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The Tin Drum Paperback – 5 May 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099483505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099483502
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 3.5 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,202,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Funny, macabre, disgusting, blasphemous, pathetic, horrifying, erotic, it is an endless delirium, an outrageous phantasmagoria in which dust from Goethe, Hans Andersen, Swift, Rabelais, Joyce, Aristophanes and Rochester dances on the point of a needle in the flame of a candle that was not worth the game' Daily Telegraph"

Book Description

'Thus my task was destruction'

To mark the centenary of the First World War, Vintage is launching a unique collection of war fiction. April 2014 will see the publication of twelve works by the greatest writers of the last century, each tackling this most powerful and universal of subjects.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Jun. 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have been meaning to read this book since it came out in 1959, but only did so recently. My reason for delaying was that the reviews I had read of the book made it sound unappealing to me. Why did I want to read the unrealistic ramblings of an insane dwarf?
Having been impressed with Mr. Grass's recent work, Crabwalk, I finally decided to give The Tin Drum a try. I'm glad I did. Let me explain why.
In my studies of the Nazi era, I was always struck by comments that observers from that time made about how banal the evil of it all was. Yet much of the propaganda from that period (such as The Triumph of the Will) that we can see today makes the Nazis seem like mythic figures. What were the observers trying to say? I finally felt like I understood the point through reading The Tin Drum. Reading about distant battles while living in Germany before the bombing became great seems a lot like reading about attacks on coalition troops in Iraq now. Going to party meetings seems a lot like how people here go to lodge meetings now.
In the first 100 pages, I kept wondering why Mr. Grass had chosen to write the novel in the form of an autobiography of an insane dwarf pretending to have a mental age of 3 who had been convicted of a murder he did not commit. Eventually, it hit me. He needed a narrator who could not be considered complicit in what the Nazis did, or we could not trust his voice. In addition, how can you portray banal evils as insane unless you see them through the eyes of an "insane" person who makes all too much sense? Once I accepted the brilliance (perhaps even the inevitability of his choice), I settled back and really began to enjoy the story.
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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
I have been meaning to read this book since it came out in 1959, but only did so now. My reason for delaying was that the reviews I had read of the book made it sound unappealing to me. Why did I want to read the unrealistic ramblings of an insane dwarf?
Having been impressed with Mr. Grass's recent work, Crabwalk, I finally decided to give The Tin Drum a try. I'm glad I did. Let me explain why.
In my studies of the Nazi era, I was always struck by comments that observers from that time made about how banal the evil of it all was. Yet much of the propaganda from that period (such as The Triumph of the Will) that we can see today makes the Nazis seem like mythic figures. What were the observers trying to say? I finally felt like I understood the point through reading The Tin Drum. Reading about distant battles while living in Germany before the bombing became great seems a lot like reading about attacks on coalition troops in Iraq now. Going to party meetings seems a lot like how people here go to lodge meetings now.
In the first 100 pages, I kept wondering why Mr. Grass had chosen to write the novel in the form of an autobiography of an insane dwarf pretending to have a mental age of 3 who had been convicted of a murder he did not commit. Eventually, it hit me. He needed a narrator who could not be considered complicit in what the Nazis did, or we could not trust his voice. In addition, how can you portray banal evils as insane unless you see them through the eyes of an "insane" person who makes all too much sense? Once I accepted the brilliance (perhaps even the inevitability of his choice), I settled back and really began to enjoy the story.
Read more ›
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Depressaholic on 20 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
'The Tin Drum' is a precursor of Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children', and tries to do for twentieth century Germany what Rushdie did for India. It is the story of Oskar Matzerath, whose development both mirrors and is mirrored by a country recovering from one world war and sliding into and out of another one.
Oskar's is a sometimes bewildering journey. The style is episodic, with seemingly unconnected events described in largely discrete chapters, but underpinned with recurring motifs, not least of which is the toy drum with which Oskar records and voices his thoughts. This style ('Magical Realism') has become familiar since this book was published, and it is obvious that writers like Marquez and Rushdie have both borrowed heavily from Grass. Unlike 'Midnight's Children', though, the cultural and historical references are oblique and often remain obscure. Because of this, long stretches of the book become the diary of an odd and strangely distasteful character, simultaneously childlike and aware, seemingly emotionally detached from the events he describes. This is not a huge problem, because Grass' writing is entertaining and occasionally funny, and although Oskar himself remained an unsympathetic character, the fates of those around him kept my interest to the end. However, my lack of understanding of many references meant that I frequently wondered where the book had just taken me and why. That said, the chapters are short and the cast of characters fascinating, and it is a book that can be put down and picked up with ease. Fans of Magical Realism will enjoy this book, as will anyone interested in twentieth century Germany. However, readers should be prepared to accept that much of what is in this book will completely pass them by.
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