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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)

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6,088751,023 (3.98)1 / 357
1950s (9)
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English (61)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Bulgarian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (75)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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 |
Though not a hard book to read, it was hard to understand. I had to rely on commentaries and reviews to understand what all the symbolism means. Nevertheless, it was certainly a masterpiece in how Grass depicted the impact of war on the Germans. Grass also switched between the use of the first person and third person in telling Oskar's story. He also occasionally reminded us that Oskar is an unreliable narrator, the most obvious instance was when Bruno took over the storytelling for a chapter and declares that he doesn't trust Oskar's version. Towards the end of the book, Oskar also kept recounting the past episodes in his life. It is as if Grass knows that his book is long and readers will forget what transpired earlier on. ( )
1 vote siok | Aug 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (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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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)

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