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The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

The Tin Drum (1959)

by Günter Grass

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Danzig Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,260771,047 (3.98)1 / 364
Acclaimed as the greatest German novel written since the end of World War II , The Tin Drum is the autobiography of thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath who has lived through the long Nazi nightmare and who, as the novel begins, is being held in a mental institution. Willfully stunting his growth at three feet for many years, wielding his tin drum and piercing scream as anarchistic weapons, he provides a profound yet hilarious perspective on both German history and the human condition in the modern world.… (more)
1950s (9)
Europe (295)
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English (62)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  Bulgarian (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
I enjoyed Gunter Grass' novel "The Tin Drum," both for the plot, which moved along at a nice brisk pace, and for writing, which was lively and vivid.

Set mostly in Danzig in World War II, the novel features our narrator Oskar, who says he decided to stop growing at the age of 3. He plays the drum incessantly as a sort of protest march about all he finds objectionable -- his parents' marriage, his two possible fathers, life growing up in a grocery store. He becomes locked up in a mental institution for a murder he did not commit (as opposed to the ones he did.)

I thought the book was clever without being annoyingly so. ( )
  amerynth | Dec 4, 2019 |
Big read. Classic and worth the read, just! ( )
  DannyKeep | Apr 18, 2019 |
Funny I missed rating and reviewing this jewel. This is the lodestar, the mandrake root, the intrepid ooze making friends in the lukewarm pools of primeval poetry. This was the point of departure. A hallowed book I finished in a laundromat. I almost can't remember my reading life before wee Oskar. Eels, fizz, post offices, onions and Dusters have littered my imagination seemingly forever. I wanted to read the new translation and likely will someday. My memories of my own grandmother now smell like butter.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Dec 2012):
- 1959 novel, set in Free City of Danzig, now Gdansk, Poland, the author's birthplace. The Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to Grass, "whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history."
- This is a magical tale of memoir and social satire, centered on the life of our narrator, little Oskar Matzerath, who looks back upon 40-some years of eccentricity, confined now to a mental hospital in 1950s Dusseldorf. Beginning with a fable-like story of his mother's conception, compliments of an arsonist on the lam, the elements of Oskar's fantastical life are revealed. He is born with adult sensibilities virtually intact, and decides, at age three, to avoid becoming a "politician, or grocer" (his nazi-adherent father owns a store), to stop growing. He sneaks books by Goethe and Rasputin from the baker's bookshelves, while working to play the "ignoramus".
- In time, he uses his drumming skills to disrupt political rallies, and also discovers a glass-shattering skill, which he effectively employs when anyone tries to take away his drum. He toddles along as a mute, but intelligent observer of his surroundings, which include his mother's not-so-secret dalliances with a Polish postal worker. Oskar's narration is full of biting wit, occasional lewdness, and political satire. Religion - the boy Jesus and the Madonna especially - gets a lot of attention here, along with death, classic culture and, at a periphery, war.
- Aside even from the magic realism, this is a bizarre book. Matzerath is one of the oddest characters you'll ever come across in literary fiction. As much as I was carried along, the novel felt too long well before the end. As admirably imaginative as Grass is, too much of a good things can become a challenge. However, if you have any interest in...post World War II German Lit, then I'd recommend it. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Aug 31, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grass, GünterAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chmielik, TomaszTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fontcuberta i Gel, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmberg, NilsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kafka, VladimírTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manheim, RalphTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, BreonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruberl, VittoriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuur, KoosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Secci, LiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Granted: I'm an inmate of a mental institution; my keeper watches me, scarcely lets me out of his sight; for there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can't see through blue-eyed types like me.
Zugegeben: ich bin Insasse einer Heil- und Pflegeanstalt, mein Pfleger beobachtet mich, lässt mich kaum aus dem Auge; denn in der Tür ist ein Guckloch, und meines Pfleger Auge ist von jenem Braun, welches mich, den Blauäugigen, nicht durchschauen kann.
Maria frightened Oskar with her hairy triangle.
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