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Buddenbrooks first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

The Decline of a Family

Original title
Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie

First publication

First translation into English

Literature form

Literary, historical fiction, family saga

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 243,000 words

Notable lines

"What does this mean.—What—does this mean...."

— First lines

"Why, even the lamps aren't lighted. That's going too far with the revolution."


We are most likely to get angry and excited in our opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to take the other side.


What is success? It is an inner, an indescribable force, resourcefulness, power of vision; a consciousness that I am, by my mere existence, exerting pressure on the movement of life about me.


Beauty can pierce one like pain.


Death was a blessing, so great, so deep that we can fathom it only at those moments, like this one now, when we are reprieved from it. It was the return home from long, unspeakably painful wanderings, the correction of a great error, the loosening of tormenting chains, the removal of barriers—it set a horrible accident to rights again.


There she stood, victorious in the good fight that she had waged all her life against the onslaughts of reason. There she stood, hunch-backed and tiny, trembling with certainty—an inspired, scolding little prophet.

— Last lines


Critique • Quotes • Translations