Buddenbrooks was Thomas Mann's first novel, published in 1901 when he was twenty-six years old. The publication of the 2nd edition in 1903 confirmed that Buddenbrooks was a major literary success in Germany.
It portrays the downfall (already announced in the subtitle, Decline of a Family) of a wealthy mercantile family of Lübeck over four generations. The book is generally understood as a portrait of the German bourgeois society throughout several decades of the 19th century. The book displays Mann's characteristic detailed style, and it was this novel which won Mann the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929, although according to Mann's wife this achievement would not have occurred without the publication of The Magic Mountain.
Thomas Mann started writing the book in October 1897, when he was twenty-two years old. The novel was completed three years later, in July 1900, and published in October 1901.
The two main translators of Thomas Mann's big books are Helen (H.T.) Lowe-Porter and John E. Woods. For Buddenbrooks, these are so far the only translators.