- Original Title
- Die Blechtrommel
- Oskar Matzerath
- Literary Awards
- PEN Translation Prize
About this Author
He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). Since 1945, he has lived in West Germany (now Germany), but in his fiction he frequently returns to the Danzig of his childhood.
He is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum, a key text in European magic realism. His works frequently have a strong left...
Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.
Granted: I AM an inmate of a mental hospital- my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight- theres a peep-hole in the door, and my keepers eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.
Today I know that all things are watching, that nothing goes unseen, that even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings.
|About the Book|
Meet Oskar Matzerath, the eternal 3-year-old drummer. On the morning of his 3rd birthday, dressed in a striped pullover & patent leather shoes, clutching his drumsticks & his new tin drum, Oskar makes an irrevocable decision: It was thenMoreMeet Oskar Matzerath, the eternal 3-year-old drummer. On the morning of his 3rd birthday, dressed in a striped pullover & patent leather shoes, clutching his drumsticks & his new tin drum, Oskar makes an irrevocable decision: It was then that I declared, resolved, & 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--& 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, Grass gives us Danzig, a contested city on the Polish-German border- instead of Hook & his pirates, we have the Nazis. In place of Peter himself is Oskar, a twisted puer aeternis with a scream that can shatter glass & a drum rather than a shadow. Published in 59, The Tin Drums depiction of the Nazi era created a furor in Germany, for the world of Grass making is rife with corrupt politicians & 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 #5 streetcar & rode to the Langasser Gate, because there as in Zoppot & Langfuhr the synagogue was on fire. The synagogue had almost burned down & the firemen were looking on, taking care that the flames should not spread to other buildings. Outside the wrecked synagogue, men in uniform & others in civilian clothes piled up books, ritual objects & strange kinds of cloth. The mound was set on fire & the grocer took advantage of the opportunity to warm his fingers & his feelings over the public blaze. As Oskar grows older (tho not taller), portents of war transform into the thing itself. Danzig is the 1st casualty when, in the summer of 39, residents turn against each other in a pitched battle between Poles & Germans. In following years Oskar goes from one picaresque adventure to another--he joins a troupe of traveling musicians- becomes the leader of a group of anarchists- falls in love- becomes a recording artist--until some time after the war, hes convicted of murder & confined to a mental hospital.The Tin Drum uses savage comedy & 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, hell make you laugh, but hell make you bleed, as well. Thereve been many novels written about WWII, but only a handful can truly be called great- The Tin Drum, without a doubt, is one.--Alix Wilber