Kryzys idei wieczności. Na marginesie powieści Tomasza Manna „Buddenbrokowie”

Ireneusz Ziemiński


Crisis of Immortality in Thomas Mann’s Novel Buddenbrooks


The literary works by Thomas Mann show how the concepts of death and eternal life change in western culture. Buddenbrooks, a novel set in the 19th century, presents the downfall of the idea of immortality typical for Christianity. By following the lives of several generations of a merchant family from Lubeck, Mann first shows faith in the afterlife, understood as being reunited with God (Thomas’ grandparents), followed by doubt in Divine Providence (Thomas’ father), a failed attempt to abandon religious myths and replacing them with the idea of cosmic immortality (Thomas), hope for living in the memories of next generations (Tony, Thomas’ sister) and the desire for nothingness (Hanno, Thomas’ son). Despite losing faith in the basic rules of Christianity, the characters in the book still perform the rituals, which help them make death more bearable; however, the culmination point of losing faith in immortality is the death of Hanno, who seeks freedom from suffering and final annihilation.

Keywords: death, eternity, immortality, Christianity, Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks, faith, religious myths, freedom, the meaning of life.

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