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Die Aufzeichnung der Memoria in Thomas Manns "Buddenbrooks" und "Der Erwählte"
The German Quarterly
Vol. 76, No. 2 (Spring, 2003), pp. 183-194
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3252174
Page Count: 12
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Two seemingly disparate novels by Thomas Mann published exactly fifty years apart reveal several parallels in their treatment of memory and genealogy. The Buddenbrooks family album resembles Gregorius's inherited tablet in more than just physical appearance. Despite the contrasting content of each memoir (an illustrious line of patricians vs. an ignominious incest) both documents are kept as sacred relics of family history. The frequent act of reading these genealogical records illustrates an attempt to remember and thereby cultivate the past. In the case of the Buddenbrooks, this commemorative practice helps preserve familial order while in the more complicated predicament of Gregorius it leads to a gradual decoding of his identity. Finally, each family chronicle plays an important role in the structure of the novel. The manifestation of either memorial signals a turning point in the respective plots, whether in the downward spiraling "Buddenbrooks" or in the ascending trajectory of "Der Erwählte".
The German Quarterly © 2003 American Association of Teachers of German