Die Blechtrommel (German) Paperback – 13 May 1987
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About the Author
GUNTER GRASS (1927 2015), Germany's most celebrated contemporary writer, attained worldwide renown with the publication of his novel "The Tin Drum" in 1959. A man of remarkable versatility, Grass was a poet, playwright, social critic, graphic artist, and novelist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1999.
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A warning before I go on: Grass won fame because of his complex writing style and content, which even native German speakers find challenging. Unless you have very strong German reading skills, I would recommend looking for a translation. Also, if you are easily offended, especially concerning religion (Catholicism) or sex, this book is not for you.
For those with strong German looking for a great post-WWII German literary work, this is a must-read.
Oskar Matzerath, an artist of sorts, writes his memoirs while living in an insane asylum, creating a novel that defies all labels and categories, but has been called "obscene," "burlesque," "surreal," "pornographic," and "magical realist." Through the eyes of the protagonist and his home city of Danzig, Grass lets us observe the culture and history of the "Dritte Reich." The novel is divided into three "books," which correspond to divisions of German history: pre-WWII, WWII, and post-WWII. Oskar, the observer, is a "hellhoeriger" infant whose intellectual development is complete at birth and only needs time to show. When he turns three, he recieves a tin drum, which he uses to attack, criticise, teach, and express himself. On his third birthday, he also decides to stop his physical growth, and continues to live as a paradox: to the outward world, he remains a somewhat "slow" three-year-old, but in fact he is able, from his "childish" perspective, to see through the shallow, petty lives of the adults around him.
The book is written from an intentionally amoral perspective, leaving the reader to struggle with the implications of the events portrayed in remarkable prose. Through Oskar, Grass critiques, speaks of tragedy and violence with equally brutal honesty. He lets no-one off the hook. Die Blechtrommel suggests more than shows the link between the apathy, greed, immorality, and silence of ordinary "Kleinbuerger" and the rise of Nazi Germany. Even the narrator is shown with all his moral and physical defects, which are many and large. That he fails to win our sympathy or trust is not due to the author's lack of ability; Grass alienates us from Oskar intentionally, denies us an emotional identification with his narrator, startles and provokes us, and challenges us to think more deeply and critically than mere pathos would allow.
To sum it up: if you want something that will challenge your German language skills, your assumptions about the world, and your literary perception, read this book.
What kind of a fellow is Oskar, that wise gnome and narrator? Truly, a recalcitrant devil he is who smashes wine glasses, spectacles, store windows and the windows of the municipal theater, causes a forest fire amidst an open-air opera, sabotages patriotic rallies and touts his work as “destructive”. Don’t look for his friends – he has none. Nobody escapes his biting scorn, neither the Catholics nor the Soviets, not the Poles or the Germans, the English, the French, or the Americans.
Isn’t he even mocking his readers as ignorant fools, exposing them to a remarkable list of unrealistic fables? Why tell a story of his grandmother being impregnated by a stranger hiding under her five skirts in a potato field? Is anybody to believe that Korbyella, after his legs had been blown off, approached death while playing cards? Hearing about Herbert Truczinski, a museum guard, trying to have sex with a wooden, voluptuous sail-ship’s figurehead called Niobe and dying in the process, don’t you wonder about the sanity of the storyteller? Why does Oskar, a dwarf 21 years old, suddenly grow in size after he buried his toy drum, why does that make his nose bleed, and why does Schugger Leo thereupon recognize “the Lord” in Oskar? Sooner or later you get tired of being taken for a dunce. I counted more than 25 such yarns that impress you as absurd and bizarre.
Of course, I apologize for criticizing a Nobel laureate’s creation in this manner. There is an obvious justification for that reward: his artistry of storytelling, his ability of modulating language in a most marvelous way. There are passages you reread several times so as to let the beauty sink in and to enjoy the eruption of high–octane narrative. Again and again I came to the conclusion that there was no way in the world to adequately translate such an exquisite linguistic wizardry into any foreign language. Even less possible would that be with regard to quotes in local dialect, which Grass expertly sprinkles into his tale and which in German adds delicious spice and humor to the story, but is totally dead in translation.
Yet even his narrator’s gift provokes objections. Sentences exceeding half a page are neither pleasant nor informative. You may reread them to parse the grammar, but before long you admit defeat and just read on. And then there are those passages, where, with or without gross Freudian motivations, the author dilates trivial happenings into several pages, as if his record got stuck and thus outruns the reader’s patience. The secret intrusion into a nurse’s room went on for 13 pages. Her black belt reminded him of trapping eels in a submerged horse’s head, a memory lasting four pages. Ascending a single elevator in Paris produced a word stream six pages long.
All of these peculiar flaws make you wonder: Could it be that Oskar, that little gnome, was in reality a malicious gremlin, who surreptitiously attempted to interfere, undermine and sabotage this story from start to finish? And was that the reason why the Stockholm Committee took four decades to make up its mind?
there is an interesting book i also read recently,the book is nice too,you can get the book here...http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00X1MYVYK