Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann – 1901 – 30 – German

Title: Buddenbrooks

Author: Thomas Mann

Original language: German

Translation(s): 30 languages

Context: Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family (1901) is a translated novel by Thomas Mann. The author has based the story on his very own rich merchant family. The artistic son, Hanno is the important character who dies after a short life by not being able to fit into the family plans of making him the savior to save the family from decline and ultimately signals the fall of the dynasty. Every Buddenbrook generation experiences tough dilemmas of selection between pleasure, love, family obligations and art on one hand and personal tendencies on the other.


The novel is about four generations of a rich bourgeois family living in the northern part of Germany with the latter generation ending in the 1800s. In an uncertain new world, the family was experiencing the advent of modernity leading to a gradual disintegration of traditions and bonds of the family. While the author presents the family’s decline from richness to insolvency and from psychic and moral soundness to sheer madness, artistic dissipation and sickly obedience, he takes the reader into a world of impressive spirit of recipes, funerals and births, gossip, divorces and weddings and earthy humor.

Moral ambiguity of the novel makes it one of the most important novels of the 20th century. The author with his modern perspective passes no judgment on choices made by the family, is detached, ironic and allows time to hurt or heal at its own pace, while remaining sympathetic to everyone. The novel presents no inspiring heroes, or villains, but lots of drama.


1909 – Royal Highness

1924 – The Magic Mountain

1939 – Lotte in Weimar: The Beloved Returns

1947 – Doctor Faustus

1951 – The Holy Sinner

Short Stories

1894 – Gefallen

1896 – The Will to Happiness

1896 – Disillusionment

1897 – Death

1897 – The Dilettante

1898 – Tobias Mindernickel

1899 – The Wardrobe

1900 – Little Lizzy

1900 – The Road to the Churchyard

1903 – The Hungry

1903 – The Child Prodigy

1904 – A Gleam

1904 – At the Prophets

1905 – A Weary Hour

1907 – Railway Accident

1908 – Anecdote

1911 – The Fight between Jappe and the Do Escobar

Short Story Collections

1897 – Litte Herr Friedemann

1936 – Stories of Three Decades (23 stories written from 1896 to 1929)