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The Flounder

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  997 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The Flounder
Hardcover, 547 pages
Published May 28th 1978 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P (first published January 1st 1977)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,179)
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One of my favorite novels ever. I've devoured, with intentional puns, this one twice, the second time in tandem with my friends. This represents the purpose of literature. One's culinary awareness is doubtless to be inspired within these pages.
Well. Uh. This is definitely something.

An odd book, to put it mildly. Grass has his trademark humor and historical wisdom here. But the whole concept of the novel is something baffling - a talking fish gives advice to the reincarnations of a man and his cook-wife in the areas near Danzig, and the fish is accused by a gang of radical feminists that he has altered the course of history by instituting the patriarchy. There's also a lot of discussion on food, particularly potatoes.

I have no idea wha
this book is kicking my ass ... a herculean effort required to finish it. there are, however, brilliant passages peppered in the dense stew that I really really love. Whenever I get to one, it's a giant relief.

So ask yourself, do you like books that offer occasional relief? Do you like interminable slogs through someone's intellectual workouts? Do you like falling asleep on the train and missing your stop?
Jennifer Richardson
This book is a fantastic, convoluted, dark and intensely strange 500 page fairy tale. The story perpetually switches between time periods, from early neolithic to present, and between the female protagonists of each time- but once you get the hang of all of the women and the men (who are in fact one man conscious of all of his historical reincarnations), it is surprisingly easy to read and stay in the flow of the current narrators past and present ramblings and references. Essentially this histo ...more
Feb 20, 2010 Bibliowulf is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germanistik
To be continued, the deeper in I get. Haven't encountered such culinary indulgence since Rabelais, such brazen jocularity since Diderot, and such full-stomached appetite for life since Grimmelshausen. Grass is the potato of literature: earthy, savory, and irreplaceable.
Deftig (ribald)! This would be the one-word review. Grass is explicit in his extensive descriptions - mostly of food, in parts sexuality or other body functions and sometimes violence.

The story:
Der Butt has three narrative dimensions.
1. Today, the narrator and his wife Ilsebill - who is of legendary fame due to an old fairy tale - are receiving a child. The book is divided into nine chapters, one for each month of the pregnancy.
2. The second dimension consists of the narrator's multiple reinca
Czarny Pies
May 08, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No. There are better books available in the Grass catalogue
Recommended to Czarny by: I was a bigGrass fan before reading this lamentable effort and still am.
Shelves: german-lit
Man is was man isst. Man is what he eats. What makes better sense then to write a history of ones hometown Gdansk (a.k.a. Danzig) through its food of which the dish of honour is the Flounder which is the heraldic animal of Gdansk.

Unfortunately the joke goes on far too long. Gunther's Grass great talent is his ability to show how popular attitudes change from decade to decade, from year to year and (in times of war) from day to day.

In this great masterpiece, the Tim Drum Grass shows how the atti
Robert Beveridge
Gunter Grass, The Flounder (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977)

I just couldn't get through it. I can't really put my finger on why, but there it is. The Flounder contains all the things I revere about Grass-- a strong sense of history, scurrlious sense of humor, strong characters put into wonderfully unrealistic situations. But this novel, Grass' weightiest (literally), never seems to come together in all the little ways that made similarly large tomes like The Tin Drum and Dog Years such wonderful
Een van de mooiste kaft illustraties die ik ooit heb gezien.
My favorite book not named "Brothers Karamazov". Unbelievably rich and detailed hisotries of numerous personal relationships along the path of German historical growth intertwined with the 'true' story of how the Flounder, caught by an itinerant fisherman, changed history. Before his capture men were happily subservient and subdued in a matriarchal society; afterwards, not so much! When the Flounder allows himself to be caught a second time, this time by a woman, he's put on trial for his past t ...more
Ahren Lembke-Windler
after receiving the most personalized recommmendation for this book ever, i find it strange to say this, but it's not really a book i'd recommend to others, just because it's so... eclectic? that said, it's fantastic and exactly the kinda book you love to run into other readers of, cuz it's great for discussions. so, read it. but that isn't a recommendation-- you might hate it.
Although the Tin Drum is more famous, The Flounder is more typical of Grass' sprawling mid-period novels, and still worth a read. Along with The Rat, this is the high-water mark or Grass' writing, but e.g. Local Anaesthetic also worth a punt.
Gregory Sotir
Great read, especially about food. Grass' writing is quite disturbing, at times almost macabre, but his sweeping dark histories of 20th century Northern Europe are essential to understand what happened there during those frightening times.
Joey Manley
It's been many years since I read it, but I think I owe my fascination with food history (or I guess I should say the history of cooking) to having been exposed at such a young age to Gunter Grass' The Flounder. I should read it again.
Jan 01, 2009 Vivienne rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Open minded person looking for a long book
Shelves: nobel-laureate
Made me laugh, pissed me off, confused me, kept me company for many evenings and sometimes I just had to walk away to think about what I had read (or get it out of my head). Definitely reaction provoking.
Randy Lowe
the premise of this was just brilliant and as it dawned it on me and took shape at a perfect pace it had me doing backflips. But by about the halfway point I felt like I had more or less absorbed it and was kind of increasingly disappointed as I waded through the remainder. A long slog of repetition and lily gilding. I almost thought that this may have been an intentional sort of dismantling... a formalist reiteration of a theme of some kind. or even an extremist's wit: word-playing on the book' ...more
This book had an interesting premise and some brilliant pieces of writing. Despite that, it felt a little too long and took me quite a while to finish even though I was basically reading this and doing nothing else since I started the book. Some parts of the book were delightfully convoluted with a touch of absurdity while some parts were just a little silly. The timeline was also all over the place. I hear that Grass has better books and I liked it enough to give those a try. Maybe not immediat ...more
Mar 27, 2008 Steve added it
Not Exactly Sashimi Quality

Gunter Grass, I love you, but The Flounder just isn't a sashimi quality piece of fish. It's really more something out of the frozen food section.

The Tin Drum, the author's first book, remains one of the most white hot brilliant novels written in the last 100 years. It's the kind of book that in every sentence shows the desperate need the author had to tell his tale.

By contrast, The Flounder is a tepid excercise that expresses no such fiery need. Sure, there are good id
Tulio  Albuquerque
Um livro genial! Difícil de ler. Demorei exatamente um ano para chegar ao fim.

A tradução de Jehovanira Chrysóstomo de Sousa é excelente e seu Sumário ajuda muito o leitor (Editora Nova Fronteira).Ao fim dos nove meses, quando nasce sua filha, ele escreve estas linhas que emocionam qualquer pai de filha querida:

"Sim.Sim. Você terá tudo. Seu pai providenciará.Seu pai se preocupa. Seu pai ainda lhe é um pouco estranho porque não tem útero. Você tem que dar um pouco de tempo a seu pai, até ele entor
An epic, dense, hilarious, heartbreaking (sometimes in the same sentence) meditation on the sexes and everything else under the sun. The 4000+ year scope, use of poems, absurdism, endless transgressions, humor, and postmodernism is Pynchonian in its reach, but undeniably Grass. NO ONE else could have written this book. Not a perfect work, but such a fantastic contribution to the literary canon that it deserves all 5 stars.
Special K
Jan 03, 2011 Special K rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Special K by: Nathaniel Baker
Shelves: euro-lit
This is the first book I've read that's made me seriously reconsider my policy to never quit a book. I still finished the book, but it was a very tough go. It was really long (spanning all of human history basically), really tedious (detailed descriptions of recipes) and often sexually explicit in a way that seemed to be trying to shock just for the sake of shock itself.
Considering the epic proportions this book attempted, I found myself perpetually waiting to react, to be intrigued, or even to
I really didn’t enjoy reading this very much. The premise is kind of cool, even if it encompasses so much nuance it isn’t really describable in a sentence, and some of the episodes touched on along the way have compelling arcs, but on the whole it just feels like way too much masturbatory writing. And that’s not even touching on the fact that Grass spends 500+ pages thoroughly investigating the uses and abuses of power in German history only to completely ignore the Third Reich, followed by a bi ...more
J. Mark
The only Grass I've read, and I really liked it. A man (representing all men) is on trial for his crimes throughout history by a court of feminists. He is represented by a flounder, who has been present, whispering suggestions in his ear throughout the millennia, basically guiding Man into the predicament in which he finds himself. The conscience of Man is a flat fish. In every age the central male character is coupled with a central female cook. She is represented by a signature dish, which, th ...more
Sebastian Perez Saaibi
La obra maestra de Gunter Grass.
The flounder is a fish that has been talking since the neolithic age. He advises man how to break from the original matriarchy, and become dominant over woman. The novel concerns the differences between the sexes, cooking, and history. The narrator has been around since the neolithic German days in various incarnations. Many of the women in the story are also timeless. The book is written to be funny, but the way it skips between times and characters was confusing. I almost finished it.
Jim C
this is a good one, my favorite Grass book, and I have read them all. it is difficult to follow at times due to length and Grass' favored device of time-jumping, but I am used to rereading passages in longer and more complicated literature. the length and breadth of the scope of this novel is exactly what gives it such an epic feel, in my opinion, so sticking with it pays dividends. however you feel about Grass as public figure, you have to admit that he had a gift as an artist.
Subarna Acharya
The flounder is actually a type of a fish. But this particular flounder transcends the norms and crosses the borders to whisper weird stories into the ears of an equally capable chef, and family man. Grass, a nobel laureate, has done remarkably well in putting a really good narrative, all related to just one particular fish type, and that too, in a novel full of remarkable capabilities. I really like the book, and it could be easily in my list of recommendations.
If you have read The Tin Drum or The Rat, then you have read The Flounder. So many (SO MANY!!) aspects of The Tin Drum & The Rat were present in this book, it made for a wonderful "Where's Waldo" of the Grassian world.

I admire Grass for his ability to challenge the gender roles via the hard witted reality of history, albeit only through historical fiction.

This book is not meant for everyone, it is definitely an acquired taste.
Zoe Aleshire
This one is feeling longer than it really ought, for no real reason. Great writing, interesting topic, funny and cruel and self aware...bu somehow it's dragging on. I maybe just don't feel like it'll go anywhere, so I've taken some serious breaks from it. It's still at three stars, but maybe falling.
But wow, some very lucid writing. Definitely picking up more Grass sometime (though his other books seemed very slim).
Ian F-r
Very freeform magic realism, about men, women, food, pregnancy, and social politics set across every time period in northern Europe (Poland, Germany, Lithuania?). Interspersed with poems that I read half the time, but very enjoyable salad-y personal history mash-up with historic figures of the Danzig?/Gdansk? and European regions. And all framed within the Grimm bros tale of the Fisherman and His Wife.
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Günter Wilhelm Grass was a Nobel Prize-winning German author and playwright.
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 wing,
More about Günter Grass...

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“Eles não podem agir de outra maneira, os senhores da criação. O privilégio da criação lhes é irrenunciável. Nós, mulheres, temos que ser criaturas, sim, e criaturas perfeitas. Sejamos agradecidas aos cavaleiros suecos, principalmente ao fatídico Axel, por terem desequilibrado tão artisticamente as faculdades da menina Agnes. As mulheres levemente desequilibradas se qualificam como musas excelentes.” 0 likes
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