Magic Mountain and now with Buddenbrooks, this German author has just sealed his place in my reading heart as one of my all-time favourites. Boom. Hands down. He has all the elements I adore and appreciate - he's straightforward and thoughtful, using words efficiently to convey his scenery and characters without bogging the reader down with endless flowery descriptions as so many other writers of his era did. He can be deep and philosophical as well as lighthearted and witty. Interesting and funny, he's the kind of author I'd love to have a conversation with over a bottle of wine.
So, for those in need of a Downton Abby fix between seasons, or even just for a peek at life from a hundred-odd years ago, get thee to a bookstore for a copy of Buddenbrooks to help you through. Ditto War and Peace. I know when I finished that particular book I was bereft for weeks. Such drama and characters and scenery! Such literary spectacle! Truly wonderful.
There is also a 2008 German movie version of this book, which looks pretty good if only I could find the full movie here in Canada, either online or DVD -with subtitles too would be nice- but alas.
First published in 1900 when Thomas Mann was twenty-five, 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 Buddenbrook's 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.