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The Tin Drum by G. Grass
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The Tin Drum (original 1959; edition 2010)

by G. Grass

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5,01658903 (4.01)1 / 283
Member:sfaaron
Title:The Tin Drum
Authors:G. Grass
Info:Vintage Books (2010), Paperback
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (1959)

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English (46)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
bad timing--there's still way too much 20th c German lit I need to get to before Grass.
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
I read at least part of this book in college -- in the original German -- but I'd forgotten just how strange and twisted of a book it is. It's rather intense overall, especially with the style it's written in. It's quite detailed and rather heavy at times, but it's well-written almost throughout. There were only a few parts, especially towards the end, where I didn't feel as captivated, usually when there was repetition of certain events.

As for the story itself, it's quite difficult in many ways, and quite often. Disturbing, emotional, twisted, tragic, and lots of other "fun" stuff. Not surprising given our narrator, who seems to be precocious and talented, but also wicked and a bit insane as well. The other characters are all quite intriguing in their own ways, but you end up questioning how much you can trust the narrator in all of this, especially given the things he does to the others.

I think I'm glad I read (or re-read) this book, but I don't know that I will be re-reading this in future. It's such an intense book, and I can appreciate it for what it is, but I think I've had my fill, for now at least. ( )
  digitalmaven | Mar 4, 2014 |
This is going to be the very, very short version as one would have to write pages to do justice to this book and I'm just not up to it. In a nutshell..Oskar is born with the understanding of an adult. He hears a conversation between his mother and her husband in which the husband says Oskar will grow up and take over the family grocery store. The mother says when Oskar is three he will get a drum. The horror! A life running the grocery store is not to Oskar's liking but he likes the idea of the drum. At the age of three he determines he will never be a politician, run a grocery store or grow up, so he stops growing and takes up the drum. He drums through school, the occupation of Poland by the Germans, the liberation by the Russians and all other societal upheavals. He drums his life, who was his father, his mother's husband or her lover and second cousin? Oskar likes to think the cousin. He drums his love of Maria and the boy he may have fathered with her, he drums his involvement with a youth street gang and all other events in his life until the day comes when he determines that he must give up his drums and grow up.

The book is brilliant and really deserves 5*s, this reader, however, is less brilliant and did not always understand the references made and for that reason alone I dropped it to 4*s. I found it the type of book that is not a sit down and read it straight through book but one that required me to stop every 40 or 50 pages to try to digest what I had just read, it made me think and work for my enlightenment and the rewards were worth it. Having knowledge of the historical events of this time period would certainly be of value and enhance your reading pleasure. An excellent book and I apologize to the author for penalizing his work for my own shortcomings. ( )
  mlbelize | Jan 27, 2014 |
Author: Günter Wilhelm Grass, translated by Ralph Manheim
Audio, translated by Breon Mitchell, narrated by Paul Michael Garcia
Published: 1959
Pages, 589
Genre: fiction, German literature, magical realism, Danzig Trilogy
My copy: library book, switched to audio ⅓ into book

Awards: winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

The story is about a small person (dwarf) named Oskar Matzerath who decides to quit growing at age three. We first meet him in a mental hospital where he is being held for a murder. Oskar is obsessed with red and white drums which he uses to tell his story. He also can cut glass with his screams. It is also the story of pre-war Poland and Germany, the rise of Hitler, defeat of Poland and defeat and partition of Germany. I am going to take a quote from the 1001 Books 2006 edition because I could never have come up with this on my own, “Oskar is the voice of an asocial, those Nazis considered to belong to life unworthy of life. Grass draws on the picaresque tradition to map out his dwarf drummer’s journey through a brutal and brutalizing era in European history, but he also reinvents the traditions of popular culture despised by the Nazis as degenerate art. Fairy tales, the carnivalesque, the harlequin, the mythological trickster--all jostle and combine in the The Tin Drum to reveal the deathlike inhumanity of the rationalization of racial hygiene. I can say that looking back, all that is there. I also can say that the author is extremely talented wordsmith. Here is one example, ...and there deposited the hollow metallic cylinder, slightly tapered at the front end, which had lodged a lead kernel until someone with a curved forefinger had exerted just enough pressure to evict the lead projectile and start it on its death-dealing change of habitat. (all to say an empty cartridge that someone had shot from a gun).

Another example of his writing, “when every male who could stand halfway erect was being shipped to Verdun to undergo a radical change of posture from the vertical to the eternal horizontal”.

“China crying out for a bull” and

“even bad books are books and therefore sacred”

I just wish I could have liked it but I couldn’t. I didn’t like reading it and audio was just a way to bulldoze my way to the end. I didn’t like the sexual innuendos. They were quite clever though. Oskar had no redeeming qualities and most of the characters were grotesque. I can’t recommend that anyone should read this book but if you really like reading all kinds of magical realism, and you have an interest in the history of Poland and post war Germany perhaps you would like to tackle this one.
( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
I just had to read this book after watching the bizarre movie a while back. The book kept calling to me, especially as it was on the '1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die' list. Sometimes you just need to pick up the book that is calling to you! The movie won an Academy Award for best foreign film, while this book couldn't have kept Gunter Grass from winning the Nobel prize. The German translation here is so readable, so interesting and so well written. Little Oskar, seemingly born with an adult brain, decides to stop growing at age three and remains three feet tall, inseparable from his tin drum and can scream glass to oblivion. Oskar is one of those characters impossible to forget, while there are so many characters around him are like that as well. I wouldn't cut any bit of this story out of the book. It was all equally interesting and necessary... there probably could have been more. It seems every ten pages there was an entirely new scenario, a fascinating challenge for Oskar to get through. Though this book took place during WWII, it seemed it wasn't really present until the very second someone died, which was a bit odd. Up until about page 395 the movie contains almost everything in the book except for a few details, including that Oskar is narrating his tale from a mental institution. So there is about 200 more pages that does not exist in the movie. It's a bit nice that way: the movie staying almost entirely the same up until the last 2/5's of the book. Accurate while also including a something extra to the story. I'd say if you see the movie you must read the book and if you read the book you must see the movie. 'The Tin Drum' must be at the top of both German books and movies. I kind of already miss reading it already... ( )
  booklove2 | Nov 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grass, Günterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chmielik, TomaszTranslatormain 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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For Anna Grass
First words
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.
Quotations
Maria frightened Oskar with her hairy triangle.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067972575X, Paperback)

Meet Oskar Matzerath, "the eternal three-year-old drummer." On the morning of his third birthday, dressed in a striped pullover and patent leather shoes, and clutching his drumsticks and his new tin drum, young Oskar makes an irrevocable decision: "It was then that I declared, resolved, and determined that I would never under any circumstances be a politician, much less a grocer; that I would stop right there, remain as I was--and so I did; for many years I not only stayed the same size but clung to the same attire." Here is a Peter Pan story with a vengeance. But instead of Never-Never Land, Günter Grass gives us Danzig, a contested city on the Polish-German border; instead of Captain Hook and his pirates, we have the Nazis. And in place of Peter himself is Oskar, a twisted puer aeternis with a scream that can shatter glass and a drum rather than a shadow. First published in 1959, The Tin Drum's depiction of the Nazi era created a furor in Germany, for the world of Grass's making is rife with corrupt politicians and brutal grocers in brown shirts:
There was once a grocer who closed his store one day in November, because something was doing in town; taking his son Oskar by the hand, he boarded a Number 5 streetcar and rode to the Langasser Gate, because there as in Zoppot and Langfuhr the synagogue was on fire. The synagogue had almost burned down and the firemen were looking on, taking care that the flames should not spread to other buildings. Outside the wrecked synagogue, men in uniform and others in civilian clothes piled up books, ritual objects, and strange kinds of cloth. The mound was set on fire and the grocer took advantage of the opportunity to warm his fingers and his feelings over the public blaze.
As Oskar grows older (though not taller), portents of war transform into the thing itself. Danzig is the first casualty when, in the summer of 1939, residents turn against each other in a pitched battle between Poles and Germans. In the years that follow, Oskar goes from one picaresque adventure to the next--he joins a troupe of traveling musicians; he becomes the leader of a group of anarchists; he falls in love; he becomes a recording artist--until some time after the war, he is convicted of murder and confined to a mental hospital.

The Tin Drum uses savage comedy and a stiff dose of magical realism to capture not only the madness of war, but also the black cancer at the heart of humanity that allows such degradations to occur. Grass wields his humor like a knife--yes, he'll make you laugh, but he'll make you bleed, as well. There have been many novels written about World War II, but only a handful can truly be called great; The Tin Drum, without a doubt, is one. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:11 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 15 descriptions

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