Buddenbrooks BY Mann, Thomas

Thomas Mann regularly appears on lists of must read authors and Buddenbrooks is a good a novel to start with. Starting in the middle of the nineteenth century it charts the gradual decline and disintegration of a bourgeois family of the merchant class with passing references to the social upheavals of revolutionary Europe in 1848, the war with France and creation of a united Germany. The main characters are Antonie and her brother and through their (in her case ill-judged) marriages Mann describes the fall of the prosperous merchants and death of the male heirs leading to the disappearance of the Buddenbrook line. It’s an interesting read but curious in its avoidance of the politics of the period, it’s not an Upstairs Downstairs saga and not a light or short read but certainly worth reading even if the characters don’t come across as overtly courting our sympathy. Antonie remaining a vain and selfish character throughout. As a piece of historical writing it’s a useful discourse on the social life of the bourgeois class and their attitudes in 19th century Germany with some of the no doubt prevalent anti-Semitism present in passing remarks, but a knowledge of the wider European upheavals of the time would help place the context. One curiosity is that Hitler banned this book and then had it burned, but if that tempts you read it to find anti-statist or pro Bolshevik sentiment then you’ll not find it, why Hitler took an exception to this work can only be explained by the fact that he was insane.

From another reference with more knowledge of WHY he was banned...

On Feb. 10, 1933, Mann delivered a lecture in Munich on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Richard Wagner (Leiden und Grösse Richard Wagners; The Sufferings and Greatness of Richard Wagner), and the next day he left Germany with his wife to repeat his lecture in Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris, a trip from which he was not to return for 16 years. Finding himself a voluntary exile from Nazi Germany, Mann spent the summer in southern France and settled in Küsnacht, near Zurich, where he remained until 1938. He attacked the Nazi regime in an open letter published by the Neue Züriche Zeitung on Feb. 3, 1936. Soon the Nazis deprived him of his German citizenship and banned his books, and the University of Bonn withdrew the honorary doctorate awarded him shortly after World War I.