to launch literature once again onto the paths of psychological investigation, Mann's interests had led him on the one hand to realism, and on the other to more socially-orientated psychological investigation.

MEETING THE MODEL: CHRISTIAN BUDDENBROOK AND ONKEL FRIEDEL

The second level on which the short stories are important is as an apprenticeship, not so much in the techniques internal to literature, but in the function of literary creation within the process of shaping one's individual life.

Reed has usefully pointed to a shift from the excessive literariness of the early stories, many of which do not attempt to articulate Mann's own experiences but simply re-work existing literary material which Mann had read. In the course of the stories Reed sees 'Der Bajazzo' as an important turning-point - he acquired the confidence and ability to handle in fiction issues central to his own life. Mann himself regarded 'Der kleine Herr Friedemann' as the turning-point.

In a revealing letter to Grautoff on 6 April , he wrote: Whereas previously, even I wanted to communicate only with myself, I needed a secret diary. They represent therefore more than exercises in literary technique. Indeed, Susanne Otto has suggested that they form part of Mann's socialisation, outlining trial drafts of possible actions, projecting fears and self-doubt about his life's future shape into literary models, testing out forms of social alienation, its possible overcoming and its cost.

We see a continuation of these efforts, perhaps, in Mann's attempt to formulate a justification of his writing, an overall aesthetic, which does not break entirely with the values of the bourgeois world. He saw the activity of an artist not as an alternative to bourgeois values however much he might have felt exiled from the profession traditional to his family but as the form in which he had to find ethical justification for his life. In other words, traditional ideas of the work ethic were important even within the alternative life style of the artist.

In Mann commented revealingly In truth, 'art' is only a means to fulfil my life ethically. My 'oeuvre', if you will pardon the phrase, is not the product, purpose or aim of an ascetic-orgiastic denial of life, but an ethical expression of my life itself.

This is shown by my tendency to autobiography, which is ethical in origin but certainly does not exclude the most lively aesthetic will to objectivity [ Sachlichkeit ], distancing and objectivising [Objektivierung]. XII, This remark shows that Mann's undertaking in Buddenbrooks was an exploration of self which would not be selfindulgent, and which would, by the rigour of its selfexamination and the labour of its craftsmanship, be justified in society.

Behind the polished construction of the novel we should not miss the personal quest involved in the novel's double mission: In view of these considerations, reaching beyond literaryhistorical matters of theme and style, it is clear that the relationship between Buddenbrooks and the remainder of Mann's works would be a special one.

Whether we see the works before Buddenbrooks as a preparation for the thematic concerns of the long novel or as a working-out of the positions which enabled him to write his first major work, that first novel always had a special part in his oeuvre.

Mann himself often spoke of Buddenbrooks as a key to his later work - not simply in the general sense that, as a work concerned with his own background, it contains the themes and seeds of life's work to come, but more especially in relation to the works which immediately follow Buddenbrooks and which focus on the problems of the artistic life in society.

Mann summarised the relationship between his first novel and these shorter works when he referred to 'Tonio Kroger' as a 'prose ballad [. Certainly one is justified in thinking of Buddenbrooks as the key-work for the period of Mann's writing which ended with the First World War, the period of his life of which Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen Reflections of an Unpolitical Man provides an intellectual distillation, with its repeated exploration of the theme of 'Burger-Kiinstler', art and life; and yet there is little doubt that Mann never shook off the Buddenbrooks world.

If Der Zauberberg The Magic Mountain sees him preoccupied with themes drawn above all from the war years, it should not be forgotten that Hans Castorp, the novel's hero, owes his intellectual and Life and works 9 moral outlook to a Hanseatic background which he shares with the Buddenbrooks. The Joseph novels, the first volume of which appeared in , the year Mann left Germany in protest against National Socialism, cover new ground.

Lotte in Weimar, however, re-enters the historical milieu of the German middle classes through its exploration of the world of Goethe, that 'representative of the age of the bourgeoisie', to quote the title of Mann's speech at the Goethe centenary in Mann wrote, for instance, of his sense of affinity with the buildings and houses of Goethe's childhood, as an expression of his intellectual habitus in Frankfurt, like Liibeck a Free City within the Empire.

So it was perhaps less than surprising that in his final major novel, Doctor Faustus , Mann should return to the gabled late-medieval world of the German cities in recreating the childhood of his hero Adrian Leverkiihn. Many features of this novel, including the encounter with the devil, have their origins in the years during which Buddenbrooks took shape. When Mann confessed to the ambition to write in Doctor Faustus 'nothing less than the novel of my epoch', he was simply taking forward into a more troubled age the project of his youth, and it testifies to the consequentiality of Mann's work that this project should have its origins in the world of the Buddenbrooks.

Chapter 2 Retrospect on the nineteenth century Before we look at the way in which Mann's projected novel came to fruition, it is useful to sketch in the historical situations in which and about which Mann was writing. The novel opens in with the Buddenbrooks celebrating their occupancy of the new house. It closes in with Hanno's death. The actual events from which Mann set out are of later date, since they move back in time from the experiences of the young and adolescent Thomas Mann in the s.

The centenary of the Mann family firm took place in , not as in the novel, and the historical sources Mann used in fact take the action back into the s. He therefore telescopes into forty-two years a rather longer period of family history, and is able to incorporate historical structure into the novel without an excess of historical narration.

By telescoping the action, Mann keeps events within the life of one character, Tony Buddenbrook, who acts as a kind of measuring-rod for the lapse of time and the shift of attitudes.

At the same time - this was a technique he learned from the French realists - Mann kept each generation in touch with characteristic historical figures and movements. Johann Buddenbrook represents the Napoleonic period: His son, the Consul, who disapproves strongly of Napoleon I on moral grounds 1,5 , epitomises the quieter values of the post-Napoleonic period. The years from to the July Monarchy in France: The Consul is the man of this 10 Retrospect on the nineteenth century 11 period.

Thomas Buddenbrook, an admirer of Louis Napoleon, experiences the transition into the new German Empire. Hanno, who has played in the nursery during the wars which brought about German unification, experiences its unpleasant realities. Thus the story reaches out from its original basis in relating the personal and domestic history of one family, trading in Lubeck across these years, and integrates it into a wider tableau of class, city, and country. Thomas Mann's novel therefore takes its reader through the main currents of nineteenth-century history, from Napoleon's conquest of the German states to Germany's days as a super-power at the end of the century.

Johann Buddenbrook senior, despite the horror stories of the occupying French armies in Lubeck, clearly owed much of his wealth to the need of those armies for grain and stores. In the years immediately following the defeat of Napoleon, Germany remained divided into many separate and often hostile states, some of them large and powerful like Prussia, others tiny, no bigger than a small city.

There was little general sense of German national identity, and among the educated classes French culture and even language were widely used, as we see in the opening chapters of Buddenbrooks. Lubeck in the north was cut off from German territory by Danish possession of Schleswig and Holstein.

Prussia exercised authority in the north east, Austria in the south, and the period was one of oppression in the German states, as the absolutist rulers tried to keep at bay their dual enemies, liberalism and nationalism. This was partly the result of a conflict between the aims of liberalism and nationalism, the impossibility of balancing the right to self-determination of the Poles and the cause of German nationalism in Eastern Europe. Finally, the liberals placed too much faith in the constitutional processes of political debate and neglected issues of power, save where their own interests with regard to the proletariat were threatened.

As the forces of reaction re-established themselves in the German states, it became clear that the hope for German unity lay with two already existing processes. In the first place, the steady advance of economic modernisation in Germany created better communications and closer ties between separate states.

Customs Unions were formed, and their progress continued without significant check through the periods of political regression. It had always been part of the political armoury of German liberalism to argue for national unity on economic grounds Consul Buddenbrook is a man of his time when he supports these moves , but after economic life increasingly took on a surrogate function, replacing rather than underpinning the political activity of a bourgeoisie frightened off the political stage by the set-backs of The second crucial factor in German unification was the increasing ascendancy of Prussia within Germany, the success Bismarck achieved as Prime Minister of Prussia from and subsequently as the first Chancellor of the German Empire in assuring the territorial integrity of Germany, defeating Denmark, Austria and finally France in a series of wars leading up to unification in The first two are the wars through which Hanno plays as a child, and which surge over Liibeck and back again, leaving Thomas 20, thaler the poorer 7,8.

Under the new Empire, German economic and military strength increased at a hectic pace, completing the transformation of a state which, in the first half of the nineteenth century, was by common consent at least fifty years further back in its economic development than its European neighbours, and politically more backward still. The effects of this 'backwardness' in Germany's development as a modern state have often been discussed by historians. For our purposes, we may note that it led among the German middle classes to a paradoxical situation in which, precisely at the apex of Germany's military and Retrospect on the nineteenth century 13 economic power, a large section of the population took refuge in a backward-looking cult of tradition and showed little interest in the values and social forms which had brought them prosperity and unity.

It was symptomatic of a widespread feeling that traditional values were being cast aside for the questionable advantages of economic modernisation. At the same time, however, the Empire represented the culmination of the aspiration of German intellectuals throughout the century: The groups which protested against change could not protest too loudly, because what they were experiencing was what they had wanted, and it was only logical that their disquiet rarely took on a direct political form as an explicit criticism of social or economic policy, but instead took refuge in ideology, in a combination of protest and defeatism, opposition and inwardness.

The phenomenon of 'cultural pessimism' is as striking a feature of Germany in the late nineteenth century as the vulgar and aggressive militarism for which the state is more generally known, and whose symptoms other than those manifested in Hanno's school are strikingly absent from Buddenbrooks. On this larger stage of history Liibeck played a relatively minor role. The great days of the city had been the late fourteenth century, when the Hanseatic League had exercised immense power in the Baltic and North Sea areas, but it had remained prosperous enough through the centuries to preserve a strong cultural identity and the politically advantageous status of a Free City.

It had limited civil rights through centuries when other German states suffered under absolutist monarchs; indeed in , when in other German states the cause had been constitutionalism, Liibeck could point to a constitution dating back to and wonder as the Consul enquires of the rebellious Carl Smoets in the amusing scene in 4,7 what all the fuss was about. All this gave Liibeck a pride in its economic, political and social structures, a pride which clearly emerges at many points throughout the novel: Such were the manifestations of the special status of Liibeck in the nineteenth century.

Gradually, however, in the second half of the century, Liibeck's relationship to the rest of Germany underwent significant changes. As a result of two distinct processes its special status was modified and then devalued.

In the first place, following the removal of Danish sovereignty over Schleswig-Holstein, Liibeck was able much more fully to participate in the economic boom inside Germany. Added to this were constitutional changes which did away with restrictive and archaic practices in the city's ancient constitution, ending - very belatedly - the power of the guilds, and permitting a great increase in population. Liibeck's special status came to an end finally in , four years after German unification.

At the same time, certain shifts in the economic geography of Germany were working against the city's interests. The increasing ascendancy of Hamburg in the American and colonial trade many overtones of the centuries-old rivalry of Hamburg and Liibeck emerge from the Consul's visit to the Griinlich household in Part Four further undermined Liibeck's sense of being the leading north German city.

The construction of the Kiel Canal set the seal on this decline. We should not think of the historical background to the novel as if it were simply 'given' or static, like the backdrop to an historical tableau, fulfilling a decorative function as a still life or as local colour.

The fact that major historical Retrospect on the nineteenth century 15 events remain in the background, discussed by Thomas and his barber, or sketched in en passant by the narrator, does not mean that they have no role in the novel.

The period was one of great historical change and cried out for interpretation and perspective. That history yields meaning in accordance with the needs of the reader of history, and that historical facts as such are dead and irrelevant, was a dictum of Nietzsche's with which Thomas Mann certainly concurred.

Only the history that can be brought alive in the portrayal of the family and is related to Mann's thematic concerns is likely to have made its way into the novel. The process of selection from historical material is complex. It is not just that, in writing the novel, Mann selected from history as carefully as from his family papers and therefore left out events - such as the great Hamburg fire of , or more surprisingly Richard Wagner's visit to the city in Of course facts are left out, otherwise novels would be as long as history itself.

What is important is that the selection of facts implies an interpretation of history, one which Mann either gained through study or which, as he later conceded, he might have taken over 'half unconsciously' from his own background XII, At all events, Mann's presentation of German history is dominated by the Liibeck perspective.

Unlike Theodor Fontane, with whom he is often appropriately compared, Mann has nothing positive to say about the Prussian tradition and next to nothing about the events on the road to German unification.

The Danish and Austrian Wars appear in the narrative, but are heavily muted and form little more than the ironic background to the nursery games of Hanno. It is clear that Mann felt these events to be only marginally relevant to the story he wanted to tell.

At all events, the novel's action lies outside the main stream of Bismarckian power-politics, although this does not imply a parochial perspective on events or any contravention of historical realities.

Mann is anything but uncritical of Liibeck, but his portrait of nineteenthcentury Germany is rooted in Liibeck. We should recall how hectic was the upsurge in historical writing at the end of the century. This affected not only diplomatic and political history in the wake of the great names of German historical writing Ranke, Treitschke and Mommsen , but still more importantly social and economic history.

While Mann's Liibeck perspective made him less than susceptible to a Prussian view of German history, the experience of his family's economic decline opened his eyes to the major events taking place in the social and economic life of the country. Had Mann's family come from the sort of professional background shared by so many nineteenth-century writers public service, law, medicine, teaching, the church , he might not have felt so closely the dramatic changes which were transforming Germany, for they took place precisely in the economic sector.

At the beginning of the century, trade was in the hands of individual family firms such as the Buddenbrooks. The family house was coextensive with the office and even with the storerooms and warehouses, and the head of the family ruled over both with equal authority.

Family firm did not only mean that all the family were active in the firm: Upon this world, whose attitudes are enshrined in the elder Buddenbrook, two principal changes broke in. Trade became less personal, the individual merchant saw in his firm less an expression of his value-system, and more a means of profit alone.

For the early Buddenbrooks, following the pattern of a primitive stage of capital accumulation, wealth was tangible sacks of grain in the storehouse and personal, residing in dowries, houses the family inhabited and in healthy bank-balances, read out to the family at funerals and engagement ceremonies, and meticulously recorded by Mann.

By the end of the century wealth was less tangible, capital accumulation a more volatile process, the growth of joint-stock companies and stock- Retrospect on the nineteenth century 17 markets moved the emphasis from the commodity in the warehouse to the seemingly self-generating activities of money itself.

The changes for the merchant were enormous. Not only did he move into the uncharted waters of financial crises and bank-collapses for which he had no explanation: As Mann tried to place his own experiences in the wider context of his family and society and in addition to place family and society in a still wider historical context, he found himself tackling a central issue of his day, one which the newly emerging social sciences were beginning to confront.

While Marx's attention lay more with the changes in industrial capitalism, a number of sociologists Tonnies, Weber, Simmel and Sombart most notably were exploring themes still closer to Mann's own experience. In particular their consideration of the relationship between the traditional forms of economic activity and the new spirit of the age - in Tonnies' terms the difference between 'Gemeinschaft' community and 'Gesellschaft' society , for Sombart the difference between traditional and new capitalist, 'Burger' and 'Bourgeois' , for Simmel that between personal culture and the 'philosophy of money' - shows with what attention the decline of traditional classes was studied towards the end of the nineteenth century.

There is no need to argue that such discussions 'influenced' Mann many of them could not have influenced Buddenbrooks, for they are subsequent to it , or that Mann was trying to put into fictional form ideas which he had encountered in the social sciences.

We must, however, see the drive towards historical understanding of the present as one of the 'pressures of history' in Mann's own generation, and in his novel. It may, in conclusion, be useful to underline the deliberateness with which Thomas Mann introduced historical perspective into his narrative.

Julia's letter tells how their aunt had fallen in love with an army officer; how her parents, disapproving of this liaison, had driven her into the first disastrous marriage. It is here that Mann substitutes the Morten episode 3, , a section of the novel with unmistakable political overtones.

Morten is a standardised portrait of a politically committed student of the day. He proudly shows Tony the sash which marks him as a member of the 'Burschenschaften', the student associations whose historical role was to preserve the liberal and national ideal from the days of the Napoleonic liberation.

At the same time it is clear that the figure of the doctor Morten is studying medicine , representing scientific method, freedom from tradition, and meditation between the classes, was part of the literary tradition of European realism compare the figure of Bianchon in Balzac. Early sketches for the novel suggest that Morten was to have had the function of objective commentator on the family's decline, standing above events and at a sovereign distance from the central characters Lehnert, Noticeably, however, Mann settled on a much more discreet and understated function for the character, and allowed him to fade rapidly from the novel.

The fact that Mann is not writing a political novel, and does not give Morten prominence outside his brief flirtation with Tony, should not mislead us into thinking that the Revolution too is a mere episode, or that the actual course of events in Liibeck in which Mann records with considerable accuracy have no further implications for the novel. Just as historians see as a pivotal point in German history, so Mann suggests within the novel a wide implication for the event.

There is more than a hint that certain of the ideas of '48, notably those on the emancipation of women, relate directly to the situation which Tony experiences as her parents thrust upon her the repulsive Griinlich. Yet Tony is more than a victim of such attitudes. Mann's exposure of the Retrospect on the nineteenth century 19 narrowness of outlook in which Tony is confined is not personal, but directed at her whole class and upbringing.

Her renunciation of Morten in favour of Griinlich, her choice in favour of tradition - the 'link in the chain' 3,13 - rather than innovation represented by new ideas and classes, is the Buddenbrooks' failure, their failure to link with the politically progressive elements of the middle classes; it slams the door on their alliance with the spirit of the age, and Tony's marital disaster drags the family down with her. After all, the Buddenbrooks were not prominent enough a family to insist so strongly on their social superiority to the professional middle classes.

Their prosperity went back little further than war-profiteering in the Napoleonic period, and Morten's romantically coloured view of Tony which she gladly makes her own as 'a princess' 3,8 in no way corresponds to reality. Tony is pleased at the title as it corresponds once again to the 'feudal' 2,2 views of her Kroger grandparents, which she finds so attractive, but which repeatedly have dire consequences for her. In rejecting Morten she is following a historically fateful course, and in illustrating this in his plot - in contradiction of his sources - Mann is showing that 'history' is anything but background.

It is one of the instruments of knowledge which his text will use. Chapter 3 The evolution of the novel Buddenbrooks is the product of a short span of years. The first page is dated October , the last page was written in mid-July In contrast to the twelve years which The Magic Mountain took to write, the composition period of Buddenbrooks is both short and homogenous. Even within these few years, however, Mann's intention for the novel passed through three distinct phases.

While Mann himself felt, as we have seen, that he reached self-assurance in his use of the medium of narrative writing with the story 'Der kleine Herr Friedemann', and while it is evident that a remarkable number of Mann's first thoughts found their way into the final form of the novel so that it is not helpful to think of Buddenbrooks changing its emphasis because of Mann's inexperience as a novelist , nevertheless Mann's intentions shifted during the writing of the novel, and with this shift of intention came also a shift in literary genre.

This shift should not be misunderstood as a sign of Mann's personal uncertainty: This was an aspect of the novel in Germany on which many of the early reviewers of Buddenbrooks were agreed.

We shall see later that Mann rejected many aspects of the popular German tradition in the novel, and despite the major achievements of Theodor Fontane within the field of the novel of polite society - known and appreciated by Mann as he worked on his own novel - Mann had to look outside the German tradition for literary models.

Fontane had not attempted the theme that was Mann's starting-point: Some 20 The evolution of the novel 21 fifty years after he had written the first page of his novel Mann recalled: The original intention was straightforward. The novel was to work over elements of Mann's own experiences as the nonconformer in the family tradition, the aesthete who had departed from the spartan north and taken up residence in the artistic south, and it would portray his environment only so far as it related to these experiences, although in fact Christian and Tony both figure in the earliest notes for the novel his home town seemed distant and remote, 'essentially no more than a dream' X, Perhaps that dream included an element of nostalgia, but it related to a society which Mann had been pleased to leave and which had little cause to remember him with affection or pride.

Thus the story he wanted to tell would include the kind of malicious and satirical caricature Heinrich and Thomas had used in their 'Picture book for well-behaved children'. This adolescent sarcasm - in the Mann circle it was known as 'gippern' - was part of the intention behind the novel, it made of Liibeck 'a dream, grotesque and venerable' X,15 , an object of both derision and paradoxical respect to its recalcitrant son. Even before the first page of the original manuscript was written, however, the projected novel had begun to take on a new dimension, prompted by Mann's wish to give the dream concrete and tangible life, and to set his own experiences in the historical context of the family tradition.

In part, this shift of emphasis was brought about by Mann's own 'bourgeois' sense that writing was justified not simply as a preoccupation with self but as a coming-to-terms with a 'venerable' reality; in part, too, it resulted from a growing interest in other members of his family, notably in Elisabeth Haag-Mann, the model for Tony; but in part also it was a legacy from his reading of the realists, with their passion for documentation and detail.

Since Mann was cut off from first-hand sources and, in view of his projected topic, had not even thought that he would need them, he turned to his family for help in collecting the information with which to fill out his narrative, to bring to life the milieu in which his own immediate experiences had been gathered, and to convey the reality of additional characters.

His mother supplied many details; family papers and letters were used; his sister Julia sent him a twenty-eight page account of the life and character of the aunt who was to appear so prominently in the novel as Tony Buddenbrook; his cousin Marty sent information in reply to specific questions about the economic life of the city, some concerned with details such as corn prices and the like - and some much more directly contributing to the novel's plot, as Marty gave his opinion as to the most common forms which the economic decline of a Lubeck firm might take.

Mann's use of these sources has many interesting features. At a stylistic level they show his skill in assimilating a variety of materials into a consistent and personal style what in a letter to Adorno in Mann called 'hoheres Abschreiben' 'a kind of superior copying' , casting in a personalised epic form incidental documentary material, finding psychological keys to illuminate sources which are much less differentiated.

The novel shows Mann's great ability to refashion material, to bring to life experiences which he knew only at second hand. Recipes supplied by his mother are transformed into the lively dinner conversations of the guests in Part One; a cartoon from Simplicissimus comes to life as Herr Permaneder; memories of Goethe's Werther go into the Consul's enthusiasm for the family's neglected garden 1,5 ; and other words or images from Mann's reading give us Griinlich and his slimy name, and that mischievous 'x' which Hanno vainly hunts across his maths books.

The novel is a patchwork, yet so superbly joined together that there is only one pattern. As we look at the sources, we notice too that Mann's awareness The evolution of the novel 23 of his novel's thematic shape and direction was much stronger than his allegiance to mere historical chance in the narrative which his family skeletons bequeathed to him.

He changed, as we saw, major features of Aunt Elisabeth's story to suit his own purposes: Invented too is Tony Buddenbrook's return to Liibeck after her disastrous second marriage. Julia Mann's account had much to say of other colourful episodes in their aunt's life - her sadness when possible engagements to a Prussian lieutenant and to a South German nobleman were wrecked - but Mann ignored these.

He was also highly selective in his approach to the reasons Marty had proffered for the decline of a Liibeck firm, and modified those which he decided to use.His brother, Christian, has no interest in business and prefers to spend his time in the theaters and bars of London and Chile.

Woolf, Mrs Dalloway; F. The groups which protested against change could not protest too loudly, because what they were experiencing was what they had wanted, and it was only logical that their disquiet rarely took on a direct political form as an explicit criticism of social or economic policy, but instead took refuge in ideology, in a combination of protest and defeatism, opposition and inwardness.

In the years immediately following the defeat of Napoleon, Germany remained divided into many separate and often hostile states, some of them large and powerful like Prussia, others tiny, no bigger than a small city. It is this trait that he bequeaths to Christian, the unwillingness to know the truth, his disinclination to identify and name feelings. The novel is a patchwork, yet so superbly joined together that there is only one pattern.