Girls from Good Families: Tony Buddenbrook and Agathe Heidling

by Linda Kraus Worley
Girls from Good Families: Tony Buddenbrook and Agathe Heidling
Linda Kraus Worley
The German Quarterly
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University of Kentucky

Girls from Good Families: Tony Buddenbrook and Agathe Heidling

Gabriele Reuter's Ausguter Familie: Lei- densgeschichte eines Madchens (1895) and Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie (1901) were two of the best-selling novels in Imperial Germany. However, as their titles suggest, these novels share more than sales figures. Each family chronicle traces the negative life trajectory of a girl from a middle-class family, beginning with her education into gender- and class-appro- priate roles and ending with the picture of her shattered adult life. The thematic conti- guity of the novels and their enthusiastic re- ception by the reading public invite a side- by-side reading. They are connected in other ways as well, ranging from the fact that both were written at the turn of the last century to Thomas Mann's discussion of Aus guter Familie in an early essay1 In his reading or, more precisely, misreading of Aus guter Fa- milie, Mann employs a critical vocabulary to talk about Reuter's novel and its heroine Agathe Heidling, a lexicon that I intend to use to take a fresh look at Mann's own girl

for their theories of evolution and survival of the fittest, Schopenhauer for his cultural and philosophical pessimism, and Nietzsche for the primacy he gave to "Life" writ large. In this social landscape, the gender-based theories of character advanced at the end of the century by male theorists were coming under scrutiny, The ideology of a dichotomousGeschlechtschurakter held sway throughout the lgth century and was re- inscribed in countless novels, etiquette man- uals, popular magazines and, of course, schools and families. This ideological frarne- work relegated middle-class women to a pri- vate sphere where they were to evidence a selfless devotion to family. Theirs was a realm marked not by intellect but by a "nat- ural" physicality and piety, Educational and professional opportunities for women were extremely limited. Middle-class men lived under no less stringent gender-appropriate codes that defined a polar-opposite realm. Since middle-class men were to act rational- ly in the public sphere, their education aimed

from a good family, Tony B~ddenbrook.~ at developing a well-defined, autonomous,

Presenting insights gained from recent scholarship on Aus guter Familie, I hope to move toward a fuller understanding of Buddenbrooks and to underscore the connec- tions between Tony Buddenbrook and Aga- the Heidling as they are both formed and de- formed by gender politic^.^

At the end of the lgth century, men and women shared a sense that the world they knew was rapidly changing. Technological advances and increasing urbanization were physical markers of this change. Darwin and his German popularizer Haeckel were read energetic, and rational self.

By the late lgth century, these gender- based prescriptions for the middle classes came under scrutiny by different groups for different reasons. At this juncture the asp-chronicity in the history of men and women with respect to the ideal of an individuated, autonomous self surfaced in stark relief. The continued viability of the reigning middle- class construct of an independent, inte- grated (male) self active in the public sphere began to be questioned. Authors such as Thomas Mann and Hugo von Hofmannsthal

The German Quarterly 76.2 (Spring 2003) 195

pictured a state of cultural development in which men's nerves and sensibilities had be- come so over-refined as to preclude the con- tinuance of the Enlightenment ideal. The self, the subject, began to be viewed as some- thing fragmentary, incomplete, conflicted and unreliable.

Other authorevery often women-had markedly different concerns. Although these authors may also have experienced the world of 1900 as one of change, what merited change in their view was the self-less lives of women at home in the family, heteronomous lives formed by a patriarchal society. What had been the ideal for the middle-class man around 1800 became in varying degrees the ideal of women reformers: middle-class girls were to be educated to develop an autono- mous self able to function in the public sphere as well as at home. Questions regard- ing a woman's right to a meaningful educa- tion and employment, voiced so cogently by Louise Otto-Peters in the 1860s) resurfaced in the 1890s. The task at hand for women was to define a path leading to an individu- ated self, a Zu-sich-finden. Paradoxically, these asynchronous trajectories echo one another in at least one way: both recognized that the previous century's constructs con- cerning the gendered self no longer sufficed. A sense of endings and new beginnings was interwoven throughout this cultural land- scape.

By dint of their widespread and enthusi- astic reception, Reuter's and Mann's novels helped define this landscape. Aus guter Fa- milie: Leidensgeschichte eines Mcidchens was the first bestseller for Samuel Fischer's new publishing house and catapulted Reuter to fame; Buddenbrooks, published by Fischer several years later, led the bestseller lists in Germany until mid-century.4 Both novels apparently contained enough recognizable cultural and linguistic code to resonate with readers and convince them of the novels' truthful, accurate depictions of external re- ality. Helene Lange, a leader of the middle- class women's movement, wrote soon after Aus guter Familie appeared that it was "wahr, wahr schauerlich wahr. "5 Helene Stocker, another advocate of women's rights, termed Reuter's novel "ein Notschrei, wie ihn nur jahrelange, grenzenlose Martern ei- ner Frau erpressen konne, und zu dem bis jetzt-meines Wissenekaum eine Frau den Mut und die Ehrlichkeit gehabtSn6 Reuter recounts in her autobiography the way fathers assured her that their relationship towards their daughters had changed after reading the novel7 Buddenbrooks, while most certainly not received as a revolution- ary novel advocating social change, was nev- ertheless viewed as reflecting an autobio- graphical and thus social reality of an in- creasingly problematical, tradition-bound, middle-class life. For many years Mann had to contend with the accusation that he had fouled his own nest; the favorite pastime in Liibeck seems to have been deciphering his roman a clef8

The resonance of these novels in the gen- eral public brought Mann and Reuter na- tional prominence at the turn of the 20th century. In light of their literary connections as members of the so-called Fischer-clique, it is not surprising that Thomas Mann visited Gabriele Reuter in Berlin in the fall of 1903 or that he wrote an essay about her work in 1904. Reuter reciprocated by publishing very positive reviews of Konigliche Hoheit and of Joseph und seine Bnider.9

Had Mann read Aus guter Familie: Lei- densgeschichte eines Madchen before finish- ing Buddenbrooks? Given Mann's habit of keeping abreast of the current literary scene, Reuter's fame, and their shared publisher, it would seem highly unlikely that Mann was not familiar with her work. However, he never mentions Reuter's novel in any of his numerous public statements reflecting on the genesis of Buddenbrooks.lo This fact alone means little; Kreuzer points out that Mann used Reuter's description of her meet- ing with Nietzsche extensively while com- posing the ending of Doktor Faustus, yet he never mentions this fad in Die Entstehung des Doktor Faustus. l1A rather cryptic entry in Mann's recently published Notizbiicher ends all speculation. In the middle of his work on Buddenbrooks, Mann notes: "'Aus guter Farnilie'4rausamkeit gegen das Publikum."l2 He was, indeed, familiar withAus guter Familie, but what might the astonish- ing phrase "Grausamkeit gegen das Publi- kum" mean? I will advance several hypothe- ses aRer examining Mann's Reuter essay and the novels themselves.

Mann begins his 1904 essay on Reuter as follows, "Es gibt ein trauriges Kunstler- schicksal, vor dem jeder sich fiirchten md, dem es auch nur von weitem droht: nWch bis zum Tode und in die Unsterblichkeit hin- ein der Autor eines erfolgreichen Erstlings- werkes zu bleiben" (388). Mann both inge- niously and ingenuously plays with the reader who cannot be sure whether Mann is speaking of his own recent fame with Bud- denbrooks, Reuter's success with Aus guter Familie, or both. Although Mann finally mentions Aus guter Familie in the second paragraph, he has already invited the reader to associate the two novels and novelists. Thus he immediately hints that the essay is about more than Reuter; indeed, Mann is concerned with a topic very close to him-his own work.13 Several scholarsHobusch, Detering, and Tebben-insightfully detail how Mann "uses" Reuter for his own pur- poses: to differentiate between a "true" art- ist and one writing socially critical art, to continue his debate with his brother Hein- rich, to position himselfvis-a-vis commercial success, and to delineate a "feminine" cultural and artistic ideal (this last point from Detering).l4

Mann approvingly proclaims Agathe Heid- ling, Reuter's heroine, a "Kiinstlerin," not a "Tendenzfigur, ein abschreckendes Exem- plum, eine moralischeVogelscheuche" (393). Earlier in the essay, Mann had problema- tized what may happen to an author when

von irgendeiner Zeitstrijmung ergriffen, als Ausdruck irgendeines Masseninteres- ses mindeutet, [ein Roman] in das Ge- schrei der Leute kam und zur Sensation, zum Modewunder, zum grol3en Treffer ward. (388)

Mann's words eloquently, if indirectly, re- flect his and his era's fear of the ascen- dancy of a mass culture and social con- structs calling into question the very basis of "middle-class" aesthetics. Mann "res- cues" Reuter from the stigma of writing "Tendenzliteratur" not by defending the concept of a popular and/or socially critical literature, but by loosening her novel from its socio-cultural moorings. This strategy becomes explicit when Mann writes of Agathe: "Dieses sinnliche und degoutier- te, weiche und egoistische, leidenschaftli- che und schwache, sehnsiichtige und hoch- mutige Geschopf, es war eine Kunstlerin und als solche ohne jede positive Verbind- lichkeit, ohne jeden agitatorischen Wert" (393).

Mann sets up a dichotomy between an author who is "agitatorisch" and one who is "kontemplativ-kiinstlerlich" (391), a dichot- omy central to his own aesthetic. Mann turns the prevalent reception of Aus guter Familie on its head; he insists that what had been seen as markers of socially critical fic- tion be read solely in terms of aesthetics, of style.15 He insists that a politically oriented reader "wird deine [Reuters] Ironie, deine Wirklichkeitskritik, den moralischen Unter- ton deiner Schilderungen immer mil3verste- hen, wird niemals begreifen, da13 Ironie nur ein Stil, Wirklichkeitskritik nur ein Pathos, Moral nur ein Vertiefungsmittel zu sein braucht" (391). Mann asserts that "Wirk- lichkeitskritik," "Moral," and "Ironie" can be purely literary techniques, serving only to heighten artistic effect, not to affect social change. A true artist, the '"kontemplativ- kiinstlerische' Mensch" is not a "Weltver- besserer"; indeed, Mann insists that this type of artist "will nichts als erkennen und gestalten: tief erkennen und schon gestal- ten" (391-92). While Reuter's novel is stylis- tically sophisticated, Mann clearly goes too far when he denies its social relevance and squeezes it into his system of opposites.

Mann's essay contains several evocative misreadings, surprises, and gaps with re- spect to Reuter's work, as Hobusch, Die- trich, and Tebben point out. Mann paints Agathe Heidling as an artist and a decadent. Despite Agathe's sensitive, yearning nature, she is neither a decadent nor an artist in the traditional sense. Although Mann insists on removing Reuter's novel from the realm of socially critical literature, there can be no question that Reuter's novel is intricately in- volved with the "Frauenfrage" of the 1890s, the existential problems confronting the un- married daughters of the urban middle classes. The "brisance of Reuter's critical de- lineation of the making of gender" (Tatlock xiv) cannot be ignored. In Mann's selective reading, the sexual element of Agathe's character and story is not mentioned at all. Mann praises Reuter's newest novel, Lise- lotte uon Reckling (19041, as ultimately a better work than Aus guter Familie-cer- tainly a questionable judgment. Mann's as- sertions, omissions, and misreadings are puzzling, especially since "misreading" is thematized throughout the essay, in particu- lar the "misreading" of Reuter's work by the general public. By opening this door, Mann indirectly invites his readers to focus on ''misrea&ngV itself and ask why Mann pub- lished his own "misreadings." One answer, duly noted in recent scholarship, is that Mann misread in order to set down, clanfy, and advance his own aesthetic principles and promote his own writing.

This answer is convincing, yet I wish to pursue Mann's puzzling nexus of assertions further. If contemporaneous readers were not incorrect in readingAusguter Familie as socially critical literature, were they also not completely wrong in reading Buddenbrooks through the same lens? Is it true that a writer must believe in social change and in- tend to affect such change in order for a novel to be socially critical, political, or activist? Can a creative work be kept secure in Mann's hypothesized realm of true art merely be- cause the work reflects deep insights and beautiful form? And what does all of this have to do with the portrayal of Tony Bud- denbrook and Agathe Heidhng, the daugh- ters from good families?

One way to answer these questions is to take up the challenge implicitly posed by Mann when he referred to the misreadings of readers who take "Wirklichkeitskritik "Moral," and "Ironie" as more than stylistic devices aimed at heightening the artistic ef- fect, more than mere "Stil," "Pathos," and "Vertiefungsmittel." The implicit challenge is to analyze the novels using the critical ter- minology advanced by Mann-not as an oracular key to the novels, but rather as a point of departure that needs to be ques- tioned. What roles do "Wirklichkeitskritik "Moral" and "Ironie" play in the two novels? What can this perspective tell us about the novels, the fates of these 19th-century daugh- ters, and the relationship of Reuter and Mann to their female protagonists?

Recent scholarship on Aus guter Familie underscores precisely its "Wirklichkeitskritik" and, by extension, its "Moral." Al- though various scholars emphasize different aspects of the novel, they agree that Aus guter Familie traces the destruction of a bright, sensitive young woman through the LLDre~~~rnummern

(Tebben, "Psychologie" 269) enacted by middle-class social codes. There is no hint in the novel itself or subse- quent commentaryon the novel that its criti- cism of reality and concomitant moral un- dertone are to be read solely in terms of artis- tic technique. Indeed, one of the characters in Aus guter Familie unequivocally muses:

"Ich weil3 iiberhaupt nicht, ob es heute darauf ankommt, Kunstwerke zu schaf- fen ....Wir leben alle so sehr im Kampf! -Kiimmere Dich nicht um die Form! Sag' Deinen lieben Mitschwestern nur ehrlich und deutlich, wie ihr Leben in Wahrheit beschaffen ist. Vielleicht be- kommen sie dann Mut, es selbst in die Hand zu nehmen, statt sich von ihren El-

tern und der Gesellschaft vorschreiben zu lassen, wie sie leben sollen [...]."I6

Reuter's novel, set in the late 1870s, fol- lows Agathe Heidling from her school days to her complete mental breakdown in mid-life. Agathe's repeated attempts at finding the "he" who is to be the cornerstone of her life are unsuccessful. Her more or less active, more or less real (as opposed to imaginary) forays into alternative worlds-the worlds of literary fantasy, of bohemian painters, of the Anabaptist religious fringe, and of radical, emancipatory politics-are alldoomed. Each failure is followed by an illness more debili- tating than the last until she is irredeemably broken.

The criticism of gendered scripts, literary and social discourses meant to demarcate the boundaries of Agathe's life as a rniddle- class woman, begins immediately and con- tinues unabated throughout the novel. The pastor presiding over Agathe's confirmation in the first chapter outlines her role in clear, but impossibly paradoxical terms: "Besaet, als besaet Ihrnicht --genieBet, als genosset Ihr nicht!-[. ..I. Liebe -Liebe -Liebe sei Dein ganzes Leben-aber die Liebe bleibe frei von Selbstzucht, begehre nicht das ihre" (20). Regierungsrat Heidling, Agathe's fa- ther, leaves no doubt as to the existential sta- tus of woman, who is "'die Wurzel, die sturnme, geduldige, unbewegliche, welche kein eigenes Leben zu haben scheint und doch den Baum der Menschheit trsigt .. . "' (22). Books given (and taken from) her on this occasion-the volume titled Des Weibes Leben und Wirken als Jungfrau, Gattinund Muttergiven, Herwegh's poetry subsequently c~~scated

by her father-reflect the type of woman patriarchal authority en- visions: an innocent, dutiful daughter, a self-less, almost life-less, wife and mother who knows nothing of the external political world. Agathe's reading also includes the ro- mance novels popular with the girls in her boarding school as well as a book containing adubious passage. The "anstiiljige Stelle, die sie verfolgte" (8) marks the sexuality and fe- male desire that reappear throughout the novel and which polite society insists must be violently repressed. The first chapter sketches the sum of roles available to a mid- dle-class woman: wife, mother, and, of course, child. These are the pre-formed scripts that are to provide the text and con- text of Agathe's identity.

Agathe's familx a "good" familx is shown to be the primary conduit of social dressage, aided in this task by the church and schools. Reuter exposes the family's self-serving in- terest behind the facade of familial love and caring. For example, after Agathe has given up her passionate fantasies regarding ro- mance and marriage, she decides to not stay unmarried and consciously entrances a suitor. This suitor leaves without speaking another word to Agathe after her father informs him there is no dowry. Agathe dis- covers that her dowry was used to pay off gamblingdebts incurred by her brother. The son's honor and the family name were pro- tected at the expense of Agathe's future well-being. This is not an isolated incident. Throughout the novel it is clear that the Heidlings give no thought to Agathe's needs for individual, personal development. Aga- the is excited when she chances upon and reads Haeckel's Natiirliche Schopfingsge- schichte. Recognizing that intellectual stim- ulation and growth could lend purpose to a life she experiences as meaningless, she re- quests other books recommended by Hae- ckel. Her father deems such books unfit reading for his "Tijchterchen" (Agathe is now in her thirties!), giving her instead a vol- ume about "die Flora von Mitteldeutsch- land, zum Gebrauch fhr unsere Tochter" and a flower press (307). Agathe's develop- ment is deliberately circumscribed by her family: she exists to imbue her father's life with sunshine and light. The novel's critique of familial love is no accident. In a provoca- tive essay titled Liebe und Stimmrecht, Reuter defines various types of love, includ- ing parental love, which she postulates is based on objectification of the other, who is viewed as "Besitz."17 Thus, parental love, masked by the term "liebevolle Sorge" (205), is in reality an animalistic power struggle where one party attempts to mold the other, to impose his or her will on the other.

Nowhere can Agathe find a viable way to grow, to create an autonomous, multi-fac- eted, integrated self capable of leading a meaningful life. Agathe's mother cannot be a role model since she, too, has been broken by living the female ideal of housewife. Agathe is denied access to "masculine" pursuits, sci- ence, politics, even rational thought, and she experiences the few extra-familial opportu- nities open to unmarried women as one- sided and deadening. The literal and social texts offered her are those of romantic love and of dutiful filial piety.

Agathe has internalized these texts all too well as her only tools for forging a self that can know, interpret and respond to the world. These tools prove woefully inade- quate for the task. The final conflict in her fully conscious life brings this point to the fore. Agathe chances upon her "rebel" cou- sin Martin, with whom she had been infatu- ated as a teenager. On previous occasions in the novel Martin has espoused radical views, causinghim to be shunned by Regierungsrat Heidling.18 Now a respected political theo- rist, Martin befriends Agathe. She voices her repressed anger at being treated like a child at home. Martin's advice is succinct: she must stop attempting to be a self-less Angel of the House and begin '"Dich endlich ein- mal auf Dich selbst zu besinnen-Dich wiederzufindenae Du Dich ganz verloren hast!'" (340). By asking her to accompany him to Ziirich where she canwork for her "Mitschwestern" by putting her life story to paper, Martin offers her the chance to liter- ally form her own life, to finally say "I" by writing "I." Agathe is excited by this pros- pect. However, since she has at her command only one way of interpreting such excite- ment, of envisioning the future and a male- female relationship, she fantasizes their col- laboration as a romantic encounter bursting with erotic tension:

Es war schauerlich aufregend und anzie- hend, sich das vorzustellen: Alle Welt hielt sie fur eine Gefallene-nur sie selbst trug das BewuStsein ihrer kuhlen Rein- heit in sich. Und Martin, der hatte natiir- lich eine unbegrenzte Hochachtung vor der stillen Kraft, mit der sie, allen Ver- laumdungen zum Trotz, den gewahlten Weg weiter schritt. Solche Frau war ihm denn doch noch nicht vorgekommen. -Er bat sie um Liebe-bat sie immer wieder-flehte-wurde leidenschaftlich


Her fantasy life is shown here to be not -as Mann would have us believe-part of an artist's creativity; rather, it is based on pre-formed, romantic automisms that im- pede the realization of a creative life. A culture that fictionalizes women into ro- mance heroines has led Agathe to fiction- alize her self, her actions and future.

There are moments of epiphany for this intelligent, reflective, yet resilient girl: Aga- the sees the hypocrisy of the world around her, "die ungeheure Armseligkeit und Abscheulichkeit dieses ganzen Gesellschafh- lebens, und trug das heimliche Wissen wie einen Stein auf der Brust" (245). She ques- tions the constraints placed on women, in- cluding the potentially deadening alterna- tives to marriage. She sees the success of her hypocritical future sister-in-law who wins the battle for survival by being sawy enough to use the gender scripts to her own ends. She questions her and her mother's complic- ity in the "fall" of a servant girl eventually driven to prostitution and a horrible death. She recognizes that for men "die dumme Liebe [brauchtel nur etwas Nebensachliches zu sein" (303). She is a self-reflective hero- ine. However, these insights are not strong enough to overcome the social determinants, the clicha phrases of bourgeois life and mo- tifs of romance novels that have become the language in which Agathe speaks and, more devastatingly, increasingly thinks. Brinker- Gabler points to the "Selbstentfremdung durch die Normen und Phrasen, die sich in ihraufgebaut haben, fremde Gedanken und kiinstliche Stimmungen, in denen sie schwelgt" (171).

Agathe is forced to utilize a language that cannot speak a cohesive (female) self She learns to mask her adult knowledge behind a vocabulary of childish naive6 or remain si- lent. Her powerful "dunkle[nl Instinkte" never surface "in die Form des Works" (308). Agathe's finalfragmentation, effected through the clash of social codes and per- sonal desire, is reflected in the splintered chunks of language she parrots. Her re- pressed sexuality finally explodes, she ''stiefl irre Worte aus" (374), "sie nannte sich mit Namen-brauchte Ausdriicke, als ob ein bo- ser Geist aus ihr redete" (378). Her insanity, her hysterical body language, may be the forceful imagining of an "I," but it remains ineffective for it allows her hated sister-in- law to tellthe story of Agathe's breakdown. ARer her release from several sanatoriums, Agathe's life remains irrevocably shattered, reduced to the numb performance of repeti- tive tasks.Agathe is removed from both im- mediate experience and the language used to express it: her connection with the outer world is now limited to what her father summarizes for her from the newspaper. Her de- cay has not been caused by rebelling against the social codes, but by idealistically embrac- ing them.

The "Moral" of Reuter's novel is clear: this carnage, this murder of Germany's daughters must end. Agathe Heimg's fate is not an aberration; it is merely the dramati- cally heightened result of the era's gender politics. Reuter paints a harrowing scene of the sanatorium to which Agathe has been sent:

Frauen-Frauen-nichts als Frauen. Zu Hunderten stromten sie aus allen Teilen des Vaterlandes hier bei den Stahlquellen zusammen, als sei die Fiille von Blut und Eisen, mit der das Deutsche Reich zu machtvoller Gro13e geschmiedet, aus sei- ner Tochter Adern und Gebeinen geso- gen, und sie konnten sich von dem Verlust nicht erholen.

Fast alle waren sie jung, auf der Som- merhohe des Lebens. Und sie teilten sich in zwei ungefiihr gleiche Teile: die von den Anforderungen des Gatten, von den Pflichten der Geselligkeit und den Gebur- ten der Kinder erschopften Ehefrauen und die bleichen, vom Nichtsthun, von Sehnsucht und Enttauschung verzehrten Madchen. (369-70)

Reuter allows the reader to identify with Agathe in a direct way. The reader realizes that Agathe-bright, pretty, and energetic- may have not only survived, but could have flourished in a different world. With a differ- ent man and under a different set of ideals, she might have been fulfilled as a mother and wife; she may have found a valuable role in the greater world if life-affirming opportu- nities had been available. Such possibilities might have been available to her had she been a man. Her cousin Martin managed to carve out a successful place for himself even while scorning society's strictures. His suc- cess is certainly due to the greater realm of action open to him as a man. Agathe is acutely aware of her stunted development, most poignantly expressed towards the end ofthe novel: "'Etwas Werdendes . . . Ein Kind -oder ein Werk-meinetwegen ein Wahn, jedenfalls etwas, das Erwartungen erregt und Freude verspricht, mit dem man der Zukunft etwas zu schenken hofff-das braucht der Mensch, und das braucht darum auch die Frau!"' (355). The resonance with Goethe's concept of entelechy, is as unmis- takable here as it is at the beginning of the novel when Agathe, still a teen, sighs that

Der Flieder-die Hainbuche-jedes besal3 seine eigene Form, seine besondere Farbe. Und das entfaltete sich hier still und frohlich in Sonnenschein und Regen zu dem, was es werden sollte und wollte.

Die Pflanzen hatten es doch viel, viel besser als die Menschen, dachte Agathe seufzend. Niemand schalt sie-niemand war mit ihnen unzufrieden und gab ihnen gute Ratschlage. (28)

As his notebooks illustrate, Agathe's story was fresh in Mann's mind as he jotted notes for Buddenbrooks. Aus guter Familie and its depiction of the doomed search for a viable female self may well have been on the minds of contemporaneous readers of Mann's Buddenbrooks, indeed, even on the minds of reviewers at Samuel Fischer's pub- lishinghouse. I contend that traces of "Wirk- lichkeitskritik" and "Moral" found in Aga- the's story canbe discerned in the life story of Tony Buddenbrook. Moreover, this "Wirk- lichkeitskritik" and "Moral" function as more than mere stylistic choices.

Buddenbrooks traces the life of Tony Buddenbrook from childhood to middle-age, a path that follows a negative trajectory for the energetic and bright child. Tony, like Agathe Heidling, is a woman "aus guter Familie" shaped by the gendered discourses of the middle class. Although Tony displays re- silience and perseverance throughout her life, she is diminished by the end of the novel. Her one attempt at love is followed by re- peated attempts at creating a married home life that could live up to the social demands of the Buddenbrook code. All her attempts fail. Each failure increases her nervous stomach problems and decreases her ability to relate realistically to society.

The outlines of Tony's life, especially her family's relationshp to her, are suggested in the first pages of the novel-mirroring Reuter's approach in Aus guter Familie. Tony's grandfather probes her knowledge of a cate- chism passage. What is noteworthy in this scene is that none of the adults stops Tony's mindless reeling off of the passage in order to engage her seriously about its meaning. On the contrary, her grandfather teasingly en- courages her because her childish confusion entertains him and the assembled family members. She exists for the amusement of her family The education Tony receives is one befitting a girl from the patrician middle class, but not one providing her with the tools to develop an autonomous self capable of acting in the public sphere or questioning social strictures. Ida Jungrnann, Tony's young governess, limited in her knowledge, instills in Tony a sense for social hierarchies. Seserni Weichbrodt's school for girls from good families teaches English, French, and social graces. Furthermore, Tony's frame of reference includes romantic novels such as Hoffiann's Serapionsbnider: Finally, the Krogers have modeled for Tony a love of lux- ury. Her immediate family works in concert with other socializing instances to initiate Tony into a social script that eventually becomes the source of her identity.lg

The values espoused by the Budden- brook family reflect not only the gender codes of the 19thcentury but also an aristo- cratic code of conduct that had been assumed by the older, established middle class. These values include "Hoflichkeit, Anstand, Stil, Vornehrnheit, Contenance, Diskretion, Takt, Gepflegtheit, Nuanciertheit, Akkuratess und geselliger ScW' (Kurzke 65) and are realizable only through constant self-control and repression of drives. Emblematic of the family's response to real problems is the Konsulin's oft repeated "Assez." Of course, all of the Buddenbrooks must come to terms with the hegemonic family code. Thomas consciously represses that which is socially unacceptable under the mask of the perfect Burger even as he becomes an increasingly grotesque figure; Christian acts out that which is to be repressed and becomes an out- cast; Klara embraces the religious aspects of the family code and thus silently opts out of the family's social circle. There are, however, essential differences in the family's (and so- ciety's) expectations towards the male and female children. Tony recognizes that she is "von der Geschichte ihrer Familie durch- drungen. [...I Sie hatte den Bed, ad ihre Art den Glanz der Familie und der Firrna 'Johann Buddenbrook' zu fordern, indem sie eine reiche und vornehrne Heirat einging.. .

Tom arbeitete da& im K~ntor."~O

Women are to exist in the private sphere, men in the public. These expectations become the ines- capable social determinants of her life. It is paradoxical to note that Tony is the Budden- brook of her generation who might most eas- ily have fit into the world of business due to her temperament. She is, among other things, pert, cheeky, and materialistic. These traits bode well for a life in business, but Tony has no access to the profession of the fathers.

As an adult Tony is incapable of creating a well-rounded self out of the positive build- ing blocks the young Tony possessed. What prevents her growth and individuation is so- cial in nature. Unlike her brothers, she is not marked by a nascent physiological weak- ness. Family dynamics and social attitudes towards women are the primary factors in Tony's decline.Z1 Her romance with Morten represents the only counterforce in this sce- nario. It is her chance at freedom, intellec- tual growth and love. Although Mann ironi- cally relativizes this episode by juxtaposing Morten's protestations of revolutionary fer- vor with his blushing, or by weaving echoes of a trivialized Heine into Tony and Morten's ruminations at the Baltic, there can be no doubt that this episode is pivotal in Tony's life. It is here that she encounters for the first time an alternative to the worldview em- braced by her family and class and experi- ences the beginnings of an independent self, which her father castigates as a move "mit Trotz und Flattersinn Deine eigenen, unor- dentlichen Pfade zu gehen" (149). Tony's ro- mance and her resistance to the loveless but financially ement marriage to Griinlich are cruelly broken by her family They black- mail her by using the entire coercive arsenal at their disposal-a pious Christianity bent to their ends, the pastor's sermon, the cult of family honor, Griinlich's threat of suicide, and appeals to Tony's materialistic tenden- cies. Familial "love" and "concern" are clear- ly unmasked as self-serving. The family is not interested in helping her grow as an indi- vidual, but rather in accumulating power, prestige, and money Tony is defined merely as "Glied einer Kette" (148) and as a child who need not be taken seriously Her beloved father tells her:

Du bist ein Kind [...I. Du bist ein kleines Madchen, das noch keine Augen hat fiir die Welt und das sich auf die Augen ande- rer Leute verlassen mu13, die Gutes mit dir im Sinne haben.. .. (105)

By acquiescing to her family's wishes, Tony effects a symbiosis with her family so strong that it fossilizes her at a child-like stage. All aspects of her identity are hence- forth linked to the Buddenbrook geneal- ogy:

Ihr ausgepragter Familiensinn entfrem- dete sie nahezu den Begriffen des freien Willens und der Selbstbestimmung und machte, da13 sie mit einem beinahe fata- listischen Gleichmut ihre Eigenschaften feststellte und anerkannte ... ohne Un- terschied und ohne den Versuch, sie zu korrigieren. (204-05)

By the time she marries Permaneder, Tony simply cannot adjust to another set of norms; any flexibility, any nascent sense of identity distinct from the family has been stifled once and for all. Permaneder, seen through the eyes of a Buddenbrook, is un- acceptable and the marriage is doomed. Tony returns home. Seen through a differ- ent prism, however, Permaneder emerges as a jovial man who enjoys the pleasures of life-his beer, comfort, and sensuality (in the person of Babette). By vindicating Per- maneder's essential humanity (he does, after all, return Tony's dowry after the di- vorce), the novel casts yet another shadow on the effect of the family's codes.

Tony, like Agathe, is "read" as remaining a child by her family. The Buddenbrook farn- ily's repeated descriptions of Tony-as-child are not unique, following as they do social at- titudes towards women in general. For Tony as a human being, this adds one more layer of prescriptions to follow. For the family, it be- comes an expedient way to deal with Tony's behavior without having to deal with the ori- gins of her behavior. Thomas reads Tony's letter from Munich as proof that "Tony Bud- denbrook als Madame Griinlich sowohl wie als Madame Permaneder immer ein Kind blieb, da13 sie alle ihre sehr erwachsenen Er- lebnisse fast unglaubig, dann aber mit kind- lichem Ernst, kindlicher Wichtigkeit und- vor allem-kindlicher Widerstandsf&gkeit erlebte" (370). Thomas believes and, through his words, the reader may become convinced that Tony truly does remain a grown-up child who is never deeply affected by her life experiences:

Dieses gluckliche Geschopf hatte, solange sie auf Erden wandelte, nichts, nicht das geringste hinunterzuschlucken und stumm zu verwinden gebraucht. [...I Alles, jedes Gluck und jeden Kummer, hatte sie in einer Flut von banalen und kindisch wichtigen Worten, die ihrem Mitteilungs- bedurfnis vollkommen genugten, wieder von sich gegeben. [...I Nichts Unausge- sprochenes zehrte an ihr; kein stummes Erlebnis belastete sie. Und darum hatte sie auch gar nichts an ihrer Vergangen- heit zu tragen. (670-71)

Since Thomas's ruminations occur in Tra- vemiinde, a place where Tony did indeed have to deny her own wishes and self, Thomas's analysis must be seen, in part, as a wish projection, reading into Tony much of what he misses in his own life. Thus, while it is true that Tony collapses her life experiences into a few phrases and a few names that allow for self-dramatiza- tion, her family is all too willing to erase her adult story and see her only as a child. Most recent Mann scholars follow Tho- mas's lead and, by concentrating on the Tony of the second half of the novel, the self-described "dumme Gans," dismiss her as a fool.

Buddenbrooks, unlikeAusguter Familie, does not focus on the heroine's inner life, es- pecially in the second half of the novel. Agathe's tormented struggles between a na- scent awareness of the detrimental effects of social prescriptions and the power of those scripts to take over her life eclipse Tony's by far. Unlike Agathe, Tony is not an acutely sensitive, self-reflective heroine. Neverthe- less, she is not as totally naive as Thomas (and thenarrator) seem to believe. Lehnert's assertions that Tony's "halb aufgezwungene Liebesverzicht sie aus der Bahn geworfen [hat]" and that the "Naivitat des ange- pdten Biirgers ist ihr versagt" ("Thomas Mann" 39) are undoubtedly correct. Tony recognizes that she is "'abgewirtschaftet"' (4391, that hers is a failed life, even though she laments, "'ich weil3 nicht, womit ich es verdient habe'" (584).She tells Hanno of her time in Travemiinde:

"Ich habe da, was Anschauungen und Kenntnisse betrifft, weil3t du, fur mein ganzes Leben vie1 gelernt, und wenn nicht anderes dazwischengekommen ware, allerhand Ereignisse . . .kurz, wie es im Leben so geht ... so hatte ich dummes Ding wohl noch manches profitiert."


She also describes for Hanno her hapless attempt to garner "'die bunten Sterne aus den Quallen"' (6391, an unsuccessful at- tempt that can be seen as a metaphor for her young life. These are all traces of doubt towards the structures that have sustained her. The last page of the novel is a counterpoint to the first page. Contrasted with young Tony's early reeling off of the catechism passage is her sad acknowledg- ment:

"Ach, es gibt Stunden, Friederike, wo es kein Trost ist, Gott strafe mich, wo man irre wird an der Gerechtigkeit, an der Gute ... an allem. Das Leben, wiJ3t ihr, zerbricht so manches in uns, es lat so manchen Glauben zuschanden werden ... Ein Wiedersehen ... Wenn es so ware .... "


What was broken and what remains of Tony in the second part of the novel? The girl who once had a hearty appetite becomes ever more plagued by a nervous stomach as she is forced to swallow repeated disappointments, as she is distanced ever further from Morten and the "reines Naturprodukt" (123) honey he recommended to keep her healthy. She is left with increasingly disjointed fragments of language that reflect the undigested bits of life and knowledge with which she has had contact. Since Tony has never been trained to enter the "male" world of language and thought, it is not surprising that she "denkt gar nicht in einem einigermden strengen Sinne des Wortes, sondern sie aul3ert Stereo- typeund A~tomatismen."~~

Even as a child, Tony's lack of education surfaces. She must resort to commonplaces when she wishes to express herself. The best retort she can muster to annihilate Griinlich once and for all is: "'Das ist nicht gegenseitig! "'(101). Her body postures reveal a layer of theater, not au- thenticity, when she assumes the "romantic" pose of the grieving daughter at her father's funeral; yet the novel leaves no doubt she deeply loved her father. Increasingly dis- tanced from outer reality, Tony turns Her- mann Hagenstrom into a fetish, the source of all evil, and the family Bible as the source of all identity. What Brinker-Gabler asserts of Agathe is also true of Tony: Tony experi- ences a

Selbstentfremdung durch die Normen und Phrasen, die sich in ihr aufgebaut ha- ben, fremde Gedanken und kiinstliche Stimmungen, in denen sie schwelgt. (171)

If Tony is indeed the only Buddenbrook to retain a measure of vitality, hers is none- theless a radically diminished life. If Tony has survived, if she can retain an element of play and of harmlessness, it is because she has neither achieved nor been accorded weight as an adult human being.23 If Tony, as is repeated often in the novel, always re- mains the same, then it is because her devel- opment was thwarted. If she never under- stands her life, it is because "sie von Anfang an nicht Leben diirfte" (Kurzke 75). Tony does not suffer from a surfeit of individua- tion; she suffers from a lack of individua- tion-as do the heroines in many contempo- raneous novels written by women. The "Wirklichkeitskritik" and "Moral" in Tony's story are powerfid when viewed through this lens. Such a reading of the novel may well have been close at hand-for both Mann and his readers-given its proximity to Reuter's hs guter Familie, other novels written by women, and the pervasive public discussion of the Frauenfrage.

Thomas Mann, then-a feminist sound- ing a call for change? Despite the fact that he distances himself (and Reuter) from this role in his Reuter essay?24 Discussing the salient differences between hs guter Familie and Buddenbrooks using the tenns broached in Mann's Reuter essay allows us to answer the question of Mann's "feminism," his social engagement, as well as the questions regard- ing Mann's "misreading" and his insistence on the incompatibility between "true art" and politically motivated art.The last of the three terms Mann employed in his discus- sion ofhs guter Familie-alongside "Wirklichkeitskritik and "Moral," Mann added "Ironien--provides the key.

Ausguter Familie and Buddenbrooks are strongly imbued with irony. Reuter uses irony liberally to unmask the hypocrisy of Wilhelmenian society. Even the novel's title contains an ironic play on the word "good." Reuter points her lance at all institutions and belief systems that threaten the growth of the individual ~oman.~"he absurdity of the gender dressage imposed on Agathe evokes in the reader a mixture of "Entsetzen und Heiterkeit" (Tebben, "'Gott im Him- mel'" 293)' yet Reuter's irony is never di- rected at Agathe. Reader identification and a sense of solidarity with Agathe remain un- broken because of Reuter's skillfid use of di- alogue and stream of consciousness. Tebben shows how Reuter uses irony to activate the reader:

[die Ironie] wird immer dann eingesetzt, wenn es gilt, eine aus mannlicher Sicht formulierte Codierung des Weiblichen zu konterkarieren, ein Vorgehen, bei dem der Leserin die aktive Rolle der Demas- kierung zugespielt wird. ('" Gott im Him- mel"' 301)

While Mann's irony is also aimed at social institutions, he does not spare Tony As the novel progresses, his treatment of Tony turns so sharply ironic that she becomes a grotesquecaricature, an unwitting clown. As Tony's storyispushed to the marginsof the novel, the narrative stance changes from one of sympa- thy to irony and a barely disguised derision. Tony's decay might be read as her particular version of the general Buddenbrook decay; Christian also becomes an increasingly gro- tesque figure. We must, however, keep in mind that the negative dynamic in Tony's life differs qualitatively from her brothers' fate since, unlike their fate, hers must be read as primarily socially determined.

Mann consciously chose to portray Tony as destroyed by the family values. This point is underscored when the facts of Tony's fic- tional life are compared with those of the real-life model-Mann's aunt, Elisabeth Mann. At Mann's request his sister Julia sent him aletter sketching their aunt's life.26 Since the similarities between the fictional story and biographical portrait are so close, the few instances where Mann deviated from his sister's account are worth noting. Ac- cording to Julia Mann, both of Elisabeth's early suitors were wealthy, thus Elisabeth did not have the two radically different choices facing Tony Buddenbrook. More im- portant, there is nothing in Julia Mann's let- ter to indicate that their aunt was child-like, bound ever more closely to the family after her failed marriages. On the contrary, Elisa- beth had a very strained relationship with her mother and did not return home after her two divorces. She attempted to live inde- pendently away from the family and Liibeck: she ran a Familienpension, lived with a girl- friend in Munich and was a Gesellschafl te~-in.~~

Thus, the fdy's dominance of Tony, evidenced by her renunciation of Mor- ten, her repeated returns home, and her infantihation are Mann's creation. In addi- tion, the ironic stance that the novel's narra- tor assumes towards Tony is not foreshad- owed in Julia's letter.

Mann not only moves Tony, who looms so large in the first half ofBuddenbrooks, to the margins of the story, but also cruelly turns her into a caricature. He strays from the template of his aunt's life by not allowing Tony a life away from the family Why? One answer is that after a woman has lived out the "romance plot," she is no longer in the center of male fictional interest. Tillrnann argues in a similar vein, stating that Mann simply lost interest in Tony Bohm hypothesizes that all women were uninteresting for Mann due to his homoerotic tendencies. Detering posits that Mann reduced the social reality of Tony's life in order to increase the symbolic presence of the eternal feminine. These answers, while reflecting a greater or lesser element of probability, fall too short. I propose to add another answer to the mix: Mann diminishes Tony, attempts to distance the reader from her and lessens reader iden- tlfication with her, thereby preventing Bud- denbrooks from being read as social agitation, the fate that had befallen Aus guter Familie. Mann may have recognized this as a distinct (and, for him, dangerous) possibility, especially after reading Aus guter Familie while working on Buddenbrooks. The enig- matic phrase connected with Aus guter Familie in Mann's notebook, "Grausamkeit gegen das Publikum," may well refer both to the violent visceral effect Reuter's novel has on readers who identify with the heroine and to the novel's unmistakable critical

Building on this analysis we can see that Mann charted a course+consciously or not -that allowed him to avoid these perceived dangers. While writing Buddenbrooks, Mann made sure that Tony's story did not elicit unbroken reader identification and call for a "feminist" reading by aiming his "Iro-

nie" at Tony in such a devastating fashion. Later, Mann guides reader responses to Buddenbrooks in his Reuter essay. Any hint of his own earlier response, seeing in Aus guter Fa- milie a "Grausamkeit gegen das Publikurn," is totally absent in the essay. Instead, he takes quite a different tack. As stated, Mann used this essay to achieve his own ends of dis- tancing his work from his brother's, refining his own artistic positions, and providing a framework within which to read Buddenbrooks. To this we can add the fact that the essay prevented Tony Buddenbrook from being read against the backdrop of Agathe Heidling. This happens in a two-fold man- ner. Although Tony Buddenbrook is never mentioned in the essay, she is a shadow pres- ence to anyone familiar with the two novels, a presence evoked by the similarities be- tween her life course and Agathe's. Mann distances Agathe from Tony by "misread- ing" Agathe. He overemphasizes and dis- torts Agathe's sensitive "artist" nature, which Tony does not share with Agathe, while ignoring the social determinants of her decay, which Tony does share with Agathe. In an even more radical move, Mann stra- tegically removes Reuter's novel from the realm of the "agitatorisch" and places it squarely in the realm of the "kontemplativ- kiinstlerisch,"touse Mann's dichotomy. The "Wirklichkeitskritik," "Moral," and "Ironie" in Aus guter Familie are to be read only in artistic, not political terms. I propose that Mann advances these ideas, in part, to en- sure that the "Wirklichkeitskritik "Moral," and "Ironie" as they deal with a woman's life in his own novel not be read as social critique, ashkluge. Mann thus avoids the real possi- bility that Tony's story be read as a call for women's emancipation from the stultifying social codes and gender politics that preclude individuation.

Is my reading of Buddenbrooks going too far? Is seeing social critique in Tony Budden- brook's fate as much a misreading as Mann's rehsing to see social critique and a call to ac- tivism in Agathe Heidling's fate? The answer to the question is yes, but only if Mann's strict dichotomy between "political" and "artistic" is accepted. The dichotomy Mann proposes follows a much too simple scheme: socially critical literature is written by a writer convinced that the world can be made better and intending to activate readers. True art,on the other hand, is not intended to have a political impact. The artist "[mu131 tief erkennen und schon gestalten" (392) and is to be concerned only with "absolute[rl Mu- sik" (391). Mann ignores the fact that a novel may elicit powerful responses that translate into social action precisely because deep in- sights are tied to an artistically beautiful form. When Mann postulates that "Wirk- lichkeitskritik," "Moral," and "Ironie" need be only "Stil," "Pathos," and "Vertiefungs- mittel," he forgets that these elements work- ing together can create a work of art so pow- erful that it moves individual readers in unforeseen ways. Despite the author's in- tentions, an individual reader may see in Agathe Heidling as well as in Tony Budden- brook an "abschreckendes Exemplum" (3931, a tragic victim of gender and class pre- scriptions, and may consequently be moved to feel and to act politically.

Just as readers cannot be controlled by an author's intent, neither can the fictional characters. Despite the heavy irony rained upon Tony and despite the child-like role she is assigned, Tony seems to slip away from these strictures. She was and is taken seri- ously by at least some intrigued readers,29 Heinrich Mann among them:

"Du [Thomas] hast bisher eine einzige Frau um ihrer selbst willen (nicht einer Idee zuliebe, wie im Tristan) und aus- fuhrlich dargestellt: Toni Buddenbrook. Die Figur ist ausgezeichnet, als Tragerin von Burgerthum und Familie; ich brau- che nicht erst zu betheuern [sic], da13 all ihre kleinen Echtheiten und der Stil des Hauses, in dem sie gedacht ist, sie unan- tastbar machen." (Schneider 241)

I contend that the shadows of two women, one real, one fictional, are to be found in Tony BuddenbrookJulia Mann and Aga- the Heidling. Thomas Mann never again created a female character as multi-di- mensional as Tony Buddenbrook.


The effectiveness of the various strate- gies Mann employed to guide readers must remain an open question. At least one reader of his essay explicitly agreed with Mann. Reuter writes:

Thomas Mann sagt in einem Essay uber das Buch ungefahr: Den Agathenseelen nutzt keine Eroffnung von Frauenberu- fen, keine ~nderun~von

Schulen und Er- ziehung, sie werden sich immer wieder wundreiben an den Unzulanglichkeiten des Daseins. Es ist ganz einfach die Kunstlerseele, die gefangen im Burgerli- chen sitzt und sich hinaus in die Freiheit sehnt, aber nicht die Kraft hat, sich die Freiheit selbsttatig zu erringen. Das ist auch meine Meinung.-Aber das fertige Buch wirkte anders, als es in die 0ffent- lichkeit hinaus trat-und wie es wirkte, so war es gut. (Vom Kinde zurn Menschen 434)

This passage contrasts in a puzzling fash- ion with another account of her intention when writing the book, placed just two pages earlier in the autobiography:

Und plotzlich wuf3te ich, wozu ich auf der Welt war-: zu kiinden, was Madchen und Frauen schweigend litten. Nicht die gro- Ben Schmerzen der Leidenschaften [...I. Nein,-die stumme Tragik des Alltags wollte ich kunden [...I.

Diese Menschentragik verkorperte sich mir am reinsten und starksten in dem Madchen aus burgerlichen Kreisen-in der Tochter aus guter Familie. Hier war ich zu Haus-hier kannte ich alle Grunde und Untergrunde des Milieus und der Herzen. Hier konnte ich eigne Sehnsucht, eigne Bitterkeit stromen lassen-und wuljte doch: ich gab nicht den Einzelfall, ich gab das Typische, an dem zahllose Mitschwestern sich erkennen-sich am

Ende gar erlosen wiirden. Gott im Him-

mel-welche Aufgabe! (432)

Whatever the reason for this dissonance, both impulses-the artistic and the criti- cal-find room in her novel and its discus- sion in her autobiography. Both impulses also find room in Mann's novel and his Reuter essay, even if the "agitatorisch" leads a far more shadowy existence than the artistic. Mann may have wanted to dis- avow that which was socially critical and not wanted to engage with the burning is- sues of the Frauenfrage; nevertheless, he became a participant in the discussions re- garding the role of women by virtue of his creation, Tony Buddenbrook. Thus, Mann's Tony Buddenbrook stands alongside Reu- ter's Agathe Heidling in inviting readers to critique the social and gender codes en- forced by their "good" families, the very codes that destroyed these women.


lThomas Mann, "Gabriele Reuter," Gesammelte Werke, vo1.13 (Berlin: Fischer 1974) 38%

98. The essay was first published in Der Tag (Berlin) on February 14 and 17, 1904.

2Although there is no dearth of Mann schol- arship, surprisingly little attention has been paid to women in Mann's fiction. In 1988 Ezer- gailis responded to the contention that Mann's writing is a "masculine work" and that his "fe- male figures are pure constructs" with the ob- servation that "the final assessment is not quite that simple, and there is work to be done here." Inta Ezergailis, ed., Critical Essays on Thomas Mann (Boston: Hall, 1988) 3. Recent work that looks specifically at women includes: Karl Werner Bohm, Zwischen Selbstzucht und Verlangen: Thomas Mann und das Stigma Homosexualittit (Wurzburg: Konigshausen & Neumann, 1991); Claus Tillmann, Das Frau- enbild bei Thoms Mann: Der Wille zurn stren- gen Gluck: Frauenfiguren im Werk Thomas Manns, 2nd ed. (Wuppertal: Deimling, 1992); and Inta Ezergails, Male and Female: An Approach to Thomas Mann's Dialectic (The

Hague: Nijhoff, 1975); Herbert Lehnert, "Tony Buddenbrook und ihre literarischen Schwes- tern," to appear in Thomas Mann Jahrbuch 2002.

3Scholarship on Reuter includes: Lynne Tat- lock, Intro., From a Good Family, by Gabriele Reuter, trans. Lynne Tatlock (Rochester, NY: Camden, 1999) ix-xiv; Karin Tebben, "Psycho- logie und Gesellschaftskritik: Gabriele Reu- ter," Deutschsprachige Schriftstellerinnen des fin de sidcle, ed. Karin Tebben (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1999) 266-89 and "'Gott im Himmel! Welche Auf- gabe!' vom Gluck der Berufung und der Muhsal des Berufs," Beruf: Schriftstellerin-schreibende Frauen im 18. und 19.Jahrhundert, ed. Karin Tebben (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998) 276-310; LindaKraus Worley, "Gabriele Reuter," Women Writers in German- Speaking Countries, ed. Elke P. Frederiksen and Elizabeth G. Ametsbichler (Westport, CN: Greenwood, 1998) 390-97 and "Gabriele Reu- ter: Reading Women in the Kaiserreich," Auto- ren Damals und Heute: Literaturgeschicht- liche Beispiele veranderter Wirkungshorizonte,

ed. Gerhard P. Knapp (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1991) 419-39; Gabriele Rahaman, "'Aber was einem gefiel, dem musste man miljtrauen': A female perspective on Bismarck's Germany,"London German Studies 6 (1998): 201-22; Elke Frederiksen, "Der literarische Text im spaten

19. Jahrhundert als Schnittpunkt von regio- nalen, iiberregionalen und Geschlechts-Aspek- ten: Gabriele Reuters Roman Aus guter Fami- lie zum Beispiel," Literatur und Regionalitat,ed. Anselm Maler (Bern: Peter Lang, 1997) 157- 66; Renate von Heydebrand, "Der literarische Kanon und die Geschlechterdifferenz: Vor- uberlegungen am Beispiel von Gabriele Reuter und Theodor Fontane," Jahrbuch fir finnisch- deutsche Literaturbeziehungen 29 (1997): 86- 99; Gisela Brinker-Gabler, "Perspektive des l%ergangs: Weibliches Bewuljtsein und friihe Moderne," Deutsche Literatur won Frauen, ed. Gisela Brinker-Gabler, vol. 2 (Munich: Beck, 1988) 169-205.

4Peter de Mendelssohn, S. Fischer und sein Verlag (Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer, 1970) and Donald Richards, The German Bestseller in the 20th Century: A Complete Bibliography and Analysis (Bern: Lang, 1968). Buddenbrooks did not receive a wide readership until after it was published in a one-volume edition in 1903; Mann was thus the more junior and less ac- claimed of the two authors at the time he wrote the "Reuter" essay.

5Helene Lange, "Aus guter Familie," Die Frau

3.5 (1896): 317.

6Helene Stocker, "Gabriele Reuters Aus gu- ter Familie," Die Frauenbewegung 2.4 (1896):


7Reuter gives the following picture of the novel's reception: "Ganz Deutschland beschaf- tigte sich mit dem Buche. Es weckte einen Sturm in der Frauenwelt-die wildeste Erre- gung unter Vatern und Muttern. Ernste, reife Manner haben mir noch nach Jahren versi- chert, die Lekture habe ihr Herzensverhaltnis zu ihren Tochtern von Grund auf verandert. Die Verwandten erklarten das Buch fur ein Teufelswerk." Gabriele Reuter, Vom Kinde zum Menschen (Berlin: Fischer, 1921) 474. In an article written in commemoration of Reu- ter's seventieth birthday, Stocker writes: "Aber jene Agathe Heidling 'aus guter Fami- lie', sie ist im geistigen Leben jener Generation noch etwas anderes gewesen als Literatur. Das war Selbstbefreiung groljen Stils [...I." Helene Stocker, "Gabriele Reuter," Die neue Rund- schau 40.1 (1929): 271.

81n a letter dated January 8, 1904, Mann wrote his brother Heinrich that their uncle Friedel had complained that "'Dein Buch Die Buddenbrooks haben mir viele Leiden bereitet. Ein trauriger Vogel, der sein eigenes Nest be- schmutzt!"' See Hans Wysling and Marianne Eich-Fischer, eds., Selbstkommentare: "Bud- denbrooks" (Berlin: Fischer, 1990) 28. Moulden and Wilpert report that "Als Thomas Manns Roman in Liibeck erhaltlich wurde, machte er Furore. [...I Entschlusselungslisten wurden aufgestellt und zirkulierten in der Stadt." Ken Moulden and Gero von Wilpert, eds., Buddenbrooks Handbuch (Stuttgart: Kroner, 1988) 24.

gReuter's review of Konigliche Hoheit appeared in Der Tag 256 (1909) and promptly earned her the vituperative assault of Otto Schmidt-Gibichenfels who links "Thomas Mann und seine 'Gesinnungsgenossin' Gabri- ele Reuter" in his 1909 article "EinVorkampfer fur judische Rassenpolitik," reprinted in Klaus Schroter, ed., Thomas Mann im Urteil seiner Zeit(Hamburg: Wegner, 1969) 51.

l0Cf. Wysling and Eich-Fischer. Until recently (Lehnert 2002), Buddenbrooks scholarship has pointed out the influence of the Goncourt brothers, Keilland, Lie, Tolstoy, etc., but ig- nored Reuter.

llHelmut Kreuzer, "Thomas Mann und Gabri- ele Reuter: Zu einer Entlehnungfur den 'Doktor Faustus,"' Neue deutsche Hefte 10 (1963): 108-


12Hans Wysling and Yvonne Schmidlin, eds., Thomas Mann: Notizbucher 1-6, vol. 1(Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer, 1991) 103.

l3In a postcard dated February 22, 1904, Mann responds to Reuter's thank-you note. He writes, "D& mein Aufsatz gefallt, ist mir eine grof3e Genugthuung. Nimmt man ihn als 'Werk,' so fallt die zweite Halfte ein bif3chen ab; aber die erste ist ganz leserlich geschrieben. -Was sagen Sie dazu, d& jetzt die New-York Staats- zeitung meine Buddenbrooks abdruckt, ohne an ein Honorar zu denken?" Thomas Mann, Briefe: 1889-1936, ed. Erika Mann (Berlin: Fischer, 1961) 449.

14Harald Hobusch, "Gabriele ~euterllher die Kritik," Thomas Mann: Kunst, Kritik, Politik 1893-1913 (Tubingen: Francke, 2000) 71-82; Heinrich Detering, "Das Ewig-Weibliche:Thomas Mann uber Toni Schwabe, Gabriele Reu- ter, Richarda Huch," Thomas Mann Jahrbuch 12 (1999): 149-69; Karin Tebben, "'Man hat das Prinzip zur Geltung zu bringen, das man darstellt': Standortbestimmung Thomas Manns im Jahre 1904: 'Gabriele Reuter,'" Thomas Mann Jahrbuch 12 (1999): 78-97. These scholars avoid the interpretive pitfalls of as- suming Mann's superiority and taking his es- say at face value.

15Mann's "defense" of Reuter speaks directly to the charges levied against Reuter and other women writers regarding their predilection for writing "Anklageliteratur." Lorenz, e.g., con- tends that "in diesem Genre [Anklagelitera- turl sind die schreibenden Frauen bekanntlich grol3. [...I Die Lust des 'reinen Schauens', die Fahigkeit zu 'interesselosem Interesse', damit aber auch die Moglichkeit zu hochsten, ten- denzlosen Kunstwirkungen ist ihnen stets ver- sagt, auch der Reuter." Max Lorenz, Die Litte- ratur [sic] an der Jahrhundertwende(Stuttgart: Cotta, 1900) 159.

IQabriele Reuter, Aus guter Familie: Leidens- geschichte eines Madchens (Berlin: Fischer, 1931) 354. All references will be to this edition.

17Gabriele Reuter, Liebe und Stimmrecht, 2nd ed. (Berlin: Fischer, 1914). Qtd. here from

Emanzipation und Literatur: Texte zur Diskus-

sion, ed. Hansjiirgen Blinn (Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer, 1984) 205.

The Morten-Tony romance in Buddenbrooks contains faint echoes of this constellation. Both MartinMorten are youthful, enthusiastic re- bels against the status quo of the father genera- tion.

1gFor insights into the family dynamics, cf. Hermann Kurzke, Thomas Mann: Epoche Werk Wirkung (Munich: Beck, 1985) 64-82 and Herbert Lehnert, "Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks(1901),"Deutsche Romane des 20.Jahrhundert, ed. Paul Michael Lutzeler (KonigsteinITaunus: Athenaum, 1983) 3149.

20 Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks: Verfall einer Familie, Gesammelte Werke, vol. 1(Berlin: Fi- scher, 1960) 107. All references will be to this edition.

21 Tillmann, for example, overlooks the social forces stifling Tony's free will and limiting her intellectual development when he faults her for her continued childish egoism (51).

22Kurzke 75. Although Mann's extensive use of recurring phrases and motifs is one of the novel's underlying stylistic principles, we must carefully differentiate among the various ef- fects and contexts regarding the use of this lit- erary device. Christian uses a similar standing repertoire of phrases and anecdotes, yet his use of these phrases reflects both a broader realm of lived experiences as well as a conscious decision to replace the words of the family with those of the theater. Tony's use of language is also dif- ferent from the "Sprachstoff' Wyslingrefers to when he points to Mann's predilection for using citations from other sources: "Was im Roman als 'Wirklichkeit' erscheint" is increasingly "nur Sprachstoff, nicht Weltstoff" (309). See Hans Wysling, "Thomas Manns Verhaltnis zu den Quellen: Beobachtungen am Erwahlten," Quellenkritische Studien zum Werk Thomas Manns, ed. Paul Scherrer and Hans Wysling (Bern: Francke, 1967) 258-322.

23Cf. Michael Zeller, "Seele und Saldo. Ein texttreuer Gang durch Buddenbrooks," Thomas Manns 'Buddenbrooks' und die Wirkung, ed. Rudolf Wolff, 2 vols. (Bonn: Bouvier, 1986)

2: 9-42, here 15. Helmut Koopman prefers to read Tony as choosing her "Verspieltheit als Schutz," as an attempt "eine Katastrophe zu uberspielen" (55) in "Buddenbrooks.Die Ambi- valenz im Problem des Verfalls," in Wolff 1: 107-31. Tony does act the part of child at times, but there is not as much volition in her actions as Koopman would suggest. Indeed, one of the very first to read the novel, a Lektor at S. Fi- scher Verlag, praises Tony as a character, but criticizes "'dass das Dumme ihres Charakters nichts von ihrem Wesen Verschiedenes, son- dern identisch mit ihm ist"' (285). Qtd. in Paul Scherrer, "Bruchstucke der Buddenbrooks-Urhandschrift und Zeugnisse zu ihrer Entste- hung 1897-1901," Neue Rundschau 69.2 (1958): 258-91.

24Mann writes explicitly: "Regeneration, Schulreform und Frauenbefreiung sind ohne Zweifel edle Dinge, und gegen Banausen wird ein Kiinstler sie stets in Schutz nehmen. Und doch wird er sich sperren, wird auch mit hinter- haltigen und Abstand suchenden Komplimen- ten antworten, wenn ihr ihn als Angehorigen einer solchen guten Sache begruljen zu durfen glaubt" ("Reuter" 392). Mann lists precisely the three areas of social criticism arguably present in Buddenbrooks.

25The ironic description of Frl. Kriebler's tea at which feminist slogans are unremittingly hurled at every problem is a case in point. The irony with which Reuter describes the gather- ing should not be used as evidence that Reuter was uninterested in women's issues as Mann does ("Reuter" 393). Rather, this scene under- scores Reuter's aversion to everything fanati- cal, one-sided and thus life-deadening.

26Julia Mann, "Tante Elisabeth," Sinn und Form 15.2-3 (1963): 482-96. See also: Ulrich Dietzel, "Tony Buddenbrook-Elisabeth Mann: Ein Beitrag zur Werkgeschichte derBuddenbrooks," Sinn und Form 15. 2-3 (1963): 497-


27Julia Mann comments that her aunt "mach- te sich haufig lustig uber das untergeordnete Verhaltnis, in dem viele der Frauen zu ihren Mannern standen und das sie [Elisabeth] in ihrer Ehe, gegen den Willen ihres Mannes, naturlich nicht duldete" (493).

*aMann's words here may also betray his ad- verse reaction to the sexual elements in Aga- the's story. The sexuality in his brother Hein- rich's novels was a source of difficulty for Thomas, cf. his letter to Heinrich of December 5, 1903. In a draft of his answer to Thomas, Heinrich remarks on Tony's lack of sexuality: "Aber sehen wir sie einmal nicht als weibliche Buddenbrook, als Burgerin an, sondern als Toni, als Frau. Ihr Vorbild weist ja Zuge auf, die vom Stil des Burgerhauses abweichen. Es hat unterm 2. Kaiserreich gebluht und ist in dieser Cocottenkultur soweit mitgegangen, wie eine Deutsche aus dem Mittelstand das eben konn- te. Es hat sich fur die eigene Sinnlichkeit min- destens so sehr interessirt [sic], wie fur die 'Fir- ma'. Die Toni kennt nur die 'Firma', lat sich ihr zu Liebe verheirathen, behauptet nur, wenn es sich um sie handelt, einige Person- lichkeit. Um ihrer Jugendliebe willen hat sie keine. Alle sexuelle Energie ist sauber heraus- geschnitten." Qtd. in Peter-Paul Schneider, "' .. . wo ich Deine Zustandigkeit leugnen mulj

. . .': Die bislang unbekannte Antwort Heinrich Manns auf Thomas Manns Abrechnungsbrief vom 5. Dezember 1903," "In Spuren gehen": Festschrift fur Helmut Koopman (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1998) 231-53, here 241. Lehnert ar- gues the opposite, asserting a repressed sexual- ity in Tony ("Tony Buddenbrook").

29Ridley points out that, while Tony was enor- mously popular with turn-of-the-century read- ers who ignored the cruel way she was treated by the narrator, modern readers tend to dis- miss Tony as a fool. Hugh Ridley, The Problem- atic Bourgeois: Twentieth Century Criticism on Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks" (Columbia, SC: Camden, 1994) 19. However, not all early readers responded to Tony positively, not all later negatively. Gertrud Baumer intriguingly does not mention Tony at all in "Thomas Mann, der Dichter der Buddenbrooks,"published in Die Frau 11.1(19031, rptd. in Jochen Vogt, Thomas Mann "Buddenbrooks" (Munich: Fink, 1983) 32-36. In Thomas Mann und der deut- sche Bildungsroman (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 19671, Jurgen Scharfschwerdt asserts that Tony "[wird] zu einer gegenuber allen anderen Figuren ausgezeichneten Figur, zu einer Hauptfigur in einem neuen Sinn" (60) primar- ily because Mann "vor allem in Tony den Per- sonlichkeitswillen zugleich parodiert und wach- halt" (65). For "unsere [!I Tony" this means that the "Parodie des Traditionellen [sie] fur neue Aufgaben frei machen kann" (65). Scharf- schwerdt mistakenly underestimates the effect of the irony with which Mann's narrator por- trays Tony and overestimates any new tasks she is to attempt. Eberhard Lammert prob- lematizes a too positive view of Tony's role in "Thomas M. Buddenbrook,"Der deutsche Ro- man, ed. Benno von Wiese (Dusseldorf: Bagel, 1963) 190-233, here 194.

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