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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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5,28164836 (3.99)1 / 316
Member:sfaaron
Title:The Tin Drum
Authors:G. Grass
Info:Vintage Books (2010), Paperback
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (Author) (1959)

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English (52)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  Bulgarian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (64)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Captivating novel of humanity caught in the maelstrom of war. Grass' ability to find lust and humor in the "thick of battle" [so to speak] is memorable. By turns gritty and hysterical, the surreal aspects only serve to complement the whole. Grass encourages us to reject apathy at all costs. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
The Tin Drum is the story of Oskar Matzerath who is born with fully developed mental capabilities. On his third birthday receives a tin drum and decides that he will stop growing (literally and figuratively). We first meet Oskar as a patient in a mental institution as he drums to remember all the details of his life story. Oskar has two talents: drumming and “singshattering.” Armed with these two skills, Oskar embarks on a number of adventures. We follow him through childhood, as a member of a band of traveling performers, and in various endeavors as an “artist.” The Tin Drum is a classic bildungsroman (or perhaps more accurately the anti-bildungsroman since development and maturity of the main character remains questionable) that places the development of it’s main character in the context of pre- post war War II. In doing so, Grass is able to describe the violence and brutality of the World War two era in Danzig.

It was not an enjoyable read (and enjoyment was not the author’s intention), but is one that I appreciated. Grass’s unique writing style, wit, and symbolism throughout make it worth the read. The social commentary underlying the book makes it intentionally uncomfortable for the reader. Oskar is dislikeable (in my opinion) because his denial and detachment prevent him from truly understanding and acknowledging his role in the lives and deaths of people. He is a symbol of the collective guilt and denial of personal responsibility that Grass attributes to ordinary citizens during WWII and Nazi Germany.
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
I'm a bit lost for words - this has some amazingly beautiful language, images and writing. It is laden with references to cultural heritage. There are moments when I am extremely sympathetic to the main character and points where I was utterly disgusted by him. This wasn't a quick read - it was quite intense and at times a bit of a slog. But ultimately I am glad to have read it. I'm not inspired to read more Grass but it was deserving of its place on the 1001 Books list. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
Best not listened to via audiobook I think. Magical realism, a fictional autobiography of Oskar, who decides to stop growing aged 3, and has a thing for tin drums. It's emotional, tragic, dark comedy, fantastical and grotesque... and beyond that, my insomnia fuelled brain just isn't sufficiently with it to summon up a review. ( )
  evilmoose | Dec 13, 2015 |
“But every time I shunned books, as scholars sometimes do, cursed them as verbal graveyards, and tried to make contact with the common folk, I ran up against the kids in our building and felt fortunate, after a few brushes with those little cannibals, to return to my reading in one piece.”

The Tin Drum is a fictional autobiography. Oskar Matzerath is writing it from inside a mental institution, the reasons for his incarceration are unknown until the very end of the book. When Oskar was a three year-old, he received a toy tin drum from his mother and decided to stop growing. At the same time, he developed a high-pitched singing voice that he could use to break glass. He remains 3 foot tall most of his life at his father's funeral he suddenly decides to grow again and reaches the height of 4 foot 2.

Oskar's autobiography is also the biography of his family and its history, starting around the turn of the 20th century and extending until after World War II from his grandparents' generation to the present day. His family live in so-called free city of Danzig which gets captured by the Germans at the start of WWII.

Oskar is self-educated having never been to school but learns to read with Rasputin and Goethe the biggest influences on his life. As he grows up he has a variety of adventures. He is present when the Polish Post Office in the city is taken by the Germans. As he grows he becomes the leader of a teenage gang, he gets jobs as varied as a memorial inscriber of grave headstones and a model. He spends some of the war years as part of a travelling troupe of other midgets who travel around Europe entertaining the German soldiers and after the war becomes a renowned and wealthy musician but he never seems to settle at any one thing for any great length of time.

Now I must say that this is probably one of the strangest books that I've read in a long time and large parts of it I found fairly repetitive and over-blown. This repetition made the plot plodding in nature rather than truly riveting IMHO but that said I was constantly intrigued to know what Oskar would get up to next. Overall an interesting read but not a great one for me but then maybe I just missed what was really going on. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Oct 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grass, GünterAuthorprimary 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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Wikipedia in English (2)

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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:40 -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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