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Les Années de chien by Günter Grass
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Les Années de chien (original 1963; edition 1997)

by Günter Grass, Jean Amsler

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775611,908 (3.86)19
Member:OccuponsMontreal
Title:Les Années de chien
Authors:Günter Grass
Other authors:Jean Amsler
Info:Seuil (1997), Poche
Collections:Your library
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Dog Years by Günter Grass (1963)

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» See also 19 mentions

English (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 3 of 3
Although I found this difficult to get into it paid off in trademark Gunter style. He's a visionary, slipping through the cracks in the floorboards of history, introducing himself to the dustballs & skeletons (or in this case scarecrows & canines). Metaphysical magic realism with a tangible icy humour. ( )
  K_Fox | Nov 22, 2012 |
Woof!

Grass's second big novel, from 1963. Calling it the third book in the "Danziger Trilogie" seems to be just a marketing thing - the story overlaps in time and space with the story of Blechtrommel, and there are a couple of brief mentions of people and incidents from the earlier novel, but what links the books is really the same thing that links all the rest of Grass's fiction and non-fiction: German history as he experienced it in his own life.

There's less uncontrolled rage here than in Blechtrommel. He still hits hard when he needs to, but the general mood is rather more ambiguous. Matern, the "antifascist" protagonist, finds that the war criminals he is hunting down are all good and decent people who turn out to have had perfectly plausible reasons for doing what they did; he himself has a dark secret in his past that he isn't prepared to face - something that becomes extra poignant now that Grass has revealed in his memoirs the corresponding dark secret in his own war experience. There's a clear warning that it's all too easy to deceive ourselves about our own faults, but that judging other people is equally hazardous, especially if we weren't there.

Grass is never less than entertaining, of course, even when he's lecturing you or going off into an abstruse discussion of the finer points of German shepherd dogs, technicalities of classical ballet, or the different qualities of cereal crops. There are some very plain, sober bits of writing, and some incredibly flashy passages, like the famous account of the closing days of the battle for Berlin as a search for a lost dog, written in language that's a clever cross between the style of Heidegger and that of military communiqués. Occasionally it all seems a bit too clever, but there mostly turns out to have been a good reason for it.

Grass is very conscious of the power of stories, and he makes a lot of use of story-telling tricks - repetition, looping narrative, interruption, verbal tags (Leitmotifs, really) linked to particular characters or ideas. A lot of well-known stories from literature, mythology and folklore come up, implicitly or explicitly. Walter and Eddie are sometimes Faust and Mephistopheles, sometimes Narziß and Goldmund, sometimes Siegfried and Loge. The book opens with a treasure being thrown into a river; it closes with a fire and a tour of the underworld.

As well as the big stuff, there's also a lot of wonderful detail. We get a few more deliciously repulsive entries in the Grass cookbook of meals you really wouldn't like to share: raw jellyfish, boiled animal entrails, soup made from replete leaches... Nothing quite as nightmarish as the eels in Blechtrommel, but it's a close run thing. ( )
1 vote thorold | Jul 15, 2011 |
Another intricate novel of Grass's. The family line of a dog, leading to Hitler's favorite dog, Prinz. Part of the Danzig trilogy, shared with Cat and Mouse and his watermark Tin Drum.
Cat and mouse is smaller in scale than the first novel (Tin Drum), and Dog Years is much more on the same scale as Tin Drum. ( )
  tsinandali | Oct 29, 2005 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grass, Günterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Manheim, RalphTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuur, KoosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Walter Henn in memoriam
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Erzähl du.
You tell.
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Book description
In this ferocious novel of the Hitler years and their aftermath, the author of The Tin Drum tells a brilliant, bizarre and savage tale of "the love-hate and blood brotherhood of Nazi and Jew...The strongest, most inventive writer to have emerged in Germany since 1945...Much of what is active conscience in the Germany of Krupp and the Munich beer halls lies in this man's ribald Keeping."
George Steiner, commentary
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 015626112X, Paperback)

A novel set in three parts, beginning in the 1920s and ending in the 1950s, that follows the lives of two friends from the prewar years in Germany through an apocalyptic period and its startling aftermath. Translated by Ralph Manheim. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:35 -0400)

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