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Modern Language Review, Vol. 89, No. 4 (Oct., 1994), pp. 916-941 Published by: Modern Humanities Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3733902 Accessed: 12/05/2009 00:33
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REALISM PLUS MYTHOLOGY: A RECONSIDERATION OF THE PROBLEM OF 'VERFALL' IN THOMAS MANN'S BUDDENBROOKS
has been read as a classic example of literary realism. In On the whole, Buddenbrooks this article I analyse the mythological (that is to say, non-realist) dimension which interpenetrates with the novel's realistic surface and show how the Buddenbrooks' decline is ultimately the work of Fate, despite the plethora of realistic motives which are also at work. In doing this, I show how Mann fuses mythological referencewith a complex of interrelated leitmotifs, a technique which is more commonly associated with his Modernist works. I shall also argue that his use of mythology generates a which has a direct bearing on a central theological debate within Buddenbrooks concern of contemporary feminist criticism. andtheLimitations Buddenbrooks of RealistReadings is, first and foremost, a realist novel, and I am Nobody would deny that Buddenbrooks most certainly not that nobody, given the authority of a critical tradition which has not only established the novel's 'autobiographical and contextual aspects'l but also identified those textual2 and narratological features which make it 'one of the supreme achievements of European novel realism'.3Indeed, this consensus seems so secure that Buddenbrooks could recently be cited as the paradigmatic 'traditional' German novel of the nineteenth century in contrast with such Modernist 'traveling Musil's Der Mann ohneEigenschaften, and narratives' as Kafka's Der Verschollene, Doblin's montage novels.4 Nevertheless, one does not have to look very far in the immense critical literature to sense that a large number of commentators are not surrounding Buddenbrooks in their realistically interpreted world. Over and over at home altogether securely critics either one finds missing aspects which one might legitimately expect to again, be present in a realist novel, or sensing dimensions which one would not expect to find in a realist novel. Klaus-Jiirgen Rothenburg, for example, in a book whose title states the author's assumptions very clearly,5misses 'Landschaftsschilderung'from the novel (pp. 8o-90) and calls this a 'Versaumnis' (p. 87). Furst, too, comments that 'external description [... ] is surprisingly [my emphasis] sparse in this novel, certainly compared to the dense proliferation of detail characteristic of Balzac and Zola' (p. 323). And it is a commonplace to remark that Mann never once names Liibeck as the setting for the novel, even though a plethora of other details indicates
German See Lilian R. Furst,, 'Rereading Buddenbrooks', LifeandLetters, 44 (1990-9I), 317-29 (especially pp. 317-18). Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 84, 2Hugh Ridley, 3 Martin Swales, 'Symbolic Patterns or Realistic Plenty? Thomas Mann and the European Novel', Publications theEnglishGoethe 60 (1989-9o), 8o-95 (p. 8o; see also pp. 83-86). of Society, 4 Mark and the Text: Anderson, 'Kafka and New York: Notes on a Traveling Narrative', in Modernity Revisions ed. by Andreas Huyssen and David Bathrick (New York and Oxford: Modernism, of German
Columbia University Press, 1989), pp. 142-61 (pp. I52-53).
5 Klaus-Jiirgen Rothenburg, Das Problem bei Thomas desRealismus Mann(Cologne and Vienna: B6hlau, 1969).
T. Reed.RICHARD SHEPPARD 9I7 that that town is the Buddenbrook habitat. 8 Mann: TheUsesof Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press. to realms which.. 10Buddenbrooks-Handbuch. Ridley ends his study by conceding that Buddenbrooks straightforward. beneath which forces yet more "real" are at work' (pp. 68). p. 37. around the same time as Buddenbrooks).8 senses that Gerda does not quite fit that reality (p. for they tacitly point to realms beyond or below a 'recognizable reality'. I 6). Manfred Jiirgensen's subtle and systematic analysis of the extent to which Buddenbrooks departs from the monologic form of classic European realism (pp.J. following Lammert. 'Fate' in the 'outward dress of commercial occasion'. II. ed. o09-27). 1983). Jochen Vogt. in the next paragraph.6 Conversely. almost. 320). Similarly. there is something strangely puzzling about the novel as a whole (pp. but rapidly moves to a much more metaphysical reading.J. nevertheless identifies a range of features which bring the novel into the Modernist and even. ed. The inverted commas around the final 'real' are very revealing. 3 18). are described as 'the irresistible force of decline'. able. even though Eberhard Lammert7 clearly does not want to see Buddenbrooks as a 'mythische Erzahlung' and contrasts Mann's naturalism with his later 'Hinneigung zu (p. I90-233. Like the mysterious 'Eingangsfrage' and the enigmatic 'SchluBsentenz'. but a multi-levelled phenomenon: 'But this ironic revelation of the reality beneath the religious superstructure is for [Mann] only a first stage: socio-economic reality is itself in turn a superstructure. Ernst Keller's careful 6 A similar phenomenon occurs in Joseph Conrad's classically Modernist novel Heart of Darkness where the narratornever once refersto the Dark (written 1898-99. p. mythologischem of the process of'Verfall' which is central to the novel. and appreciation of the active role played by the elements (p. the 'LiibeckerTopographie und Sozialhistorie'go hand in hand with 'Schopenhauers Weltdeutung und das Dekadenz-Syndrom in Wagners Nachfolge' (p. 2 vols (Dusseldorf: Bagel. 223). I 2 ). as the novel progresses. 'Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks'. for whom Buddenbrooks 'comes closest of all Mann's works to fulfilling the basic realist aim of rendering a recognizable reality'.9begins from an appreciation of the novel's realism. I974). T. and communicative strategies wholly divorced from any anterior reality' (p. Thomas 9 Jochen Vogt. 58. I25). recognizpost-structuralist reading that would conceive the novel purely as an amalgam of verbal. narrational. n. and 'decline [. perhaps straightforwardly question-mark because all its contributors work in universities in Australia and New Zealand and so can better distance themselves from established European views. Its basic 'Intention' is 'schopenhauerisch'(p. Reed. in Der deutsche RomanvomBarockzur Gegenwart. by Ken Moulden and Gero von Wilpert (Stuttgart: Kroner. outer reality (pp. the narratoris not the omniscient one of so much nineteenth-century fiction (p. 130-31). that reality in the novel is not a simple.. 988). Continent as Africa. 205-06). 68-69). the Post-modernist ambit (p. 29) and sees. nineteenth-century novel (p. an insight which is confirmed by the multitude of causes which critics have seen at work in this process. the realistic detail points beyond itself (p. 224) early a he has of the inexplicability Erzahlen' acute sense very (p. 1963). of I98810 which puts the largest But it is perhaps the Buddenbrooks-Handbuch a realist over understanding of the novel. Furst. o05). it becomes less and less a historical chronicle and less and less concerned with everyday. ] determined by forces to which morality is irrelevant' is more than a (p. 7 Eberhard Lammert. 97. I28). 'less tangible' causes. by Benno von Wiese. 8 ). while firmly rejecting 'an extravagant . in a highly suggestive passage. Thomas Mann: 'Buddenbrooks' (Munich: Fink.
given what I shall argue below. for example. trying to deny the realist consensus. 58). Lo56). of course.13 In doing this. for the time being. been extensively documented. involve the concept of myth. p. 134-43). 191-92). Felix Krull. Reed's remarkson the set-piece descriptions of minor characters (p. Alfred Kubin's Die andere Thomas Mann's Seite. and Doktor Faustus. it is highly appropriate. 94. relegate to a subsidiary place. p. . but it also points forward to twentieth-century Modernism.9I8 in 'Buddenbrooks' Realism 'Verfall' plus Mythology: of the Buddenbrooks' decline. NJ: Princeton ofPrefigurative Techniques s5JohnJ. he sees that 'gelb' functions 'als Signal furTod und Verfall' and even connects it with Griinlich (p. and then as an example of a novel whose author 'has successfully managed without myths'. Thus. but the interweaving of leitmotifs and mythological referencehas not. L40o. 366-93). in theModem Novel:A Study (Princeton. its is not. only five. four of which are dissertations (LI37. Accordingly. Accordingly. who should have made explicit what is more or less implicit in so many studies of Mann's novel. I am not. 12 Mann's use of leitmotifs in Buddenbrooks has.and Albert Camus's L 'Etranger. Mythology University Press."1 I now develop that contention by dwelling on two largely neglected aspects of Buddenbrooks which. 129-43) focuses first on their descriptive. L4I7. 13 Other major Modernist texts in which this process is central include Andre Gide's L'Immoraliste. D. citing two previous critics. Jean-Paul Sartre's La Nausee. James Northcote-Bade's penetrating account of the contradictory nature of Mann's retrospective statements .14 andLeitmotifs Mythology Where the importance of myth for Mann's Modernist works is accepted.Andrey Bely's Petrburg.l5 Of the 474 titles of listed in the Handbuch secondary works on Buddenbrooks (pp. But he misses the incidence of grey and purple completely and he nowhere makes the connection between leitmotifs. a major book on mythology in the importance for Buddenbrooks modern novel mentions Buddenbrooks only once. or neutralize in various ways. Klaus GiintherJust. Keller's survey essay on leitmotifsin the Handbuch (pp. 158. I shall call 'metaphysical'.12The second concerns content and involves the subversion of an apparently stable order by forces which. Moreover. while not peculiar to Modernist prose fiction. it is so uncommon for a critic writing on Buddenbrooks to pick up any mythological reference there that 11Klaus GintherJust. I94. I971). But I am trying to bring into relief aspects of the novel which realist readings ignore. are highly typical of much Modernist literature in general and such centrally Modernist texts by Mann in particular as Der Tod in Venedig. Von derGriinderzeit biszur Gegenwart: derdeutschen Geschichte Literatur seiti87i (Berne and Munich: Francke. concomitant insistence refusal to speak of the causes that he is offering only a symptomatology (pp. the process of'Verfall'. that it was a scholar who is best known for his work on Baroque literature. n. 14See. Der Tod in Venedig.The first is technical and relates to the interweaving of leitmotifs with mythological references. three are general studies of Mann and one simply a study of the Wagnerian myths in Mann's early work as a whole. Buddenbrooks may derive in the first place from the nineteenth-century tradition of realism. Indeed. Lawrence's Women in Love. I30-33) and then on the way in which they denote the process of 'Verfall' at a realistic level (pp. and elaboration of Gosch's initial description of Gerda (pp. Der Zauberberg. of course. and the use of mythological figures and references. Of these. characterologicalfunction (pp. White. 162-63). Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Ein Brief. 134). H. L412.these arejust three examples of well-informed contributors to about Buddenbrooks the Handbuch sensing that the dominant consensus has its limitations and that a very different kind of novel may lie behind Buddenbrooks's beguilingly realistic surface. I973). I i6.
whose family's decline parallels that of the Buddenbrooks. when the Buddenbrooks''Verfall' accelerates. Pastor Tiburtius has 'kleine. The Konsul's hair and beard (which are blond when we first meet him (p. 233. prominence is given to the fact that his beard is grey (p. 74). a dress involving the same colours she was wearing just before her husband's death. turns grey with preternatural rapidity (pp. the 'graues Gemauer' (p.: Fischer.. 424) of which he then has torn down. Some of the writing in the Buddenbrookfamily chronicle has been executed 'mit blaBgrauer Tinte' (p. his wife is wearing a grey dress (p. I9192). 57). her hair is simply described as 'aschig'. pp. 403). The Russian cigarettes to which Thomas is addicted and which must. 179. 438) and is completely grey after his release from prison (p. The major mythological complex in the novel is created by means of the colour grey. 5I6). Hugo Weinschenk's hair is starting to turn grey at the beginning of Part viii (p. Gerda's father has a 'graue[n] Spitzbart' (p. even though the references in question are easily the most obvious ones in the novel. 64I). 591). cites only two other critics when doing so (L28o. 9)16 and recursin increasingly darkershadings throughout the first two Parts (when the Buddenbrookworld is still relatively 'heil'). 460). 95). when discussing Gosch's initial reaction to Gerda in the Handbuch (pp. 1)) have 'ergraut' by the time of Griinlich's financial collapse (p. Pastor Wunderlich has cheerful grey eyes (p. often in connection with other significant leitmotifs. When Justus Kr6ger. 15). gloves which have been woven) and a 'hellgrauen Hut' when he arrives in the Buddenbrook garden (p. references to activities such as sewing and knitting. and her funeral cortege moves through 'die grauen und feuchten StraBen' (p. 448. When we first meet Klothilde (p. Just before young Johann's death. graue Augen' (p. The drawing-room of Thomas's and Gerda's first residence is decked out 'in grauem Tuche' (p. 246. Griinlich wears 'graue[n] Zwirnhandschuhe[n]' (that is. 560). and the use of the leitmotif of the clock/watch/chain. 245). Io). 250). she is attended by one of the Grey Sisters (p. so that the following examples arejust a fairly random selection. as is Thomas (p. he buys an 'altergraues [. Grey is probably one of the three most frequent colours to be used implicitly or explicitly. The old Konsulin visits Erika Weinschenk's fated home dressed 'in grau und schwarz gestreifterSeide' (p. have contributed to his death. 420). are said to produce 'einen 16 All Werke in zwilf within the text are to the first volume of Gesammelte page references to Buddenbrooks Banden (Frankfurta. 541). 398). 683). Kai Graf von M6lln's hands are 'von unveranderlich hellgrauer Farbe' and his father has an 'ungeheuren ergrauten Riibezahlbart[e]' (p. Ida Jungmann. Gotthold Buddenbrook wears a hat which is of an unqualified grey (p. 466). It occurs for the first time on the first page in respect of Tony's 'graublauenAugen' (p. 299). but thereafter the colour grey is used repeatedly in connection with it (for instance.RICHARD SHEPPARD 919 Keller. .M. in realistic terms. Christian wears a grey hat (p.. 293). the colour is used repeatedly. 1960). When the old Konsulin dies. comes to hear his brother-in-law'swill read out and he is described for the first time. I8). ] Haus' from 'eine steinalteJungfer' (p. whom we first see holding Klothilde by the hand (p. But after Part ii. OldJohann and his wife are wearing clothes involving a light shade of grey when we first meet them (p. 2 I1). When Thomas decides to move. 245. that is. female triads. 15). Thomas gradually grows grey as he loses his vitality (p. 448). L5o6).
672) in the grey-gabled town. her daughter-in-law. 705). and her sister Madame Kethelsen. p. but Mann also exploits another meaning of the German words 'Grauen' ('terror') and 'grauen' ('to feel fear/terror') in such a way as to indicate that the colour grey is intimately linked with a process of inner collapse. When youngJohann is faced with the (diabolic) Griinlich and Kesselmeyer. When Hanno's schoolday is described at length in Part xi. 512). Hanno's nightmares. everything has become 'grauer. zerkliifteter und por6ser' (p. Klothilde. and already. When the doomed Hanno has his nightmare. when Thomas visits Traveminde. 229). is ticking out his life. Clara. has 'ergraute[s] Haar' and is dressed in a 'Gehrock aus grauem. 32) and who become increasingly malicious and facially similar (p. greyness is present in both groupings. be accounted for in terms of descriptive realism. The chapter which ends in Johann's death opens with his wife surrounded by three young women. uncomplicated existence of the two older Buddenbrooks to the increasingly tortured pathology of Thomas and his family. Gerda's and von Throta's putative and probably unconsummated love-affair causes Thomas to experience 'Grauen' (p. Klothilde. 462).920 in 'Buddenbrooks' Realism 'Verfall' plus Mythology: hellgrauen Strom' and in the very next paragraph. Hanno reacts to the voice of the dentist's parrot 'mit einem Gemisch von Liebe und Grauen' (p. Chapter 2. of course. the greyness. Gotthold's three unmarried daughters. Thus. an emotion which breaks the emotional mould of the novel's first two Parts. and the eight-year-old Tony) and closes with another (Ida. The Buddenbrooks have three long-standing female 'helpers'. spreads. as the focus of Buddenbrooks relatively carefree. All this greyness can. albeit in a muted or implicit way. A page later. all of whom will play direct or indirect parts in the Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall'. the same emotion recurs and the child's cry is said to be 'ein vor Grauen fiberlauter. 646). Sesemi. turning the whole urban ambience grey (p. everything is shrouded in such dense (grey) fog at the start of the chapter. two of whom have spent the day knitting and are explicitly associated with the . greyness is increasingly linked with the triads of women who appear in the novel. as I have said. 530). Ida. everything is said to be 'in Grau gehiillt' (p. and Tony). In other shifts from outer to inner events and from the words. by Chapter 2 of Part xi. The very first chapter opens with a partially formed triad (the old Konsulin. During the second half of the novel that greyness becomes so intertwined with a dark sense of primal terror that it ceases to be a mere descriptive detail and becomes a fateful and symbolic leitmotif. whom Ridley. we hear that one of its presiding divinities. and when he eventually gets to school. 724). is said half jokingly and half ominously to ring 'pflichttreu und grausam' (p. During the winter before Thomas's death. that he can barely see a thing (p. 700). related to his 'Zahnbeschwerden'. which even in the novel's first half was connected with disease and death. sensing that they are more than just realistic characters. Ida Jungmann says that some of Hanno's favourite poems from Des KnabenWunderhorn are 'graulich'. he experiences 'Grauen' (p.entriisteterund verzweifelterProtest' (p. Dr Mantelsack of the 'Jupiterbart'. and Tony. 514). the first of whom is continually associated with greyness. appear regularly throughout the novel. those clouds are implicitly linked with the clouds which will increasingly blot out the sun for the rest of the novel. calls 'harpy-like' (Ridley. 6I6). Moreover. which. weichem Stoff' (p. Tony has three close female friends in Sesemi Weichbrodt's 'Pension'. Hanno's alarm-clock. cause him to start up 'als geschahe etwas unsaglich Grauenhaftes' (p. 666).
ich kenne dich eigentlich gar nicht anders!' (p. the Graiae. on at least four important occasions in the novel.17 When Hugo Weinschenk arrives to formalize the 'zarte Verbindung.just before Hanno is seen to be overcome with 'Grauen' for the first time: 'Du stopfst. were much more unequivocally negative in their nature. be seen wearing the 'diinne goldene Uhrkette' (pp. and cut the thread of human life. ] die sich zwischen [Tonys] Tochter und dem Direktor [that is. However. the Moirae (Fates) of classical mythology/Norns of Nordic mythology. but a significant leitmotifwith which she is associated remains. 704-05) which he has inherited from his male ancestors and which is similar to the golden chain worn by Pfiffi (p.Just as the Moirae/Norns Interestingly enough. p. Atropos. it is no accident that the chapter immediately following her dismissal should open with the sound of an alarm-clock and repeated referencesto time hastening past. much is made of the fact throughout the novel that the old Konsulin. or darning. Merkwiirdig. It is not difficult to see the cumulative mythological significance of this wealth of we encounter reaapparently incidental realistic detail. Moreover. and Skuld) were ambiguous and not wholly negative beings. Consequently. who had only one eye and one tooth between them. along with the three Gorgons and the dragon Ladon. Throughout Buddenbrooks. Weinschenk] angesponnen [my emphasis] hatte'.RICHARD SHEPPARD 92I colour grey (pp. the daughters ofCeto (a sea monster) and Phorcys (a sea god who personifies the stormy. Modernist narratives. These two mythological triads give significance to several apparently incidental details in Buddenbrooks. only twice associated with the word 'grau' (pp. Ida. refuses to let her hair be seen to turn grey and is. measured. linked with birth (creation) and death (destruction) inasmuch as they spun. and Lachesis) and the Norns (Urd. It is very important to realize. 936) be eroded by everything which greyness symbolizes in this novel. Ida performs one other significant action in the novel. 461) that Tony remarks. however. they needed to be present at marriages for the union to be a happy one. he is received by 'drei Damen' The who are alive at the end of the novel include two female women (p. she plays with her watch-chain (p. Ida does so much darning (p. First. both the Moirae (Clotho. and granddaughter on the one hand and Gotthold's three daughters on the other). that in preChristian mythology. 439). Klothilde and Clara (who knit before the Konsul's death) are also knitting just before the 1848 Revolution comes to Liibeck (p. 448) until after her death. we see women sewing. being. eight Buddenbrook triads (Tony.. In contrast. 446). as far as I can see. 244-45). and that Hanno should now. listic characters who simultaneously function as the signifiers of two mythological triads which the novel often conflates in various ways. 93) and is doing crochet-work when Permaneder first arrives (p. knitting. 245. otherwise known as the Grey Sisters because they were grey-haired from birth. 461). The Konsulin has been doing embroidery prior to Griinlich's advent (p. Indeed. 484) and nods to him as though tacitly reminding him that his time is running out. the Graiae (Phorcids) of classical mythology. 179). second. 324). her daughter. but an another it connects with her refusal to allow the Buddenbrook family customs and the theology which legitimizes them (see below. evil side of the sea). They were both good and evil. When Hanno is subjected to his first public ordeal. Verdandi. 17 . [. Ida herself may have been dismissed. for the first time. though it needs to be stressed that mythological reference and realistic detail are interwoven less systematically and therefore less flawlessly than they would be in Mann's later.. who is also present on this occasion. In one sense this detail is simply a realistic symptom of her vanity. destructive.
and near its end (pp. the Greek XXWkf0tv Clotho's function is wellder classischen Altertumswissenschaft. 2481.stumm At the level of realism. Just as Atropos.Just as Phorcys's three daughters have only one eye between them.a highly ironic association. Thus. unwittingly and indirectly. the functions of the other two Moirae are often less well distinguished. col. one could read 'Grauen' either as the dative singular of the German word meaning 'terror' or as the dative plural of a German adjectival noun meaning 'grey ones'. premature greyness. These will be later on. she is reading a book called Blind. so Gotthold's three daughters appear to have only one set of pince-nez between them (p. by Wilhelm Kroll (Stuttgart: J. begun by Georg Wissowa and others. 19Neue Bearbeitung. with his live sense of the reality of the mythological (pp. a harbingerof death (KonsulJohann dies on page 249). 297). so Ida Jungmann is both over-protective nurse and. so PfiffiBuddenbrook. 462). should have a name which directly recalls woman grey her Greek archetype (Klotho in German). 462-65). like the Buddenbrooks themselves. Moreover. is the smallest and most malevolent of Gotthold's three daughters. Thus when. graphically personifies the fate which overtakes the family as a whole. It is as though Hanno. Lachesis the measurer. suffers nightmares because of his awareness of being surrounded by the Grey Women who have brought him into being. 'she who cannot be avoided'. incidentally. sew. entry headed 'Moira (spinnend)'. 671-72). a strange omission in a novel so full of lengthy accounts of family festivals. linked symbolically with Ida/Lachesis by her golden chain (p.922 in 'Buddenbrooks' Realism 'Verfall' plus Mythology: are associated with both good and evil. it is entirely appropriate that of all the grey women in who knit. and the like. when wind-lashed waves are closely associated with forbidden passion. unddennoch glickselig(p. its title involves three characteristicswhich typify Fate. the smallest and most terrible of the Moirae. are looking after him. and will kill him prematurely. incidentally. 446). and it is perhaps because Hanno can see more deeply into the mythological strata of existence than anyone else in the novel that he is either unable or unwilling to call them by their 'realistic' names (p. that between Thomas and Gerda. 247). Klothilde. is. Klothilde. and where. 422). it is the dwarflikeSesemi who. It is surely significant that neither of the major female triads is present at the most corrosively disastrous of the Buddenbrook marriages. the Grey Sister at the death-beds of the Konsulin and Thomas is both a soothing presence and an agent of death. . during his first nightmares. ed. 93). which takes place in Amsterdam and about which we hear nothing (p. means 'to spin'. given her surname and the fact that she presides over the decline of a firm which has deified itself and suffersfrom this hubris.19 Real-Encyclopadie defined by virtue of her name. this is clearly some kind of moral or devotional work. Similarly. Hanno is said to emit 'ein vor Grauen iiberlauter. when a vision of the sea plays a part in Thomas's inner 'Verfall'. with her general boniness (pp. and watch and chain. whom critics. the most consistently Buddenbrooks in the novel apart from Ida. only one. Chapter I. is also suggestive of Iduna. in some versions of the myth. often disregard as a peripheral oddity. At the start of PartII. causes the most damage to the Buddenbrooks and has. of the three long-standing female family friends. ironic word in the novel. when we see the 'Ratsdiener' in their 'Dreispitz' recalled almost verbatim [my emphasis] on their way to fetch Thomas to the ceremony which will mark both 18 Ida's first name. entriisteter und verzweifelter Protest' (p. B.taub. We can also sense the presence of Phorcys both early on in the novel (p.18 Analogously. 446). I43). Metzlerische Verlagsbuchhandlung. the keeper of the apples which guaranteed the eternal youth of the Nordic gods . 1932). according to Paulys Finally. the last. but at another level. 15.
It should also not be forgotten that Gerda is proficient with a bow. stumm. associates her with yet another triune goddess. the pre-hellenic MagnaMaterof the Eastern Mediterranean who.. Klothilde fatally misjudges Griinlich. Ioo).' in Buddenbrooks would reveal that this recurrentpunctuation mark has several interesting functions. like Melusine. the sap of life has left her. and that she. and it is the powers of which she is a signifier that govern their lives. 295). But almost exactly at the time she leaves the foreground of the novel. . an equally mythological and even more complex figure. he registers that. is another transformation of the Magna Mater. Briinnhilde und Melusine in einer Person' (p.. Klothilde leaves the Buddenbrook home for a 'wohlfeile Pension' (p.RICHARD SHEPPARD 923 the height of his political career and the beginning of his personal decline: 'Sie gehen wie das Schicksal: ernst. It can prevent closure. should treat her with mockery and derision. and this. like Gaea. culminates in the destruction of the patriarchal Valhalla and leaves Erda as the presiding divinity. It is also important to remember that Hera and Zeus banish their father Cronos. he links the epithet Aphrodite with the Venus Anadyomene of Hoffstede's poems (p. together with other attributes. for at the realistic level the 'Mutter zukiinftigerBuddenbrooks' (p. As with the Buddenbrooks as a whole. after Thomas's death. Aphrodite is connected with water and fertility in that she is born from the sea and causes grass and flowers to grow wherever she goes. 305) and is finally secured a place in a semi-religious institution. she says of herself: 'Ich habe keine Tranen mehr. In the middle of Buddenbrooks. like Brfinnhilde. 'fountain'). is a way of suggesting that more may be going on under the surface of the narrative than meets the realistically attuned eye. 47). mit gesenkten Augen. But Gosch's epithets are even more mythologically resonant than Keller realizes. Gaea (Gaia. Gerda. he sees a direct parallel between her origins in Amsterdam and the water-fairy Melusine of the fourteenth-century prose romance of the same name. even Hanno (p. or prod the reader into asking questions and so.' (p. and in Wagner's Ring. like Zeus's and Hera's expulsion of Cronos. in turn.' (p. she consumes obsessively but grows no fatter. generate a sense of irony. calling him 'ein guter Mensch' (p. 687) (see note 20). It is as though the Buddenbrooks are unconsciously trying to deal with the signified (Fate) by manipulating its signifier (Klothilde). is a triune goddess). 304) is anything but fertile. 35) and the Tannhauser legend. Artemis. as Demeter. being their mother. leave an informationalgap. closely associated with the Norns. she could be speaking of her entire clan when. Gerda's very name combines references to a classical fertility goddess. When Gerda comes back to Liibeck. unable to weep. 20 A study of the parenthetical'. 628).her act of rebellion sets offa train of events which. for she will survive when most of the rest of them are dead or ruined. Moreover. Finally.. she initiates the 'Sippendammerung der Buddenbrooks'. Thus. the virgin huntress and moon-goddess of whom the Moirae are aspects. Towards the end of the novel. Like the family as a whole. 192). verschlossen. that after her marriage to Zeus Hera bathes regularly in the Spring of Canathus in order to renew her virginity. the first halfofBriinnhilde's name connects her phonetically with the German word 'Brunnen' ('spring'. and the Nordic earth-goddess Erda who is. In the Handbuch(p. she is referred to by Makler Gosch as 'Here und Aphrodite. points out that Hera was simultaneously the sister and husband of Zeus and the daughter of Cronos.. ohne nach rechts oder links zu sehen. in general. albeit one which is used to play the violin..20 Like Johann and his wife. takes up residence within the Buddenbrook household: ironically. Keller . it is profoundlyironic that the Buddenbrooks.
and when we learn that. having played a central part in his family's 'Verfall'. 'vorm Tore. will depart for more congenial surroundings once her work is done.924 Realism in 'Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall' plus Mythology: This mythological complex brings a series of details surrounding Gerda's person and actions into significant relief. the sense of time ('chronos') which has prevailed in the first half of the novel is increasingly eroded. the broad way on which Gotthold and his daughters live and which will lead to the destruction of the Buddenbrook family.. im Griinen' (p. 607). On the outing with Permaneder. she is instinctively drawn to the inappropriately named Christian (p. especially the chapter dealing with the birth of Christ (p. Having married her. 697). unwittingly married a woman who is not completely human (a 'fish-wife') and who. it occurs twice in the passage leading up to Thomas's reading of Schopenhauer. Nevertheless. she moves to a villa outside the town. the canonical colour of Lent and Passiontide. she is robed. She mocks Tony's pious suggestion that she should give thanks daily to the (patriarchal) God of Christianity (p. It is no accident that the chapter which ends in Thomas's terminal illness should begin 'auf dem Marktplatz [. Most important. 298). in white. like the knight Raymond of the romance. she comes to life once the Buddenbrooks. After her arrival. 297). she wears a purple dress (p. the experience whose final effect is to destroy the factitious sense of selfhood which derives to such an extent from Thomas's conformity to family tradition: EswarderHochsommer desJahres rundliche Wolken SilberweiBe. in the company of Permaneder. It is also the colour of the bands on the silken hat worn by Tony at the beginning of the process which culminates in Thomas's disastrous decision to buy the P6ppenrade crop (p. For Thomas has.. 343). Just as. 451). When she appears in the dusk at the end of Part v (p. vierundsiebzig. she is unwilling to read from the Bible. she retains a virginal quality. we also hear that people connect her with water by saying of her 'Stille Wasser waren oft tief' (pp. 350). a description which is so evocative of two of Schubert's best-known Lieder21 that one instinctively asks oneself whether her new home is 'am Brunnen'. Gerda will feel more at home in a house built on the site of one which belonged to a 'steinalteJungfer' ('very ancient maiden lady/virgin'). 304). she is cold and pale. in den Zweigendes 21 Das Liedim Griinen (D. zogenam tiefblauenHimmeliiberdie zierlicheSymmetrie des Stadtgartens hin. so Gerda keeps Thomas on their honeymoon for seven rather than the intended two months (p. This colour then recurs in the irises which surround the 'Springbrunnen' of Thomas's new house and the 'Johannisbeerstraucher' (p. reach a 'Quelle' ('spring'. he then moves to the Fischergrube. she returns to Amsterdam. 917) and Der Lindenbaum (from Eine Winterreise (D. She prefersdarkness to light and does not like going out on a Sunday (p. 343). 673) and involve a detailed description of the fishwives and their wares. where. 91 I) ). After Hanno's death. and even aftergiving birth to Hanno. presumably. like the Moirae or triune moon-goddess. Thomas takes up residence in the Breite Strasse. with whom she has had more of a sisterly than a wifely relationship. in a legend which Mann was to exploit in a later novel. 45 I). that northern counterpart to Venice. . But the symbolism surrounding Gerda goes even furtherthan that. hapless men are held unwittingly in enchanted mountains by supernatural seductresses for seven years when they believe that they have been there for a much shorter period. ] um den Brunnen herum' (p. After the death of Thomas. 'source') and subtly encourages him to propose (p. 643-44). 428) just after Gerda has been referred to as 'eine Fee'. Like the moon. She does not age.
and although they mysteriously disappear after PartIv. it is clear that. As Reed clearly saw (pp. ihn umgab. Chapter 9. on a realist reading of the novel. Ida and Clara. I suggest. 95).lilafarbenen scherteinmittendes Kranzes['wreath'/'garland'] der Schwertlilien. reveal that he has an even more sinister side to him than that. they also come under attack by characters who are clearly diabolic but have never been recognized as such: Griinlich (whom the Handbuch discusses in purely realistic terms) and Kesselmeyer (whom the Handbuch barely mentions).22 If one then remembers that Iris was Hera's messenger in Greek mythology. and invalidate the religion which has legitimized his family's way of life. Gerda-as-signifier. so a host of others testify to the pervasive power of two apparently minor figures who. as far as I can see. accentuated by the paucity of natural imagery in Buddenbrooks (Rothenberg. After reference has been made to those side-whiskers at least three times (pp. Griinlich is also uncannily well-informed about the Buddenbrookfamily. we also learn. finally. Luftzug (p. are actually looking for 'Veilchen'just before Griinlich arrives (p. As if to make that mythological link unmistakable. den ['lilac']vermischte ein warmer von dernahenZuckerbrennerei heriibertrug. 8 ). to have alerted us to the fact that Griinlich is an extremely accomplished con-man. and that both the moon and the 'Springbrunnen' help hypnotize Thomas into buying the P6ppenrade crop (p. that they are pointed. 63-64). I99). p. the colour purple appears. a herb whose highly-scented yellowish-green flowers relate directly to his name and to the colour of the suit he is wearing (p. His arrival in June 1845 is prefigured by the 'Reseden' ('mignonettes') in the Buddenbrooks' garden (p.der Springbrunnen platvon hohen. 22 The significance of the purple flowers is. in an extremely subliminal way. of course. I02. as though in anticipation of those deathly powers which are signified by Gerda and which will. 653. 95. 95) which link him with the weavings of the Moirae.RICHARDSHEPPARD 925 die V6gel mit fragender WalnuBbaumes zwitscherten Betonung. on the first reading.like the Moirae/ Graiae figures with whom she is variously connected.my emphasis). 689). subvert the firm and family which he has made his all-too-human gods.undderDuftdesFlieders sichleidermitdemSirupgeruch. . Dickensian villains. I6I). kill Thomas. his other distinguishing marks are 'spirliche[s] Haupthaar'. 94). Apart from the 'Zwirnhandschuhe'(p. 93). DiabolicFigures The Buddenbrooks are not only subject to assault by powers signified by female mythological figures. Further readings. only once more: in the violets around Thomas's coffin (p. After that. I44). at the precise juncture when Tony's dowry is being settled and the pious Konsul Buddenbrook is seen to lie in the process (p. a 'rosig' complexion. a second reading of the initial Griinlich episode enables us to perceive clues which ought. particularlyover matters theological. negative influence of the Moirae/Graiae and that of 'purple' signals the power of Gerda-as-signifier. they live on in leitmotifs which recur significantly throughout the rest of the novel. 'goldgelb' mutton-chop whiskers which we later see him fingering (p. two of the grey women. 472). I6I). Their advent is presaged in PartsI and ii. and check trousers ('Beinkleider') (p. seem to be nothing more than a pair of grotesque. has played a central and more than naturalistic part in the Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall'. Just as the leitmotif'grey' signals the growing.
on this reading. when she learns it (p. wahrend der StoBwind in den Regen fuhr und ihn gegen die Fensterscheiben trieb. when Griinlich arrivesat the start of Chapter I I. Could we be dealing with a descendant of the Green Huntsman of Germanic mythology: that is. 126) . by means of the colour symbolism. Towards the end of Tony's stay. she thinks that she has eluded his power to such an extent that she can suppress all memory of him (p. been motivated and pervaded by the diabolic Griinlich for his own ends. The same connection becomes even more obvious at the beginning of Chapter I I. In other words.. we are very obviously dealing with a Fontanesque episode involving innocent young love and self-dramatizing undergraduate radicalism. of course. so clearly suggests death and murder. sondern Bache daran hinunterflossen und sie undurchsichtig machten. we hear that the 'Seegras' which grows everywhere and with which. the reader is taken by surprise and has to surmise how he found out about Tony and Morten. has a skeleton in the cupboard (p. daB nicht Tropfen. Erde und Wasser verschwammen ineinander. we finally learn. 125). and she has fallen in love with Morten and been forcibly reminded of the Griinlich problem. begin by laughing at Griinlich's foppish facial peculiarity) those points. After Tony has rejected Griinlich's suit and gone to Travemiinde. a few pages later. it will be recalled. like the younger Buddenbrooks. the description of the elemental storm which accompanies his arrival reinforces the growing impression that we are dealing with a more than human agency: 'Es regnete in Str6men. I27). Shortly after that. 136)? Although. when everything is turning grey (p. Chapter 9. 149. I37). lachrymose wimp of the earlier chapters that the reader experiences something of a shock. Thus. significantly. and who sets himself apart from the other bourgeois holidaymakers (p. Griinlich is directly associated with forbidden passion and the elemental. in a mysterious way. we see her looking at 'die griinen.. consists entirely of letters and is. is 'gelbgriin' (p. who. that Griinlich's side-whiskers are pointed (a piece of information which has been deliberately withheld so that we. she sees the sea 'die rechts im Bogen von der mecklenburgischen Kiiste begrenzt war und sich in grinlichen[my emphasis] und blauen Streifen erstreckte. 125). quite literally. mit Seegras durchwachsenen Wande der Wellen' (p. So when.926 Realism plus Mythology: 'Verfall'in'Buddenbrooks' for he can use the rhetoric of Providentialism so effectively that his words sound like a parody of the Konsul's religiosity (pp. Griinlich then acts with a force and decisiveness which are so uncharacteristicof the ingratiating. Himmel. Chapter Io. at the level of realism. as a result.' (p. we learn later on). But on looking out of her window on the first morning after her arrival. at a surreal level the symbolism and narrative gaps have the effect of suggesting that the whole Travemiinde episode has. 142). easy to answer: the Konsul had told him (as. Tony's mattress has been stuffed (p. So. At the realistic level. 124). 143). the Devil? And why should Tony have fallen in love with a young man whose name.one of the two instances in the book where Griinlich's name is used as a colour adjective. this question is. devoid of any explanatory narratorialcomment. like the two furrows on the forehead of the stranger outside the .see note 20). bis sie mit dem dunstigen Horizont zusammenfloB' (p. But the narratorial decision not to supply that information at the time (Johann makes no mention of his action in his letter to Tony) makes it seem as though Griinlich somehow knew about Tony and Morten without having been told. Klagende und verzweifelte Stimmen redeten in den Ofenr6hren. a connection which is reinforcedby the arrival of a letter from him immediately after the emotional outburst which concludes Part II. 96-97). indeed.
One of the Bacchic Permaneder's first remarksis 'Geltn S'. The heavily erotic Gerda wears 'Spitzen' through which 'ihre Brust wie Marmor hindurchschimmerte' (p. sinister quality of those pointed side-whiskers is carefully reinforcedby the narrator one: first when negotiating telling us twice that Griinlich plays with the left-hand when him to account (p. spitze[n] Koteletten'23and is accompanied not only by a grey-haired woman but also by Moritz of the pointed teeth (p. 582. 297). dfinnen[n]. in exactly the same passage. a gesture which exactly replicates Griinlich's kiss when Tony officially became his (p. 239). 348). once more. She then opens a window in order to draw the couple's attention to the ivy. I63). Griinlich has the last word inasmuch as it is his name which rings out 'wie eine Fanfare. calls and Kesselmeyer again Tony's dowry (p. 243).. we hear: 'Und dabei machte sie ein wahrhaft spitzbiibisches Gesicht und lieB ihre Zungenspitze [. At the climax of the whole episode. 326). but also ears which are 'so spitz wie die eines Fuchses' (p. To begin with. After Griinlich's collapse. The Konsulin wears black 'Spitze' as the beginning of the chapter which ends in her husband's death (p. Moreover. which grows outside (p. The facial gesture has a diabolic quality about it and the adjective applied to it recalls exactly that noun which Kesselmeyer had applied to Griinlich's knaveriesa few chapters before (p. like the Devil. 6i8). Moritz Hagenstr6m. 282) has. has a grey 'Spitzbart' (p. wie ein kleiner TrompetenstoB' (p. been used against a clergyman. is a virtuoso violinist and plays with a wild. 339. Old Senator M6llendorpf.. da spitzen S'!' (p. 299). 47I.. she makes a barely concealed sexual reference 'und lieB die Zungenspitze an der Oberlippe spielen'. The three Buddenbrooks cousins/Graiae say '"zo" mit einem z. 293). Sesemi Weichbrodt. 241) in order to kiss Tony 'auf die Stirn'. on at least six occasions. was sich desto spitziger und unglaubiger ausnahm' (p. presiding over a party of the M6llendorpfHagenstr6m clan on the fateful occasion when Tony agrees to marry Permaneder. ] Zahne' (p. 283) and will encourage those religious attitudes in Clara which.. ] leicht an der Oberlippe spielen' (p.RICHARD SHEPPARD 927 begin to suggest the Devil's horns. 245). Pastor Tiburtius has not only grey eyes. a plant associated with Dionysos.is said to have 'weiBe[n]. 205). cause her prematurely to quit this world. the points of his side-whiskers are frequently recalled in the complex of German words 'spitz'/ Spitze'. 236). and thereafter. but leitmotifs associated with him recur throughout the entire novel. At the end ofa chapterwhich is highly satiricalof Christian piety. referenceis made to a flower-bedin which 'Reseden' are 23 'Koteletten' is another word for the 'Favoris' which adorn Griinlich's face. 283). 240) and are referredto as 'spitzig' on at least two subsequent occasions (pp. When Tony shows Thomas and Gerda the house she has prepared for them while they were on their honeymoon. 209). he disappears as a person. and in the course of the same chapter 'Tony Griinlichs spitzig sarkastische[r] Redegewandheit' (p. 419. the graveyard in Der Todin Venedig. we see him playing with the point of his moustache in a way which recalls the way in which Griinlich had played with his side-whiskers (pp. as though in tacit admission of the enduring nature of the power which he signifies. has to stand 'aufdie Zehenspitzen' (p. When Tony plays a rather crueljoke on a clergyman. 530). gypsy passion which far outstrips the emotional range of the Buddenbrooks (p. a prominent member of the family most hostile to the Buddenbrooks. and so forth. it is suggested. We hear that Thomas's moustache is 'spitz gedreht' at exactly the same time as we hear about the fateful blue veining around his temples (p. 275. has 'spitzige [. Gerda's father who. 555. 161). 306). .
bears the mark of the beast in that he has 'lange[n]. 417). is said to become 'spitz' after her death (p. as though to emphasize the fact that demonic Nature. disease. 239). 555) and presides over the final years of Thomas. like Griinlich's face. Hanno's first milk tooth. The maid who takes over from IdaJungmann has a 'spitze[r] Nase' (p. 250). spitz zulaufende[n] Nagel[n]' (pp. Like Griinlich's 'Wagen' and the Venetian blinds in his and Tony's house (pp. But this is not the only form in which Griinlich's diabolic influence persists after his disappearance from the foreground of the novel. speaks in a sycophantic tone which is reminiscent of Griinlich's in the opening chapters of 24 The words used when Thomas sells the Mengstrasse house to Makler Gosch (p. Moritz Hagenstrom's face is yellow (p. 664). in Hanno's eyes at least. 348) but also of old Dr Langhals. 423). malice. whom we hear for the first time immediately after the Konsul's death (p. 245) worn by the Konsulin just before her husband's death. 489). 705). The point is. 295.24 and. and his headmaster. and the recurrence of the relevant leitmotif within and outside the Buddenbrook family indicates the extent to which their 'Verfall' is brought about by a diabolic agency. The diabolic hint involved in Griinlich's pointed side-whiskers is very clearly associated with death. is called 'die erste weiBe Spitze' (p.. symbolized by the colour green. Christian inherits his check trousers (pp.928 Realism in 'Buddenbrooks 'Verfall' plus Mythology: growing (compare p. the mayor with grey side-whiskers (p. the harbingerof so much suffering. 6I 2). 7I8) clearly recall Griinlich. which Hanno finally inherits (p. blutiges Messer' (p. Dr Goldener. . is finished off by Herr Brecht's ministrations. 516. fearful passion. 354). and even his best friend. Konsul Kr6ger's pate.. One of Hanno's teachers. 592) like Mr Punch. 182. Herr Marcus. Makler Gosch. plays an important and active role in the Buddenbrooks' decline. and the 'Tagelicht' in Hanno's room in Travemiinde (pp. 255) and whose increasing pedantry not only contributes to the Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall' but is actually transmitted to Thomas by the end of his life (p.. a relative not only of Senator Mollendorpf's grey-haired wife (p. The 'spitzes. The fate-like 'Ratsdiener' (see above. 922) combine two leitmotifs by wearing a 'Dreispitz' (p. 316. Hanno wears a 'Spitzenhaubchen' which is reminiscent of the 'Haube [. I hope. 588)).258. stick. 673) with which the fateful fishwives finish off those fish who try to get away from the slabs in the market appears at the beginning of the chapter in which Thomas.. by now a poor fish himself. 182. Young Dr Langhals. 709). ] aus Spitzen und steifem Tiill' (p. it is suggested. the filter tip of Thomas's beloved cigarettes. 258. Kai Graf M6lln. At his christening. also wears 'spitz zulaufende[n] Kn6pfstiefeln' (p. 665). p. whose name and 'blonde[m] Spitzbart' (p. 705) like the dead Konsulin. as are Christian's suit. compare p. treachery. has a 'spitz hervorspringendes Kinn' (pp. cheats the Buddenbrooks over the sale of the Mengstrasse house despite having been described earlier as 'der ehrlichste und gutmiitigste Mensch von der Welt' (p. and the old Konsulin (whose nose. Hanno. 630). 721). has a green stone set in it. 182). I72-73). I 8. 719). The Buddenbrook 'Erb-Siegelring'. has a 'spitzgeschnitten[en] Bart' (p. who plays the part of the stage Devil (pp. 94) 'und dessen schwarze Erde Frau Griinlich [.] ungeheuer eifrig mit der Spitze ihres Sonnenschirms pfliigte' (p. 596) very obviously recalls Faust's pact with Mephistopheles in FaustI. well-made. Dr Wulicke. is described as 'rosig' (p. that diminutive descendant of Dionysos. and irresistible and capricious authority. has a 'spitzen Bauch[e]' (p.
the month of the year. an edifice which will. Permanedermakes his first call a year later. the irony is multiple and profound. or ratherwhat he represents. 59 ). 312) which has been prescribed by the quack Dr Grabow. In like manner. he wears Griinlich's 'grfingelbenAnzug' and sports a 'blonde[n] Vollbart' (p. But like so much in Buddenbrooks. 355). the fateful centenary celebrations (when an unexpected storm not only destroys the P6ppenrade crop. For he. 712-I 3). The infant Hanno has 'sparlichesHaar' (p. in June 1857 (p. is the signifier of secret powers which are highly malevolent and frustratethe Buddenbrooks' attempts to control their destiny. whose nose becomes more diabolically hooked as the novel progresses. and travels to Rostock on 30 May I868 in order to conclude the P6ppenrade deal in earlyJune (pp.is all around her: in her fiance. 587.RICHARD SHEPPARD 929 Part III. and so. 475-76). and. a failed clergyman who administers religious instruction in so careless and capricious a manner that it mocks what is being ostensibly taught. on the surface. Thomas decides to build a new house in Summer 1863 (p. most significantly. 635) as those used to describe the storm which accompanied Griinlich's advent there all those years before. reality. Thomas leaves forAmsterdam (wherehe will meet Gerda) inJune 856 (p. like Griinlich'sintegrity. a phrase which The shiny gold of Griinlich's side-whiskers is picked up in recalls Grfinlich verbatim. One might expect June. the sea (p. 60 ). a summer month. 592). 443-44) and thereafterassociated with death (pp. 325). Permanederwears a 'Beinkleid'which combines the colours green and grey (p. the month in which Griinlichfirstarrives(p. When Hermann Hagenstr6m. 277).491-94)). it should now be clear that Griinlich. Griinlich arrives at Travemfinde amid an elemental storm which blots out conventional human distinctions. 325) and has a green hat (p. As I have said. shortly after that the colour green is linked with Christian'svice and betrayal of his friend (pp. 399). the 'Reseden'.Christian causes uproarin the Buddenbrooks'officeby igniting a 'grfinliches Pulver' (p. the M6llendorpfHagenstr6m clan. be accounted for in realistic terms. visits the Mengstrasse house with a view to purchase. and the impending storm! . to involve happy events. 248). consequently. It also seems to have escaped critics' notice that six events which adversely affect the Buddenbrook family take place inJune. Thus. 420). but is replicated inside the house by the cacophonous music (pp. like the female mythological figures. moves inJune 1864 (p. 353). Tiburtius. Having tempted Fate. Judging by the date given (p. 427) which adorn Thomas's new house. it appearance is at variance with frequently does. all of which can. 286). Subsequently. has a bald head. the gold paint and shiny gold candelabra (p. 354) to cover his sparse hair (p.. From the evidence assembled above. it is a mark of his hubris that on returninghome in high spirits. 426). the members of her family.. of course.. 93). the storm experienced by Hanno while on holiday in Travemfinde words thesame which is described in exactly (p. So when Tony tells Permanederon the occasion of their engagement that she no longer knows where Griinlichis (p. must also have arrived inJune I856. thereby implicitly expressing his contempt for the business world and showing how easily it can be disrupted by all that Griinlich signifies. Permaneder's engagement to Tony (p. OberlehrerBallerstedt. one of the first things he does is tease Klothilde. with all his Griinlich-like features. prove to be built on a massive lie. The pervasiveness of what Griinlich stands foris evident above all in the imagery of the elements and the recurrent importance of the month of June. the elements are involved inJohann's death (p. Thomas's inner collapse. 323). and. a 'rosige[m] Teint' and a beard which can look 'hellgelb' (pp.
traces of Kesselmeyer recur throughout the novel even when he himself has vanished. 209)! Moreover. If the fangs and the limp were not enough to associate him with the Devil. 207) and to speak more softly 'in Teufels Namen' (p. not even the innocent. it is also worth noting that having put Griinlich on the spot. 204). 202). opens his mouth in a way which causes his nose to wrinkle up (p. he puts his pince-nez into the pocket of his waistcoat and then walks up and down his room 'mit raschen. 457) which recall Kesselmeyer's gait. together with his 'schwarz-weiBe diinne Haare' (pp. Ida tells Tony. 'steht iiberall'. 454). at one stage makes 'einen kurzen. black suit. 203). he is going to break even whatever happens (p. diinne Uhrkette mit zwei oder drei Kneiferschnfiren' (p. 202). Then again. 2 I o). Several characters make animal noises which recall his 'r's. transforms his face into an unmistakably demonic mask (p. 446). twice) who makes two 'Bucklinge' as he does so: clear suggestions . His sarcastic cruelty to Griinlich and the Konsul has a terrible and gratuitous quality about it. clearly As with Griinlich. 202). Finally. Hanno's attack of 'Grauen' discussed above is connected with his vision of the 'bucklicht Mannlein' (p. 463) of Des Knaben Wunderhorn. the youngest survivor of the family. 2 o). Permaneder makes 'sonderbare knurrende und achzende Laute' (p. 493. laughs most uproariously when he is at his most dangerous and there is nothing to laugh about (p. Kesselmeyer inserts his thumbs into the arm-holes of his waistcoat in order. Pastor Pringsheim (who often appears wearing black and white) rolls his 'r's (p. the news is brought to Thomas by a 'buckligen Lehrling' (p. 172). wreaking mayhem (p. ] sich' as he walks along. since. his desire to ruin Grfinlich seems to be motivated by sheer diabolic Schadenfreude. Chapter 8. 463). Thomas (p. but also with Griinlich's check trousers and thinning hair. will not surface again until Hanno's nightmares in the second half of the novel. is safe from diabolic ingression. 684). When the Poppenrade crop is destroyed. 203).930 Realism in 'Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall' plus Mythology: The banker Kesselmeyer is an equally interesting figure. then it should be recalled that Griinlich asks him not to keep laughing 'so gottverflucht' (p. But Kesselmeyer also 'biickt [.. All in all. I72. 'rudert mit den Armen' (p. starken und freien Bewegungen' (p. when the process of'Verfall' is well advanced. Even little Elisabeth Buddenbrook. 348). 606). and walks with 'sonderbaren. on his own admission. to play the piano on his shoulders with his other fingers (p. Tony develops the habit of making a strange guttural sound. rolls his 'r's in a peculiar way (p. 375) during the events which end his marriage to Tony. His white waistcoat and link him not only with other figures who are described in terms of a black and white combination. when Thomas decides to make the fateful Poppenrade investment. Shortly after that. 225). 223).. Over the years. Moritz Hagenstr6m begins to look like him in that his teeth are both pointed and 'liickenhaft' (pp. 228). Kesselmeyer's pince-nez reappear on the noses of Pfiffi Buddenbrook (p. possesses 'eine lange. it is significant that the encounter with Grfinlich and Kesselmeyer should cause the Konsul to experience that sense of 'Grauen' (p. pointed fangs) in his lower jaw (p. 532). as though to emphasize that no one. has only two 'kegelf'rmige[n] Eckzahne' (that is to say. who. knarrendenLaut' (p. His ability to implicate respectable firms in the conspiracy against the Buddenbrooks involves an almost supernaturalability to bring out the worst in people. and that the Konsul asks himself whether 'dieser Bajazz' ('clown') has a conscience (p. as I have argued above. His increasing hilarity in Part iv. as it were. a characteristic which becomes particularly prominent at Thomas's death-bed (p. 229) which. and Tony (p. 239. schlfirfendenSchritte[n]' (p. 397).
ergoBsich fiber den Korridor und str6mte auch in dieses Zimmer. enters 'schliirfenden Schrittes' with a bag over his left shoulder from which to distribute the presents. When the crowd of schoolboys pours into the classroom where Hanno and Kai are hiding. mit Schliirfen. 400). 712)! Kesselmeyer's maliciously inappropriate. 688). The 'behagliches' laughter with which the Buddenbrook centenary begins (p. 'Die Vorzeichen mehrten sich. 489) becomes increasingly hollow in Thomas's ears (pp. ominously. die jungen Leute. 49 -92) as it mingles with the cacophonous music and worsens the emptiness of the whole occasion. whose real identity is only hinted at by the narrator ('vielleicht bloB Barbier Wenzel' (p. ..' (p. The cacophonous orchestra which plays at the Buddenbrook centenary enters from below (!). During the Advent festivities leading up to the last family Christmas in which the old Konsulin is involved. 711). Knecht Ruprecht. Bewegung und Gerausch erfuilltward' (p. but he is also said to know everything and to keep an impeccably correct register (p. is marked by two other features which recall Kesselmeyer. but the nature of the 'Es' is left indeterminate. Pastor Pringsheim. Stampfen und einem Gewirr von mannlichen Stimmen. the text reads: 'Es kam heran. weiBt du. 691). One of these. 35 ). 628) and subsequently laughs uproariously and totally inappropriatelywhen helping to write the invitations to his father's funeral (p. or. He not only has a 'gebuckelten Schadel'. 266). Not only are there four references here to Kesselmeyer's attributes and the discordant music which accompanies the centenary celebrations. To express her jealousy of the Hagenstr6ms. 273) and ending with Thomas (pp. We also hear Kesselmeyer's tread on several occasions. however. Madame Kethelsen (whose surname contains traces of Kesselmeyer's and Gerda's) laughs for no reason 'bei immer unpassenderen Gelegenheiten' (p. Only in the next sentence is that sinister 'Es' naturalized into 'Sie kamen herein. at the Buddenbrooks' expense. with uncharacteristic maliciousness: 'Ha! ich muB lachen. has a strangely discordant laugh (p. 711). 528)) and whose beard is the same colour as Kesselmeyer's. demonic laughter is also audible throughout the novel. grey eyes. beginning with Christian (p. Increasingly then. Hanno begins to laugh at Klothilde with the rest of his family for no good reason under the influence of drink (p. and in a paragraph whose first words are... Permanederis prone to paroxysms of excessive laughter (p. 24I) (a habit which worsens as the narrative develops). Diskanten und sich iiberschlagenden Wechselorganen. after the goodhumoured laughter of the family feast which is described in the novel's opening chapters. 645-46). die Kameraden Hanno's und Kais' (p. a smile which is 'sanft und ein wenig tfickisch'. to be called AdolfTodtenhaupt. flutete uber die Treppen heraus. the laughter is either malicious or inappropriate. das plotzlich von Leben. as I have already said.' (p. and slim fingers which are suspiciously like Hanno's own. making a 'stampfendes und schliirfendes Gerausch' immediately after we have glimpsed Moritz Hagenstrom's25fangs (pp. see note 20). the 'Primus'. who. The crowd which follows Thomas's coffin to the graveyard does so 'schlurfend' (p.RICHARD SHEPPARD 931 that the diabolic powers of which Kesselmeyer is a signifierhave played their part in Thomas's financial nightmare as well as Hanno's real ones. 489-90). Tony says. 528.. turns out. 25 At this point it is perhaps worth pointing out that Moritz's first name involves the word 'mort' and that his surname is not all that far removed from the German word 'Hagelsturm' ('hail storm'). ich muB laut lachen.
Justus Kroger has a 'spitz emporgedrehten Schnurrbart' (p. 588). it also escalates. ein lacherlicher Mensch' (p. as Ridley says. Shortly after that. his face. has a 'rosig uberhauchtes' face like Griinlich (p. from the realistic point of view. 12). 38). These comparisons not only link him with Kesselmeyer the 'Bajazz'. 'contribute substantially to the decline of the family' in a more than material sense (Ridley. I904). 74). I9). Ida Jungmann speaks with Kesselmeyer's guttural 'r' (p. 29I. FateandtheSubversion of Patriarchy The motivation behind the Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall' is not only multi-levelled (see Vogt. 264). and plays the Dionysiac flute (p. 275) and Harlequin (p. 197). young Johann's hypocrisy. to dissolve 'in unzahlige Faltchen' (p. or moral. and when Lebrecht Kr6ger dies (p. YoungJohann has 'blonde. In other words. 404). I8). 260). like Kesselmeyer's. but he is diseased. himself a descendant of diabolic ancestors. 33). Io). whose traits. 663)) presumably causes his gait to resemble Kesselmeyer's (though we are never told so in as many words). he repeats another of Kesselmeyer's actions by imitating a piano virtuoso (p. Thomas has yellowish teeth right from the outset (p. At an early age he looks like a death's head and has prematurely sparse hair (pp. 85). but those side-whiskers are said to be shot through with 'weiBe[n] Faden' (p. 3I9). By the middle of the book. and merging with another. thus making a very clear connection at an early stage of the novel between diabolic forces. Christian looks like the classic circus clown (p.932 in 'Buddenbrooks' Realism 'Verfall' plus Mythology: But the character who most clearly displays Kesselmeyer's traits is undoubtedly the ironically named Christian. The predominant colour of the 'Landschaftszimmer' is an autumnal yellow (p. they also recall the black-andwhite costume of Harlequin. psychological. and the Buddenbrookfamily. Sesemi Weichbrodt is 'bucklig' (p. causing his nose. are loyal members or good-hearted friends of the family.26and thus the black-and-white mixture which characterizes Kesselmeyer. Ursprung .. I2). a diabolic presence is discernible within the Buddenbrook household even during that period when all appears to be for the best in the best of all possible worlds. an undisclosed 'Spitze'. Old Johann's complacency. Christian may be able to make people laugh. 442) and is likened by Thomas to 'ein Hans Quast. 5). ] Koteletts'. lockige Bartstreifen' (p. 260) and Konsulin (p. prefiguring those of the dead Konsul (p. Gotthold Buddenbrook not only wears check trousers and has 'aschblonde [. pp. Indeed. forming. Der desHarlekin: Ein kulturgeschichtliches Problem (Berlin: Duncker. I I) which run to the middle of his cheeks.. presumably. and the real or imagined infirmity in his left leg (which spreads and worsens as the novel progresses (pp. a reading of the first two parts of Buddenbrooks presence amidst the apparently 'heile Welt' whose image is the eighteenth-century painting on the wall of the 'Landschaftszimmer' (p. Once the recurrence of traits associated with Griinlich and Kesselmeyer have reveals their hidden been noticed. 26 Otto Driessen. interacting. with one level of error generating. One of the first things we see him do after his return from abroad is to screw up his face. p. 27-28). 261. music. a very significant detail. is yellow. 'den Diiwel' is the answer to the very question with which the book opens! OldJohann mocks religion. and it is seen to work in and through people who. and the symbolism which connects him with both Griinlich and Kesselmeyer suggests that the origins of that disease are more than physiological. given that he is the father of the Moirae-like Buddenbrook cousins.
Thomas's unbalanced virtue. p. it becomes relatively easy to resolve the debate about whether Buddenbrooks is a 'Schopenhauerian' novel in the way that Vogt. 272) and the Kursaal at Travemiinde which he frequents 27 pp. P. quite simply. of course. I60-6 ). the hypostatization of the firm.359. programmed by Mann's own retrospective understanding of the novel. 636. physical sickness. Fate. as I have argued. to me at least. Schopenhauer's Will. involving a symbolism of wheels and circular motion. combined with what he already knew about Dionysos from Nietzsche. 82). following several earlier critics. pp. 'intellektuelle und kulturelle Verfeinerung'. 83). The image of the wheel first occurs when Tony is returning home from Travemiinde and hears Morten's voice 'in dem Gerausch der Rader'. that Mann's own accounts 'wholly dispose of' Schopenhauerian readings (p. at the level of realism. We know that Mann read Schopenhauer only when 'the composition of Buddenbrooks was already far advanced' (Reed. Fate is mentioned less explicitly and becomes all the more powerful and destructive for that. 163) and her resultant bad marriages. bad weather. 155. But from PartII onwards. is first and foremost a pp. the elemental. that the chapter of Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung read by Thomas is unrepresentative of that work (p. with entire in the later ones (see passages from the earlier chapters being repeated verbatim pp. These surface.8i). A cognate image occurs in the roulette wheels in Christian's seedy club (p. 28 From a mythological perspective. inefficient employees. I49. 77). But if it is true that Buddenbrooks increasingly nearer the novel's surface during its second half. as Mann himself realized. unscrupulous rogues. 'das Walten irgendeines finsteren Schicksals' (p. one might call these powers by many names: the Devil. Hanno's physical weakness. I I. cyclical or circular (see Handbuch. helped him to emphasize that sense of Fate/Dionysos/the Will which. not realizing. that his 'ein wenig schwerfailligknarrende[n] Stimme' contains a hint of Kesselmeyer's gutturals (p. In the 'heile Welt' of the novel's first two Parts. had been subliminally and actively present behind the novel's realist surface right from the outset. Tony's willingness to be commodified (see p. 635.these arejust some of the complex motives which. and events. the name which best suits the powers which govern Buddenbrooks is. and lack of human insight. burst into the foreground of the narrative in an ever more violent and dramatic way. 213-14. as so many critics have noted. then it is surely plausible to suggest that Mann's reading of Schopenhauer. Indeed. p. and Handbuch. like Hanno's dental problems and Tony's disastrous marriages. I56). Precisely because Buddenbrooks realistic novel. 'diese[m] vergotterten Begriff' (p. during the novel's second half.RICHARD SHEPPARD 933 hyper-religiosity. see Vogt. real or imagined (Handbuch. 69) involves nothing more than the unexplained discovery of a minor piece of deception on the part of two adolescents. p. proposes. For the extent to which this reason for the Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall' was Handbuch. But to me. the structure of the novel is. 640). I58-6I. false friends. and that in any case. Nietzsche's Dionysos even (Handbuch. constituting family's powers not with the realistic also an eniglend motivation. 162). . cause the family's decline.27the crushing weight of tradition which prevents the firm from modernizing itself. Christian's unbalanced vice. being replicated in the latter half of the novel. Given the mythological imagery identified above. Thomas responds to Schopenhauer in a way which would have been more appropriate to a reading of Nietzsche (with whom Mann was already is governed at a very deep level by a sense of Fate which comes familiar). But the discussion above suggests. that those metaphysical powers which are familiar from Mann's later writings are already at work beneath Buddenbrooks's realistic cause of the the ultimate decline. Gerda's decadence. by the family in general. the narratoreschews an overtly metaphysical vocabulary with which to describe the deepest levels of the process of decline. often in connection with the words 'Gerausch' and 'Knirschen'. the leakage of capital28. they only interpenetrate complex matic quality to the text and. I67-69).
Conversely.ich biniiberzeugt. 512) and lives in the Miihlenstrasse (literally Mill Street). 665). One of these. but without being able to offer any better explanation from a rational. none of those present at the dinner can explain that decline. Given this. who has kept out of the discussion so far. 29I). It also casts a new light on several apparently incidental episodes. 2 ). via Tony. a burst of laughter which 'echoes' along the beach (p.934 Realism in 'Buddenbrooks' plus Mythology: 'Verfall' with the other 'Suitiers' (p. Shortly after that. diese alte Familie war passee' (p. significantly. ] Ach.. But oddly enough. the metaphysically sceptical OldJohann. daB DietrichRatenkamp mit Geelwiirde[. keeps a parrot whose voice.29 revisit Travemiinde towards the end of the novel and hear the wheels of their coach 'knirschen' on the gravel of the 'totenstill' Kurgarten (p. 643).' (p. Within the novel's symbolism then. we hear about the decline of the Ratenkamp firm which. I72).damitdas Schicksal einerunerbittlichen haben[. prefiguresthat of the Buddenbrooks. at a very deep level. has a surname suggestive of a black-and-grey bird ('Dohle'/'jackdaw') which. it is significant that we also hear hollow laughter: at Christian's expense in the first case (p. 25) Lagernichtso vollstindigunwissend Thereupon his father.. Makler Gritjens and the Konsul ask why it happened. in effect. is one of his last. The contention that Buddenbrooks is. as Vogt saw (Vogt. is like that of a 'wiitenden alten Weibes' (p. 291). during the events which culminate in his death. p. the Konsul becomes thoughtful and adds: sich notwendigund unvermeidlich 'Aberich glaube. at which he. ] Er muBunterdem Druck maackverbinden erfuillt muBte. The dentist. Thomas will shortly hear that sound again. in terms ofHanno's life as that is narrated in the novel. 273) and in the second. Moreover. Herr Brecht. by now. . of course. 512) which make a 'Geriusch' which Thomas will finally experience as a 'Knirschen in seinem Munde' (p.. in both instances when the narrative mentions this particular wheel of fortune. during the novel's opening chapters. daBer auchiiberdie Zustiinde war. and when Pastor Wunderlich then tries to identify the cause of the decline more precisely. the hoarse 'Gerausch' of the revolving face ofHanno's alarm-clock will usher in a day which. and the Konsul simply concludes: 'Diese Firma hat abgewirtschaftet.Aberer warerstarrt. embroil Thomas in a form of commercial gambling. Peter Dohlmann. quite obviously. commonsense point of view. 678) just before he collapses. 52). The wheels which turn and grind there are those of the drill and extraction tools (p. loses. First. in the closing chapters of the book. p. both men are puppets ('Puppen') who are moved and ultimately destroyed by the wheel ('Rad') of Fate. is a member of the crow family. pp. and exposes a range of ironies the depth of which a realist reading will inevitably ignore. it will be recalled. governed by the wheel of Fate contradicts the Marxist idea that it is simply 'die Regeln und Mechanismen biirgerlicher Gesellschaft selbst' which generate those forces which subvert and destroy the Buddenbrook family (Vogt. daBerdas Notwendigkeit gehandelt halbundhalbgekannt in seinem TreibenseinesAssoci6s hat. 66-67. intervenes to change the subject.. the 29 See also Vogt. With a certain symmetry. like the black-andwhite [thieving] magpie with which Tony had compared Kesselmeyer (p. 24). it is highly significant that it should be gambling which causes Herr von Maiboom to get into serious debt and that he should then... the wheel imagery occurs again when Thomas and Christian. mirror images of one another (pp. 614.
Indeed. she is pregnant.30so that their growing success cannot be explained in terms of a more modern kind of capitalism replacing an older mode: Fate is simply on their side. p. for Thomas himself is conscious of that fact (p. It is well known that the moment when the Buddenbrooksseem to be at the height of their prosperity is also the moment when their 'Verfall' begins to accelerate. that people who stand. 609). the Hagenstr6ms run a very similar kind of business to that of the Buddenbrooks. 689). doctors. feminist criticism has. . Given Mann's tendency to conflate the Graiae and the Moirae figures (Ida and Pfiffi. the power of destructive Fate which is predominantly signified by the female mythological characters. that patterns repeat themselves unbeknown to the people involved. and as the symbolism which connects Griinlich. 426) for Thomas's new house (which turns out to be a wreath as much as a garland). for positive ideals (clergymen. Hagenstr6m clearly suggests. and dentists) are moved to act in a way which conflict with those ideals. Indeed. It is that structure which makes Anna. KesselMoritz and meyer. it is a matter of intense irony that in a world where Fate has the last word. should turn out to be signifiers or agents of the powers which make the world go round. Indeed. as though they were on a par with the God who provides. but perhaps above all. as one critic remarked. even at the moment of its greatest success. p. i60. and the diabolic. As modern research has shown. Buddenbrooks the product of an imagination which is steeped in that tradition. 431). may well indicate that they are guilty of even greater hubris than the Buddenbrooks. a signifierof the process. No wonder. can be seen as aspects of both triads) and to emphasize the negative aspects of the Moirae/Norns and the is clearly female mythological signifiers who are associated with them. rightly in my view. would-be helpers (such as Ida and Sesemi) become unwitting signifiers and even agents of its destructive side. 74. Handbuch. that men of good will. Over the past two decades. in realistic terms. Not only does she make the 'Richtkrone' (p. that the young Mann was defensive towards the powers which he was conjuring up in Buddenbrooks (Handbuch. elemental Nature. 62-63. pp. structure of Buddenbrooks where the rhetoric of Fate is used much more overtly. the is very like that of Simplicissimus. the power of Evil which is signified by the diabolical male characters. the Hagenstr6m family. that close relatives become locked in conflicts for reasons which lie outside their control and. but when she arrives at his death-bed (p. in that respect. for. life and death are simply two aspects of one random process. that apparently peripheral characters who are laughed at or condescended to by the main characters and overlooked by critics. p. for the best of motives. shown how readily Western male literature has made the equation between the demonic woman. as Ernst Keller has pointed out (see Handbuch. but only for the moment. the flower-shop girl with whom Thomas had had an affairin his youth. I 23). cause even greater disorder when they try to break with tradition. conscious that they are burdened by tradition. the fact that they have the temerity to add their name to the Latin motto on the Mengstrasse house (p. 78. for example. and the elemental powers which are associated with both groups all interact and 30 See Vogt.RICHARD SHEPPARD 935 novel provides no reason for the Hagenstr6ms' success in the rat-race ('Rattenkampf') of life. teachers. I6o). as though in testimony to the fact that in a Fate-governed world. has been marked down by Fate as a potential candidate for 'Verfall'. Finally. assist in the destruction of what they most revere.
p.936 Realism in 'Buddenbrooks' plus Mythology: 'Verfall' conspire to erode a cultured.' (p. the whole way of life it encapsulates. paceReed. as the motto adorning the Mengstrasse house since 1682 makes clear. Konsul Buddenbrook is saturated in an anomalous providentialist theology (see Vogt. and which. 'soeben. albeit one where these ideas are indeed 'buried in that rich substance. it is precisely because Griinlich appears to have succeeded in reconciling the concepts of 'Christ' and 'Geschaftsmann' that the Konsul is so impressed with him as a potential husband for Tony. which has sustained and legitimized both that family and. For as his diary entries clearly show (pp. fused with it successfully if involuntarily' (Reed. so the theology runs. and in which people must find their proper place ('sich fuigen')by the exercise of their reason and the control of their passions (something which the Konsul has. second. 109). According to this theology. The inadequacies become even more patent as soon as Griinlich arrives. 'mit iuBerster Vorsicht' (p. so that the family cannot miss this godsent opportunity of a . when he has to justify his decision both to his daughter and to himself.. he has recourse once again to a mode of thinking which clearly derives from and is legitimized by a providentialist theology. all-seeing God has our future mapped out for us in the best of all possible worlds. From this it follows that Buddenbrooks is not simply a complex diagnosis of the 'Verfall einer Familie' but also an investigation into the validity and power of the ideology. 56)). a novel of ideas. one manages to 'sich fugen' and works at one's appointed task. Now. being a well-trained Devil. apparently. 9). anno 1835 unter Genehmigung eines hohen und wohlweisen Senates neu herausgegeben war' (p. if one fails to 'sich figen'. Moreover. and his whole way of thinking and speaking indicates that for him 'Dominus providebit' means more than 'God will provide'. so Tony should 'den Kopf often halten fur die Zuspriiche erfahrenerLeute. his son is not. the Konsul continues with his usual ingenuousness as follows: although 'treue Arbeit' is 'redlich belohnt'. when Tony is required to recite the catechism which. Buddenbrooks is. 44) which has its roots in the philosophy of Leibniz and Wolff (and which. has more to do with property and possessions than matters spiritual. 46-49). Io5). commercial life. patriarchal family from within and without. then one will be rewarded by material blessings. p. like his God. die planvoll fur unser Gliick sorgen. The link between religious orthodoxy. 84). then punishment will follow in the shape of material deprivation. incidentally. 96-97. although old Johann is a metaphysical sceptic. although God has poured out his blessings on the Buddenbrookfamily. or rather the theology. in the difficulty which he continually experiences in reconciling the concept of'Christ' with that of 'Geschaftsmann' (pp. is still pictorialized today on the back of the American one-dollar bill as a tacit profession of faith in the self-regulating nature of the free market). as old Johann sees. 53-57). I 14). and material prosperity is evident on the novel's first page. If. had some difficulty in doing (p. a benevolent (male) God has created the best of all possible worlds which is rationally ordered. The inadequacies of this kind of theologizing are implicit from the novel's outset: first. and although the Konsul has behaved. In other words. Just as a benevolent. in the very obsessiveness of the Konsul's piety (which may well be the reflex of the difficulties he has had in subduing his passionate side). which contains the maximum amount of Good and the minimum amount of Evil.. is versed in theology and uses the rhetoric of providentialist theology with such ease that he sounds like a parody of the Konsul (pp. So. things have gone perplexingly quiet on the economic front. as the narrator drily remarks. for Griinlich. Conversely. Indeed.
. I60). Moreover. incidentally. it is only women members of the Buddenbrook clan who are still alive (apart. within this theological context. until.undwirwaren. .kleines.meineliebeTochter.nichtdafiir geboren. with all the fateful consequences for her. the firm. the inadequacies of providentialist theology have become even more evident. of course. Although Thomas subsequently tries to salvage something from the religion of his childhood (p. an 'umkranztes' banner reading 'Ehre sei Gott in der H6he' bursts into flames 'mit einem puffenden. war sie selbst so voll davon.31 Thus. andJohann himself. daB sie an Verdienst und Gerechtigkeit auf Erden inbriinstig glaubte. After the death of her baby. 660). by the end of the novel.' (p. I 14) and which will. I48-49) The letter has the desired effect.RICHARD SHEPPARD 937 match which 'allen Leuten als vorteilhaft und riihmlich in die Augen springt' (p. 122). 548-49. apparently spontaneously. undunsdieWegewiesen. 652) of his grandfather or to the eighteenthcentury piety of his father. 88. denn obgleich sie sich iiber die groBe Fr6mmigkeit ihrer Mutter mokierte. 654).nichtdenkbar mit Strengeund ohnenachrechtsoderlinkszu blickeneinererprobten indemsie ihrerseits und ehrwiirdigen Uberlieferung folgten. he cannot return either to the 'behagliche[n] Oberflachlichkeit' (p. the fire at Sesemi's house during the penultimate Christmas before the Konsulin's death is more than an amusing accident. the narrator writes of Tony: 'Sie begriff nicht. my emphasis). (pp. . for it is precisely this passage which motivates Tony's decision to marry Grfinlich (p. and on the other by the increasing importance of the women characters.denn wir sind nichtlose. womit sie Leid verdient habe. not least because of the poor figures which are cut by nearly all the representatives of Christian orthodoxy who are encountered. in his letter to Tony at Travemiinde. Clearly. at precisely that point when the blessings of a providentialist God appear to be showering down upon des Lebens Thomas. Augenfuir Gliickhalten. the providentialist God whose goodness has broughtjoy and prosperity to the Buddenbrook household and whose last serious disciple is the old Konsulin (compare pp.pers6nliches sondernwie Gliederin einerKette. fauchenden und knisternden Geriusch' (pp. 14I (n. sind.. the growing importance of the women characters 31 See Vogt. it also has a profoundly theological significance. he admits to Tony that he is losing his faith in 'die Gefiugigkeit zu meinen Gunsten. Not only does it portend the end of the old-style Buddenbrook family Christmas. be a potentially fruitfulinvestment. By the middle of the novel. since the narratorprovides no explanation for the event. from the certified Christian). unabhingigeund f'ir eigenes. pp. arme Tony!' (p.. Finally. albeit secularized. use ofprovidentialist thought-forms in order to break her will: waswirmitkurzsichtigen unser Wirsind. 545-46) is about to be supplanted by more fateful. elemental powers. 370). because Mann plays down the positive aspects which were ascribed to the Moirae/Norns in ancient mythology and with the diabolic tacitly associates the female mythological charactersin Buddenbrooks and the destructively elemental. and so goes as far as to toy with the explicitly anti-providentialist idea that 'diese[r] beste[n] aller denkbaren Welten' might in fact be 'die schlechteste aller denkbaren' (p. The growing incredibility of providentialist theology is accompanied on the one hand by the escalating physical decadence of the male characters.so wie wir sich bestehende Einzelwesen. 430). the Konsul makes explicit. While Sesemi is reading 'Und abermals sage ich: Freue euch!'. Similarly. die unsvorangingen ohnedieReihederjenigen.
32 Thus. The part played by women in the process of economic attrition first becomes visible on the periphery of the core narrative. Indeed. we hear sporadically of the slow but insidious financial haemorrhage from the Kr6ger's family because of the indulgence ofJustus's wife towards their profligate sonJakob (see p. pp. 22. even profounderdamage is done to the Buddenbrook household by subversive. both as realistic characters and as signifiers of malevolent powers. Then again. the Konsul blames his wife's side of the family (that is. plays a part in the process of attrition. I 5). too. 246) so that the narrator's comment. what is left of her chattels in the semi-ruined Mengstrasse house is plundered by Riekchen Severin and the maids without anyone being able to stop them (pp. After Aline Puvogel has finally married Christian towards the end of the novel. is spendthrift. they operate a process of attrition at the material. the way in which Gerda-as-signifier affects the Buddenbrook family (see above) graphically illustratesJulia Kristeva's description of the way in which the 'semiotic' dismantles the vertically stratified 'symbolic'. while true at the realistic level. the front of Thomas's new house is supported by three-dimensional Karyatiden' (p. 569-70). that is after Gerda's arrival and Thomas's decision to build a new house in the Fischergrube. Compare TheKristeva . 204-05). Later on in Part III. ] war ja mit Gold nicht zu bezahlen' (pp. two of Tony's three school-friends. where the 'Landschaftszimmer' in the Mengstrasse house is hung with two-dimensional tapestries between its pillars from which 'weiBe G6tterbilder fast plastisch[my emphasis] hervor[treten]' (p. I3.. she contributes to Thomas's psychological decline by causing a weakness to overcome him 'als ob in seinem Inneren sich etwas 16ste und ihn verlieB' (p. the Kr6gers) for being spendthrift (p. one of whom is. 645). She causes a major financial loss by insisting that Clara's last wish be honoured (p. and Tony meets Permaneder while she is visiting Eva Ewers in Munich. we are told.. we learn that the prematurely grey and bony Ida assumes ever greater control of the Buddenbrook household (p. 520-2 ). Thereafter. significantly. i986). petrified goddesses who. 'mit einem beinahe fatalistischen Gleichmut' and without any desire to correct this tendency because of her 'ausgepragte[r] Familiensinn' (pp. 524). helps push Thomas to breaking-point through her coldness towards him and her sublimated musical affair with von Throta of the demonic eyes (p. Indeed. and this she does. 433). Gerda. 424): that is to say. she has him locked away as insane and lives off his share of the Buddenbrooklegacy. throughout the rest of the novel. the psychological. Reader. non-material powers which operate through the women as signifiers of malevolent Fate. called Eva. The old Konsulin. and when she embraces Thomas during the centenary celebrations.when. especially in the person 32 ed. after her death. see 'Sandsteinp.7 (p.a similar process begins to affect the core narrative when Tony freely admits to Griinlich and Kesselmeyer that she. 48 ). 176). who also comes into the Buddenbrook family by way of Sesemi's 'Pension'.938 Realism in 'Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall' plus Mythology: (and the Female in general) is largely negative. later on in the novel. As a realistic character. Moreover. 237). too. that her 'Treue und Hingebung [. But in the second half of the novel. is highly ironic when one remembers her affinity with Lachesis and the negative connotations of gold in this novel. and the metaphysical level. damage the Buddenbrook household materially or psychologically. in Part II. Similarly. The P6ppenrade affair is a direct result of Tony's friendship with Armgard von Schilling. by Toril Moi (Oxford: Blackwell.
for all its surface Prussianized order. who. have been eating them away from within. 281-82. Fate. a musical experience over which. Dionysiac. ofD. involving a description of cacophonous and elemental music and 'den aberwitzigen Pfiffen'of the dionysiac 'Pikkoloflote'(p. as in so many major Modernist texts. 1970). and Death. and which will hasten Hanno's own death (see Vogt. H. Here at last then. and it is she whom Hanno metaphorically discovers and awakens by his playing. and confronting the increasingly decadent Buddenbrookmen with experienceswith which they are unable to deal (see Handbuch. in TheCollected Letters ed. anti-providentialist universe which has come to replace the providentially legitimized one in which his grandfather was still able to exist and his father grew up. is the smallest and most malevolent of the three Buddenbrook cousins/Moirae. chiastic theological structure.RICHARD SHEPPARD 939 of Gerda-as-signifier. Hanno succeeds in giving artistic form to all those fatal. will gradually stop supporting the splendid facades of Thomas's house and ego and allow both to collapse. so Hanno's school has been erected on the site of 'die grauen und altersmorschen Teile der ehemaligen Klosterschule' (p. as I have said. Lawrence. new. which. H. increasinglyfateful. in the world of mythology. a name whose intertextual 33 See Reed. by Harry T. 656-59). Hanno's school is a model of the Fate-governed. As a result of this process of attrition. 707) attended by his father and uncle. in terms of realism. 505-07). and violent powers actually invade the foregroundof the novel. p. generatingpassages whose affectiveforce marks them out from the rest of the text. The gatekeeper/caretaker is called Herr Schlemiel (p. Where Konsul Buddenbrook had assumed that the chain to which he referredin his letter to Tony was secure in the hands of a benevolent (male) Providence. that chain increasingly turns out to be one which links the diabolic Kesselmeyer (p. 34 The reference is to D. during both of which experiences his 'old stable ego'34is. 122). comes at the end of the Buddenbrook centenary celebrations and involves a clear reference to Pfiffi/Atropos. 707). Just as Thomas replaced the old grey house in the Fischergrube with a bright. Lawrence's famous letter to Edward Garnett of 5June I914. within Buddenbrooks's which culminates in Hanno's final performance involves more than a satirical portrait of a Prussianized school. Hanno has no control. p. It is no accident that during this intoxicated performance. 67 -72). The final passage occurs when Hanno performs what amounts to a miniaturized version of the 'Liebestod' from TristanundIsolde(pp. I. when little Hanno performs a piece of his own music. pp. fundamentally damaged. 2 vols (London: Heinemann. 175). and the fourth his vision of the sea (pp. . as a result. in an experience which is described as an orgasm of ecstatic sound. The first such passage. fateful. 83. diabolic. for. 93-95. Moore. Vogt. 494). The second one comes shortly after that. modern one. The third one involves Thomas's ecstatic (mis-)reading33of Schopenhauer (pp. it is a sleeping woman who lies behind those barriers. I4-15). fatal. But surface modernization cannot abolish all those powers symbolized in this novel by 'greyness' andjust as Thomas's house is infiltratedfrom within by Fate and its signifiers. is in reality governed by powers connected with chance. the chapter Accordingly.and Ida/Lachesis. so Hanno's school. This performance is described in unmistakably erotic terms and so involves an intensity of emotion which is. the narrator tells us. 749-50). pp. Hanno is said to cause 'Dornhecken' to open up and 'Flammenmauern' to collapse. far beyond Hanno's years (pp. and elemental powers which his forebears had largely ignored. Pfiffi/Atropos.
'). it is said: 'Er war von einer ganz ausnehmenden. eigensinnigen und eifersiichtigen Schrecklichkeit des alttestamentarischen Gottes'. chose to remain ignorant of them. p. but withoutthe all-important 'den k6nnen wir erl6sen'. so ging es einem. capable of saying 'etwas Scherzhaftes' and acting 'fiirchterlich'(pp. chance. explicitly said to be 'von der ritselhaften. 741). who also behaves like a capricious God (pp. 722-23). . His great-grandfather. 6I).940 in 'Buddenbrooks' Realism 'Verfall' plus Mythology: connection with luck. we are told: 'Ja. Kai secretly reads Poe's TheFall of theHouse a book which ends with a house of Usher. which. and so it is once more deeply ironic that when his son hits on the beginnings of an answer. ambiguous powers which lie at the heart of things and. penetrates to those mysterious. so kam das Ungliick' (p. and so remained an eternal child. at the end of the chapter in question.. 724-25). 716). reminiscent of the diabolic Griinlich. to pictorialize those powers which govern his school world and which other members of his family could or would not confront. aber wenn man nichts iibles gewartigte. thus making impossible his 'Avancement' at Easter. and is. 9). 714) and involves an inscrutable God who deprives a righteous man of precisely those worldly goods which the Lubeck catechism of 1835 had seemed to guarantee the godly (p. The man who teaches religion is a roue and we see him taking Hanno's class perfunctorily through the Book ofJob: that book in the Bible which. albeit uncomprehendingly and for a moment only. a description which makes it all the more ironic that he should encourage his pupils by quoting the famous words of Goethe's angel in 'Bergschluchten'. as Ridley sees (Ridley. the time of resurrection and rebirth (p. His aunt was incapable of living 'dort unten' (p. with a wisdom surpassing his years. together with all the profoundjoy and suffering which his encounter with that thinker had involved. greyness. Of Dr Mantelsack. is. 387). The 'Primus' of Hanno's class is called AdolfTodtenhaupt (see above. asunder and swallowed mysteriously cracking being up by water (p. pp. and diabolic temptation needs no explanation. His grandfather defended himself against them by means of an obsessive religiosity. like so many major figures in Modernist fiction. zweideutigen. for it seems to me that Hanno's productivity consists in his ability. like Kesselmeyer. 741): yet another example of a minor and peripheral character causing disproportionate damage. like the Old Testament God who tormentsJob. finally helps to sap Hanno's will to participate in life. Finally. Kandidat Modersohn punishes Hanno unjustly. a more than geographical inability. the novel 'follows Thomas's search for ultimate answers without suggesting alternative routes he should follow' (Ridley. As Ridley perceives. perceives all this. 53-54). I disagree. echoing the providentialist God of the 'Prolog im Himmel' of Fausti ('und wer immer strebend sich bemiiht. Wenn man am meisten angstigte. Hanno. But Hanno. Dr Wulicke. Dr Goldener is. It is this insight. as has been said. p. p. beinahe gut. und seine Gunst war hold und flatterhaft wie das Gliick'. The headmaster. 931). Like Hans Castorp in the 'Schnee' chapter and Gustav von Aschenbach by the dried-up fountain in Venice. rather than straightforward biological weakness in the Naturalist sense.for all his flute-playing. Vogt claims that Hanno is not productive (Vogt. is centrally concerned with the invalidity of a naively providentialist understanding of God (p. translates them into art. he is prevented from living with his hard-won vision. 102). grenzenlosen naiven Ungerechtigkeit. notwithstanding its tacked-on ending. so war es immer. During the same lesson.. and in a passage which could be either the narratorspeaking or Hanno thinking in 'erlebte Rede'. His father locked away in a drawer his copy of Schopenhauer. for all his physical weakness. wie aus Hohn.
353). OXFORD RICHARD SHEPPARD . in a 'gestrichene Stelle' in the manuscript of'Liibeck als geistige that he was not Lebensform' (1926) and in the I939 introduction to Der Zauberberg and could learn from what critics he wrote when them in control of his works always had to say about them. It is generally accepted that many if not wegs unproblematisch' (Handbuch. p. are embedded in Buddenbrooks than detract from the novel's literary merit. Would Mann himself have conceded the existence of the mythological references. since none of his retrospective remarks indicates that he was aware of these dimensions. to with an even greater density and richness and an even more endow Buddenbrooks of irony than has hitherto been appreciated. While he was still a novice. The result of this was. most of Mann's later major works involve those dimensions to a greater or lesser p. Mann's imagination was already intuitively working with techniques and ideas which would later become part of his conscious repertoire. 72) and 'keinesp. and the role which is played in the Buddenbrooks' 'Verfall' by an almost Baroque sense of Fate? Possibly not. I suggest. then the add to rather complex patterns which. Mann conceded. complex interweaving of leitmotifs. Moreover. Nevertheless. So if what I have argued above is not sheer fantasy. 360). degree. as James Northcote-Bade has pointed out (Handbuch. critics who have studied those remarks with some care point out that they are '6fters von einer wenig hilfreichen Widerspriichlichkeit' (Vogt. substructure complex MAGDALEN COLLEGE. in my view.RICHARD SHEPPARD 941 Hanno has neither the time nor the stamina to translate what he has seen into anything more enduring or substantial.
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