First published in 1900, when Thomas Mann was 25, Buddenbrooks is a minutely imagined chronicle of four generations of a North German mercantile family – a work so true to life that it scandalized the author’s former neighbours in his native Lübeck. As he charts the Buddenbrooks’ decline from prosperity to bankruptcy, from moral and psychic soundness to sickly piety, artistic decadence and madness, Mann ushers the reader into a world of rich vitality, pieced together from births and funerals, weddings and divorces, recipes, gossip and earthy humour. It is, perhaps, the first great family saga of modern literature, and it brought to public notice a writer of world stature who, three decades later, was to be award the Nobel Prize for Literature. David Rintoul gives one of his finest performances in this committed and deeply moving reading.
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Very enjoyable reading of a clever translation, which catches the nuances of pre-unification German society. The decline of a mercantile family, often humorously drawn, played out against the seismic changes of the 19th century. Highly recommended. For more reviews click here…