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Publisher's Summary

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 awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. David Rintoul gives one of his finest performances in this committed and deeply moving reading.
©1993 Alfred A Knopf (P)2016 Ukemi Productions Ltd
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Virginia Waldron on 03-30-17

Where Have You Been All My Life, Thomas Mann?

Would you listen to Buddenbrooks again? Why?

I have already listened to it twice as I didn't want it to end. It is just so incredibly well written. Subtle shifts which are significant in the development of the story. The last section is some of the most powerful and passionate writing I have ever read. Thomas Mann is orderly when needed and wildly insightful and inflamed when needed. It is a brilliant book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Buddenbrooks?

The final sections of the book will remain with me forever. I even awoke in the middle of the night thinking about that part. It is a book that made a big impression on my thinking about education and sensitive, young people. Utterly wonderful.

What about David Rintoul’s performance did you like?

He is a perfect narrator for this story. Excellent performance.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It is long but I just devoured it. Not in one sitting but over about a week. Yes I wanted to listen to it all the time as I felt part of it so much more than my own life, as I read it. I had no idea what a consummate writer Thomas Mann is until I stumbled upon this book. I actually feel privileged to have read it. It is such a rich text.

Any additional comments?

Read this book before you die.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By W Perry Hall on 02-15-17

Condemnation of Materialistic Decadence

"That all those charms have pass'd away,
I might have watch'd through long decay...."
"And Thou art Dead, as Young and Fair," Lord Byron

Thomas Mann's moving 1901 saga of the Buddenbrooks, a respected, wealthy family of grain merchants, begins in 1835 at the death of the patriarch. The three successive generations suffer a decline in their finances and family ideals as values change and old hierarchies are upset by Germany's rapid industrialization. Two of the siblings, Thomas and Antonie, subordinate their personal happiness to the welfare of the family business. Antonie in particular gives up happiness twice for appearance's sake, each time being ravaged by reverses.

While Mann wrote this novel largely in an objective manner, the story represents a condemnation of the decadence of a materialistic society, as shown through this family. While the Buddenbrooks were naturally honest and good, imbued with love of family, they were also afflicted by a blind loyalty to their own class. They viewed each significant event in their lives, such as births, deaths, marriages, and social decisions, in relation to its effects on the family business. Their refusal to adapt to changing conditions, to act from their moral convictions rather than treating their business as a religion, and to accept those not of their class led to their destruction.

Mann showed an incredible attention to the descriptive details of the period as well as his affinity for leitmotifs such as those derived from his love of the operas of Richard Wagner. For example, blue skin and yellow teeth to represent decay and decadence in the family members.

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10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Hugh M. Clarke on 04-01-17

Five Star

One of the best readings I have yet heard. David Rintoul's performance was perfect throughout. The intensity and the gentle humour of the novel were beautifully delivered. I hope we can have a recording of Mann's "Doctor Faustus" with the same reader.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By MR on 09-09-17

Absolutely superb!

Any additional comments?

It seems superfluous to say what a wonderful story this is or how convincing the characters are when it is such a well known masterpiece. Ultimately what matters most for the listener to a great Audible classic like this is the quality of the narrator's performance. David Rintoul makes this an unforgettable experience. His perfectly paced and insightful narration drives a truly gripping story all the way to its inevitable and tragic denouement while his brilliant portrayals of Thomas, Antonie, Christian, and Hanno, Bendix Grünlich, Alois Permaneder, and Hugo Weinschenk bring the main characters vividly to life.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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