Have I ever mentioned my passion for literary costume drama of the BBC Jane Austen type? Replete with heaving bosoms and wind-swept hair, rainy hills and bustling market squares filled with pigeons and shouty flower-vendors? Christmas time, of course, is the prime season for costume drama, because we are all glued to our familial sofas and forced to find some televisual compromise that offends as few relatives as possible.
The Germans aren't quite as keen on the old literary costume drama as the Brits, to my great dismay. But last night I thoroughly enjoyed Heinrich Breloer's film adaptation of Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks. What viewing joy! Big dresses, sibling rivalry, domineering fathers, adultery, failed relationships - surely all the ingredients of family life are here. And you don't even have to read the very long book!
While my friend and colleague Shelley Frisch is convinced Buddenbrooks is the prequel to The Corrections, the rather clever contemporary German writer Jan Böttcher has adapted the material in a shorter and more darkly amusing manner in a Christmas story published in Die Zeit, entitled "Die Jahresvollversammlung".
I certainly feel I have a deeper insight into the German soul after watching Buddenbrooks and reading Böttcher. Those poor, poor things. Although perhaps Thomas Mann's sensitive misogyny is preferable to modelling one's life on Sense and Sensibility, who knows.