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The Flounder

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,077 Ratings  ·  63 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 2,380)
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Joel Palma
The Flounder: 20th century’s last Nobel Prize in Literature was given to Günter Grass, lauded him for his “frolicsome black fables that portray the forgotten face of history”. This accolade from the prestigious organization cannot be more aptly considered than Günter Grass’ masterpiece- “The Flounder”!

“Frolicsome”- yes; “black fable”- yes; “portray the forgotten face of history”- yes; Flounder as member of the Nobel Committee for Literature- maybe, I wouldn’t be surprised, there’s something fish
...more
Jonfaith
Apr 19, 2014 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: samizdat
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.
Vit Babenco
“These were the questions to be resolved: Who was speaking here and for what purpose? What would they have to explain first? The fact that the Flounder could talk or the substance of what he was saying? Was this a late reactionary attempt on the part of medieval Scholasticism to prove that evil could take the form of a fish? Was this Flounder a personification of capitalism? Or—an even greater contradiction – might he be an embodiment of Hegel's Weltgeist?”
The flounder isn’t exactly an avatar of
...more
AnnLoretta
Jan 21, 2016 AnnLoretta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This may be on my read list more than once. But let it be there a thousand times.

This is a book I read every three or four years. It is boundless in its breadth, humor, vision, pathos.

Ostensibly built upon the old folk tale of the flounder leading man to his dreams, this is the history of all of mankind, from the first fire through .... no spoilers. And those in the forefront of the parade through time are the goddesses, the women, the cooks. And the enlightened narrator, the man who lives one
...more
Pete
Mar 06, 2012 Pete rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Hadrian
Aug 17, 2011 Hadrian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german, fiction
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
...more
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
Bibliowulf
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.
Jos
Mar 17, 2015 Jos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit
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
...more
AnnLoretta
Jan 20, 2016 AnnLoretta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I guess I have this on my "read" list twice. Well, let it be there a thousand times.

Ostensibly inspired by the folk tale of the flounder and his leading man into civilization, this book is one I read every couple of years. Its breadth, humor, wonder, bemusement all make it a mansion of many rooms; every reading is the first reading.

It is the history of the world from the first tool through... Well, no spoilers. And throughout, the goddesses, the leaders, those forging the path to the future ar
...more
Czarny Pies
May 08, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it it was ok  ·  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
...more
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
...more
Alia
Mar 22, 2015 Alia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Simonsleen
Oct 04, 2014 Simonsleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Een van de mooiste kaft illustraties die ik ooit heb gezien.
Matthew
Feb 12, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Maria Silva
Leitura interessante, mas difícil. Um "caminho" de 632 páginas dividido em nove meses. Aborda de uma forma cómica e algo caricata a guerra entre os sexos, tendo por mediador o pregado: um peixe que fala, dá conselhos, cumpre os desejos, serve de testemunha e até foi a julgamento.
A vida em comunidade começa num matriarcado desde o Neolítico, quando as mulheres tinham três mamas, passando por várias etapas nas quais os homens defendem-se e dominam a sociedade e as mulheres, numa luta pelos direito
...more
Jim
Jan 13, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 13, 2012 Gregory Sotir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 19, 2011 Joey Manley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary, history
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.
Vivienne
Jan 01, 2009 Vivienne rated it liked it  ·  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
Steve
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
...more
Tulio  Albuquerque
Nov 27, 2014 Tulio Albuquerque rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
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
...more
Special K
Jan 03, 2011 Special K rated it did not like it  ·  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
...more
David
Feb 26, 2009 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 15, 2007 J. Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Terry
Jul 16, 2012 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
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
Jul 28, 2007 Jim C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Günter Wilhelm Grass was a Nobel Prize-winning German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor.
He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). Since 1945, he lived in West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returned to the Danzig of his childhood. He always identified himself as a Kashubian.

He is best known for his first novel, "The Tin Drum" (1959)
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More about Günter Grass...

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